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Thompson Backtracks; Air Marshal Validated by OSC

Last week, House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) has weakly backtracked from his earlier remarks which dismissed federal air marshal whistleblower concerns as "stale allegations."  I criticized Thompson in a blog entry and in the publication Congressional Quarterly.  Several others did as well.  In the meantime, more evidence is piling up that shows that Thompson was wrong.

CQ Homeland Security writer Matthew M. Johnson wrote last Friday that (paid subscription necessary):

"The ranking Democrat of the House Homeland Security Committee is having second thoughts about his recent assertion that the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) appears to have revised policies that threaten to identify air marshals to potential terrorists."

...

"If [Hawley's] explanation is not complete, in this instance, then we will go back and see why it was incomplete and not a thorough response," said Thompson in a phone interview. "So I'll go back again shortly with a subsequent request for further information, and if necessary we'll have some hearings and invite both sides to come in and present their positions to the committee."

To drive yet another nail into Thompson's ill-conceived press release, an Office of Special Counsel (OSC; lately not a place favorable to whistleblowers) letter dated August 10, 2006 (pdf) told air marshal whistleblower Frank Terreri that OSC found a �substantial likelihood� that �FAMS management has failed to fully protect the anonymity of Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) by actively employing policies which result in their public identifications as FAMs.� It continued, �[T]he failure to protect covert aviation security operations weakens the core FAMS mission.�

Adam Miles of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), which is representing Terreri, said that, "OSC didn�t have a choice but to back him after national ABC news investigation and a ton of other media, congressional investigation [by the House Judiciary Committee, not the House Homeland Security Committee] and report."  Numerous air marshals in addition to Terreri have repeatedly raised concerns.

By: Nick Schwellenbach
Director of Investigations, POGO

Nick Schwellenbach At the time of publication, Nick Schwellenbach was Director of Investigations for the Project On Government Oversight.

Authors: Nick Schwellenbach

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