A program implemented after 9/11 to protect airline passengers is being abused by members of Congress, according to a group representing federal air marshals, creating a VIP “concierge service” for those members.
The Air Marshal National Council, a group that represents a portion of America’s roughly 2,000 air marshals, claimed the problem started following the violence at the Capitol on January 6, Fox News reported Friday.
“Following that, some fearful lawmakers began requesting security — not just on Capitol grounds, but to and from their districts and even to vacation spots,” the outlet continued:
The Transportation Security Administration, which runs the Federal Air Marshal Service, began reassigning agents from “high risk” commercial flights to accompany members of Congress instead. This angered some sky marshals, as protecting the public is their primary mission. Capitol police, and when necessary the U.S. Secret Service, are tasked with protecting lawmakers.
Some lawmakers have security details, but some who asked for the service skipped their flights, Fox said, adding it was also told lawmakers from both sides of the aisle used the service.
“One such flight, according to a complaint filed with the House Committee on Ethics, involved Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who flew from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis on April 17 to attend the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin,” the outlet continued.
The complaint reportedly said she was already accompanied by two Capitol Police officers and two U.S. Secret Service agents when she allegedly asked two air marshals and two additional marshals upon touchdown to walk with her in the airport.
However, the U.S. Capitol Police and U.S. Secret Service denied the claims on Friday, saying neither agency provided in-flight protection for her.
“Placing FAMs [Federal Air Marshals] on aircraft simply because a member of Congress requests it is an egregious misuse of government resources,” David Londo, president of the Air Marshal National Council, stated in a complaint issued to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General in April.
“The FAMs are now taking agents off of regularly scheduled ‘high risk’ flights to put them on flights with members of Congress, that in most cases have their own armed federal security details onboard already. It has become akin to a type of extremely expensive concierge service for Congressional members,” he concluded.
In April, Waters reportedly asked for a police escort to Minneapolis where she later urged activists to “stay in the streets” amid protests against police.
“Townhall obtained and published the document on Monday appearing to show the request with Waters’ name listed as the primary protectee and ‘Police escort In & Out’ listed underneath special requests,” according to Breitbart News.