Air Marshal Association Challenges Agency Rules And Practice

The Federal Air Marshal Association, Inc. (FAMA) and its President Terry Babb, filed suit today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 05-CV-1088(RCL)) against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Federal Air Marshal Director Thomas Quinn, challenging federal air marshal rules designed to prevent federal air marshals from speaking about any matter that pertains to the Federal Air Marshal Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

(PRWEB) June 7, 2005 -- The Federal Air Marshal Association, Inc. (FAMA) and its President Terry Babb, filed suit today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Case No. 05-CV-1088(RCL)) against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Federal Air Marshal Director Thomas Quinn, challenging federal air marshal rules designed to prevent federal air marshals from speaking about any matter that pertains to the Federal Air Marshal Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The lawsuit alleges that the Federal Air Marshal Service rules are an attempt to “smother and prevent the disclosure of information by federal air marshals of agency mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse.” In addition, the lawsuit challenges the Federal Air Marshal Service actions in investigating the Federal Air Marshal Association in an attempt to identify FAMA members, its Board of Directors and other private information about the organization.

In this regards, the lawsuit alleges that on November 17, 2004, agents from the Department of Homeland Security and/or Federal Air Marshal Service compelled Mr. Babb, a federal air marshal, under threat of disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution into divulging information about FAMA’s membership, dues structure, the identity of its Board of Directors and officers.

The lawsuit seeks to strike down several of the Federal Air Marshal Service’s regulations and seeks to enjoin the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Air Marshal Service from infringing upon the recognized First Amendment Rights of Babb, FAMA and its members in speaking about matters of public concern and in their right to associate with a lawful organization. FAMA, among other reasons, seeks to protect its members’ interest in joining and participating in the association without fear of administrative or criminal prosecution.

FAMA legal counsel Stephen G. DeNigris, Esq. called the agency regulations at issue unconstitutional both on their face and in their application. He asserted the regulations were “nothing more than an attempt by the Federal Air Marshal Service to prevent oversight by Congress and the public at large of an agency rife with mismanagement and pettiness.” As to the investigation into FAMA as an association, Attorney DeNigris commented that these types of investigation have been found improper by the Supreme Court for over 40 years.

“This is exactly the type of investigative practices that the NAACP fought against during the civil rights movement and which the Supreme Court found improper.” DeNigris continued, “Every individual has a right to be a member of and participate in a lawful organization for a lawful purpose. The actions of DHS and the FAM Service during the investigation were nothing more than an overt attempt to infringe on the privacy of the association, to discourage membership in FAMA and to prevent participation in the organization by air marshals who protect the flying public.”

Federal Air Marshal Association, Inc., membership consists of federal air marshals and federal flight deck officers. The expressed goal of FAMA is to advance professionalism, integrity and mission effectiveness without regard for political or bureaucratic agendas.

The lawsuit will be posted on FAMA’s website within the next several hours. www.famaonline.com

Contact Information:
Stephen G. DeNigris, Esq. Attorney At Law
(703)416-1036 (Voice) (703)416-1037 (fax)

e-mail: e-mail protected from spam bots

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/6/prweb248168.htm