Risk Intel Report

Air Marshals Accuse Managers Of Compromising Safety

One of major concerns that came out of 9/11 was the overhaul of air travel security, as has been covered extensively in these pages . Unfortunately, protracted security lines at airports has been one of the most inconvenient of all reforms. Recent controversy has again risen in the industry with statements by current and former air marshals. This week, the national director of the Federal Air Marshals will be in Denver, a visit that has precipitated a flurry of discussion among the ranks. Last month, a 28-page draft report that was the product of a two-year investigation by the House Judiciary Committee at the request of James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) included the service?s dress code and check-in procedures, both of which obfucate marshals’ anonymity. The report also included criticism of media outlets that profile marshals at work, revealing details that would aid terrorists to spot them on aircraft. Although the public comments did not disclose classified or sensitive information, the air marshals are trying to voice their concerns in the view of the public and their national director. “To tell you the truth, the American people aren’t safe and neither are the air marshals,” said one air marshal. “I am definitely more afraid of my managers than I am of terrorists,” another air marshal said. The Federal Air Marshal program, which puts plainclothes officers on airplanes, started in the early 1960s in reaction to airplane hijackings internationally and grew to include nearly 400 officers in 1987. But, the numbers dwindled to 33 before 9/11, after which the program was revitalized. Although the number of air marshals is classified, it is believed that there are several thousand. Comments have been very critical from the air marshals. Last weekend, five marshals based in Denver put their careers at risk, discussing breakdowns that their managers allegedly have created or have not corrected in security issues. The five asked 7NEWS to disguise their identities and to alter their voices so they could alert pilots, politicians, the airline industry, and the general public but keep their jobs. “If something doesn’t change, another 9-11 is very possible,” one air marshal said. They spoke very frankly yet hesitanly. “I know that I’ll receive retaliation for what I’m saying if they find out who I am,” an air marshal said. One of the major issues is the compromising of their identities, and they stated that their security and morale problems are a result of poor management and lack of concern for their positions and goal to make the industry a safe place for passengers and employees. “You might as well put us in uniform and put us on the planes with semiautomatic weapons,” said one air marshal. They stated anyone with any kind of intelligence could pick them out on most flights. “In my opinion, I will be the first target on that aircraft because they no longer have to bring on board any weapon of any type, other than a shoestring to strangle me while I’m sitting in my seat, take my weapon, and then they have the aircraft,” an air marshal said. 7NEWS investigators stated they have talked to more than a dozen air marshals based in Denver in a yearlong investigation into the management procedure at the Denver office. Ten percent of resignations were a result of tensions and concerns not being addressed by management. The local office in Denver would not comment. The only statement to 7NEWS from the agency said in part: “the Federal Air Marshal Service strives to be responsive to its workforce and, when warranted, moves to address valid concerns in an

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