Duncan Blasts "Useless" Air Marshal Service

Jun 19, 2009 Issues: Homeland Security, Transportation

VIDEO

Washington, DC -- Mr. DUNCAN:  Madam Speaker, probably the most needless, useless agency in the entire Federal Government is the Air Marshal Service.

In the Homeland Security Appropriations bill we will take up next week, we will appropriate $860 million for this needless, useless agency. This money is a total waste: $860 million for people to sit on airplanes and simply fly back and forth, back and forth. What a cushy, easy job. 

And listen to this paragraph from a front-page story in the USA Today last November: “Since 9/11, more than three dozen Federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.''

Actually, there have been many more arrests of Federal air marshals than that story reported, quite a few for felony offenses. In fact, more air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals.

We now have approximately 4,000 in the Federal Air Marshals Service, yet they have made an average of just 4.2 arrests a year since 2001. This comes out to an average of about one arrest a year per 1,000 employees.

Now, let me make that clear. Their thousands of employees are not making one arrest per year each. They are averaging slightly over four arrests each year by the entire agency. In other words, we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest. Let me repeat that: we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest.

Professor Ian Lustick of the University of Pennsylvania wrote last year about the money feeding frenzy of the war on terror. And he wrote this: “Nearly 7 years after September 11, 2001,'' he wrote this last year, “what accounts for the vast discrepancy between the terrorist threat facing America and the scale of our response? Why, absent any evidence of a serious terror threat, is a war to on terror so enormous, so all-encompassing, and still expanding?  The fundamental answer is that al Qaeda's most important accomplishment was not to hijack our planes but to hijack our political system.”

“For a multitude of politicians, interest groups and professional associations, corporations, media organizations, universities, local and State governments and Federal agency officials, the war on terror is now a major profit center, a funding bonanza, and a set of slogans and sound bites to be inserted into budget, grant, and contract proposals.''

And finally, Professor Lustick wrote: “For the country as a whole, however, it has become maelstrom of waste.'' And there is no agency for which those words are more applicable than the Federal Air Marshal Service.

In case anyone is wondering, the Air Marshal Service has done nothing to me, and I know none of its employees. But I do know with absolute certainty that this $860 million we are about to give them could be better spent on thousands of other things.

As far as I'm concerned, it is just money going down a drain for the little good it will do. When we are so many trillions of dollars in debt, a national debt of over $13 trillion, we simply cannot afford to waste money in this way.