Kudos to Federal Air Marshal Frank Terreri and ACLU in Southern California for prevailing in litigation concerning whether air marshals can alert the public of safety and security concerns. They reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security, in which, according to the press release, �the government has agreed to send an e-mail within the week to all federal air marshals clarifying its policy on what marshals can say publicly. In particular, the message will clarify the meaning of two policies that Federal Air Marshal Frank Terreri argued were unconstitutionally vague.�
Thanks too to Air Marshal Alert for letting us know the good news.
UPDATE: This just in from Air Marshal Alert -- Terreri takes the investigation to the next level and files with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to get an investigation started on the Air Marshal Service.
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
(717) 938-2300 Fax (717) 932-2262 www.FLEOA.org
- PRESS RELEASE -
Federal Air Marshal Frank Terreri Today Filed a Formal
Legal Petition with the Office of Special Counsel
for Investigation of the Federal Air Marshal Service
(PRWEB) April 19, 2006 -- Federal Air Marshal Frank Terreri today filed a formal legal petition with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for investigation of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS).
In his 13-page appeal, Terreri alleges gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, violations of law, and a substantial threat to air safety, created by repeated disclosures of operational tactics and FAMS policies that compromise the identity of individual air marshals.
Mr. Terreri is counter-attacking against bureaucratic negligence within the air marshal service that creates a danger to the flying public, commentedGAP Advocacy Associate Adam Miles. His law enforcement expertise has been ignored for over two years, while FAMS management has taken repeated steps to harass Terreri into silence.
In filing with OSC, Terreri commented, It is my hope that this whistleblower disclosure to the Office of Special Counsel will bring attention to significant aviation terrorism vulnerabilities and more importantly, facilitate necessary improvements that will allow FAMS to better fulfill its mission to protect the flying public and be an effective deterrent to terrorism.
After an initial review, the Special Counsel can order the Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate and report on Terreris disclosures. Terreri would then have the opportunity to comment on the agencys report, before it was sent to the President and congressional oversight committees.
In addition to disclosures on operational safety, Terreri is challenging air marshal managements endorsement of at least six national news segments that revealed the exact weapon air marshals use on flights and the methods agents use to respond to a hijacking.
Terreri repeatedly warned that the impact of disclosing this information publicly gives terrorists a greater tactical advantage in a setting already tipped in their favor.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a disturbing corroboration of Terreris concerns in a March 28 law enforcement memorandum to the Department of Homeland Security.
According to a press account on the memo in the Federal Times, A convicted terrorist with links to al-Qaida told the FBI he used a television news report on air marshal training to assemble a theoretical strike plan, demonstrating that would-be hijackers with similar information could use it to overpower marshalsThe terrorist, who has been in U.S. custody for several years and is described in the FBI cable as a reliable informant, evidently gave his plan only to the FBI and not to other terrorists. He told the FBI that active terrorists could have easily assembled a similar plan based on what was broadcast.
Terreri notes that FAMS management has been criminally negligent in dismissing similar warnings from him and hundreds of air marshals since the first FAMS-endorsed disclosures of operational procedures aired in 2004. In responding to the FBI memo, agency spokesman David Adams told United Press International, We're not concerned about the report.
The administration is setting a dangerous double standard on leaks of information to the press, commented GAP Legal Director Tom Devine. While gagging its air marshals, the administration is broadcasting security breaches that endanger flights all for bureaucratic self-promotion. This is inexcusable.
Terreri summarized his concerns in the following statement:
The American Public deserves an honest account of whats happening within the Federal Air Marshal program and why air marshal management is compromising public safety. The story needs to be told by actual Federal Air Marshals, not by Federal Air Marshal managers, who have never performed the duties of a Federal Air Marshal.
The bottom line is that the Federal Air Marshal Program has been grossly mismanaged since the number of Federal Air Marshals was drastically increased following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Federal Air Marshal Management has consistently implemented deadly policies that compromise the anonymity of Federal Air Marshals and jeopardize the integrity of Aviation Security. In addition to these deadly policies, Federal Air Marshal Management has directly retaliated against any Federal Air Marshal who exposed any deficiencies with current policies.
In the recent past, Federal Air Marshal Management has chosen to disclose and disseminate sensitive and classified information concerning the methodologies, operational concepts, mission deployments, and other activities of the Federal Air Marshal Service. This was done on several occasions utilizing many media outlets (i.e. People, Time, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc.) This release of sensitive and classified information jeopardizes the Federal Air Marshal Mission, Federal Air Marshal Personnel, the security of our country and the safety of the flying public.
Federal Air Marshal Management contends that this sensitive and classified information was disclosed as a "deterrent" to any terrorists contemplating a future hi-jacking. It refuses to back down from this rationale, despite years of warnings from hundreds of individual air marshals and new, disturbing evidence of the dangers this policy has created.
The FBI recently released a memorandum that appeared in several media venues that exposed the fact that an Al Qaeda terrorist (now in custody and serving as a reliable informant) had scrutinized the aforementioned media programs that featured the detailed descriptions of Federal Air Marshal Operations. The captured terrorist informed the FBI that directly due to the operational details disclosed on these television programs by Federal Air Marshal Management, he easily formulated a plan of attack that would neutralize Federal Air Marshals and allow terrorists to successfully hi-jack an airliner.
One would expect that Federal Air Marshal Management would be deeply disturbed by this FBI report and, without delay, implement procedures that would thwart any planned attack that could have been formulated from disclosed operational procedures. Instead, Federal Air Marshal Spokesperson Dave Adams dismissed the alarming FBI report with the following statement, "This report doesn't concern us."
The American Public needs a better response to terrorism. The American Public needs to realize that Aviation Security is no better today that it was prior to 9/11. Federal Air Marshal Management has essentially provided fanatical terrorist groups with step by step instructions on how to successfully identify and defeat Federal Air Marshals.