WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama plans to nominate retired Army Major Gen. Robert Harding to head the Transportation Security Administration after his first pick withdrew under political pressure, an administration official said Sunday.
The official declined to be further identified because the planned nomination has not yet been announced.
Before retiring from the military, Harding was deputy to the Army's chief of intelligence and previously served as director for operations in the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The TSA job requires Senate confirmation and Obama's first nominee, Erroll Southers, withdrew after Senate Republicans raised concerns he would try to unionize the workforce which is responsible for screening passengers at U.S. airports.
Airport screening in the United States and abroad has been under heightened scrutiny after a Nigerian man tried but failed to explode a bomb hidden in his clothes aboard a jumbo commercial plane as it flew from Amsterdam to Detroit.
The Department of Homeland Security, which includes the TSA, plans to have some 450 full-body imaging scanners in operation this year in a bid to thwart such plots.