Two security issues I think we’re blowing it on

Border Patrol hiring ripped

I’ve mentioned before that the budget only includes money for 210 additional US Border Patrol agents despite claims that 2,000 per year would be added. This is stupid. The Democrats are blasting Bush over it, and I agree with them. Shameful.

And then there’s

Flight marshal numbers disputed

Claims that 10% of domestic flights carried at least one Federal Air Marshal aboard appear to be impossible, since there aren’t enough FAMs to meet those numbers.

“The actual flight numbers are artificially high to give a perception that the aviation transportation system is actually better protected by air marshals than what it is. But we’re suffering from shortfalls in manpower because of mass exodus of marshals in the last two years,” the first marshal said.
The marshals also say the number is inflated because agents who leave the service but remain employed by the federal government and can be used by FAMS are still counted as marshals, as are Border Patrol agents used during peak travel periods.
At one time, FAMS employed the 4,000 agents mandated by Congress, but the number has been halved, marshals say. Based on the number of guns issued, there are about 2,200 marshals stationed nationwide to fly seven days a week.

And many of the FAMs that do fly are apparently still required to conform to the “Kill Me First” dress code.

Regular readers will know that I fully support the use of Predator drones, aircraft carriers, GPS-guided munitions, and United States Marines to confront the terrorist threat. But that’s only part of the equation, and it’s not the part that will probably have to stop another attack if and when it’s launched. Our borders and our air lanes are still woefully under-protected.

I am willing to spend billions on the military, including ICBM defense. But let’s spend a bit on the less-glamorous defenders of the homeland, too, okay? Between these two issues and the illegal immigrant situation, Bush is pretty much ticking me off.

What’s it going to take to get a little more urgency? I don’t think we want to know.


  1. You’re 100% correct on these matters Murdoc. Unfortunately, the general public can get worked up into a frenzy when the balloon goes up, however their collective memories are short and the demand for adequate protection from outside terrorist threats wanes with time. Just like children, many Americans need a kick in the behind occasionally to be reminded that a high level of constant vigilance is absolutely necessary! Look at history: Pearl Harbor (1941), N. Korea invades S. Korea (1950) 9/11 (2001)! Will we ever learn?

  2. I applied for the FAM program shortly after it was announced it would be significantly increased in response to 9/11/01. There were 3 pay bands and the FAM program said I qualified for the lowest one. As top pay in the low band was about $12,000. less than I was making at the time……it was an easy decision to ‘just say no’. In retrospect, I’m vey glad I didn’t get into it. The bleep regulations in regards to grooming and dress are appalling. I’ve also had a chance to talk with 2 AMs who were badly disenchanted with their jobs, e.g. bonehead management, stupid dangerous regulations, very boring working conditions (interminable amount of time flying and sitting). Any real improvment in ‘on board’ security would seem to be predicated on an integrated, common sense approach to FAMs that emphasizes quality training, working conditions, and job satisfaction. I (sometimes) swear the civil service is run by Dilbert’s Cartoon Boss. Sheesh!