Ex-Army intel officer tapped for TSA post

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano hailed the nomination of retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Harding as Transportation Safety Administration head.

"Effective transportation security involves protecting our citizens from constantly evolving threats while facilitating legal travel and trade around the country and throughout the world," Napolitano said in a release. "Bob's national security expertise and extensive experience in the intelligence community and U.S. Army will be a great asset to the department in our efforts to ensure the safety of the nation's transportation systems."

President Barack Obama on Monday sent Harding's nomination to the Senate.

"I am confident that Bob's talent and expertise will make him a tremendous asset in our ongoing efforts to bolster security and screening measures at our airports," Obama said also in a statement. "I can think of no one more qualified than Bob to take on this important job, and I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead."

If confirmed by the Senate, Harding would be the TSA's first African-American administrator.

Harding was CEO of Harding Security Associates, a defense and intelligence government contractor he founded in 2003 and sold in 2009.

From 1996 to 2000, Harding was the Defense Intelligence Agency's director for operations and the Pentagon's senior human intelligence officer. He also was director for intelligence for the Army's Southern Command.

Obama's first nominee for the post, Erroll Southers, a Los Angeles airport police department official, withdrew from consideration in January after lawmakers questioned his shifting explanation about disciplinary action taken against him years ago, CNN said. Also, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., led Republican efforts to block Southers' nomination based on concerns that Southers would unionize airport screeners.

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