Israeli Experts Warn: Don’t Reduce Security on Planes

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aircraftThe Department of Homeland Security has reduced the number of Federal Air Marshals — plain-clothed officers whose job is to protect aircraft from terrorists — during the past three years, according to an internal email obtained by CNN.

Budget cuts have “led to … a reduction in FAMs (Federal Air Marshals) through attrition,” the email said. The exact number of marshals is secret, and the Homeland Security Department on Tuesday declined to say how positions have been eliminated. Nor would it say what percentage of marshals positions were cut.

But critics, including some air marshals, say the secrecy allows the government to cut the workforce without acknowledging it, as happened in the years leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At that time, fewer than 40 people were in the air marshal workforce and none were on the hijacked planes.

Following the attacks, DHS assumed responsibility for the program and ramped up its ranks on domestic and international flights serving the United States.

iHLS – Israel Homeland Security

Their numbers grew exponentially and although the figure is confidential, the agency two years ago negotiated pay disputes with some 3,500 air marshals — a number believed to represent the bulk of the workforce.

Mike Karn, President of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, said it was not wise to cut those positions. “Diminishing any level of security that we have out there right now concerns me,” Karn said.

Israeli security experts said that the U.S should have increased the number of air marshals onboard flights as the “The threats have grown immensely”