Saturday, May 20, 2006

Air Marshal Anonymity

Why isn't this a surprise that a bureaucracy has dress rules and standards that make the marshals obvious.
The draft report, "Plane Clothes: Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service Compromises Aviation and National Security," cites the service's dress code, which is supposed to prevent marshals from drawing attention to themselves.

In practice, the report found, "many federal air marshals indicate that the dress code actually draws more attention to the identity of the federal air marshals because of its rigid requirements that prevent federal air marshals from actually blending in with their surroundings."

If it's obviously the wrong thing to do, the government will ensure that they enforce it. Don't we all feel so much safer knowing that the Air Marshals have a required dress code and a required check in procedure that will ensure that terrorists can find them with little trouble?

This report gives even more irritating points.
Thomas Quinn, FAMS director until his resignation in February, told the committee he "cannot substantiate that probing activities are occurring."
...
Mr. Quinn told investigators that only a small percentage of "disgruntled amateurs who bring down the organization" opposed a dress code, hotel policy or boarding procedures.

But investigators discovered "numerous" complaints and suggestions had been documented within the agency.

"It is unacceptable for FAMS management to be oblivious to the problems facing their organization, either because there is no established system for managing requests for policy modifications or because there is a deliberate effort to ignore such requests," the report said.

Numerous agents have been investigated or fired for questioning the agency's policies, including Don Strange, former special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office who was fired after openly rebelling against the dress code.

"Disciplinary procedures at FAMS can be called disparate and, on their surface, can be characterized as unfair and even retaliatory," the report said.

Mr. Quinn became so obsessive with dress code enforcement agents nicknamed him "Commander Queeg" after the character played by Humphrey Bogart in "The Caine Mutiny," who becomes so obsessed over a missing quart of strawberries that his men think he is mentally unstable.
Mr. Quinn sounds like a complete buffoon. Well, at least he's not continuing to screw up the service.

1 comment:

BobG said...

Sounds typical of the government.
I remember when I was in college during the Kent State incident; the next day there were federal agents all over our campus (University of Utah), and they were ridiculously obvious; they were all MIB in matching haircuts and sunglasses who did nothing more than stand around everywhere observing people.