I don't often agree with David Brooks, but his op-ed in the morning paper was partly right: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/opinion/01brooks.html?ref=todayspaper
Brooks opines that Americans have unrealistic expectations about the ability of the security apparatus to thwart terrorist attacks.
"Much of the criticism has been contemptuous and hysterical. Various experts have gathered bits of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s biography. Since they can string the facts together to accurately predict the past, they thunder, the intelligence services should have been able to connect the dots to predict the future."
It seems to me that crtics expect a level of omniscience on the part of the intelligence and security apparatus that is not attainable at a reasonable cost in either governmental resources or inconvenience to the public. There is, I contend, no perfect security. States should strive for an optimal level of security that has reasonable costs and thwarts or deters most terroristic endeavors. If the public cries out for more than this, states should try give them the appearance of security that the TSA has become famous for rather than trying to fill in the unfillable gaps.
Brooks goes on:
"In a mature nation, President Obama could go on TV and say, 'Listen, we’re doing the best we can, but some terrorists are bound to get through.'"
We are to Brooks seemingly a nation of bedwetters now of which our forebears would be ashamed. I disagree and suspect that this appearance is a function of the noise that comes from government and cable TeeVee as various self interested individuals and entities strive to exploit the recent failed terror attack for political or financial advantage. Individual Americans appear to me to be much more pragamatic and far less hysterical about the incident than their would be leaders. They are still flying on airliners and going about their business. Security is less of a concern to them than the economy at this point, and that is a rational prioritization of anxieties. I hope that the pundits and politicians fail to frighten us into a state of paranoia where we forget our own best interests.
After all, we have had eight years of this nonsense to become inoculated. The fearmongers may find, I hope, that they are one trick ponies and that the public is on to them. They may perhaps be described as the Norm Charltons of the noise machine.
The fearmongers appear to assume that the public does not remember the Shoe Bomber. How indeed could we forget since we memorialize the event by ritually removing our shoes before we pass through airport security? Any critique of the Underwear Bomber incident and its handling applies to the Shoe Bomber incident and its handling in equal measure. We are not so stupid as to fail to recognize this.
The fearmongers, in mongering fear (may they be confounded), aid and abet the terroristic enterprise in that they are working to inspire the very fear that the Underwear Bomber failed to incite. Shame on them. Shame on us doubly if we are fooled again.