Crisis Agenda-Setting and Aviation Security Policy After the September 11 Attacks
- Zachary R. Lewis, Zachary R. LewisDepartment of Public Administration, North Carolina State University
- Kathryn L. SchwaebleKathryn L. SchwaebleDepartment of Public Administration, North Carolina State University
- and Thomas A. BirklandThomas A. BirklandDepartment of Public Administration, North Carolina State University
The September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States were a focusing event that greatly increased attention to particularly large acts of terrorism as a threat to the United States and to particular interests. One of these interests is the aviation industry. The September 11 attacks exploited features of the aviation industry that made it prone to attack and that made an attack on this industry particularly vivid and attention-grabbing.
The September 11 attacks led to policy changes in the United States and around the world with respect to aviation security, but those changes were not made in a vacuum. The changes that followed the September 11 attacks were made possible by efforts to learn from the range of aviation security incidents and challenges that have faced commercial aviation throughout its history. While the September 11 attacks were shocking and seemed novel, prior experience with aviation security crises provided those working in the aviation security policy realm with potential responses. The responses were drawn from a set of politically feasible responses that addressed the lapses in security demonstrated by terrorist attacks. The history of policy changes related to terrorism in aviation parallel the changes to policies that were made across the board in response to the elevation of terrorism on the agenda.