Posts Tagged ‘Erroll Southers’
February 13th, 2010 at 9:22 pm
The Wrong Kind of Government Transparency

Remember Erroll Southers?  He was President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the chief of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), the agency in charge of security at all the nation’s airports.  If approved, he would have been the point man for installing full body scan machines for every passenger to walk through.  Yet, he withdrew his nomination last month after it surfaced that twenty years ago as an FBI agent he illegally accessed information about his ex-wife’s boyfriend.  By all accounts he was a model security professional before and after the incident, but introduce a personal motive, and even the best people may play a dangerous game with our privacy.

Once again, Britain provides a case study.  Recently, an Indian film star discovered the failures of a government-run failsafe system.  Immediately after participating in a mandatory full body scan at London’s Heathrow airport, Shahrukh Khan saw two female security workers printing out a picture with detailed outlines of his manhood on display.  The event gave the lie to assurances by the British government that no scanned information would be saved or printed.  Though irritated, he made light of the matter and autographed the paper.  The rest of us should take note.

It is darkly ironic that at a time when most Americans are disgusted with the lack of transparency from their government, their government is lusting after more transparency from its people.

December 29th, 2009 at 5:36 pm
TSA to Unionize?

The fracas surrounding Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) hold on Erroll Southers’ nomination to be the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) next chief shows the endurance of two liberal pastimes.  First, the refusal of any of DeMint’s critics to directly address his concerns that Southers will clear the path for TSA workers to unionize.  The second is the enshrinement of unelected bureaucrats as the sine qua non of a workable federal government.

Right now, the TSA’s supposed top priority is to protect Americans traveling through the nation’s airports and on its airways.  If TSA’s workers are allowed to unionize its primary focus, like all other public employee unions, will become job protection and expanding compensation.  To Senator DeMint that means less flexibility in personnel decisions and higher taxes.  Apparently, Southers hasn’t been candid about whether he supports unionization.  Disregarding the senator’s qualms, pilots unions and trade associations are calling for DeMint to relent.  For those familiar with him, that isn’t likely.

Perhaps what’s more amazing (or disgusting, depending on your current level of holiday cheer) is the implied premise of Southers’ supporters that TSA is “rudderless” without a permanent, Senate-approved leader.  Granted, Congress is on an extended vacation and the president is golfing in Hawaii, but no one can seriously argue that TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA, or the myriad of other federal departments, agencies, or bureaus touching on domestic safety are insufficiently empowered to decide who gets on an American airplane.  If anything, the admission that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s name was on a terror watch list and had been reported to the American government by his own father indicate that “what we’ve got here is…failure to communicate” among various federal entities.

If it takes a new law to make that possible, so be it.  But fast-tracking a stealth unionization administrator can wait until he and his supporters come up with a better reason than a civil servant’s indispensability.