Sunday, August 10, 2008

Air marshals gone wild

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has discovered that in the Las Vegas office as well as other areas around the country such as Dallas, Chicago, Houston and Orlando, the Federal air marshals charged with protecting the public on airline flights are being regularly hauled in on criminal charges themselves:

"Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, at least six federal air marshals assigned to the Las Vegas office have been criminally and internally investigated for incidents including drunken driving, shooting a hole through a hotel room wall and leaving a loaded handgun in an airplane lavatory."

Punishment? What do you think?

"These offenses have gone largely unpunished, and the agents still work for the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), a Review-Journal investigation has found."

If you or I have boo-boos such as negligent discharges or leaving one's carry piece in a bathroom, we get charged with crimes, have to pay fines and possibly serve jail time and definitely lose our permits to carry said firearms. These guys apparently get free passes and protection from the media from any scrutiny of their bad behavior, all "for security reasons", of course:

"'The anonymity of our (air marshals) is very important to our mission,' said Mickey Marzigliano, a regional agency spokesman. 'That's the primary reason we don't divulge details of investigations.'"

Mmmmm-hmm. How convenient.

Meanwhile, the traveling public has to stand in long lines in order to prove that they have less than 3 ounces of liquids and absolutely nothing that could conceivably be used as a defensive weapon to protect oneself from potential hijackers. Instead, they get to rely on these fellows. You know, I'm just not feeling comfortable with that.

A spokesman for the FAMS had this to say about the report:

"The indiscretions of a handful of marshals "do not reflect the commitment and professionalism of the thousands of federal air marshals that protect our skies every day," he said."

No, but the lack of disciplinary action and refusal to ground rogue marshals for criminal acts does reflect badly on the commitment and professionalism on the part of the agency, and shows a clear lack of the accountability for one's actions that is routinely demanded from the rest of us peasants.

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