DHS FIGHTING AIR MARSHALS INSTEAD OF TERRORISTS

Aug 11, 2003
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - According to a news report today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has turned on some of its most vital employees by conducting a "witch hunt" of Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) to determine the source of previous news reports that FAMs would be cut from flights to save on hotels. Today's report is the latest eye-opening story about the internal management of the FAM program and has raised new questions about whether the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is more concerned with internal politics than it is with properly securing America's airliners. In response to today's report, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Chair of the Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security, called on her colleagues to investigate the internal TSA probe and the agency's reported threat to use the USA Patriot Act on its own employees.

In separate letters, Maloney asked the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees to investigate the Patriot Act issue, and she asked the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security to investigate the so-called "witch hunt."

"They're targeting the wrong people," said Maloney. "They should be exhausting their resources zeroing in on terrorists, not patriots."

"I applaud and support the patriotic civil servants who have helped keep air travelers safe. It is appalling that the agency would turn on its own patriotic employees in this misguided game of 'gotcha.' It is even more disturbing that they would threaten to use a law meant to get terrorists to nab their own civil servants who were doing their duty."

MSNBC.com, in a story titled, "TSA in 'witch hunt,' air marshals say," reported that since initial reports two weeks ago that TSA was prepared to pull air marshals from flights to save on hotels, the agency has actively pursued the source of those reports. DHS officials denied that the "witch hunt" is underway, though MSNBC.com's sources say otherwise.

LETTER TO JUDICIARY COMMITTEES:

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
152 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner
Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable John Conyers Jr.
Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary
B-351-C Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairman Sensenbrenner, and Ranking Member Conyers,

Today's news report ("TSA in 'witch hunt,' air marshals say", MSNBC.com, August 11, 2003) that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on a "witch hunt" within the Federal Air Marshals (FAM) program to determine the source of previous news stories is unsettling. That DHS would reportedly use or threaten to use the USA Patriot Act to track down the leak is even more disturbing.

As you probably remember, news reports two weeks ago citing sources familiar with the FAM program claimed that DHS was prepared to remove FAMs from certain flights to save on hotel costs. I was one of many who were appalled at that illogical decision, particularly in the wake of new terrorist threats to airliners. In the face of the public furor, DHS reversed course, stating that FAMs would remain on all flights

I applaud and continue to support the patriotic civil servants who brought to light the agency's illogical decision to leave flights unguarded; they have helped to keep our airliners secure. For DHS to target them instead of devoting all of its resources to defending against terrorism and investigating its own decision-making process is misguided and vindictive.

Furthermore to invoke, or threaten to invoke, the USA Patriot Act, a law meant to battle terrorism, to target patriotic employees seems to be not only illogical, but a misuse of the law as well. I urge your committee to formally investigate the alleged misuse of the USA Patriot Act by DHS for its internal probe of employees.

At the time of the initial news reports, I urged the House Select Committee on Homeland Security to conduct an investigation of the decision-making process at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and that request stands. In the wake of today's report, I also strongly urge that committee to investigate DHS's alleged probe of its own employees. We need to know if resources are being misdirected for, as today's press report call it, a "witch hunt."


The allegations from today's news report are serious and unsettling. I thank you for your consideration and assistance in uncovering the truth.

Sincerely,

CAROLYN B. MALONEY

Member of Congress