Friday, September 18, 2015

Air Marshal Incognito

You aren't supposed to know who the air marshal is when you board a plane. That's the point, isn't it? The potential hijacker or crazed loon should not be able to identify the person most likely to take them down, and so the air marshal flies under the radar, so to speak.

That being the case, the air marshal has to have a secret identity at the ready in case some friendly traveler sits down next to them and strikes up a conversation. And what do you do for a living that brings you here to this flight, is it business or pleasure, etc., etc., and the air marshal must protect his or her identity with some ready answers.

Three such air marshals based in Chicago are coming under fire for just doing their job.

The three in question came up with the perfect cover for their covert operations. They said they were pornographers. Who wants to sit next to one of them, right, and more to the point, who would want to have a friendly chat about smut? There's a real conversation-ender for you.

They went about setting up their secret identity with commendable spirit. Not only did they say they were producing porn films, but they went and hired prostitutes and actually created some homemade sex films. Take that, doubting travel companion. The closeted air marshal could just whip out his government-issued phone and show you his oeuvre.

As it turns out, it is illegal for federal employees like air marshals to hire prostitutes for any reason. It is also illegal for them to tape sex acts on government equipment. The Feds are particularly sensitive to such rules infractions because the Secret Service really humiliated everyone with their escapades, and the authorities prefer not to have to deal with another similar scandal. It wouldn't do to have taxpayers look at threats to shut down the Federal government and say, go for it we'd be better off without the clowns who pass for a defensive line against terror.

One of the three marshals has turned in his badge, while the other two apparently feel that they did nothing wrong. They were supposed to work incognito, weren't they? An agent forced to prove his cover story has to do what he or she has to do, and if that means hiring prostitutes and then filming the action, well, how is that grounds for dismissal?

Their boss, Roderick Allison, has assured Congress that this is a one-off incident and he's working to get the other two agents fired. Such activity, he testified, is not representative of air marshal culture. So we are all to believe that the rest of the force can come up with much better false identities, and excessive creativity is not tolerated.

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