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Don’t wear a sport coat when you fly

Last week Michelle Malkin wrote a column about the Federal Air Marshal dress code, which has the effect of slapping a “kill me” sign on every agent’s back:

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.

Today she follows up, because Mr. Quinn’s been squealing “foul”. He doesn’t know who he’s messing with. Here are excerpts, but you’ll want to read the whole thing to see the documents and e-mails from Air Marshals who back up Malkin’s accusations:

Last week, I wrote a column on the idiotic dress code policy instituted by Thomas Quinn, head of the Federal Air Marshals Service. Quinn promptly dispatched his flack, David M. Adams, to the cable networks this week to accuse Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson and me of spreading “patently false” reports and “misinformation.”
Can you spell C-Y-A?
In his appearances on both MSNBC and FOX News, Adams denied that a dress code exists (“hype,” he sniffed; “totally wrong,” he decried)…and then confirmed that the policy does in fact exist (marshals must “dress professionally”). Adams straight-facedly maintained that the code gives marshals “flexibility.”

Several times during the past week, I have asked Adams to tell me specifically what I got wrong in my column. In a brief conversation with me at the FOX News studio last night, he attacked a watchdog group cited in my column because it is run by an air marshal. Someone in the know. Someone brave enough to speak out and defy the Quinn regime. Someone whose job is protecting the public, not protecting his boss.
Adams dismisses the marshals who object to Quinn’s dress code and his other dangerous policies as a “small minority.” So, why aren’t more speaking out? Gee. Hmmm. Golly. Could it be because Quinn pulls witch-hunt stunts like this against dissenting employees?
Given the climate, it’s remarkable that so many marshals have spoken out. I’ve received scores of e-mails from current and former marshals in support of my column. Unlike these truth-tellers, I cannot be fired by the government for sharing their thoughts. I am removing their e-mail addresses and other identifying data, but otherwise am reprinting their letters as I received them.

The e-mails will anger anybody who’s serious about homeland security. Don’t miss them.
There’s more at Captain’s Quarters, where Captain Ed voices the same thought that occurred to me when I first read Malkin’s column: as word of this gets out, fewer civilians will wear clothes that match the Air Marshal dress code, which will make the “undercover” Air Marshals even more obvious to hijackers.
I’ll close with a verbatim quote from Michelle’s post.
“For those who want to take additional action, it might be worth dropping an e-mail to Rep. Howard Coble ( He is the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees homeland security.”

UPDATE: More from Audrey Hudson in an article on Air Marshals dodging the “suit Nazis.” Thanks, Michelle, for the tip.
UPDATE 2: More dress code idiocy.