Will airline security be impaired by Congress over "unionization" issue? (Updated)

TSA Nominee: was "race" a primary selection criteria that outweighed competency?

For those who are going to shout racism and bigotry, so be it. But doesn’t the American public have a right to know how one of the most important law enforcement officials in the nation – a man that is leading the campaign for transportation safety – was chosen as a nominee?

  • Was he chosen because he is the best qualified person for the job?
  • The best qualified minority for the job?
  • Are we getting a political appointee that is more about academia, affirmative action, credentials collecting and political connections than a competent manager knowledgeable about security issues?
  • Or are we getting a hack with somewhat tarnished credentials, beholden to the democrats and their special interest unions rather than to the Constitution and the American public?
  • Is a nominees performance in previous positions more political than effective hands-on leadership?

Without much more than a cursory look at President Barack Obama’s nomination for the head of the Transportation Security Agency, I do not like what I see.

One, and most egregiously, the nominee has appeared to have been “censured” by the FBI for requesting that law enforcement officials conduct a background check on his ex-wife’s boyfriend in 1988. While the nominee has acknowledged his actions and claims that he has not done anything else of this nature, it does make me believe that he might be willing to do favors for friends and those who are politically connected. This single fact should have removed the nominee from any consideration as he used his connections to go outside of approved channels in dealing with personal issues. The rule is absolute: If you have both personal involvement and probable cause, request that your superiors conduct the inquiry.  Do not compromise your position or your agency with something that may appear to be an abuse of your authority or position.

Note, he only served in the FBI for four years – hardly enough time to master the intricacies of counter-intelligence – and left for “unrelated” reasons.  This raises red flags in my mind – especially since the FBI, under Obama’s Administration, refuses to release the details of the "censure" to members of Congress.

Erroll Southers, who was serving as an FBI special agent at the time of the censure, asked a co-worker's husband who worked for the San Diego Police Department to run a background check on his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Under questioning by [Senator] Collins, Southers said that he has not misused government databases to receive personal information on anyone since the incident and that he would not do so in the future.

"I recognize that it was a mistake to have used my official connections to investigate the matter," Southers said.

Southers worked as an FBI special agent from 1984 to 1988. He told lawmakers Tuesday that he left the FBI about six months after the censure for unrelated reasons.

The FBI has not provided a copy of the censure to the Senate committee, [Senator] Collins said. <Source>

Two, and of equal importance, the nominee refuses to answer a direct Congressional inquiry about his feelings about the unionization of the TSA. Something which would most certainly reduce the agency’s effectiveness while driving up costs. Depending on the union, it could also expose this nation’s secrets to our enemies, both foreign and domestic and be used as a method of overt and covert surveillance of high-value targets.

Three, the fact that this man served in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Administration makes me doubt his operational effectiveness and think that he may be nothing more than a high-profile “affirmative action” hack.

And four, President Obama has a record of nominating people with suspicious or flawed backgrounds for positions of importance. All seemingly based on fealty to the democrat party.

Who is the nominee? A collection of credentials rather than accomplishment?

This appears to be the biography of a credentials collector, someone with an increasing academic background rising in a political environment.  I do not see anything that would indicate outstanding achievements in the world of security. 

Erroll G. Southers is the Associate Director for educational programs at the U.S. homeland security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) at the University of Southern California (USC) and an Adjunct Professor of Terrorism and Public Policy.

He is the former deputy director of the California Office of Homeland Security, appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger, and responsible for the oversight of counterterrorism policy and national pilot programs.

Mr. Southers’ experience includes counterterrorism studies in Israel, at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Defense Forces’ Home Front Command.

He is a former FBI Special Agent assigned to matters of counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, and a member of the Bureau’s SWAT Team.

He is a former Santa Monica Police Department detective, member of the Rio Hondo Police Academy faculty and tactical staff, and a court-qualified gang expert.

As an authority on the protection of cultural properties, he ascended to the level of Assistant Vice President at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Mr. Southers is A Certified Institutional Protection manager and is certified in homeland security by the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute.

He is a consultant to numerous international firms and regularly featured in the media as an expert on matters of counter-terrorism and infrastructure protection.

Mr. Southers is a Senior Fellow of the UCLA School of Public Affairs and a Next Generation Fellow of The American Assembly at Columbia University. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Brown University and his Master of Public Administration at USC.<Source>

Bottom line …

I do not want an ineffective manager, academic with limited experience or someone without real, verifiable hands-on security experience heading the TSA. I do not want an Obama political operative who plans to subvert the TSA’s command and control infrastructure by unionizing the TSA to the point where discipline is determined by union contract and mediocrity becomes institutionalized. Considering that many TSA workers are nothing more than jumped-up security guards with little or no real training, I want the TSA leadership to weed out the misfits, improve training and build an agency on a par with those who protect Israel’s and Germany’s airports.

When the name of former L.A. Police Chief Bill Bratton was being floated for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security, I had much the same objections about placing a political hack/socialite in such a position. Yes, Bratton did have leadership experience, but his political connections and ambitions made him, at least in my mind, an unsuitable candidate.

I would prefer someone with a military background – possibly a Navy Seal commander or Delta Force Operator -- who knows how to think on his feet and will not make decisions based on political correctness or media considerations.

If anything, the nominee should head the plans and policy section of the TSA where his talents might be profitably employed and leave the leadership to those with more suitable credentials and work experience.

Remember: it is of the utmost importance to keep the TSA from being unionized -- unions will not make travel safer and might make the situation worse.

-- steve

Reference Links …

The Volokh Conspiracy » Blog Archive » Shouldn’t A TSA Nominee Respect Privacy?

Sample work product: Suggested Guidelines For Museum Security

Airport Crime Under Attack In U.S. Drive

“Asserting that labor racketeering continues to plague the air freight business at Kennedy International Airport and inflate shipping costs, the Federal Government is mounting another drive to clean up a teamsters union local with a history of ties to the mob.”

“The Government's new effort comes after a dozen years of investigations that have led to the convictions of some of the local's top figures for extortion, racketeering and other crimes. The illegal acts, prosecutors say, included systematically extorting millions of dollars from employers by threatening work stoppages, slowdowns and other disruptions if the payments were not made.”

Mafia Ties Create Dock Security Problem

With all the recent talk about security vulnerabilities at the nation's ports, one subject goes virtually unmentioned. The men who actually control many of the nation's docks are in the hip pocket of the Mafia.”

“How can that be? It all has to do with the peculiar institution of the union hiring hall. No matter who owns or operates the ports, the union, not the employer, actually assigns workers to jobs. You can't work unless you carry a union card. And on East Coast and Gulf ports, the union card belongs to the International Longshoreman's Association (ILA), one of the most mobbed-up unions in the country.”

“In July 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against the ILA, which targets the entire 31-member ILA executive council, including the president, secretary-treasurer, executive vice president, and general vice president.”

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