After nearly four years of embarrassing lapses and poor staff morale, TSA officials stripped Arroyo of the top job and gave it to Hatfield -- who had served as Arroyo's deputy for six months -- on an acting basis. Hatfield was picked to keep the roughly $150,000-a-year post permanently following a nationwide selection process.
"I look forward to building on our success of the last year, as we go from the goal of meeting standards to the new goal of setting standards," said Hatfield, 46, the son of former Oregon senator and governor Mark Hatfield Sr.
Hatfield spent much of yesterday getting his security team ready for the latest change in rules about passengers' carry-on items. It's a relaxation of the complete ban on carry-on liquid, gels, aerosols and pastes that was implemented Aug. 10 after British authorities said they foiled a terrorist plot to bomb airliners using liquid explosives.
As of 4 a.m. today, passengers may carry "travel-size toiletries" including contact lens solutions, weighing three ounces or less per bottle, in a clear plastic, one-quart, zip-top bag, according to TSA. Additionally, passengers now may carry aboard planes beverages purchased at shops beyond the airport's security checkpoints.
Hatfield's appointment marks a fast-paced ascent through TSA's security operations hierarchy. He had previously served as TSA's chief spokesman before asking for and receiving a security-related post last year.
In an interview, Hatfield dismissed criticism from some aviation security experts who contend he has scant security experience to warrant such a key post.
"I stand on a yearlong record at the airport ... and on the very demanding process that TSA employs to fill" its top posts, said Hatfield.
Charles Slepian, chief executive officer of the Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center, a consulting firm, said he was impressed with Hatfield's knowledge when they took part in television discussions of aviation security issues while Hatfield was TSA's chief spokesman.