No air marshal has ever stopped a terrorist or hijacker since the service was founded in 1962. Although an air marshal did shoot and kill a US citizen in 2005. If something really bad did happen on a flight and an air marshal was onboard they lack the training to do anything about it.
On April 6 onboard Delta’s Manchester – New York JFK flight an air marshal left their loaded gun in the plane’s lavatory. It wouldn’t even matter if the TSA started actually catching weapons going through a security checkpoint, because air marshals legally bring weapons onboard and make them available to passengers.
In this case a passenger found the gun and gave it to a member of the flight’s crew, who gave it back to the air marshal. Awkward.
This air marshal was even assigned to work a flight again a few days later.
The Transportation Security Administration, the parent agency of the air marshal service, said that it was aware of the episode but that it would not comment publicly on internal matters, adding that it was “reviewing the circumstances of this incident.”
We can’t bring electronics on board some flights, but the government is supplying the guns.
This is hardly an isolated incident. Two years ago an air marshal left a loaded gun in a Newark airport bathroom and in a Philadelphia airport restroom last year. In 2001 an air marshal left a hangun in an aircraft lavatory where it was found by a teenager.
A year and a half ago an air marshal sued for being denied his first choice of meal in first class and because a flight attendant spilled a drink on him.
He claimed the flight attendant walked “away without apologizing … or offering to clean the spill,” he was only offered the beef to eat because they ran out of other choices, so he approached the cockpit to report these incidents to the captain threatening to report the offense as well “to the TSA’s Mission Operation Center in Washington, D.C.” The captain kicked him off the plane.
Liam Neeson in 2014 film “Non-Stop”
Even by 2008 we had plenty of cumulative experience with air marshals.
- One “smuggled cocaine and drug money onto flights across the country, boasting to an FBI informant that he was ‘the man with the golden badge.'”
- Another lured a young boy to a hotel room, showed him child pornography, took pictures of him naked and sexually abused him.
- Two air marshals tried to hire a “hit man nicknamed ‘the Crucifixer.'”
- An air marshal abducted a prostitute during a layover in Washington DC.
- An air marshal “pulled his gun in a dispute over a parking space”
- One fired their gun inside a Las Vegas hotel room, another fired theirs in a Phoenix bar fight.
- Not to mention,
air marshals have taken bribes, committed bank fraud, hired an escort while on layover and doctored hotel receipts to pad expenses, records show. They’ve been found sleeping on planes and lost the travel documents of U.S. diplomats while on a whiskey-tasting trip in Scotland.
We spend $200 million per arrest in the air marshal program. And to be clear that is not $200 million per arrest of a terror suspect, most are just passengers behaving badly.
After over 7 years the TSA responded to a FOIA request last year for reports of air marshal misconduct.
For starters, air marshals were arrested 148 times from November 2002 through February 2012. There were another 58 instances of “criminal conduct.”
In addition, air marshals engaged in more than 5,000 less serious incidents of misconduct, ranging from 1,200 cases of lost equipment to missing 950 flights they were supposed to protect.
…250 air marshals have been terminated for misconduct; another 400 resigned or retired while facing investigation.
Air marshals have been suspended more than 900 times, resulting in more than 4,600 days lost to misconduct.
The Washington field office had the most incidents with 530 cases, followed by New York with 471, Chicago and Dallas with 373 each and Los Angeles with 363. There were 85 cases at air marshal headquarters, highlighting that in some cases, misconduct has extended to the top brass.
It’s time to eliminate all the bad apples by ending this bad joke of a program after 55 years of ineptitude.