Air Marshal Claims Victory in Lawsuit Deal

A Federal air marshal is claiming victory in a year-long whistleblower suit against his agency which he says unconstitutionally restricted his free speech.

"This is a good settlement," Frank Terreri told United Press International of the deal, "It gives me a venue to speak out to the public about the deadly policies" followed by the Federal Air Marshal Service.

Critics of the service management have long maintained that procedures at airport screening checkpoints and boarding lounges force air marshals to identify themselves to other passengers.

Under the agreement the service has agreed to send an e-mail to staff clarifying its policy on what marshals can say publicly.

According to a statement from Terreri's lawyers at the ACLU of Southern California, the message will tell marshals that, while the agency's policy does prohibit employees from undermining teamwork or public confidence, "nothing in the (directive) is intended to limit the free public expression of an employees personal opinions about matters of public concern relating to the Federal Air Marshal Service -- provided the individual complies with all laws and policies safeguarding the unauthorized disclosure of official information."

Terreri filed suit in April 2005, challenging the service's rules prohibiting marshals from speaking publicly about their jobs.

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