DEMINT BLOCKS TSA NOMINEE…. A few weeks ago, there was a mildly embarrassing dust-up over the Transportation Security Administration posting materials online that, if manipulated, revealed sensitive security information. When “The Daily Show” did a segment on this, Jon Stewart highlighted the fact that the TSA doesn’t actually have an administrator.
What Stewart didn’t mention is why.
An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — if there were one.
Instead, the post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has held up President Barack Obama’s nominee in an effort to prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union.
President Obama nominated Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert, to head the TSA a few months ago. Southers is the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence, and the associate director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. Two Senate committees considered the nomination, and easily approved Southers with bipartisan support.
But the Senate hasn’t been able to vote on the nomination because DeMint hates unions, and isn’t sure if Southers might allow TSA workers to organize. Without that guarantee, DeMint not only opposes Southers’ nomination, but prefers to leave the Transportation Security Administration without a permanent administrator.
This realization, in the wake of the attempted terrorism on Christmas, should make DeMint back down. It hasn’t — he still supports blocking Southers’ nomination until he knows TSA workers won’t unionize. The terrorist threat is bad, but the threat of collective bargaining is the real danger.
Also note, congressional Republicans also opposed funding for the TSA, including money for screening operations and explosives detection systems.
The GOP is desperate to politicize the attempted terrorism. That’s probably not a good idea.