TSA nominee says GA security needs studying

General aviation will get more scrutiny but with an understanding that one size doesn’t fit all if John Pistole is confirmed as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. This became clear as several senators asked questions about GA at his confirmation hearing June 10 before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Pistole said actions by TSA must be intelligence driven.

Responding to questions from Chairman John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and others, Pistole said if confirmed he would gather information about general aviation and “would look forward to working with the general aviation community.” Rockefeller warned Pistole that any action against general aviation brings “immediate telephone calls” to Congressional offices and, while other senators back off, he will not.

Responding to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Pistole said good intelligence is vital and, for general aviation, this means determining what the risks are and to determine the interests of terrorists. Earlier Pistole told Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) that resources must be tailored to various airports and the same security actions cannot be used at all places.

Senators are split along party lines over the question of unionizing TSA workers. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said the Secretary of Homeland Security could not tell how unionization would improve security, adding the administration’s efforts toward unionization are “clearly a pay-off to the unions that supported Obama.” Others on the Republican side of the table amplified Hutchison’s declarations that security needs persons not bound to specific hours or work and who must be ready at all times to move quickly and for extended periods. Pistole hedged on what his recommendations to the Secretary of Homeland Security would be concerning the administration’s pressure for unionization, saying he would need to gather more information.

Pistole is the third nominee for the administrator’s position. Two previous nominees withdrew their names before any hearing. His background in law enforcement and security was praised by the senators who frequently mentioned his qualifications and stated their support for him. He is currently deputy director of the FBI after serving in various security posts in that agency. Rockefeller said the office has been vacant for too long and “is the most difficult position in Washington.” He expects to move on Pistole’s nomination next week.

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