A program created after 9/11 to protect the flying public is being abused by Congress, according to an association representing federal air marshals, essentially creating, in their words, a VIP “concierge service” for members.
The Air Marshal National Council, which represents some of the nation’s roughly 2,000 air marshals, says the problem began after the Jan. 6 incident at the Capitol. Following that, some fearful lawmakers began requesting security — not just on Capitol grounds, but to and from their districts and even to vacation spots.
The Transportation Security Administration, which runs the Federal Air Marshal Service, began reassigning agents from “high risk” commercial flights to accompany members of Congress instead. This angered some sky marshals, as protecting the public is their primary mission. Capitol police, and when necessary the U.S. Secret Service, are tasked with protecting lawmakers.
Some of the traveling lawmakers already have security details, while others who requested the service skipped their scheduled flights, according to records reviewed by Fox News, which was also told that lawmakers from both parties used the service – sometimes on official business, other times for personal travel.
LoBasco submitted a formal congressional ethics complaint about one such flight involving Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who flew from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis on April 17 to attend the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. LoBasco says Waters was already accompanied by two armed Capitol Police and two U.S. Secret Service agents when she allegedly requested two air marshals and two more marshals on touchdown to escort her in the airport.
On Friday night, U.S. Capitol Police and U.S. Secret Service denied those claims, telling Fox News neither agency provided in-flight protection for the congresswoman. The congresswoman also took to Twitter Saturday to deny LoBasco’s claims, tweeting she “never requested law enforcement protection on my flights.”
LoBasco was unbowed.
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters utilized numerous government resources inappropriately,” the complaint reads. “Federal Air Marshals were removed from a “High Risk” flight to cover Ms. Waters flight to Minnesota. The High Risk flight took off with no armed law enforcement on board leaving a gap in National Security.”
“Air marshals for Miss Waters trip were assigned high risk missions, they were removed from those missions and assigned to Miss Waters mission on top of her already armed security detail from the Capitol Police,” LoBasco said. “That was not an official business trip. We still don’t have any justification as to why government resources were utilized to fly Miss Waters out to Minnesota.”
Said another air marshal familiar with the incident: “It’s ridiculous. Meanwhile, there are 30,000 other flights with no armed agents.”
This is an excerpt from Fox News.
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