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March 25th, 2008
10:34 AM ET

Where are the air marshals?

Four months ago I was having dinner with a fairly high ranking federal law enforcement officer. He'd just flown into Washington DC from overseas and told me "guess what? I was the air marshal."

Where are the air marshals

It was a joke. He's not an air marshal. But since he is an armed federal law enforcement officer he is told when air marshals are on his flight.
They've been missing he says for at least a year.

So for the last four months my producer, Kathleen Johnston, and I have been asking pilots, Feds, anyone in the know, "where are the air marshals?"

The answer was always the same, we haven't seen any in a long time.  Tonight you will hear from the air marshals themselves. Call them Rare Marshals.

Their actual numbers are a National Security Secret. That's why the air marshals don't want to be identified. But the real secret, they think, is much too dangerous to keep.

-Drew Griffin, 360 Correspondent

Programming note: See Drew's investigation on 360, tonight at 10pm ET.

Check out the full story here


Filed under: Drew Griffin
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Robt

    the air marshal needs a adrenalin shot in the arm ..hire some retired cops part time and lets save money and get some motivated ppl ..

    May 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  2. charles rall

    I applied for position of Federal Air Marshal in 2001 and was called. I am a retired NYPD Detective,retired USAR Major MP corps and since became a sworn deputy sheriff in Arizona,I was told I was too old for position

    November 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Robt

      I am also a retired officer from a major dept. SWAT trained and experienced , firearms instructor, hand to hand expert ... I really wanted a air marshal job but also told too old... I met some air marshals ...a sad group of ppl ill trained and not up the the terrorists standards take a old cop and watch then protect the skies..

      May 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  3. Jackie

    Poor, poor people, you really don't know how bad it is wih the FAMS. Witch hunts, ex secret service people that show no respect towards current and former miltitary members. It is a fact that it was said "If you don't like, then you can go flip burgers." And the amazing one "You are not here to lead, but to manage!".

    Here is the deal, Air Marshals are burned out. They stepped up to the plate for the mission. Management stepped up for the money. Too many behind the scene deals, abuses of police placards, and mis-use of government vehicles. All by management. But they get their relatives hired , who then get fired. There are a few bad apples in the rank and file, but you have to change the little kingdoms they call Field Offices. I wonder what is going on when they travel to foreign countries?

    April 18, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Bill

    To all of you who say this is irresponsible journalism, I say poppycock! We have every right to know that the administration is AGAIN dropping the ball on national security, then turning around and using national security as the reason to hide their failings. I would far rather have this knowledge in the open for all to see (even terrorists), then to let the administration hide the truth, while letting the public believe they're being protected when they're not. The Bush administration is constantly crying "Wolf", to scare people into backing their misguided policies, while stifling opposition under the guise of patriotism. It's about time we started telling the American public the truth, instead of letting this administration's propaganda give them a false sense of security.

    April 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  5. Dan

    A couple of comments..first off, I spoke to a TSA representative about the nipple ring incident, TSA does not look at peoples private parts and there were no males in the room when to exam was done. She could have been carrying something in the bra that was much worse then the nipple ring.

    Reference the story on Air Marshals, why are we reporting such information to the public, why don't we just hand the bad guys a bomb and tell them to use it.

    I am with DHS by the way.

    April 3, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  6. Robin

    what kind of idiot would report this information? the answer better not be "because the public needs to know". what the public DOES NOT need is for the terrorists to know which airports are more vulnerable and how many air marshals you speculate are not on our flights.

    i will truly hold you directly responsible for any terrorist activity that stems from this irresponsible reporting.

    April 1, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  7. double-dog-dare

    Drew,
    put your money where your mouth is. Board a flight into or out of NY or DC. In the middle of the flight stand up and say something really provocative and idiotic – other than reading the transcript of your story – and see what the response will be. When you come to, try to gather your thoughts together, again, and do some more investigative reporting to determine whether it was a FAM or a concerned flying citizen that rearranged your shirt, tie, nice suit and TV hairdo for you.

    It's beyond belief to think that you go home at night thinking that you did anyone in America good service by airing that story.

    March 31, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  8. Alison in Texas

    To all the people who are griping about how awful CNN is for reporting this info...

    Now that you know that the security on airplanes is compromised because of the lack of air marshalls:

    1. Write your congressman
    2. Write your State Rep.
    3. Write to the White House

    Most people aren't aware of this situation. Now that we all know, hopefully we'll all get off our butts and do something.

    Don't blame CNN for telling the story.

    March 26, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  9. Graham

    "This is mindless and irresponsible journalism" is an understatement.

    I am a Delta Airlines Flight Attendant. I have had FAM's on my flight 3 times in the last 30 days.

    I would estimate that 50% of Pilots also carry firearms.
    Do your homework.

    March 26, 2008 at 9:49 am |
  10. ex fam

    Where are all the fams? They left for jobs with better schedules and better supervisors.Sceduling, pay and career incentives are lacking. Where are all the female fams? This one, with military, college and prior service left due to reasons the fams are losing their employees...poor scheduling, horrible supervisors with mantra's of "if you don't like it, leave" and no interagency growth.

    March 26, 2008 at 7:14 am |
  11. Elizabeth Plue

    I just wanted to say that in the year 2001 months after the terrorist attacks, I was barely searched. The most security that I went through was that at one of my stops the gjuy guarding the entry gate simply asked me what was in my carry-on... he didn't search it at all.

    Years later, when flying again, I felt that the protection was over bearing.... Why should I have to take off flip flops? And the way they treated me like a pain when really I was just in wonder of what the heck was going on. I hadn't flown in foever and so I was really confused and I felt like I was treated like a freak because of this.

    Uggg.... I just don't like flying anymore and I never did. But now, I can't take my lotions or perfumes or make-up or anything else. So I have no desire to fly with those pains in the rear plus my divinely terrifying anxiety ridden fear of flying.

    March 26, 2008 at 6:08 am |
  12. Mike Rappe

    Why not announce this to the world. Why not give invitations to the terrorists. Unbeliveable how ignorant some people are. If there is something wrong why not write your congressmanIt is a good thing you guys were not around during WW2.

    March 26, 2008 at 3:35 am |
  13. John Stokke

    Anderson, your Air Marshall story only hit the tip of the story....The current regime/government has run even the basic safety of flights before a terrorist threat happens. I'm an Air Traffic Controller, and have been since 1989. I find myself and others working unreasonable levels for the last 2 years. I (though i know can speak for most) work at the Anchorage Intl' Airport. The supposed 2nd busiest cargo port in the world, and THEbusiest floatplane port. Just the short numbers, We have been working with 16-18 controllers where 32 are required since I moved here...and well, we're facing the retirements and losses that are going to leave us even shorter through the summer and beyond!!! The fixes are long on words and short on hope. Even if we got 15-20 well trained trainees...we'll still be on our own for a year or more!!!

    March 26, 2008 at 2:03 am |
  14. Sam Henry Stone

    Really: I thought that house was protected by ADT; I mean I saw the sign in the yard; “this house is protected by ADT alarm monitoring system.” Cost of the sign, 15 dollars; cost of the monitoring system; 480 dollars a year with a minimum three year contract and we’ll give the signs for free.
    No Marshals on the planes! Who knew, I thought all domestic and international flights had Air Marshall on them. That was the sign the government posted outside each air port after 911. I bet the government went out and bought a bunch of signs, “these flights are protected by US Air Marshalls.”
    Sign cost to the government about 150 dollars; staffing planes with qualified Air Marshalls, 75,000 dollars a year with a minimum of a commitment to a person who also has a life, needs benefits personal time and a vacation. You do the math; I think Uncle George bought the signs.

    March 25, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  15. Nick H. in NV

    Well this is, in one word "scary". We have fallen into what seems like a false sense of security again! It seems like the country has forgotten 9/11, from a security stand point. I have twice forgotten that I had a knife in my bag and had it get through the security check point, and if I can do it by accident I am sure a terrorist can do it on purpose. As for the person who said this was irresponsible journalism and just the thing terrorist are looking for, I say good now its out there we know it and it is now our responsibility to fix it. I personally know an Air Marshal and haven't discussed this with him but have heard him complain in the past that there just isn't enough coverage. Not to sound too much like a conspiracy guy, but maybe Bush is trying to leave the office of President in as much trouble as possible so that when a Democrat is elected this year it will take half of there first term to fix everything, or maybe he is just an Idiot. Look the bottom line is that we haven't had an attack on the mainland US since 9/11 and people are starting to feel comfortable again, and that is exactly what the terrorist of the world want, not some blogger to say there aren't enough Air Marshals on flights, but us to again turn a blind eye and let them set up shop in Canada, Mexico, or even right here in the good old USA. Don't think they aren't still targeting us, we are and will probably always be the ultimate terrorist target and because of that we must not let down are guard or we risk 9/11 all over again.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  16. C.H.Robert

    Armed the pilots, and have the doors between the pilots and passengers solid and locked, and spent the money on having armed marshalls on most filights, there is enough money to do this with no excuses from washington, people should demand this and do. we have washington doing nothing and both the democrats and republicans not representing or protecting us as they should.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  17. Tammy

    Is this even a real issue? The terrorists already know our airport security is crappy. Heck, the average American who flies more than once a decade can clue you into that much. I don't need some anonymous marshall looking for a fleeting moment of fame to tell us what we can figure out on our own. We're not imbeciles after all. I imagine you're trying to find stories other than election drama, but if this is the best you can do, I'll take another night of Obama preacher bashing babble or extra weird animal video or dancing prisoners or Anderson twiddling his thumbs on the air. Gads. America is getting too close to a recession for my tastes, our education system needs an overhaul, one out of every four teenage girls has an STD, crime is unreal, you never did really cover New Orleans again, healthcare sucks for average Americans, the environment is still in danger, and you're covering an air marshall shortage? Maybe you all need more coffee in the morning before you decide what is real news for this show. I am beginning to wonder most nights here lately.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  18. Tcb

    Do you want to fix the Air Marshall shortage? Change the hiring parameters for federal employees. Who better to be an Air Marshall than a retired law enforcement professional? Except you cannot be hired into a federal law enforcement position if you are older than 40. Most retired police officers are in their 50's with over 25 years of service. Add to that their military experience and you have a highly trained, level headed, experienced professional that just needs to learn the rules of engagement during a flight. What a great second career it would make for former law enforcement officers and what a great resource to utilize as they continue to serve the public.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  19. Jerry

    I am disappointed by see all these comments implying that this was not a good thing to reveal to the American people. Wake up! our enemy is SMART they already know what a joke airline security is. Do you really think that they have not been able to get sympathizers working at the TSA and airlines in the past seven years? Give me a break! Security through obscurity is not security.

    The more these kind of "secrets" come out the more the average American will know not to sit back passively waiting on a sky marshal to do something when you see something suspicious it is up to us because the government runs the TSA just like every other screwed up agency. Take our tax $ via ticket tax and blow it unless we keep the heat on em.

    March 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  20. anonymous

    Hey, James Ayule: Learn to spell before you tell Nate that 57 is too old to control a "young arrogant buck" like you.

    March 25, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  21. Janis Lurey

    I am intrigued by a statement that Drew Griffin made on-air in promoting tonight's program.

    He claims to take international flights out of Reagan regularly (thus his alarm!). Reagan is not an international airport! He would have to be changing planes and going through immigration/customs somewhere along the line, such as Atlanta, Miami, NYC, etc., whether leaving or entering the US. Just how accurate will the rest of his expose be?

    Maybe AC 360 should explore Drew Griffin's honesty, or, at least, accuracy. There's enough to be frightened or worried about these days. The public deserves factual and accurate reporting; objective is too much to expect, I fear. Is this a "sweeps" month?

    March 25, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  22. David Russell

    To all those that are putting CNN reporters down for this story please keep your head in the sand and don't bother popping up with your nonsense. If you are not safe on board an airline then you are not safe, wouldn't you rather congress and the government do something about it? They won't do a thing until a public outcry forces their hand. If you think they would then why has this gone on for so long? As a few have put it already, the bad guys already know this information, do you seriously think everyone of the bad guys are on the no-fly-list? No, they are getting new members every day and the authorities have no idea who they are. It is much wiser for you to be truly safe instead of pretend safe as you seem to like it now.

    March 25, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  23. Ciara

    What's wrong with so many of you people? Do you really believe you're safer in ignorance, not even wanting to know what your government is going? 'We don't need to know / we don't want to know / OMG THE TERRORISTS!!!!...these attitudes are the ones that are causing problems in our country today.

    Hold the government accountable. Don't let fear mongering run your life. They are accountable to us, as the people of this country. We have a right, and a need, to know if they're doing what we want them to.

    I, too, would like to know why air marshalls are quitting in droves. If we're not treating them well, paying them enough...then really, what are we saying about our real desire for security? You get what you're willing to pay for. If you're not willing to pay for it, you don't get it. Easy.

    And I'm surprised that anyone else is surprised by this 'revelation'.

    Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control.

    March 25, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  24. cary

    What good can come of this report? Do you really think the FAA FBI and DHS are going to divulge everything to the media?

    Like the troop movements the media was so keen to expose last year, there's some things better left alone.

    March 25, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  25. James Ayule

    I hate to say it Nate, your to old. I know you don't want to admit it, but you were. The magical age is 37. You should have applied for an instructors billet. Your not Flem Pickering, the old rough and ready devil dog way past his prime, in WEB Griffin's USMC novels. I have an old Korean War Vet that is waiting for the Corps to call him back. I know you served your country, and you probably did it well, but lets facce the facts, you need to leave the ground stomping to the young arrogant bucks like me. I have found the Air Marshalls very willing to help with the application process. Sorry they turned you down, but maybe an administration or training billet is right for you. Keep charging and you'll get it there. As for this report, I find it hard to believe. These Air Marshals have one of the hardest jobs in America. So some of them are disgruntled and wanted to talk about it anonymously. I bet a couple of your co workers would do the same thing if they could. Just because the gov. is trying to protect us from terorism by releasing the numbers then let them. If they are understaffed then so be it. They don't need that bad publicity so that every jihadist can view that and say well darn lets go get us a plane. Whether they are over or understaffed our gov protecting the numbers of Air Marshals is a good thing. God Bless Country and Corps

    March 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  26. InquiringMind

    one way to test this theory is have a pre-signed notarized statement with the name of your attorney ready to hand out and mid flight jump up and say something in farsi. I don't know I do know I don't trust the government at all. Not at all.

    March 25, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  27. Dan Rickard

    Question for you Drew, how long have you been an Al Qaeda opperative? Thanks for breaking the news that you can now fly, with little worry of being confronted by air marshals? Who do you think would like to hear that the most? Why don't you quit, instead of putting me and my family in harms way!

    March 25, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  28. Gerald Brookman

    The passengers on the 9/11 flights were helpless and defenseless against terrorists armed with box cutters. Had there been only a single firearm on any of those flights, some or all of the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented.

    I received a written positive response from Senator McCain to the following proposal:

    “Any person with a valid concealed handgun license issued by any state may carry their concealed firearm(s) aboard any commercial aircraft while traveling.”

    It will give ordinary Americans the chance to defend themselves and ignore the TSA bureaucracy. Senator McCain will gain the support of all four (4) million NRA members, the ninety (90) million Americans who own a firearm, and the millions of Americans who travel by commercial airliner.

    March 25, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  29. Brenda

    We have no business knowing how many air marshalls are on board our planes, nor which pilots carry guns in the cockpits. These men and women work hard for their livings, put their lives in danger every day, and deserve anonymity. Stop trying to incite panic. This is irresponsible journalism- you are endangering the lives of these people who are doing a job not many of us could do, or want to do. I have always felt completely safe flying. Which I felt the same way when I get behind the wheel of my car!

    March 25, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  30. mark

    if you naive morons think the "terrorists" do not already know things like this then I hope you are on a hijacked plain because we need to weed you out of the gene pool.
    Speaking of getting people killed- how many hijacking attempts have there been since 9/11? See the terrorists are not as stupid as our government and do not keep doing the same thing over and over again.
    Get a clue TSA is a dog and pony show for the masses and you have fallen for it. Keep criticizing the guy who is out there trying to show you the truth.

    March 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  31. Ken Rascal

    Who in their right mind would report this type of information, why not just tell the terrorist that our doors are open, come on in.

    March 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  32. Maureen

    Why are so many air marshals leaving their jobs? Why have the percentages of Air Marshals on the job dropped so drastically? Maybe that's part of the story that needs to be told. You're talking about men and women who have pledged to risk their lives for the benefit of the public's safety. Are they being taken care of, or are they being taken advantage of? I want to know that as well.

    March 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  33. anonymous

    In 2005 I applied, interviewed for and was given and offer to join the Federal Air Marshall Service. Marshalls at the facilities where I interviewed and conducted other parts of the selection process told me that about 5% of domestic flights and less than 1% of the international flights were "covered." There simply aren't enough Air Marshals to cover all of the day to day flights. Why aren't there enough? That's a complicated story, but the short version is: lack of money.

    Why? Well, one reason is that the FAMS offered me the job, but only if I wanted to live in DC on $38k a year (which is pretty much poverty level for that area). I was a captain in the Air Force at the time close to $90k/year in DC. I had a college degree, years of military experience in two services, years of IT experience, a government security clearance, a squeaky clean bill of health. I also had an offer on the table from a government contractor for almost three times as much pay. Knowing that I would have to make some sort of concession if I wanted to be a FAM, I was ready to give a little on the salary. However, they wouldn't budge on the salary offer at all. They told me I could PROBABLY be back up to WHAT I WAS ALREADY MAKING in 3-4 years, let alone what I'd been offered by the government contractor. I was just looking for maybe another $15-20k on top of their original offer so I wouldn't have to essentially live in the poor house while doing this "really important job." They wouldn't even budge.

    They also lost my employment package twice and made me re-accomplish it each time, one of which I had to pay for myself (air and hotel fare). There were also horror stories I heard from the FAMS conducting the hiring process (strange that the FAMS actually involved in the hiring process were trying to wave the applicants off, huh?) about the job conidtions under which they work. One guy told me that they only get one day off per week and that they get that day wherever they happen to be due to the mission, i.e., they don't get that day off at home.

    The FAMS are under funded, terrbibly managed and on the hook for conducting a vital mission. The only way to fix it all is to blow the whole thing open, get rid of the ex Secret Service bozos running the show and to provide more money to pay the people what they're worth to do the job (as well as to retain the people who want to be there).

    Needless to say I'm making a better living as a defense contractor, still contributing to America's defense. I also try to fly as little as possible because I know how illusory the "safety" the FAMS provide really is.

    March 25, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
  34. comfortablynumb

    Jake-
    less than 1% coverage is less than 1% coverage. Commercial flights do include regional jets, not turboprops. What distribution? I mean seriously, how can there be distribution with only 1% compliance across the board? It comes down to them not doing there job.

    If anyone is wanting to be spoon fed, look at yourself. All it takes is a little research to fill in the gaps, or you could be patient and watch the coverage tonight on the show. Tune in at 10.

    March 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  35. Deb

    Good job, Drew.

    You and your "brilliant" investigative reporting are going to get people killed. Don't you know that if most people were thinking the numbers of marshals were higher, then some of those very people might include terrorists as well. Alas, let's kill ourselves in the name of honesty and good reporting. Hah!

    When are you journalists going to get the idea that if someone is not authorized to be speaking on the record because of the sensitivity of the information, that it is also probably not such a great idea to put it into print? Again, "BRILLIANT".....

    March 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  36. ML

    Maybe not such a good idea to let everyone know this. I don't feel too safe now. Will be flying in a month. Sometimes too much info out on the internet is not good.

    Take the information to the proper authorities.

    Thanks!

    March 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm |
  37. AW Moss

    Personally I feel it is irresponsible journalism to bring it to the public unless there is no response from members of Congress. This is especially important to them as they are flying twice a week.

    March 25, 2008 at 1:04 pm |
  38. Richard Spencer

    With all due respect, I love everyone on CNN. Larry King, Anderson Cooper, everyone. Roland you are great. But, coming from a military angle, reporting things like this over the news might not be the best idea. It is good to know, but you never know who is watching. But, since the cat is out of the bag, Senator Obama, it would not be a bad idea to put Soldiers, some undercover and some in uniform, on the planes and at the airports to beef up our national security. Being an active duty Staff Sergeant and deploying 35+ months in 92 months of service, I would not complain if I got tasked with airport duty with a Company sized element for a month or two. At least I would be stateside, at an airport closed to where I am stationed and lived so I can my family. Granted these soldiers would be on TDY, which is more pay, but it would be NO WHERE NEAR what it would be if they were in Iraq. You will not have to worry about training new people, which again, leaves money to work on other issues that you and I are both so passionate about. With that being said, here you Go Senator Obama, this email is for you: YES WE CAN!!!! No sarcasm intended. If ya need anymore of my ideas, your best political team in the nation has my permission to give you my email address. Have a well deserve rest on vacation. Clear your head and let's prepare to beat hillary in PA.

    March 25, 2008 at 1:04 pm |
  39. David Awerbuch

    I agree with Ms. Wong, we are complacent. The same complacency that is allowing us to send billions of dollars a year to the Arabic oil-producing countries for the privilege of driving gas-guzzling super-cars; to support their building 200-story towers and artificial land masses so massive they can be seen from space; to – oops – find it's way to the militant extremists who want to take/crash our airplanes out of the sky – and we remove our air marshalls from these flight because .... gee, I can't think of a reason why - oh, yeah, maybe the government ran out of money for the program because we're wasting it fighting the non-enemy in Iraq. Boy, are we complacent - I hesitate to say we're even being just plain STUPID!

    March 25, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  40. That's our gov't for ya

    Melissa Wong..
    right you are. But hey, we're spot checking every grandma with a carry on, and anyone who books a flight w/ less than 24 hrs notice gets all but anal-probed as a 'security risk', so at least we're safer, in theory.

    March 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  41. Jake

    “where are the air marshals?” I believe the term is "undercover".

    Like Exxon's quarterly financials, this is another good example of issuing a very broad "gee whiz" statistic that looks great on the home page but tells the general public nothing. Unfortunately, the general public usually doesn't care enough to look beyond the "gee whiz"

    Less than 1% coverage, 28,000 daily flights: does that number include regional jets, turboprops or is it just mainline jets.? How is that coverage distributed ? Do flights in Washington and New York get more coverage than Sioux Fallls or Little Rock ?

    This is just more of the usual shalllow, Mac-news style that the public loves to be spoon-fed since it requires no thinking.

    March 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  42. barbara

    WHY ARE YOU REPORTING ON THIS?? WHY DON'T YOU SIMPLY CALL UP THE BIN LADEN BOYS, TELL THEM WHICH PLANES TO BOARD, WHICH AIRPORTS HAVE THE WORST SECURITY, ADVISE THEM HOW TO GET THEIR WEAPONS THROUGH SECURITY.AND WELCOME THEM??????

    YOUR HOLY GRAILE OF "REPORTING THE TRUTH" FOR TRUTH'S SAKE GOES WAY FURTHER THAN MOST OF US SUPPORT.
    YOU REALLY REACH FOR YOUR JUSTIFICATIONS, AND SADLY, MOST PEOPLE IN THE PRESS ARE BLINDED TO HEALTHY BALANCE.

    WHY AREN'T YOU SUING TO BE PRESENT AT TOP SECRET CABINET MEETINGS? IT'S ONLY TRUTH, THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW, RIGHT???????

    March 25, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  43. Federal Agent

    You think that's bad....the Airlines are just as bad in helping the situation.....for example, American Airlines does not allow federal agents to carry firearms if they are traveling in a non-revenue capacity. This simply means that if you have a family member that is an employee of American, and you are traveling on a pass, you ARE NOT authorized to carry your firearm. Now, turn around and BUY that ticket and you can carry. Makes no sense to me. Last I checked, American Airlines lost two planes to terrorist attacks, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. One would think that with the Air Marshal shortage, American Airlines would want an extra level of protection....apparently not.

    March 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  44. Melissa Wong

    The belief that even 50% of all flights would be covered by an air marshall is virtually impossible due to the costs. It doesn't surprise me that fewer and fewer air marshalls are on flights now that it's been almost 7 years since 9/11. We all just simply become complacent.

    March 25, 2008 at 12:31 pm |
  45. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Drew,
    You ask, "Where are the air marshals?" Obviously not on the airplanes. A lot of good that does the American public. It makes you wonder what Congress or anyone else does day in and day out. Solving problems, doesn't appear to be at the top of the list.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    March 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm |
  46. comfortablynumb

    Drew-looks pretty good. I have to say, it is pretty discouraging to hear such news. I mean, safety should not be an option, it should be mandatory on ALL flights. I am really interested to see what you have to share on the program tonight.

    March 25, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  47. Nate - California

    Concerning the lack of coverage of air Marshals today here is a little more information to add to this unbelieveable situation and I am sure it is not an isolated problem.

    Right after 9/11/ 2001 I searched the internet and found the air marshals agency and secured an application for the air marshal position. I filled out and submitted the application, within the application I advised them the following; I would be willing to work at a greatly reduced salary in order to help meet the demands to get air marshals in place as quickly as possibe. This would help fill the void until the air marshals service could be brought up to speed.

    My qualifcations are as follows, I am a United States Army Vet, I am a seasoned retired Deputy Sheriff, I am a certified FBI trained firearms instructor, I hold a Associate in Science degree in Police Science.

    A couple of months later I was turned down as being too old, I was 56 at that time.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  48. Annie Kate

    Drew

    This leaves one speechless at first read. I've heard the question from the presidential campaigns "do we feel safer than we did in 2001"....after this I would have to say NO. We've gotten by it seems on blind luck.

    I'm looking forward to your report and hearing if this is because of incompetence, appointing political allies to an office they haven't the skill to run and not caring enough to make them accountable for what happens on their watch.....I can almost hear Bush saying "Heck of a job Brownie!"....

    Thanks for investigating this. I'm glad you and CNN are going to shine a light on a situation that is patently unacceptable..

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 25, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  49. Capt. Charles R. Huber

    This is mindless and irresponsible "journalism." You are recklessly endangering the flying public by reporting these numbers. This is just what the terrorists need to know.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  50. Chip Weismiller

    Cnn was way out of line with this story, I may not understand journalism 100% but besides comments or emails from Greg alter at FAMS you had all anonymous sources, im pretty sure actual marshals on the planes do not know the exact details of the internal workings of the admin, or how many marhshals are working, or how many are on planes. The do far more then just sit on and protect planes, the man control centers, investigate reports, persons, incidents, the publics conception of Federal Air marshals is that they only fly on planes, well they do far more, and a budge of 720 million in todays market and world is nothing. there wouuld have to be about 14, 000 air marhsalls to even get close to flying on each and every flight of the day in the united states. dont forget time off, leave, sickness, vacation, etc....get more facts, take pride in what your countries doing, was that law enforcement official sombody who is with another agency opposed to FAMS...hmmm

    March 25, 2008 at 11:12 am |

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