Former Air Marshal Says Program Won't Stop Terrorists

January 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Part of President Obama's plan to combat terrorism will rely on a surge of Air Marshals. The more than three-thousand now employed throughout the country will be concentrated on overseas flights of U.S. airlines. Additional Federal Law Enforcement Agents will be placed on high risk domestic flights.                  |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

Putting more of these undercover, armed law enforcement officers on planes sounds good to many travelers at Fresno's airport. "I think that's a great idea. Safety of the public is never a bad idea, never," said Terri Urien, of Fresno.

Bryce Laemmlen of Reedley agreed. "Yeah, I think so. It would help with security I guess. Keep people who aren't supposed to be on our planes off our planes."

But Bill Ruzzamenti, a former Air Marshal with 40 years of Federal Law enforcement experience doesn't think more Air Marshals will help. He said, "The problem is, if you need an Air Marshal the system has failed, because the bad guy has got on the airplane."

Ruzzamenti said Air Marshals may have deterred hijackers from getting on a plane, but would be less of a concern to a suicide bomber. "As an air marshal, you're trained to obviously try to negate the threat. If the threat has a bomb and the plane blows up the Air Marshal blows up with the airplane."

Ruzzamenti is also skeptical of government plans to increase the use of body scans. "Keeping my mother in line at the airport for two hours to send her through a body scan I'm not sure that's the answer."

He said that's because defeating even sophisticated body scanners is not difficult. He does support the Presidents call to improve communication and cooperation among intelligence and law enforcement agencies. "We need everybody to be rowing the same boat in the same direction I think there's a ways to go in that regard and I think this is a vivid example of that," said Ruzzamenti.

The President wants the Air Marshal's to be deployed by February 1st.