The US government is having the TSA train Saudi Arabia to stand up an air marshal program. It’s enough to almost make you feel bad for the Saudis.
The US government is conducting a training program with the government of Saudi Arabia to aid them in standing up an air marshal program similar to that of the United States.
In the coming years, Saudi-operated air carriers could fly around the world — including to the US — with US-trained armed security personnel on board.
The Federal Air Marshal Service is arguably the least competent law enforcement agency in the country. The TSA has a program to make sure air marshals don’t show up to the airport drunk.
No air marshal has ever stopped a terrorist or hijacker since the service was founded in 1962. Although an air marshal did shoot and kill a US citizen in 2005. If something really bad did happen on a flight and an air marshal was onboard they lack the training to do anything about it.
Liam Neeson Was an Air Marshal in the 2014 film “Non-Stop”
An air marshal left a loaded gun in the lavatory of a Delta flight. Four years ago an air marshal left a loaded gun in a Newark airport bathroom and three years ago in a Philadelphia airport restroom. In 2001 an air marshal left a handgun in an aircraft lavatory where it was found by a teenager.
Air marshals have smuggled cocaine, engaged in sex trafficking, and discharged their weapons in hotels and bars. We spend $200 million per arrest on the air marshal program. And to be clear that is not $200 million per arrest of a terror suspect, most are just passengers behaving badly.
An air marshal sued for being denied his first choice of meal in first class and because a flight attendant spilled a drink on him. He approached the cockpit to report these incidents to the captain — and threatened the pilot.
One skeptical government official points out that 9/11 hijackers had connections to the Saudi government,
When you start talking about aviation security and putting armed Saudi government agents on airplanes coming to the US, you are really getting at the heart of why DHS and TSA were created in the first place.
Indeed, if the US air marshal program contributed anything at all to security, it seems the last thing you’d want to do is share their tactics with the Saudis. Since the program does not, there’s likely little harm. In fact getting your worst enemy to spend resources on air marshals would probably be a pretty good trick.