Boy Scouts' Counter-Terror Unit

In the high-stakes game to be the most patriotic preteen, if you aren't nabbing illegals with your hyper-realistic machine gun you might as well switch teams and move to Afghanistan. "This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl," said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff's deputy in Imperial County, California. Lowenthal leads teams of Explorers, a subset of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years but ratcheted up its emphasis on anti-terrorism after September 11 in simulations of drug raids and terrorist trackings. Plenty of teens are taking to the Boy Scouts program. "I like shooting them," said 16-year-old Cathy Noriego of the compressed air guns that the scouts use. "I like the sound they make. It gets me excited." The adult leaders aren't pulling any punches, either: "Put him on his face and put a knee in his back," a Border Patrol agent explained to one preteen, "I guarantee that he'll shut up."