Air Marshal Whistleblower Warned of Investigation

By Brian Ross And Rhonda Schwartz

May 26, 2006 4:17pm

The federal air marshal who went public on ABC News to protest the agency’s policies, Spencer Pickard, says he was notified by a supervisor just hours ago that officials are preparing to take action against him. Pickard said the air marshal service policies had made it impossible for him and other marshals to carry out their duties undercover. Pickard says he was told his superiors were preparing a "conduct incident report" based on his ABC News interview. He said he was warned he could face action for revealing sensitive security information. Pickard was ordered to continue flying after the 20/20 broadcast of his interview last week, raising concerns among many air marshals.  Pickard says his own partners were uncomfortable flying with someone who was publicly identified, a concern Pickard said he shared. The Federal Air Marshal Service has not commented directly on Pickard’s allegations that airport boarding policies and a dress code had compromised the undercover status of air marshals.  However, the top spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration which oversees the FAMS did give this statement to ABC News: "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is examining the draft report of the House Judiciary Committee and is in contact with the Committee regarding the draft report’s findings and recommendations. Because the draft report has not been released, it would be premature for us to comment any further on this matter. TSA’s Federal Air Marshal Service is constantly improving its programs to safeguard passengers and crew aboard our nation’s commercial aircraft." The draft report reached many of the same conclusions that Pickard did. The report is to be released next week.

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