The Why Behind the Whats of Secrecy

Michelle Malkin discusses the lapses in secrecy concerning the Air Marshals, and describes some specific things reported by CNN. She just reports the facts, and I want to explain why those facts are very, very bad to have in the open.

-explicitly describing the Federal Air Marshal Boarding Procedure,

This is very, very bad. This tells a terrorist, “this is how you identify the Air Marshals. Look for someone getting on this way.”

– disclosing that FAMs carry .357 Sigs (terrorists can now become familiar with the same weapon as the FAM carries prior to attack),

This isn’t completely clear about why this is bad, so I’ll explain. Instead of terrorists having to train broadly for a wide range of captured weapons, they now know that they can go get a specific family of weapons and train specifically with those weapons. Something like identifying the manual safety on the weapon could foil a terrorist long enough for the passengers to overpower the terrorist, should he get the weapon. Now, it will be second nature for him.

And that is the real problem of identifying these two things. Getting a gun on the plane is the goal of the terrorist. He has two options: he can smuggle a weapon in (hard) or he can acquire one that is already on the plane. He now has all the information he needs to do that. He can identify the Air Marshall, and he knows exactly how to use the weapon once he has taken it. This is very very bad.

Marshals are livid at Quinn’s reckless disregard for their safety and his continued war on FAMS employees trying to put the public interest above public relations. How long will the Bush administration keep this joker on board before something truly catastrophic happens?

That’s the long and short of it. He will be on board until something truly catastrophic happens.


  1. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    As Napoleon Dynamite would say…”Idiots”

  2. juan says:


    By a front-line Federal Air Marshal

    (The author remains anonymous out of fear of retaliation)

    February 25, 2005

    Governments like to keep secrets. This is a simple fact of life. There are things that the government says and does that they would rather not have disclosed to anyone other than those with a “need to know”. To this end, the government has created a whole series of “classifications” that dictate exactly who gets to know what. There are even parts of this classification system that are themselves classified to prevent people from revealing that that particular classification category is very important. The whole thing smacks of “Big Brother” and is enough to give anyone a headache. Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness: Information is power.

    Our government goes to great lengths to protect certain types of information because it wants to keep our enemies in the dark. Why? The amount of information that you know about your enemy’s strengths and weaknesses can have an incredible impact on how well you can defend yourself and attack him. It’s just like having another football team’s playbook. If you know exactly what the other team plans to do in every possible situation, then your defense and offense will be able to stop the other guy cold and win the game.

    This can be applied to almost any highly competitive activity: Baseball, business, stocks, courtroom litigation, and national defense. It’s the reason why our nation spends trillions of dollars on intelligence collection, and it’s also the reason why we try to guard our national defense secrets so closely. Everyone understands this.

    Everyone except for Thomas Dewey Quinn and his management cronies. You see Thomas Dewey Quinn, the current Director of the US Federal Air Marshal Service, believes that the best way to defend our nation’s commercial airliners is by giving the bad guys our entire playbook. Thomas Dewey Quinn has allowed CNN (and other news networks) complete access to all of the Federal Air Marshal Service’s secrets (which is classified as “Sensitive Security Information” –– dissemination and discussion of which is strictly limited to US law enforcement and intelligence agencies only), and then Quinn authorized those same media outlets to release that information to the world.

    To make matters worse, a high-ranking executive within Federal Air Marshal Service Headquarters, has now leaked information that Thomas Dewey Quinn has been providing national security information to civilians that have absolutely no need to know.

    This latest leak provides photographs of country western singer Lyle Lovett and an unidentified woman being personally escorted by Thomas Dewey Quinn, through the high security areas of the Federal Air Marshal Service Headquarters secret training facility. The photos also show Quinn allowing Lovett and the unidentified woman access to the secret training facilities while Federal Air Marshals were practicing the very tactics that they may have to use to defend airliners from terrorists –– Quinn then allowed Lovett and his companion to participate in the secret training.

    This type of abuse of authority has been going on for quite some time and has often involved several other high-ranking executives in the Federal Air Marshal Service (the Headquarters leak is now believed to have come from senior executives within the Service who realize that their own survival hinges upon the removal of Thomas Dewey Quinn, and the appointment of a more reasonable and stable Director).

    Why would Thomas Dewey Quinn allow this to occur? Surely Quinn, a former executive in the US Secret Service, is well aware of the necessity to keep protective measures a secret. The US Secret Service would never allow anyone to know how their agents plan to protect the president in any scenario, let alone film those agents practicing the tactics they would use, and then release that information to the world. The US Secret Service will not even disclose whether or not the President’s limo has armor or not. That type of classified information would jeopardize the safety of the President, and it would severely reduce the effectiveness of the US Secret Service as a law enforcement agency.

    Yet this is exactly what Thomas Dewey Quinn has done to the men and women of the Federal Air Marshal Service. By revealing every little detail about their mission and methods, Quinn has placed the lives of the flying public in mortal danger. Even the Secret Service knows that a bunch of agents in pretty business suits can only go so far to protect someone. At least Secret Service agents have high altitude sniper/surveillance teams, move in large teams, wear body armor, utilize state-of-the-art equipment, and use radios to communicate.

    Thomas Dewey Quinn unbelievably advertised to the world on the February 17th CNN video, that Federal Air Marshals, while in flight, CANNOT communicate with each other or the Mission Operations Center on their PDAs –– the very same PDAs Quinn personally acquisitioned himself! Can you say “DataMAX”, the company that supplied the Service with the costly, yet faulty PDA software that has never functioned properly to this day?

    The hard truth is that any terrorist willing to sacrifice their life, will succeed in an assassination attempt, because visible deterrence only works against people who ARE afraid to die. Organizations like Al Qaeda are feared by the US Secret Service because these people are not afraid to die and are not afraid to sacrifice 10, 20, or even a hundred people to overwhelm “the men in black” and achieve their goals (which is why the Secret Service does not allow its protectees into areas with this type of threat). This is exactly the type of threat that Federal Air Marshals face everyday, and the element of surprise is the most important advantage that they have to combat any threat.

    Terrorists cannot plan a successful hijacking if they don’t know the specifics of who, where, how, or how many when dealing with Federal Air Marshals. Let’s face it, terrorists are very risk adverse. Terrorists will never attempt something that could become an embarrassment to them, and they will never attempt anything that they are not reasonably sure will succeed. Nothing hurts a terrorist cause like a news story talking about how “XXX Government Agency defeated yet another terrorist attack and demonstrated that the US homeland is secure.”

    Federal Air Marshals are committed to defending the flying public with their last breath if necessary, and we owe it to them to give them every advantage necessary to ensure that 9/11 never happens again. Federal Air Marshals do their jobs every single day knowing that they may face overwhelming odds, and they accept this because they have unshakable faith in their training, skills, resolve, and personal dedication to those who died on 9/11.

    The Federal Air Marshal motto of “Unseen, Unheard, and Unafraid” is a statement of pride among Federal Air Marshals (which in a fit of retribution against the rank and file for their fight against his foolish and dangerous policies, Quinn and his management cronies have officially bastardized their motto to now read “Unseen and Unheard”, ). The motto is still the basis of every Federal Air Marshal’s protective value: The element of surprise allows them to overcome any challenge.

    The damage that Thomas Dewey Quinn has done to the Air Marshal Service and national security of the United States is so irreparable that it is being compared to the damage inflicted by spies such as Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Julius & Ethel Rosenberg. Thomas Dewey Quinn has betrayed the agents of the Federal Air Marshal Service and provided Al Qaeda (and any other terrorist organization) with a step-by-step manual on how to spot, disable, defeat and kill Federal Air Marshals before they even know a hijacking has begun.

    After 9/11 we all vowed to “Never Forget” the thousands of Americans who died on that day. Thomas Dewey Quinn and his executive management cronies of the Federal Air Marshal Service, have not only forgotten, they have betrayed an entire system dedicated to preventing another 9/11, and in doing so, they have betrayed the memories of our hollowed dead and of the United States of America.

  3. juan says:

    By a front-line Federal Air Marshal

    (The author remains anonymous out of fear of retaliation)

    Director Thomas Dewey Quinn of the Federal Air Marshal Service has hit an absolute low. Yesterday (Tuesday, March 1, 2005) Thomas Dewey Quinn had the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Atlanta Air Marshal Field Office relieved of duty and transferred to another part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE – the Federal Air Marshal Service’s parent agency). The official explanation of the transfer is still a mystery. This reassignment comes sharply on the heels of the national outcry following Quinn’s allowing of CNN to broadcast all of the details of the Air Marshal Service’s operational and training procedures, and allowing access to unauthorized persons (including Lyle Lovett) to secret headquarters facilities and to participate in secret Air Marshal training exercises.

    Did we miss something here? The Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service discloses SSI and he has the audacity to relieve the most respected SAIC in the Federal Air Marshal Service?

    Thomas Dewey Quinn has now determined that a scapegoat for his mismanagement needs to be designated, and the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office is the designee. What is particularly insane about the entire episode is this very same Special Agent in Charge was named by Thomas Dewey Quinn in an official inquest by the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee as a particularly effective and innovative leader. Quinn went on to cite the Atlanta Field Office as the most outstanding field office in the Air Marshal Service, and as an example of the overall effectiveness of the Service.

    Unfortunately for Quinn, using the achievements of one good leader to attempt to justify and mitigate the national security damage that Quinn has done is not good enough. Sources now indicate that Quinn is about to be formally investigated by ICE, the House Judiciary Committee, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and the Atlanta Special Agent in Charge is believed to have been called upon to testify about the waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement that has virtually paralyzed the nation’s flagship agency in the war on terror. This latest irrational act by Quinn is nothing less than a desperate attempt to eliminate the last person in the Service in a position to reveal every last detail of Quinn and company’s wrongdoing… wrongdoing that is now believed to include criminal activities.

    Once again Thomas Dewey Quinn has demonstrated what anyone and everyone having anything to do with civil aviation security, the aviation industry, and homeland security have been saying all along: Thomas Dewey Quinn is a reprehensible and incompetent (mis)manager who rewards incompetence and punishes conscientiousness. It is also painfully obvious that Thomas Dewey Quinn is determined to protect his neck at all costs… even if that means tainting the long and distinguished Federal Law Enforcement career of the most competent and effective manager in the Air Marshal Service.

    Quinn has further weakened the Federal Air Marshal Service and one can only wonder when this kind of nonsense and blatant obstruction of the Constitutional process will lead to yet another 9/11.

  4. kerry says:

    By a front-line Federal Air Marshal

    (The author remains anonymous out of fear of retaliation)

    On March 3, 2005 The Washington Times revealed the dark little secret that Federal Air Marshal Director Thomas Dewey Quinn has been trying to keep from everyone: There aren’t enough Federal Air Marshals left to effectively protect US civil aviation.

    The Washington Times article revealed that the numbers and percentages of Air Marshals that Thomas Dewey Quinn has been providing to ICE Headquarters, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, and the Congress of the United States, are all lies. The Washington Times article states that Quinn has been lying about the actual numbers of Federal Air Marshals that are available to protect US domestic and international flights. The report further states that Quinn has been adding Air Marshals who have resigned and other Federal Agents (like those in the US Secret Service) to the overall total in an effort to hide the fact that Federal Air Marshals have been quitting the service at a rate of nearly 1,000 a year. Quinn has also grossly overstated the percentages of flights that have Air Marshals on them to hide the fact that less than 2% of the daily commercial airline flights in the US are protected by Air Marshals (2200 Marshals divided by 2 Marshals per plane = 1100 Marshals divided by roughly 70000 flights = 1.5%).

    Why is this story so significant?

    For nearly three years now, rank and file Air Marshals have been trying to get anyone to listen to them. Their message has been a simple one: Thomas Dewey Quinn’s waste, fraud, abuses, and mis-management have reduced the service to an ineffective shambles. The Washington Times article supports this claim and clearly illustrates that despite the dedication to duty of the few remaining Air Marshals, US civil aviation is no safer than it was on September 11, 2001.

    How did things become so bad?

    Once again, we must look at nearly three years of reports from Air Marshals and industry insiders. Thomas Dewey Quinn has absolutely no idea how to properly lead what was once the flagship agency in Homeland Security, nor does he want to listen to anyone who does. We have read about draconian management policies and procedures that have driven nearly all of our nation’s finest law enforcement officers away from a mission that was created as a result of our nation’s worst terrorist attack. We have read about how Quinn and his management lackeys refer to anyone who opposes their insane policies as “bottom feeders” and “disgruntled amateurs.” We have read about how Quinn has placed the lives of the flying public in mortal danger by revealing to CNN and other media outlets every aspect of the Federal Air Marshal Service’s operational procedures and weaknesses. Now we are learning that Quinn and company’s failure to properly lead and manage the service have lead to the near dissipation of our nation’s ability to effectively protect commercial airliners from terrorist hijackings.

    Thomas Dewey Quinn has become a bigger threat to US National Security than Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and given the US Government warnings about terrorists planning to attack the US in the near future, another 9/11 is just around the corner.