[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Index]
"Opinion: What is going on at the TSA?"
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
What is going on at the TSA?
By Brian F. Sullivan, FAA Special Agent (Retired)
Do you remember Carla Martin?
She was the TSA attorney who almost derailed the prosecution's case in the
Zacarias Moussaoui trial in March '06. Judge Leonie Brinkema said that
Martin sent an e-mail message to seven Federal Aviation Administration
officials outlining the prosecution's opening statement and provided
commentary on government witnesses from the first day of testimony in
violation of her pretrial order.
In addition to "coaching witnesses", Martin's contacts with lawyers for
American and United Airlines were detailed in a legal brief. Lawyers
representing the victims' families in the ongoing 9/11 litigation raised
concerns that her efforts were intended to assist the airlines by altering
prospective witness testimony. They called the relationship between the TSA
and the airlines "incestuous and inappropriate." The 9/11 families have
since sued Carla Martin alleging that the attorney "colluded" with the
airlines. They are looking for all documents related to her communication
with United and American.
Well, Zacarias was eventually given a life sentence and Judge Brinkema
decided that the families of the September 11th victims were entitled to the
same unclassified aviation security documentation that the government turned
over to the Moussauoi defense team. What did the TSA do then? They appealed
Judge Brinkema's decision, slapping the victims' families in the face and
essentially taking the position that information provided to an al-Qaeda
terrorist could not be provided to the families of his victims. Whose side
is the TSA on anyway?
Last month, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the TSA
and denied that evidence to the 9/11 families. At least the three judge
panel acknowledged that Judge Hellerstein's court in New York has exclusive
jurisdiction over civil actions arising from the September 11th attacks. No
thanks to the TSA, the FBI in that litigation now appears poised to begin
release of information regarding airport security. Documents will include
interviews conducted with witnesses at the airports in the immediate
aftermath of 9/11, information which relates to logs and records of the
airlines and screening equipment seized as part of their investigation and
materials that were in possession of the hijackers, such as the contents of
Mohammed Atta's suitcase.
Inside sources report that Ms. Martin wasn't fired by the TSA until early
February this year. Those same sources say that Francine Kerner, the TSA's
Chief Counsel, allegedly "circled the wagons" in defense of Carla when the
furor of her "tainting witnesses" first arose during the Moussauoi trial.
According to them, Francine even at one point referred to Ms. Martin as an
"American patriot." Certainly a strange attribution for someone who almost
single handedly derailed the prosecution's case in the Moussauoi trial.
Ms. Kerner would have to be considered quite knowledgeable in this context
as she too was once accused of taking actions which might have encouraged
witnesses to "tailor their testimony." A November 8, 1995 article in the New
York Times states, " Although, Ms. Kerner was supposed to avoid discussing
the case with her colleagues in the counsel's office, the committee
presented evidence today that she provided significant details to those
under investigation.." Did Carla learn from a master?
The bottom line is whether Carla Martin was acting alone or whether her
actions reflected a commitment by the TSA's leadership to protect the
airlines in the 9/11 civil suit. Carla had a supervisor - Francine Kerner,
the TSA's Chief Counsel. Did she know of, approve and condone Carla's
actions or did she just do a poor job of supervising a "loose cannon.?" The
public and, at the very least, the 9/11 victims' families have a right to
Inside sources say that Carla Martin is appealing the decision to fire her.
It certainly will be interesting to see if that process, and the ongoing
civil suit against her, surfaces information which points to a wider
involvement within the TSA's Office of Chief Counsel than heretofore
One former TSA attorney has said that he had never seen a level of
micro-management such as was the order of the day in Ms. Kerner's office.
Thus, it is difficult to believe that Ms. Martin was operating "wholly under
the radar." This assessment begs the question, "What is going on at the TSA,
particularly in the Office of the Chief Counsel?"
Do you have an opinion about this story?
Share it with other readers in our CAA Discussion Forums
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
If you have any queries regarding this issue, please Email us at email@example.com