U.S. Department of Homeland Security

It's time to ground America's air marshals

It's time to ground America's air marshals

After Al Qaeda terrorists brought down four U.S. passenger airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, America's flying public was not so keen on flying anymore. Domestic air travel dipped dramatically — for example, by about 20% at LAX — the following year.

Federal authorities rushed in with a number of measures to make flying safer and reassure a jittery public that planes were secure. In one of those measures, Congress transformed the modest Federal Air Marshal Service, which had 50 agents before Sept. 11 trying to deter hijackings on high-risk routes, into a massive effort with thousands of armed agents dispatched randomly on U.S. flights. The price tag went up too; since its...