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WNY NATIVE BACK ON AIR MARSHAL DUTY

A West Seneca native is back on the job as a federal air marshal following a high-profile free-speech fight.

Frank Terreri, who now lives in Southern California, was taken off flight duty and placed under investigation last October after he sent colleagues an e-mail expressing concerns about a People magazine story. In the e-mail, he said the story about an air marshal posed a security threat because it revealed too many operational details.

Terreri, president of the federal air marshals' employee association, was disciplined under Department of Homeland Security policies that bar federal Transportation Security Administration employees from discussing security and operating procedures. He was confined to desk duty for nearly seven months.

He took his case to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and the ACLU filed a lawsuit last week on Terreri's behalf, charging the policy violated the air marshal's free speech rights.

Terreri, who has been portrayed as a "whistle blower," has also raised concerns about TSA policies he claims threaten aviation security. Among his worries are visible flight check-in procedures and a formal dress code that make them conspicuous and could compromise an air marshal's undercover status. He has also expressed concern about news stories approved by TSA administrators that he says have revealed air marshal training and tactics.

A spokesman for the air marshal service told the New York Times that the probe into Terreri's e-mail had been completed and the decision to return him to active duty was not influenced by the lawsuit, which Terreri's lawyers said will continue.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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