The New Defenders

An explosion of federal funding has Bay Area researchers at the forefront of America's counter-terrorism program. Will the money make us safer - or just make science a military secret?

Such an arrangement would not be new. During World War II, the Department of Defense paid for scientific research, linking many universities together like arms of the government. That funding ended with the Mansfield Amendment in 1969, which stopped research sponsored by the military, if the research wasn't in the direct scope of military operations. The Vietnam War drove an even bigger wedge between the academic and defense communities. Counterterrorism funding could well reunite those communities, and perhaps even bring them together with private-sector researchers into a new industry.

Although it was long, World War II eventually ended. It is difficult to predict when -- or even if -- the war on terrorism might end, and all but impossible to know whether its call for advanced science and technology will create a whole new industry, or simply boost existing fields. In any case, it may be viewed by historians as an era in which the business of scientific research was dramatically, and permanently, altered. For better, or for worse.

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