Michelle Malkin

Can you imagine if an al Qaeda bureaucrat had ordered the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists to wear "I heart Osama" T-shirts when they embarked on their murderous flights?

 No idiot would send his men on a covert mission wearing clothes that would so blatantly give them away, right?

 Wrong. Meet Federal Air Marshal Service Director Thomas Quinn. The man in charge of our in-flight cops, who are supposed to be spying secretly on would-be terrorist hijackers, refuses to allow his employees to dress undercover. Quinn insists that air marshals abide by military-style grooming standards and a rigid business dress policy regardless of weather, time of year or seating arrangement. He wants them to look PROFESSIONAL.

 That means collared shirts and sports coats -- even if a pair of marshals is traveling in coach from Los Angeles to Orlando.

 As The Washington Times recently reported, Quinn blew his top on Thanksgiving when he spotted nearly 30 marshals at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., in violation of his insipid dress code. Some were reportedly threatened with suspension.

 This nonsense has been going on for two years. The result is that the federal government has not made air travel any safer, and is instead endangering the people who are supposed to be protecting us. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents over 22,000 federal agents including air marshals, notes that civilian passengers have publicly outed marshals on countless flights since the Sept. 11 attacks. Air marshals have recounted receiving thumbs-ups and thanks from travelers nationwide. No doubt al Qaeda's operatives who are surveilling flights are mumbling thanks under their breath, too.

 Indeed, on an infamous American Airlines Flight 1438 from Chicago to Miami, two air marshals, dressed conspicuously in their professionally mandated suits, received the following greeting from a passenger walking down the aisle: "Oh, I see we have air marshals on board!"

 Another air marshal working out of the Las Vegas field office, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, told the government watchdog group Airline Passengers for Safer Skies (APSS): "Under the current policies of Director Quinn, airline passengers are actually safer flying on aircraft that do not have air marshals on them." Marshals refer darkly to Quinn's dress requirements as the "kill-me-first dress-code policy." The Las Vegas field officer remarked: "If all the passengers know we are carrying the guns on the plane, then so do the terrorists -- we just don't want to get our throats slit."

Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010).

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