Secret Service Agent Barred From Flight

A Muslim Secret Service agent was removed from a plane; Mayor Rudolph Giuliani prepares to leave office; Police in Times Square will use gadgets to guard against nuclear terrorism on New Year's Eve, and an ex-senator will oversee the Red Cross fund.

Secret Service Agent Barred From Flight

Dec. 27 — A Muslim Secret Service agent assigned to President Bush was denied passage on an American Airlines flight earlier this week, airline and Secret Service officials said.

The agent, who was armed, was due to fly Tuesday — Christmas Day — from Baltimore to Texas, where the president is on vacation.

A spokesman for the airline says the pilot asked for the agent, who has not been identified, to be removed from his plane because of inconsistencies in the paperwork the agent filed, as required of all federal officers traveling armed.

A Washington-based advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, says the agent was denied his flight because of racial and religious profiling.

In a letter sent to American Airlines today, the group wrote: "We are concerned that American Airlines would arbitrarily deny boarding to a Muslim passenger, particularly someone who has one of our nation's highest security clearances, merely because of his religion or ethnicity.

"The passengers on Flight 363 would actually have been more secure had [the agent] been allowed to board."

CAIR says the agent's identification was checked repeatedly, and he offered to have the Secret Service confirm his identity.

The agent was allowed to fly the next day.

"This incident had absolutely nothing to do with the agent's ethnicity," airline spokesman Todd Burke told Reuters. "It's about American Airlines confirming that an armed individual is indeed who they say they are.

"We apologize for any inconvenience that [the agent] may have experienced. But in this time of tightened security we feel that absolutely nobody is above approved security procedures."

The Secret Service confirmed the incident, and said it was investigating the details.

CAIR is demanding a further apology.


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