the forging of a damn good Federal Air Marshal:
(or the chaos thing hard at work in the swamp)
By Bogdan Dzakovic, jetPilots.com, 25APR2020
Modesty has always been a problem of mine. But, there’s a time and place for everything.
You’ve probably heard about the chaos theory of physics, a basic premise of which is that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly could initiate a succession of events that could eventually lead to the formation of a tornado – however unlikely that may be. Essentially this means that a series of interdependent causes could eventually lead to a logical series of events or conclusions. The federal government sort of operates the same way except without the logical part.
Starting my career in the federal government in 1980 as an officer in the military I learned very quickly that good intelligence is at least half the battle in any given operation. I also learned that this same intelligence is utterly useless if its not applied correctly. There were a small group of us FAA Security folks, in the latter half of the 1990’s that knew, as it turned out, not only that the US was going to be hit hard by terrorists but also exactly how it was to be conducted. What the rest of the intelligence and law enforcement alphabet agencies were doing??????? Beats me; apparently lost in the self-imposed bureaucratic chaos.
After a couple of tours of duty I resigned from the military and switched to federal law enforcement. (As a student of early American history I was enthralled by some of the gifted insight and words of our founding fathers. As it applied to the conduct of my career, Ben Franklin’s adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” was always foremost in my mind.)
While entrenched in federal law enforcement, I stumbled across yet another anomaly of the federal chaos swamp. I attempted to develop a program that would have minimized certain types of criminal behavior only to be chastised for it and nearly fired: “Your job isn’t to prevent crime, its to investigate it!”, was the mantra that they tried beating into my head. I quit before that happened.
In the late 80’s, I found my dream job as a Federal Air Marshal (FAM) with the Security Division of the Federal Aviation Administration. Graduating from basic training tied with two other gung-ho types for first place in the tactical shooting course and tied again with four other individuals for first place in the physical fitness program; but I didn’t consider excelling in the physical aspects of the FAM profession to be the only parameters of what constituted a “good” FAM. One also had to have some working knowledge about what is going on in the world, ie: having good intelligence.
The US government may very well have the best intelligence in the world, but due to its unflinching devotion to the chaos theory of governing, by the time the intelligence was watered down, filtered and
given to the troops on the front line, it was utterly useless.
As a consequence, early in my FAM career I developed my own intelligence data base that I accrued from entirely open sources such as books, magazines, newspapers etc., as well as my own observations while operating as a FAM and later as a Red Team Leader. I organized, collated, cross-indexed, and evaluated this information (intelligence) on a continuous basis and filed in a simple computer word document. As history would demonstrate, the “intelligence” I developed in my spare time proved to be a much greater predictor of major acts of terrorism than the billions of dollars we wasted on the entire official governments intelligence apparatus which is itself governed by the chaos theory – spend billions flapping their little butterfly wings collecting world-wide intelligence with enormous bureaucracies and hope that it predicts a terrorism tornado – however unlikely that may be.
In the latter half of the 1990’s I started working with other like-minded folks in the security division of the FAA in an effort to prevent the 9/11 calamity. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way by working through the entire chain of command going all the way to the US Congress that the primary mission of the federal government is to maintain itself and to continue growing like a cancer on the tax-payer’s dime – the stench of the swamp if there ever was one. And that is exactly what happened after the attacks. Note the unnecessary creation of the TSA and DHS just for starters. The governments application of the chaos theory at its best. (In the months before the attacks, one of my colleagues sent a letter to his Senator accurately describing the likely probability of multiple airplane hijackings and crashing the planes into selected targets.)
I cannot emphasize enough, that for any entity potentially targeted by terrorists (which includes the entire aviation community) that it is a big mistake to rely on government handouts of information to keep yourself and your business safe. It is crucial to develop one’s own intelligence data base, collected entirely from open sources and ESPECIALLY from the personal observations of its front-line employees out in the field.
These problems in the swamp haven’t dried up and blown away. Witness the evolution of the on-going, as I write this, Covid-19 pandemic and its striking parallels to the pre and post 9/11 attacks, repeating the same drama in the federal government.
And that, my friends, is how I became a damn good FAM (my favorite job ever); at least until the FAM program itself became infected with the same swamp fever as most of the rest of the federal government. So I quit.
Bogdan Dzakovic was born in 1954 in Ohio. As the son of refugee parents from war torn Europe he grew up with the notion that the United States was a guiding beacon of light in a world gone mad, and joined the federal government to enhance that light, and to fight the bad guys. After a brief stint in the military and federal law enforcement, in the late 1980's he started working for the Federal Aviation Administration as an air marshal and later as a Team Leader in the air marshal program. Still later, as a Team Leader in the FAA's Red Team (terrorist team), he was one of the few people in the federal government that identified the threat of terrorism, the vulnerabilities in aviation security and attempted to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Working with others to improve security before the 9/11 attacks, he took their concerns to the highest officials in the bureaucracy, to the Inspector General's office, to the General Accounting Office, and to individual members of Congress. They did nothing but cya. He testified at the 9/11 Commission and maintains that the Commission was a whitewash in certain key areas to keep the government's own bloody hands out of the light of public scrutiny. He wrote the book FORTRESS OF DECEIT to shed some light on what went on behind the scenes in Washington DC before the attacks, as well as the government's nefarious activities after the attacks to ensure they maintained this system of no accountability. Things are worse now than they were in the lead up to 9/11. After a 32 year government career, he discovered that the worst "bad guys" were some of our own senior bureaucrats and national elected officials, where they continue to thrive.