January 1, 2010
DAVID BROOKS CATCHES ON to that whole pack-not-a-herd thing:
At some point, it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t the centralized system that stopped terrorism in this instance. As with the shoe bomber, as with the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pa., it was decentralized citizen action. The plot was foiled by nonexpert civilians who had the advantage of the concrete information right in front of them — and the spirit to take the initiative.
Gee, somebody could write a book about this phenomenon and its implications. Related thoughts here. And, in light of Brooks’ talk about resilience and complex systems, I’m going to point people here, too.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Kennedy writes: ‘Brooks completely misses the point of the Napolitano criticism. It was not because her agency failed. The State Department was the failure but she came out and said things that are obviously untrue and ludicrous. The next day, she came out and said the opposite. She acted the fool.”