The Transportation Security Administration has been without an administrator for more than a year, but perhaps the third attempt to fill the post will be the charm as President Obama announced his intention to nominate FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole to head that section of Homeland Security.
Pistole has been with the FBI since 1983. He served in the Minneapolis and New York divisions before being promoted to a supervisor in the Organized Crime Section. He was supervisor of White Collar Crime and Civil Rights Squad in Indianapolis and assistant special agent in cCharge at Boston, where he also had oversight of all FBI matters in the states of Maine and New Hampshire. In 1999 he was involved in the investigative and recovery efforts for the Egypt Airlines Flight 990 flight off the coast of Rhode Island. Following Sept. 11 events, Pistole was appointed to the Counterterrorism Division. In 2004 he was appointed deputy director of the FBI. Pistole is a graduate of Anderson University in Indiana and the Indiana University School of Law. He practiced law for two years before joining the FBI.
The nomination of Pistole was welcomed by individuals and groups. Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), before whose committee Pistole must appear for confirmation, said the nomination was good news for America. “Mr. Pistole’s two decades of service with the FBI give him a unique perspective on the nexus of security operations, law enforcement and intelligence,” he said. He added that he is committed to moving the nomination forward as expeditiously as possible.
Burned twice by applauding the nominations for head of TSA, some general aviation individuals and groups are being cautious and doing more investigation into the nominee’s resume and positions. Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, said: “Security has always been a top priority for the business aviation community, and as the Senate considers this nominee, NBAA will closely monitor the process to ensure that he has a solid grasp of our industry’s unique operating model, and a readiness to collaborate with NBAA and its members on reasonable and effective security measures.” Speaking for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Chris Dancy said AOPA welcomes a nomination to fill a post that has been vacant for far too long.
Obama’s two previous nominees dropped out before confirmation hearings. His first choice, Erroll Southers, withdrew his nomination after Republicans jumped on news reports that he had provided misleading information to Congress on whether he had accessed a federal data base to get confidential records. The President’ second nominee, Maj. Gen. Robert Harding, withdrew his name from consideration after congressional staffers learned his previous contracting firm had been found to overcharge the government for work in Iraq.
Charles Spence is GAN’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.