The revelation that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has had federal air marshals surveilling individuals who flew to Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, even if they were not involved in the Capitol incident and were never charged with any crime, has raised significant concerns among conservatives. Reports from the Air Marshal National Council indicate that air marshals were diverted from crucial missions to monitor potential conservatives, potentially jeopardizing security and unnecessarily targeting individuals with no political involvement.
This unsettling discovery suggests not only the potential politicization of a law enforcement agency but also places individuals uninvolved in politics at potential risk. The revelations come in the wake of the FBI’s leniency toward a suspected child rapist, opting to pursue January 6 cases instead.
According to statements from the Air Marshal National Council, innocent Americans were mistakenly classified as ‘Domestic Terrorists’ in internal TSA/FAMS databases and watchlists, often without any thorough investigation or proper follow-up. The association highlighted an instance where the wife of an air marshal, who was present in D.C. during January 6 but didn’t participate in the Capitol events, became the subject of monitoring during flights, leading to the absurd situation of one air marshal monitoring another.
The concern deepened when it became evident that TSA repurposed a domestic surveillance program, ‘Quiet Skies,’ to track individuals remotely linked, however weakly, to January 6. This secretive program allows air marshals to monitor people flagged on a vague list, despite the DHS Inspector General’s report in 2020 finding no aviation security threats through this initiative.
Moreover, reports suggested a disconcerting reassignment of air marshals to the southern border to assist illegal immigrants rather than executing their primary duty of safeguarding air travel. Congressman Pete Sessions underscored this diversion, emphasizing that the deployments might not align with legal requirements and jeopardize aviation security by understaffing flights.
The redirection of federal air marshals from aviation security to border duties and monitoring individuals remotely connected to January 6 has raised questions regarding the Biden administration’s priorities in addressing security threats. The administration’s failure to maintain adequate security measures onboard flights while redeploying resources away from their primary responsibilities to address border challenges highlights concerns about national security implications. Despite inquiries, TSA’s responses have been limited, leaving considerable ambiguity around these concerning developments.