7 years after 9/11, Air Marshalls missing on almost all US flights
That would explain why five ordinary passengers had to stop that 22yr old israeli lunatic (redundant?) from doing God knows what with the plane and its passengers (and God knows who else on the ground) when he tried to storm the cockpit on yesterday's flight from New York to Tel-Aviv.
This report is from March 2008 and it's fairly long so I won't paste it all here.
Suffice it to say that the TSA is getting boatloads of money to protect US air travel but they offer very little in return aside from bad attitudes, terribly long lines and humiliating pat-downs, not to mention the theft of millions of dollars worth of shampoos, conditioners, hair gels, colognes, soft-drinks, and yes - even jars of Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread - which was taken from me at a Philadelphia airport.
Apparently, 'nuts' are an imminent security threat -- provided of course, they're not israeli.
Of the 28,000 commercial airline flights that take to the skies on an average day in the United States, fewer than 1 percent are protected by on-board, armed federal air marshals, a nationwide CNN investigation has found.
That means a terrorist or other criminal bent on taking over an aircraft would be confronted by a trained air marshal on as few as 280 daily flights, according to more than a dozen federal air marshals and pilots interviewed by CNN.
In a post on its Web site responding to the CNN story, the TSA said it would not disclose the number of air marshals flying each day so as not to "tip our hand to terrorists." However, it said, "The actual number of flights that air marshals cover is thousands per day."They wouldn't let hazelnut chocolate spread through, but they allowed guns and bombmaking materials?!! Un-flipping-believable.
The investigation found low numbers even as the TSA in recent months has conducted tests in which it has been able to smuggle guns and bomb-making materials past airport security screeners.
One pilot who crisscrosses the country and flies internationally told CNN he hasn't seen an air marshal on board one of his flights in six months. A federal law enforcement officer, who is not affiliated with the air marshal service and who travels in and out of Washington every week, said he has gone for months without seeing a marshal on board.
Yet another pilot, who wanted to protect his identity because he carries a weapon in the cockpit, said he regularly flies in and out of New York's airports and almost never encounters an air marshal.
"I would have to guess it's fewer than 1 percent of all my flights," the pilot said. "I'm guessing by the coverage of when I go to those cities, fewer than 1 percent."
Air marshals who spoke with CNN anonymously in order to protect their jobs are
especially troubled by the lack of coverage on flights in and out of Washington and New York, the two cities targeted by the 9/11 hijackers. Marshals, pilots and other law enforcement officials told CNN these flights are protected by far fewer air marshals than in the past.
One marshal said that while security is certainly one reason the numbers are kept secret, he believes the agency simply doesn't want taxpayers to know the truth.
"I would be very embarrassed by [the numbers] if they were to get out," one air marshal said.
"The American public would be shocked. ... I think the average person understands there's no physical way to protect every single flight everywhere," the air marshal said. "But it's such a small percentage. It's just very aggravating for us."
Sources inside the air marshal field offices told CNN the program has been unable to stem the losses of trained air marshals since the program's numbers peaked in 2003 -- and many of those who have left have not been replaced.
CNN was told that staffing in Dallas, Texas, for instance, is down 44 percent from its high, while Seattle, Washington, has 40 percent fewer agents. Las Vegas, Nevada, which had as many as 245 air marshals, this past February had only 47.
David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance and a pilot himself, said ... "I can only speak for myself and the 23,000 members of my organization, and we are not seeing anywhere near the coverage they are asserting they have," Mackett said. "They are whistling past the graveyard, hoping against hope that this house of cards that they call airline security doesn't come crashing down around them."
As it turns out, the words "coverage" or "covered" have special meaning when applied to the air marshal service. ...
[T]he marshal service considers a flight "covered" even if a marshal is not on board - as long as a law enforcement officer or pilot in possession of a firearm is on board, even if that person is flying for personal reasons. The "covered" designation includes pilots armed in the cockpit.
The firearms training program for pilots is budgeted at $25 million.
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By comparison, the federal air marshal budget this year is $720 million. But air marshals who spoke with CNN question where the money is going when their numbers are dwindling and fewer than 1 percent of flights are covered on any given day.You're not the only one who wants to know...we all do.
Where is our taxpayer money going if it's not going to pay air marshalls???
"This is an agency or department that is critical for the U.S. long-term security needs," [Former Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Indiana,] said. "So the basic building blocks, the front line of defense are air marshals. If you're not providing that safety for our people on a pretty basic program seven years after 9/11, we've got a lot of work to do at the department, and probably Congress has a lot more work to do on its oversight."You would think.
But, that's assuming air SAFETY really is their goal and not simply harassing and controlling the population at large.