(WASHINGTON) — Fresh off the heels of another Federal Air Marshal Service scandal — this one involving several officers who allegedly hired prostitutes and used government-issued phones to videotape sexual acts — lawmakers are debating whether the marshal service merits its $800 million-plus budget.
Federal air marshals are “one of the least-needed organizations in our entire federal government,” Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., said at a Congressional hearing Thursday, citing a USA Today report alleging marshals are “committing more crimes than they stop.”
The scandal-plagued service is struggling to mend its reputation following a spate of salacious incidents.
This week, it was revealed that several marshals had their security clearances suspended amid allegations that they posed as pornography producers, hired at least one prostitute, and recorded sex acts on their government-issued phones.
“These individuals are a disgrace to the profession,” FAMS Director Roderick Allison said at the hearing Thursday. “I’m confident they will be shown the door.”
Two of the marshals involved in the scandal were placed on indefinite suspension without pay, and a third resigned, Allison said.
Meanwhile, the service is still recovering from an incident earlier this year in which a specialist rearranged flight schedules in order to arrange “sexual trysts,” and another in which the former director, who later resigned, was investigated for his role in an alleged plot to obtain guns for agents’ personal use.
After conduct he saw while overseas in the past, Allison instituted a new random drug and alcohol testing program.
TSA employees are trained to show up at international destinations and “if you look like you are drunk or smell like you are drunk, you are going to get tested,” Allison said.
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