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Third Time May Be the Charm for TSA Chief Nomination

The New York Times reports that the White House has announced its third appointee to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): current deputy director of the F.B.I., John S. Pistole.

The TSA has been without a chief throughout President Obama’s nearly 18-month term, though not for lack of nominees. Obama’s first two choices, both of whom appeared to be more than qualified for the job, withdrew their nominations during the confirmation phase. In both cases, relatively minor concerns about the nominee’s record, concerns which had little relevance to the actual job of leading the TSA, led them to forfeit their candidacy.

Regardless, the lack of TSA secretary became a glaring vacancy following the failed Christmas Day bombing. In that incident, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had been reported to U.S. intelligence officials by his own father, was able to bring explosives aboard a plane in Amsterdam and nearly detonate them before landing in Detroit. The TSA’s response to the incident was seen as somewhat overreactive, and in the weeks that followed the agency did little to improve its image.

Like the previous nominees, Pistole appears well-suited for the job. According to the Times, Pistole “has a strong reputation and credibility with lawmakers in both parties. He has been with the F.B.I since joining as a special agent in Minneapolis in 1983 and also worked in the counterterrorism area, in addition to holding the deputy director’s job. He was recently involved in the investigation into the Times Square bombing attempt.”

Let’s hope he has a squeaky-clean background as well.


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