Travel Maxine Waters 'requested air marshal for Derek Chauvin trial flight'
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Congresswoman Maxine Waters was accused of abusing her power by allegedly getting two air marshals to accompany her on a flight to Derek Chauvin's trial.
Waters is said to have requested the marshals for a flight to Minnesota on April 17, despite allegedly already having two US Capitol Police and Secret Service members to protect her.
She and other lawmakers accused of requesting the marshals have been accused of potentially putting the US public in danger over claims those guards have been taken off other flights deemed potentially risky.
A complaint submitted about Waters' alleged request said: 'Congresswoman Maxine Waters utilized numerous government resources inappropriately.
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'Federal Air Marshals were removed from a "High Risk" flight to cover Ms. Waters flight to Minnesota. The High Risk flight took off with no armed law enforcement on board leaving a gap in National Security.'
Lawmakers have allegedly abused a program started in the aftermath of 9/11 to essentially create a VIP 'concierge service' for members of congress after the deadly January 6 riot at the U.S., reported.
The Air Marshal National Council, a union which represents some of the nation's roughly 2,000 air marshals, claimed they have been tasked with accompanying congress members to their districts 'and even to vacation spots,' Fox News reported.
Fox did not reveal the names of any other congressmen or women said to have requested protection from air marshals on flights. Waters has not commented on the allegations made against her.
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Union president David Londo said putting air marshals on a flight 'simply because a member of Congress requests it is an egregious misuse of government resources,' in a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General on April 20.
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'The FAMs are now taking agents off of regularly scheduled 'high risk' flights to put them on flights with members of Congress, that in most cases have their own armed federal security details onboard already,' he said in his complaint.
'It has become akin to a type of extremely expensive concierge service for Congressional members.'
Sonya Hightower LoBasco, the union's executive director, echoed the claim that the Transportation Security Administration has been reassigning agents. The TSA runs the Federal Air Marshal Service.
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'Air marshals can only be assigned to high-risk flights. That means flights that have been deemed through our vetted process that have a security risk,' LoBasco said.
'When these processes are violated and they're taken advantage of and they are just tossed to the side now as if they don't matter, we're really looking into creating a major problem for ourselves in the aviation domain.'
Fox News reported that some air marshals are angry that they have to protect lawmakers on their flights and claim that is the job of Capitol police, and sometimes the Secret Service.
Some lawmakers already have their own security so the marshals don't know why they have been tasked with protecting lawmakers on flights.
LoBasco insisted that 'all flights were covered' despite adding air marshals to Waters' flight.
The TSA said in a statement that: 'Following the events of January 6th at the U.S. Capitol, the Transportation Security Administration enhanced security and law enforcement presence throughout the transportation system to include airports and aboard aircraft to protect the traveling public, including Members of Congress.'
According to Fox News, the process for a lawmaker to have air marshals placed on a flight includes calling Capitol Police - which then calls a TSA liaison, who files the request.
Former President George W. Bush gave air marshals the responsibility of protecting the public on commercial flights in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, which saw four planes hijacked by terrorists, three of which were flown into buildings.
Bush and raised the number of agents from 33 to more than 4,000. The air marshal program covers about 30,000 commercial flights a day.
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