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3/03/2005

Flight Marshall's Are Apparently Covering Many Fewer Flights than Government Claims

Flight reports by the Federal Air Marshal Service show that federal agents were on less than 10 percent of the nation's flights in December, a number several air marshals say was inflated to make it appear to Congress that commercial air travel is better protected than it is. . . . Based on the number of guns issued, there are about 2,200 marshals stationed nationwide to fly seven days a week. . . . Marshals always travel in teams -- a minimum of two agents and sometimes as many as four per plane. This means a minimum of 1,100 teams protect domestic and international flights. With sick days, regular days off, vacation and medical leave, it is statistically impossible to cover even the minimum number of flights listed by the report on any given day, the marshals say. "The numbers don't add up; it's way too much," a marshal said. "Several field offices have complained about it and were told to shut up. This is a scam." More than 2,600 flights were listed as covered on Christmas Eve, 2,039 on Christmas Day and 2,893 on New Year's Eve. "The numbers are impossible," said another air marshal.

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