Fired TSA Worker
In 2003, in an attempt to save money, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) decided to remove all air marshals from international and overnight flights. For 59 days, the TSA would leave nonstop, long-distance flights unprotected — August 3, 2003 until September 30, 2003. Air Marshall Robert McLean blew the whistle on the TSA. McLean appeared disguised on national news and disclosed the TSA decision. TSA management, nonetheless, recognized McLean. Speaking the truth can sometimes be burdensome and back-breaking.
In May 2005, McLean was interviewed by TSA internal affairs agents and admitted that he had disclosed information to MSNBC in 2003 and NBC in 2004.
McLean stated that initially the TSA took no action against him. Eventually, the TSA officially labeled the text message he had received of the plan to cancel air marshals on planes as "Sensitive Security Information" (after the fact) and he was fired in April 2006 for a national security breach due to "Unauthorized Disclosure of Sensitive Security Information."
McLean subsequently spent over eight years in legal battles trying to right this wrong. A married father of three, he is currently employed as a commission-only door-to-door salesperson for residential solar systems.
On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, almost a decade after his struggles began, the US Supreme Court in a 7-2 opinion ruled in favor of the fired TSA air marshal, Robert McLean, who challenged his termination for having disclosed what he saw as lapses in aviation security.
As a retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant who has done battle with a superpower (the LAPD); I know first-hand that the inability to provide for your family and loss or potential loss of income is daunting. I applaud McLean for his tenacity and the ability to stand tall. I rejoice in the Court's decision. Whistleblowers are rarely victorious. Those of us who cross the blue line, speak the truth, and expose internal hypocrisy in an attempt to educate and inform an unwitting public quickly discover that a superpower can grind you down. How many can survive — financially and emotionally — a decade-long lost career?
My hope, as former and retired law enforcement officers discover numbers in the ranks and strength in our resolve that each of us will continue to speak out regarding issues of injustice, indignity, and inequality in our communities as it relates to manner in which police officers and police departments "protect and serve".
Black & Blue