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Attorneys Representing Arab-American Secret Service Officer Hold Press Conference-

January 3, 2002, Washington, DC- Attorneys representing the Arab-American Secret Service Officer who was removed from an American Airlines flight on December 25 held a press conference today in which they discussed facts of the incident. The Officer, who worked with the ADC Legal Department on obtaining his legal representation and in filing an official complaint with the United States Department of Transportation, requested that an accurate account of the facts be released by his attorneys on record because of inaccurate information that recently appeared in the media.
The attorneys confirmed that the Officer, who is a member of President Bush’s elite Secret Service security detail, is an American of Arab descent and has served in Federal Law Enforcement his entire professional life. The Officer has served with the Secret Service for seven years and with the elite presidential security detail for two years.
The Officer’s own account of the incident, as discussed by his attorneys, made it clear that all proper procedures were followed and that he was barred from the flight because he is of Arab decent. He was introduced to the pilot on board and provided the pilot with the forms authorizing travel as an armed Secret Service Officer. The Officer provided all information necessary to confirm his identity as a United States Secret Service Officer. The American Airline pilot refused to verify the Officer’s identity, even after the Officer attempted to give the pilot the telephone number to the White House switchboard. The Officer’s conduct was professional throughout. When an American Airlines corporate security employee finally called the Officer’s supervisor later that evening, after American Airlines had apparently banned him from all future American Airlines flights, American Airlines was able to confirm his identity in less than five minutes and the Officer was allowed to fly the next morning. He was forced to arrive at his assigned post of protecting President Bush a day late.
Background:
The Arab-American Secret Service Officer, who is a member of President Bush’s Secret Service security detail, was forced to experience a disturbing incident which can only be categorized as illegal airline passenger discrimination. The incident took place at Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) on December 25. The Officer alleges that, on the evening of December 25, he was a scheduled passenger on American Airlines flight number 1191 departing from BWI to the Dallas Fortworth Airport. The Officer was originally scheduled to accompany the President aboard Air Force One to Crawford, Texas. He was placed on a commercial flight because of a change in the President’s schedule.
Due to a mechanical problem, American Airlines flight 1191 was canceled and the officer was rescheduled on American Airlines flight 363. This flight was scheduled to depart BWI at 5:15 p.m. Once seated on flight 363, the officer was confronted by airline security personnel and was allegedly asked to exit the plane and submit to additional security checks. After a delay of one hour and fifteen minutes, during which the officer was questioned by the American Airlines’ flight’s pilot, airline officials, and airport police, he was ordered removed from the flight despite the fact that the officer offered to have the United States Secret Service verify his identity as a member of the Secret Service attached to President Bush’s security detail. No other reason was given for his removal. Mr. Brian Marr, the Secret Service spokesman has confirmed the account of this incident to the media. This incident was also reported by most major media outlets.
Upon being contacted by the officer on December 27, the ADC Legal Department filed an official complaint with the proper authorities at the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) via facsimile and advised Mr. Donald J. Carty, Chairman, President and CEO of American Airlines of the incident requesting that American Airlines take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. The DOT has confirmed to ADC that it has launched an official investigation into the incident per ADC’s request. Additionally, ADC Legal Advisors consulted with the Officer and provided him with legal recommendations and potential attorney representation which the Officer decided to retain.
ADC strongly supports all measures to secure our nation’s air travel as outlined by all United States Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration directives. However, this incident clearly points to national origin and / or ethnic discrimination by American Airlines and its agents. This incident is part of the continuously disturbing trend of airline passenger discrimination which the ADC Legal Department has addressed since the September 11 terrorist attacks on our nation. The unjustified and discourteous treatment of the Officer cannot be attributed to random security measures or the Federal Aviation Administration’s mandate of random passenger inspections. This treatment of a United States Secret Service Officer in charge of our President’s safety is indefensible and unacceptable.
Contacts:
Relman & Associates
1350 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 304
(202) 728-1888
Christy E. Lopes, Esq. clopez@relmanlaw.com
John P. Relman, Esq. jrelman@relmanlaw.com
Kelli M. Evans, Esq. kevens@relmanlaw.com