Congress probes Federal Air Marshals after 10 Connects investigation

5:01 PM, Mar 15, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- We have new information following a 10 Connects investigation of the Federal Air Marshal service.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor has initiated a series of inquires into these allegations. They affect anyone who flies on a commercial airplane.

Photo Gallery: Federal Air Marshals criticize TSA

Although the Federal Air Marshal service is supposed to protect people on planes from terrorists,  air marshals in the Central Florida office covering Tampa and Orlando say it is not what seems to be happening.

One air marshal told us it is a complete failure.

The agents told us the agency is a hostile work environment where managers  used a Jeopardy board game where they played as one of the ways they discriminated against blacks, hispanics, women, veterans and gay people.

An air marshal who provided us with a picture of the board says they had  categories like pickle smokers which was a code for anyone who was gay; they had a buckwheat and our gang category which targeted African Americans.

Representative Castor says there needs to be some accountability, because it is important for the public to have confidence in the Federal Air Marshals.

Castor was upset after seeing our report and wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.  She recently attended a briefing with the TSA and federal air marshals.

According to Castor, the committee and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are taking a hard look at the allegations out of the Central Florida Office and across the country. Castor says she doesn't think Orlando was an isolated incident.

Castor says the issues we raised including a supervisor falling asleep while working on an airplane will not be tolerated. She told us there is an on-going audit of the Central Florida Office and it is important to have those results soon to make sure people are held accountable for their misbehavior.

Meantime, Castor says one of the reasons things were able to get so out of control is that the TSA, which is over the Federal Air Marshals and under Homeland Security, is like a ship without a rudder because it doesn't have a permanent director. Castor says that need to be fixed and the agency needs a leader who will hold people accountable.

Castor expects there will be a major overhaul, following the audit and once a new director takes over the TSA.

Mike Deeson, 10 Connects

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