Nicotine Fanatic not a Terrorist, Lustick Weighs in

In the April 8 New York Times, Penn Press author Ian S. Lustick commented on the recent scare ignited by a young Qatari diplomat's attempt to smoke during a flight to Denver, CO. When the diplomat was caught, he fanned the flames by joking with the flight attendant about trying to light his shoe on fire. Here's a quote from

The possibility of overreaction to perceived threats is by now a
familiar problem in the age of terrorism, when a little powdered sugar
can set off an anthrax panic or a Coast Guard training exercise can
persuade cable television crews that the nation’s capital may be under
attack, as occurred last Sept. 11. In this case, however, there seemed
to be little second-guessing of the broad security alert in response to a
situation that ultimately turned out to have posed no significant

“As far as I have heard, the passengers, crew and authorities all acted
calmly and appropriately,” said Ian S. Lustick, a political scientist at
the University
of Pennsylvania
and author of Trapped in the War on Terror, a
2006 book that criticized what he called the exaggerated response to

While the situation does bring to mind a scene from certain Harold and Kumar comedy, the threat of terrorist attacks is no joke. Perhaps the flight crew and authorities responded appropriately, but what about the news organizations who picked up the story and started posting Shoe Bomb Attack headlines?

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