Faced with a Department of Justice investigation into the men and women charged with protecting U.S. commercial flights from terrorism, former and current air marshals are coming forward to describe a “wheels-up, rings-off” culture rife with adultery, prostitution and other misconduct, according to the Center for Investigating Reporting (CIR). Former air marshals who worked in the service's Orlando field office say managers directed subordinates to modify assignments for the bosses' benefit. That included supervisors jumping on flights or bumping air marshals off missions so they could play golf in Scotland, travel to exotic locations or meet a lover.
Around the country, others tell similar stories. They say managers flew around the globe at little personal expense and even padded their paychecks, under the guise of so-called check rides to monitor air marshals' job performance. CIR reported last month that an investigation into misconduct may involve dozens of employees of the Federal Air Marshal Service and manipulation of marshals' flight schedules for personal gain. The report sparked a House oversight committee investigation. The Senate homeland security committee has begun a preliminary inquiry as well.