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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

My "Ridiculous"Item of the Day


By Michelle Malkin · December 15, 2004 08:54 AM

Can you imagine if an al Qaeda bureaucrat had ordered the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists to wear "I heart Osama" T-shirts when they embarked on their murderous flights?

No idiot would send his men on a covert mission wearing clothes that would so blatantly give them away, right?

Wrong. Meet Federal Air Marshal Service Director Thomas Quinn. The man in charge of our in-flight cops, who are supposed to be spying secretly on would-be terrorist hijackers, refuses to allow his employees to dress undercover. Quinn insists that air marshals abide by military-style grooming standards and a rigid business dress policy regardless of weather, time of year or seating arrangement. He wants them to look PROFESSIONAL...

That's the subject of today's column here. The rank-and-file marshals refer to the stupid dress code as the "kill-me-first dress code," which benefits no one but the terrorists. The Federal Air Marshals Service is a disaster under Director Quinn, and the dress code is the tip of the iceberg, according to insiders.

The Washington Times weighs in here.

The National Border Patrol Council documents Quinn's witch hunt against whistleblowers here. Annie Jacobsen has more here on the idiotic dress code.

The Federal Air Marshals Association calls for Quinn's firing here. So does the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association here. FLEOA released a devastating and detailed critique of the Quinn regime in April here (PDF file). (FLEOA president Frank Terreri, a vocal critic of the dress code and other dangerous FAMS policies, was suspended from his job by Quinn in October.)

Memo to President Bush: How shall I put this politely? FIRE THOMAS QUINN.

UPDATES: Lots of interesting feedback pouring in from travelers, marshals, other airline and government employees...
I am a DOD Career manager/employee. I used to wear my hair very short, and dress in either a sport coat and tie, or even a suit while traveling on Official Business. No longer. I looked too much like an Air Marshal! People even asked my if I was an Air Marshal! I certainly looked "out of place" dressed well, and sitting in Economy Class. I dress like everyone else now. Levis, golf
shirt, sneakers etc. It's not hard to ID the marshals, and if I can do so, no doubt the enemy can too.
As a former Air Marshal, I worked for 2.5 years under the Quinn regime and I was so disheartened and disgusted by what I saw. So many of us left good jobs and families right after 9/11 to go and train to become air marshals out of a sense of duty. That sense of duty was ultimately ridiculed and berated to the point where many of us had to leave.
I'm a FAM and your article is RIGHT ON. The messed up thing is that Quinn and his folks, such as spokesman Dave Adams (nicknamed Baghdad Bob), will insist that there is no dress code, that it's each individual field office who dictates it, yet we all have the blazers.
I'm retired from the military, and know the value of sometimes disseminating false information to the enemy. That may be what is happening here. If the dress code for Air Marshals is emphatically publicized as professional attire only, that may make the terrorists less likely
to look for marshals who are, in fact, dressed undercover in "violation" of the "official" dress code. Just a thought to consider; I have no idea if this is truly the plan.
And my favorite comment so far from Ethiopundit:

I can't help but think that this must be a clumsy effort at misdirection or misinformation on the part of security officials. Even for a govennment bureaucracy - the idea of dressing up airplane security guards in uniforms is too much.

If true, it is a variation of the twisted logic from an old Cheech and Chong movie when they are arguing about how to dress their band.

Chong finally decides "let's have the kind of uniform where everybody
wears something different."

Another reader suggests a way we can support the air marshals--and improve airplane aesthetics at the same time:
[H]ow about getting all males to start dressing up to fly! If
the marshals are risking their lives and can’t look like us, we should hide them
by looking all the same! Plus I won’t have to sit next to some guy's armpits
hanging out of his tank top!...

Signing Off. Until next time, I'll see ya on the Blog! drh.