July 26, 2006, - 3:31 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
The hard-working Air Marshals in the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) have enough problems on their hands.
From silly dress codes and procedures that make them stick out like a sore thumb to terrorists, to incompetent, intractable management, they have a tough job which has been made even tougher.
The past few weeks, a series of brave and justly angry Federal Air Marshals have been granting television and other media interviews around the country. The latest and most disturbing is one from Denver’s ABC 7 News, in which a Federal Air Marshal discusses the new, absurd quota system put into place by FAMS management.
Apparently because the FAMS has fallen pray to the political correctness throughout the Department of Homeland Security, the agency can’t just put Islamic terrorists in the federal terrorist database. No. That would be wrong. Instead, FAMS has instituted quotas, requiring Air Marshals to file a report on at least one , every month, even if the traveler did nothing wrong. This outrage could put you on a no-fly or watch list and affect your ability to travel.
Here’s more from the report:
You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they’re reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.
The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they’re required to submit at least one report a month. If they don’t, there’s no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.
“Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft … and they did nothing wrong,” said one federal air marshal.
These unknowing passengers who are doing nothing wrong are landing in a secret government document called a Surveillance Detection Report, or SDR. Air marshals told 7NEWS that managers in Las Vegas created and continue to maintain this potentially dangerous quota system.
“Do these reports have real life impacts on the people who are identified as potential terrorists?” 7NEWS Investigator Tony Kovaleski asked.
“Absolutely,” a federal air marshal replied.
7NEWS obtained an internal Homeland Security document defining an SDR as a report designed to identify terrorist surveillance activity.
“When you see a decision like this, for these reports, who loses here?” Kovaleski asked.
“The people we’re supposed to protect — the American public,” an air marshal said.
What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR?
“That could have serious impact … They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious,” said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.
That’s why several air marshals object to a July 2004 memo from top management in the Las Vegas office, a memo that reminded air marshals of the SDR requirement.
Political Correctness run amok at the Federal Air Marshal Service. G-d help them.
Thanks to reader, Bill R., and many brave Federal Air Marshals and their association for the tip.
Tags: 7NEWS Investigator, ABC, Absolutely, air marshal, Atlanta, Debbie Schlussel, Denver, Department of Homeland Security, Don Strange, federal air marshal, Federal Air Marshal Service, federal terrorist, Las Vegas, PC Air Marshal, Tony Kovaleski