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Inspector General Report: Air marshals say major problems with agency

10:25 PM, Feb 6, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla. -- An Inspector General's Office of Department of Homeland Security report is not public yet, but the 10 News Investigators have received an advance copy.

The report sites major problems in the Federal Air Marshal Service, which is supposed to keep you safe when you fly on a commercial airline.

This report, which has been distributed to high-level government officials, has a big red "EMBARGOED" stamped on it and will not be publicly discussed until February 9th.  Our sources felt it was too important to wait and wanted the information to get out as soon as possible.

It shows many in the Air Marshal Service, particularly in the Orlando/Tampa Office, are disgusted with the way the agency operates.

What set this story in motion was a Jeopardy-style board, which training supervisors in the Orlando office used to play a game. They used the board to make fun of air marshals they didn't like. Among those were African Americans, gays, lesbians, women, and Hispanics. There were categories like "Pickle Smokers," which would have referred to anyone who was gay. They had a "Buckwheat" category and an "Our Gang" category, which specifically targeted African Americans.

"They have a pre 9/11 mentality mind set. They are the ones with that mindset that allowed 9/11 to happen," says one air marshal who didn't want to be identified.

"They're retirees from the Secret Service and their cronies who are retirees from other federal agencies and their friends," says another unidentified air marshal.

Federal air marshals we have talked to are not happy with the report findings because it discounts many of their complaints. The report didn't find widespread discrimination, but the "perception of discrimination and retaliation are extensive."

The inspector general says it heard too many negative and conflicting accounts of events to dismiss them.

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