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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Federal air marshals abusing power, commiting crimes

USA Today is running a story about the high rate of crime among the Transportation Security Administration's federal air marshals. One marshal used his badge and top secret security clearance to smuggle cocaine and drug money. Another attempted to "disappear" his ex-wife via a contract killer (who was another federal air marshal). Still another used his authority to engage in child pornography. There have been dozens of such cases since 9/11, when the number of marshals ballooned from about thirty to more than thirty thousand.

Maybe it's time to reiterate a suggestion that I made over two years ago. During the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I proposed the creation of "citizen marshals": ordinary American citizens who, after a background check and some training, would be allowed to carry firearms on commercial airlines as a volunteer service to their fellow countrymen.

From my post in 2006:

Such persons will not be affiliated with any law enforcement agency or the government at all. Being appointed "citizen marshals" merely means that they have no outstanding criminal record, that they possess qualities of good character and are otherwise sound and considerate human beings. Being a citizen marshal would be an unpaid position... but then, anyone wanting to be such a marshal for the right reasons would not want any financial compensation anyway.

Citizen marshals would be the only regular civilians who would be allowed to board commercial passenger planes with a firearm, and adequate ammunition. They could even be given a special badge that designates their status for all to see. Ideally, there would be more than one citizen marshal - with guns - aboard each flight.

The thought of becoming a citizen marshal should not be entertained lightly by anyone, and there should be incentives in place to dissuade those who might potentially abuse their appointments. The penalties for doing so - be it from impersonating a licensed citizen marshal to unholstering a firearm aboard a plane in flight without legitimate caues - should be extremely severe. As much or even more than what we expect from police officers who "cross the line".

But... a flight with an armed citizen marshal or two (or three or four) would be the safest possible airline trip in terms of passenger safety outside of technical malfunctions. Even the mere possibility that a jetliner might have a citizen marshal onboard would automatically make that plane a "poison pill" for anyone contemplating a terrorist act.

Ask yourself again: would Mohammed Atta and his fellow terrorists been so quick to pull out the box-cutters on September 11th, 2001 if the slightest thought entered their minds that not only might they not reach the cockpit, but that they would be shot dead the moment they started trying?

Let's face it: Transportation Security Administration has been a colossal farce from the very beginning. I consider it one of George W. Bush's biggest failures. The entire thing has been nothing but "security theatre" on a grand scale. Personally, I can think of at least a dozen ways off the top of my head that TSA's "procedures" could be defeated for a much worse re-enactment of 9/11.

And when I read stories about air marshals out of control, it solidifies that much more my belief that regular American can do some things better than their government.


Anonymous said...

The article cites 18 out of approx. 4,000 charged with felonies. My guess is that you would get that many felons out of any group of 4,000. I would further speculate you would find even more felons in a representative group of "citizen marshals" and a fair number of nuts to boot. Bad Idea. Let's just get rid of the bad marshals. Lots simpler.

Anonymous said...

wouldnt you figure, it was somehow George W. Bush Fault.

Chris Knight said...

Building a MASSIVE new bureaucratic agency, that wastes money and other resources and with very lax hiring practices, that is being paid by taxpayers to mostly pretend that they are doing substantive work.

If that isn't worth condemning no matter WHO is President then I don't know what is. George W. Bush is a bigger believer in "big government" than Lyndon Johnson!

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that after the federalization of the TSA, theft from passengers baggage shot up 60 something percent.