This is no longer an elite corp, since standards have been lowered to meet hiring quotas. The air marshalls themselves believe the situation is unsafe. Air marshalls are clearly not an alternative to arming pilots. From the article:
- Hiring standards for marshals added since Sept. 11 have been lowered dramatically, sources say. No longer must applicants pass a difficult marksmanship course that used to be the make-or-break test for the program. In addition, many new hires were given guns and badges and put aboard flights before extensive background checks were completed.
Another money quote:
- “In May, for 3 1/2 weeks, they forgot about me and 15 guys in the office,” said one marshal. “We sat (around) watching kung fu movies.”