FBI's Pistole nominated to head Transportation Security Administration

By Ed O'Keefe
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

President Obama announced Monday his third pick to lead the Transportation Security Administration, tapping FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole to lead the security agency.

Pistole has served as deputy director since 2004 and previously led the bureau's counterterrorism division. He began his FBI career as a special agent in 1983, serving in Minneapolis and New York before moving to the organized-crime division at FBI headquarters, the White House said.

"The talent and knowledge John has acquired in more than two decades of service with the FBI will make him a valuable asset to our administration's efforts to strengthen the security and screening measures at our airports," Obama said in a statement.

Obama's statement was much more reserved than the one he offered for Robert A. Harding, his second choice to fill the TSA job. In March, he said, "I can think of no one more qualified than [Harding] to take on this important job," but Harding withdrew his nomination March 26 after senators questioned his business and personal dealings as a military contractor.

Obama first nominated Los Angeles International Airport police official Erroll Southers for the post in September, but Southers withdrew in January amid questions about whether he misled Congress.

Pistole appears to have early Senate support. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Pistole "has a great law enforcement background and understands the threat of terrorism as well as anyone in the government."

The panel's ranking Republican, Susan Collins (Maine), applauded Obama's choice of a "career law enforcement official" to lead the TSA.

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