Federal Air Marshal Spokesman Responds To 7NEWS Investigation
Director Of Federal Air Marshal Service Has 30 Days To Respond To Senator
1:50 AM, Jun 7, 2006
The director of the Federal Air Marshals Service has 30 days to answer allegations raised in a 7NEWS investigation -- answers that are demanded by Sen. Wayne Allard.The national director of the Air Marshal program was in Denver Tuesday but he chose to avoid 7NEWS' request for an interview. However, he can't dodge a senator's request for a closer look into his office.7NEWS wanted to ask Director Dana Brown what he's going to do about the serious safety concerns raised by Denver air marshals. Those five men risked their jobs to get Brown's attention by speaking to 7NEWS and blowing the whistle on managers at the Denver office."Are the personnel issues inside Denver's FAM office compromising public safety?" Investigator Tony Kovaleski asked one air marshal."I believe that the issues are compromising public safety significantly," the air marshal said.The five federal air marshals spoke in front of 7NEWS' cameras, asking only to have their identities protected as they blew the whistle on security and morale problems inside Denver's field office."Why are you sitting in that chair?" Kovaleski asked."Because if something doesn't change, another 9/11 is very possible," said one air marshal."I appreciate the fact that they're willing to step forward. I know it's not easy to step forward on these kind of issues," said Allard.Responding to the accusations made by current and former air marshals, Allard sent a letter to the agency's director saying, "It has been brought to my attention that there have been serious allegations made by Denver Federal Air Marshal Service employees to KMGH-TV ... I ask to be notified of the status of your findings within 30 days ... as to the validity of these concerns, and what, if any, changes need to be implemented.""It certainly is something that moved right to the top of the list. Whenever we have something like this come to our attention we quickly want to respond by getting in touch with those responsible, and then if we find out later on that they don't respond accurately, then we hold the administration personally responsible," Allard said.While Allard called for an in-depth review of the allegations made by Denver federal air marshals, the agency's national director declined to comment on the claims made during the 7NEWS investigation."If (the national director) doesn't make drastic changes to management and policies and to the overall focus of this agency, he will not have anyone left who's very qualified to complete the mission," a federal air marshal told 7NEWS.Instead of responding directly, Brown passed the responsibility to an agency spokesman."Those five or few air marshals do not represent the entire Air Marshals Service. The people that represent our service are out there every day accomplishing our mission," said Federal Air Marshals Service spokesman Conan Bruce."If you could guarantee that each and every federal air marshal in our office were not going to be retaliated against ... I believe you would have everyone of them here telling you the same story," said a federal air marshal."It appears to me the agency is minimizing the statements and the courage that was brought forward last night in our investigation," Koveski said to Bruce."Absolutely not. We are not minimizing it. We are stating the facts and the facts are we are assessing all of our programs and policies," Bruce said.Bruce said the agency will conduct the investigation requested by Allard. The timetable set by the senator is 30 days and 7NEWS will follow any developments.
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