The Freedom to Warn: Michelle Malkin on Whistleblower Protection Post-9/11

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Every 9/11, pundits talk about how “everything changed” after the attacks. But the homeland security bureaucracy is as petty, vindictive, wasteful and stupid as ever.

Michelle Malkin writes: “If you see something, say something.” That’s what our homeland security apparatchiks incessantly preach. But 13 years after the 9/11 attacks, the freedom to warn is in danger and vigilant whistleblowers are under fire.

Listen to Robert MacLean. He’s a former Air Force nuclear weapons specialist and Border Patrol agent recruited by the government to serve as one of the first federal air marshals after 9/11.

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“I blew the whistle because I had to. I could not live with the tragedy risked if I had been the cynical silent observer.”

— Robert MacLean, federal air marshal testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. His legal case heads to the Supreme Court this fall

In 2003, MacLean underwent emergency training to prepare for a new round of al-Qaida hijacking threats. Jihadists exploiting visa and screening loopholes had planned to target East Coast airliners, according to intelligence analysts. For unknown reasons, however, the Transportation Security Administration abruptly called off air marshals from duty on nonstop, long-distance flights — just two days before the anticipated hijacking.

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“Quinn, a former Secret Service agent, insisted that air marshals abide by military-style grooming standards and a rigid business dress policy regardless of weather, time of year or seating arrangement. Yes, really. Marshals were ordered to dress like characters straight out of ‘Men in Black’ — leaving them vulnerable to terrorist identification. Critics of the code dubbed Quinn the Captain Queeg of homeland security.”

How did they notify the air marshals? Cue the Keystone Cops. “TSA chose to send the unlabeled text message to our unsecured Nokia 3310 cellular phones instead of our $22 million encrypted smart phone system. There were no markings or secrecy restrictions on the message,” MacLean recounted to Congress this week. “We all thought it was a joke given the special training we had just received and the post-9/11 law that nonstop long-distance flights were a priority.”

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“How did they notify the air marshals? Cue the Keystone Cops. “TSA chose to send the unlabeled text message to our unsecured Nokia 3310 cellular phones instead of our $22 million encrypted smart phone system.”

A supervisor told MacLean the agency was broke and there was nothing he could do. Appalled at both the dangerous pullback and the reckless way in which the feds notified the air marshals, MacLean then contacted his department’s inspector general hotline and was warned he would be “cutting (his) career short if (he) pursued the issue further.” Instead, he went to the press and made his homeland security concerns public. In 2006, MacLean was fired.

More than a decade later, the dedicated security expert has battled the feds who retaliated against him. He was forced into bankruptcy and shut out of law enforcement jobs. His legal case heads to the Supreme Court this fall. God bless him. Despite the consequences, MacLean would do it all again in a heartbeat…(read more)

Michelle Malkin

 



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