Don't TSA Me, Bro!
0 comment Friday, May 2, 2014 |
Is Erroll Southers's memory lapse -- he's Obama's choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration -- really a big deal? I'm not sure.
But in this age of "isolated" underwear bombers and nifty naked-people machines, it certainly warrants further scrutiny. (Oops. Obama update: the "suspect" did not act alone.)
Things have gotten so bad, we'll soon have to pass through airport contraptions that radiate us twice, front and back, from head-to-toe. Full-body x-rays, they are. To better detect bombs in an Islamic jihadist extremist's underwear, you see.
And who could argue we don't need these naked-people machines?
Because nowadays, even a flying passenger (1) paying cash; (2) for a one-way ticket; (3) checking no luggage; (4) whose visa was denied by the UK; and (5) whose father makes repeated calls to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to say, "Watch out! My kid is a radicalized Islamic nutjob" . . . doesn't get flagged.
Because a bipolar Janet Napolitano says, "One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked," on the Sunday DC-beltway shows, and the very next day whips out her sword and falls on it, exclaiming, "of course the system failed!"

Even pleasant-faced press secretary Robert Gibbs made the preposterous "the-system-worked" assertion.

Holy hell! The next time Obama goes on vacation, somebody sharp needs to be in charge. Which brings me back to Erroll Southers.
My quarrel is not so much with what he did, some twenty years ago (which is not to say I have no quarrel with it at all) but with how he described and then revised it.
On October 22, 2009, he told the Senate, essentially: "Oh, well, I got a buddy of mine at the San Diego police department to run a criminal check on my estranged wife's new boyfriend. Shouldn't of done it, but I was distraught; it was an emotional time. She had my kid and she was living with the dude. Sorry. Oh, and my FBI boss did reprimand me."
Okay. It was twenty years ago. It doesn't sound all that bad. And he did 'fess up. I can accept that.
Except that less than a month later, the day after the Senate Homeland Security committee voted to confirm him to head up the TSA, no less, Southers had a V8 moment.
"Oops! Now that I think about it, now that I've reviewed the FBI documents, umm, well, I personally looked up my wife's boyfriend on the confidential database, it wasn't my buddy . . . and yeah, I did it twice . . . and, uh, I downloaded the information and then . . . I, umm, passed on that information to my friend at the San Diego police department."
He passed on his wife's confidential boyfriend information . . . why? What, precisely, was he hoping would happen? What did happen? Mr. Southers doesn't say, leaving us to wonder.
And why did he remember the incident one way in October and then recall it so differently, such a short time later?
No telling. Although Mr. Southers admits his inconsistencies distress him, still, he maintains, the discrepancies were just an "inadvertent mistake."
Alrighty then. Say, I've got a bridge . . .
To be sure, his twice accessing what was supposed to be a confidential law enforcement data base was vindictive, scary, an abuse of power, and very likely criminal offenses.
But his claim, that he didn't remember what he had done until after he'd been confirmed, stretches credulity. He'd been officially reprimanded; it's in his FBI file. Less than a month passed between his two widely varying, sworn accounts to the Senate.
All this, from the guy who wants to run our Transportation Safety Administration, including the naked-people machines and the TSA employees behind them. The TSA folks who will be in another room and allegedly won't be able to put a face on your naked body, the folks who will allegedly destroy your naked image the instant you clear security.
(Gee, really? So if the TSA clerk makes a mistake and lets a bomber pass by, we can't go back and see if she did the job well? Umm, okay. I feel so much better. Now, about that bridge . . . )

Even assuming he really did just have an innocent moment of major forgetfulness, I have to ask: Is Southers the best we've got to lead our TSA?

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