Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 News Investigators: Air marshals call federal investigation a coverup

TAMPA, Fla. -- Five current and former federal air marshals who first talked to the 10 News Investigators more than two years ago are calling a 21-month-long Office of Inspector General report on the agency a total whitewash and an embarrassment.

The air marshals insist the report missed the incompetence and discrimination displayed by mangers in the agency and the danger that incompetence causes in the skies.

"We asked for an investigation and we got an inspection," says Theo Doropoulos, a former air marshal who is not alone in his criticism.

Three current air marshals who asked us to not use their names are also upset with the report. "This is a whitewash. It's a whitewash from the top down," says one.

"They didn't try to find any evidence. They never interviewed the right people," says another.

"It affects us. And if it affects us, it affects the flying public. I'd be embarrassed to put my name to this," says a third.

The trigger for the investigation was a "Jeopardy" type game board we exposed in 2010. Managers in the training office in Orlando used the board to play a game disparaging African Americans, Gays, Lesbians, Hispanics, and Veterans.

"They are trying and attempting in every way to run from this game board," says Doropoulos.

To the air marshals, the board is symbolic of the system-wide attitude of managers in the agency. However, the inspector general's report says the board was not a source of allegations or retaliation and discrimination in other field offices. It goes on to say the board was used to make fun of those on the training staff, not others. The air marshals say that is a blatant lie.

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