I was mildly critical of the press and of the government concerning the Qatar smoker. The NYT already has a piece considering whether it was an over-reaction or not. I think we can parse things out a bit--that the air marshal(s) acted appropriately. Was it necessary to alert all planes at the time? Perhaps as ignorance on 9/11 did very much cost lives. Was it necessary to scramble a couple of fighters? Again, the marginal cost is probably low, given how much money we are spending on defense, but the absolute cost must have been significant. More importantly, for a situation such as this where no hijacking threat seems imminent, it is not clear what the fighters could do.
And the press probably could have waited a bit or at least moderated their headlines so that they were not so alarmist.
One thing is clear--the Qatari diplomat was an idiot--to compound his smoking with a bad joke. He showed incredibly poor judgment, which is supposed to be the primary skill of a diplomat.
One last note--Ian Lustick was quoted in the piece briefly, and he seemed not to be very critical. I wonder if there was a lot of his interview left out, as he has been very critical of the War on Terrorism.