A new federal intelligence law could help plug security holes at airports, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The law gives the Department of Homeland Security four months to use “biometric identifier technology” – such as retinal scans, fingerprints or voice prints – to set up credentials for officers “to carry a weapon on board an aircraft, without unnecessarily disclosing to the public that the individual is a law enforcement officer.” Air marshals are supposed to work in secret so they can surprise hijackers. The Journal Sentinel reported that federal procedures required the air marshals to walk up the exit rows of airport security checkpoints, show their identification and sign logbooks, all in view of other passengers.
The marshals have complained about a dress code that requires men to wear jackets and short haircuts and about requirements to stay only in certain hotels and identify themselves as air marshals to get discounts. Federal officials say the the dress code is needed to ensure air marshals command respect in an emergency. A critic, John Amat of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said, “We don’t know if the language of this bill is going to be sufficient to get rid of this ridiculous dress code.”