In a double-barreled blast, House Oversight Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns called on both the Head of Homeland Security and its Inspector General to investigate "disturbing allegations of widespread discrimination, retaliation and other inappropriate conduct ..." within the Federal Air Marshal Service.
"This should not exist. It should not occur anywhere, but I think that in a federal building that makes it more ridiculous," Rep. Towns said. "Our committee is not going to stand by and watch this happen."
Towns claims that in the Cincinnati field office alone, as many 15 discrimination complaints have been filed by air marshals against upper management. He also expressed concern about allegations of "systemic retaliation" against potential witnesses to some of the claims.
Those allegations include: three employees threatened with losing their security clearances - meaning they'd likely lose their jobs; and the spouse of an air marshal was "placed under surveillance and subjected to a background check."
On Monday CBS News exposed serious problemswithin the Service - detailing an "old boys network" of mainly white, male supervisors allegedly mistreating employees in at least two-thirds of the Service's 21 field offices nationwide.
"It's pervasive and systematic throughout the agency," said a marshal, whose identity was concealed. "What I see in the air marshals is a train wreck waiting to happen."
But it appears management may not be the only problem. In December, the Director of the Air Marshals wrote a memo -- obtained by CBS News. After, sources say, a number of air marshals got into trouble while working overseas... accused of excessive drinking, hiring prostitutes -- even rape.
In the memo Director Robert Bray reminds agents working international flights how "incidents of misconduct while ... deployed abroad ... damage our professional reputation."
Director Bray calls these isolated incidents, and not representative of an agency whose budget may grow by $100 million next year to nearly one billion dollars.