Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Luke Rosiak.
The Biden administration's Department of Homeland Security has had federal air marshals following people for years who flew to Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, even if they did not go to the Capitol and were never charged with a crime, according to an association representing air marshals.
Air marshals were allegedly pulled off of sensitive missions to follow potential conservatives, suggesting that not only was a law enforcement agency politicized, but that people with no involvement in politics might have been placed at risk as a result. The finding comes amidst the revelation that the FBI let an apparent child rapist go free to pursue January 6 cases.
Five days after the January 6, 2021, protest at the Capitol, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and then-Rep. John Katko (R-NY) wrote to the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), David Pekoske, to demand that the agency "disrupt the travel of terrorists who just attacked the seat of the U.S. government,"
citing "online chatter"
as evidence that they might be al-Qaeda-style bombers.
Soon, TSA appeared to be doing just that - a situation discovered only because of an almost comical situation in which one air marshal was forced to monitor another air marshal because his wife was in D.C. during that time period.
In January 2023, David Londo and Sonya LaBosco, the president and executive director of the Air Marshal National Council, an association that represents air marshals, wrote to House leaders saying that innocent Americans were being put on watchlists.
"We have recently become aware that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) are improperly classifying innocent Americans as 'Domestic Terrorists' on internal TSA/FAMS databases and watchlists,"
the pair wrote. "Most of these classifications occur in the absence of any investigation or even any follow up."
They said that in one case, because the wife of an air marshal was in D.C. on January 6 - but never went to the Capitol - FAMS began following her on flights. Since she was usually traveling with her husband, that meant one air marshal was assigned to fly on a plane to monitor another air marshal. "You can imagine the scene"
when the husband had to introduce himself to the air marshal who was following him to explain, as required, that he was carrying his weapon onboard, the letter said.
In one such flight, the assigned air marshal told the husband that he was "originally scheduled for a high-risk international mission,"
but that mission went uncovered because he was monitoring the wife of a colleague, the letter said.
The husband was able to see in TSA's computer system that his wife was classified as a "Domestic Terrorist,"
and she remained so two years later, even though she has never been arrested or even questioned about the Capitol protest, which she did not participate in, the letter said.
The wife "is not alone. We have been hearing many similar stories from our FAM membership about being assigned to surveil people that TSA/FAMS labeled domestic terrorists, specifically due to being in D.C. on or about January 6th,"
One January 6 defendant, Kirstyn Niemela - a 5'6" lesbian who was charged with only misdemeanors - said at sentencing that "I have also been red flagged at the airport, and I have to go through extra security while other passengers stare at me as if I'm a terrorist. I have had other passengers come up to me - which I have videos of all of this - and tell me that undercover police or air marshals were watching and following me, and they even peeked inside the ladies' room while I was in there. This is extremely humiliating, totally unnecessary."
The Air Marshal National Council said that TSA had repurposed a domestic surveillance program called "Quiet Skies"
to follow people who may have been even weakly linked to January 6. The program, which FAMS initially kept secret not only from the public but even from other government agencies, allows air marshals to flag and follow people who are "unknown or partially known terrorists"
who are "not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data base."
The DHS Inspector General found in 2020 that it has never found a single threat to aviation security.
In its letter to the TSA, it said FAMS Director Tirrell Stevenson has "gone all in"
on Quiet Skies, which allows it to follow people who are purportedly linked to January 6 even if there is no real reason to think they would blow up a plane.
The Council said the nation could be at risk of actual terrorism because not only are FAMS following January 6 people, but hundreds were deployed to the southern border to assist illegal immigrants rather than enforcing the law in the air.
In October, the Council wrote to Pekoske saying that "on a daily basis there will be more FAMs performing humanitarian duties on the border than will be protecting Americans in the sky."
Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce, wrote in June 2023 that "The deployments were previously halted in January of 2023 due to an ongoing DHS Office of Inspector General investigation to determine whether the deployments were legal,"
since tending to migrants is not in their job description. "Despite that, the Biden Administration has resumed the practice due the Administration's inability to control our southwest border,"
LaBosco told The Daily Wire that there have been major security incidents on flights-such as a passenger holding a razor-blade to another passenger's neck - on which there were no air marshal on board "as we were on the border or following J6 people. "
TSA did not respond to questions from The Daily Wire. In response to a probe by the House Judiciary Committee, the agency acknowledged deploying federal air marshals as a result of January 6, but said little else.