Air Marshals Disciplined by TSA: A Yearlong Investigation into Alleged Sexcapades by Federal Air Marshals and Possible Security Lapses Leads to Suspensions and Demotions for Three Senior Officials. (the Nation: Aviation Security)

Article excerpt

A year after INSIGHT broke the story of alleged sexual capers overseas involving a handful of federal air marshals, this magazine has learned that at least three current senior officials have been reprimanded severely by the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The allegations, first reported in March 2002 [see "FAA's Sex Scandal," March 25, 2002], followed parallel allegations of serious security lapses at the nation's airports and the former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The sex allegations, covering a time between the early 1990s and at least through January 2000, included claims of visits to whorehouses, bordellos and interactive strip clubs by air marshals on international assignments.

When INSIGHT raised these matters with officials at the Department of Transportation (DOT), Secretary Norman Mineta immediately ordered the department's inspector general (IG) to investigate. "Secretary Mineta considers activities of the type described in these allegations outrageous," a spokesman told this magazine at the time.

Although allegations of improper sexual rampages by a few rotten apples among current and former air marshals while on missions overseas were reported to a variety of officials through the years, it wasn't until Mineta was made personally aware that a full-bore probe was ordered.

In addition to the alleged sexual capers, which sources said easily could have compromised aviation security and led to potential blackmail of air marshals, Mineta ordered the IG's office to pursue serious allegations of lapsed security at the nation's airports that whistle-blowers had brought forward following the carnage of 9/11.

A TSA spokesman tells INSIGHT that the disciplinary actions taken against three current federal air marshals, including a deputy director, occurred in late February following closure of the DOT IG's investigation. Personnel actions included two weeks' suspension and demotions, INSIGHT has learned.

A fourth individual not currently with the federal air marshals, but who works at TSA, also was disciplined as part of the yearlong investigation. MSNBC.com was first to report on the disciplinary actions Feb. …