I-Team Report: Red Flag at TSA

October 12, 2011 8:44:29 PM PDT
A veteran officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Chicago is being disciplined after posting hundreds of racist and derogatory comments on Facebook.

His name is Roy Egan. Not only were Officer Egan's racial and religious rants open for anyone to see, for years he openly identified himself by name on Facebook and listed his employer as U.S. Homeland Security-TSA, the Transportation Security Administration.

For the past nine years, Egan has worked as a TSA baggage screener at O'Hare Airport. The 46-year-old has noted on his Facebook page, "I look for bad stuff going on airplanes."

But it wasn't Egan's personal data that caught the eye of the I-Team. It was his public postings calling "Islam a cult that glorifies death...and a filthy religion." It is a theme Egan repeated in postings just about every day: that Muslims should be exterminated.

In the garage at Egan's southwest suburban home, the I-Team questioned the nine-year TSA officer about his anti-Muslim statements.

Goudie: "You posted those, didn't you?
Egan: It was common stuff I picked off the web and made comments on.
Goudie: What does it say that a TSA officer is saying these kinds of things about Muslims?
Egan: I don't refer to it in my job."

Egan's job is to screen baggage at O'Hare. Since 9/11, the treatment of Muslim travelers and allegations of Middle Eastern profiling, have dogged Homeland Security agencies.

Officer Egan recently posted, "does anything at all make you smile more than a Muslim burning by his own hateful hand." He maintains such beliefs don't interfere with his work.

Goudie: "How about if some Muslim name, on a piece of luggage comes by you? Does it get extra scrutiny?
Egan: No, no. That's against the rules. I wouldn't do it. There's no reason for me to open it unless we're mandated to open it via the machine telling us to. I would never discriminate against a passenger.
Goudie: Do you understand why this attracted our attention?
Egan: I suppose...I don't hide what I do. I don't think anything I've said is illegal. I don't think, I definitely don't do anything illegal."

"It made me sick. It's chilling to know that someone who is a federal employee and works at TSA of all places can hold these views with such hatred and such intensity, and to hold them publicly on his Facebook page unabashedly without any sort of regret. It really, it's scary," said Ahmed Rehab, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Egan also posted against gays, Hispanics and blacks. He called President Obama "Muslim-in chief," made racial comments on Obama's skin color and said he hopes to "live long enough to see him die." He described Michelle Obama as a "ghetto snipe" and other names unsuitable to print. And to Attorney General Eric Holder he posted, "die tasting your own blood."

Egan: "If you read the comment, and it was based on an article that was written, and I'm just commenting on an article. I think he's committing crimes against our citizens.
Goudie: And he should be dead.
Egan: I didn't say that. I don't like the guy."

TSA officials would not speak on camera, but after learning of our findings TSA officials placed Egan on administrative leave and are moving to fire him.

In a statement, a spokesman said, "TSA has management directives in place governing employee conduct. We hold our security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards. TSA learned of the situation and took immediate steps to initiate the individual's removal from federal service."

In my conversation with Egan, conducted before he was suspended, the veteran TSA officer seemed immovable.

Egan: "I don't do anything against policy, I've never done anything against policy that I'm aware of.
Goudie: You're OK with the things that you've posted here, for the public to see?
Roy: I don't know what you're fishing for but I'm not trying to do anything against anybody. It's commentary. It's freedom of speech commentary.
Goudie: Why would you put this up for the public to see, though?
Roy: I'm not the only one. It's all over the Internet."

"We're going to be in touch with TSA to work with them in order to ensure that this is not a situation that is replicated and that it's not a deeper problem," said Rehab.

TSA officials in Chicago declined to answer our questions about screener training and evaluation and whether authorities monitor social media in an attempt to weed out bigoted employees. TSA does have a code of conduct that requires its employees on or off duty to conduct themselves in a way that doesn't cause the public to question their judgment or harm the agency's mission.

Transportation Security Administration www.tsa.gov

TSA management directive on employee conduct www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/foia/TSA_MD_1100_73_5_FINALv2_090521.pdf

Council on American-Islamic Relations www.cairchicago.org

U.S. Department of Homeland Security www.dhs.gov/index.shtm


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