The Too-Friendly Skies

Dragging their feet on arming pilots, the Administration is also moving, as an economy measure, to reduce the number of armed Air Marshals.

The Transportation Security Administration wants to reduce the number of air marshals to save money, even as the government is warning about the possibility al-Qaida may try more suicide hijackings.

The TSA is seeking approval from Congress to cut $104 million from the air marshal program to help offset a $900 million budget shortfall. It’s unclear how many of the estimated several thousand air marshal jobs would be affected.

Not to suggest that they don’t have good plan, or anything…

12 thoughts on “The Too-Friendly Skies”

  1. MSNBC broke this story today. They’ve already followed up with an update saying that the TSA has announced thet there will be no reduction in the number of air marshals flying.

  2. That’s even scarier than if they stuck to their guns. That’s what I want, a major homeland security agency willing to spin on a three-hours-of-bad-press dime. If they thought it was the right thing to do in the first place, then they ought to be doing it. If they didn’t, they shouldn’t have been planning it. Weasels.

  3. As if the Air Marshalls are going to do much anyway. It’s another boondoggle where a basically good idea has gone through the government digestive process. It was ramped up way too fast because it was more important to do somthing than to be effective.

  4. I agree, the air marshall program had drastically lowered its qualification requirements and reduced its training. It was pushed too hard to be present on every flight, when this is an impossibility. There is one group that could be on every flight, and that’s pilots. The pilot arming program seems to be off to a rocky start, but if the number of pilots trained in close combat exceeds the number of air marshalls lost, I would think the end result would be a more secure flying experience.


  5. Donno about how ineffective they would be, AOG; we tried the Air Marshal qualifier at a local pistol match and found that a mid-level IDPA shooter could comfortably pass.

    But a mid-level IDPA shooter is a pretty decent shot, and I’d feel comfortable that at that level of ability (which pretty well defines me, BTW), it’s unlikely that a successful hijacking would take place with an Air Marshal on board.

    Now I clearly agree that I’d much rather lightly train and then arm pilots. They are trusted with the plane fercryinoutloud, we can certainly trust one with a Glock. A lot more cost-effective, and 100% of the flights get covered. I’m still amused at the fact that a Republican administration can’t seem to get comfortable with this.


  6. In light of all of the other Homeland Defense idiocy, I have trouble getting upset over this (the reduction in air marshalls–not the dragging their feet over the arming of pilots).

    No one’s going to hijack an airplane again–the passengers simply won’t allow it (and this talk about the hijackers “convincing” passengers that they’re not really going to crash the plane is laughable–how dumb do they (both the Islamofruitcakes and our own fearless leaders) think we are?).

  7. Rand, I’ve gotta tell you that I’d rather be a passenger dealing with five or six hostile hijackers on a plane with one armed Good Guy (or Gal) on my side than without … and if you think about it for a moment, so would you.


  8. So would I, given those two choices and all else being equal. My point is that the likelihood of either is pretty slim, and I’m not sure that this is the highest-priority use of our resources. I’m a lot more worried about luggage.

  9. What you want to do is keep the number of guns in the passenger cabin to the lowest number possible. Otherwise, you run the risk that the opposition will figure out a way to take the gun from the air marshal.

    In an incident late last year, a guy on a Miami-Philadelphia flight started behaving bizarrely, by making comments that seemed strange to someone sitting near him. The marshals rushed him with their guns drawn, dragged him to first class (where they were seated), and chained him to a seat.

    Good? Actually, no. If I were an al Qaeda leader, I would find that very, very interesting. If I had a 5-member team on a plane, one or two of them could create a threatening diversion that would cause the marshals to declare themselves. Then, the other members of the team could ambush the marshals and take their guns.

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