You can tell things are not well when USA Today gets involved.
Crimes by air marshals raise questions about hiring
By Michael Grabell, ProPublica – 11/17/2008
And when Brian “Cooter” Phelps wanted his ex-wife to disappear, he called a fellow air marshal and tried to hire a hit man nicknamed “the Crucifixer.”
Since 9/11, more than three dozen federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct, an investigation by ProPublica, a non-profit journalism organization, has found. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan.
The Federal Air Marshal Service presents the image of an elite undercover force charged with making split-second decisions that could mean the difference between stopping a terrorist and shooting an innocent passenger.
But an examination of police reports, court records, government reports, memos and e-mails shows that 18 air marshals have been charged with felonies, including at least three who were hired despite prior criminal records or being fired from law enforcement jobs. A fourth air marshal was hired while under FBI investigation. Another stayed on the job despite alarming a flight attendant with his behavior.