Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Confirm Errol Southers, NOW!

Last week's attack on a Detroit-bound flight that originated in the Netherlands (and was thankfully stopped in progress by quick-reacting passengers) could have, as we have been told ad nauseum, been prevented by better communication between American and Dutch authorities.

A month ago Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father told the American consulate that his son had taken up with radical Islamists. The Homeland Security Department did what they should have done and placed him on a terrorist watch list, meaning that he would be subjected to additional security measures if he tried to board a plane. Only the TSA didn't communicate with the Dutch authorities, who failed to detect explosive material on Abdulmutallab when he passed through a security inspection in Amsterdam.

Why didn't the TSA do it's job? MAYBE BECAUSE THERE IS NO ONE AT THE HELM? That's right, the position of TSA director is vacant.

There is a nominee, and a counter-terrorism expert at that. The person the Obama administration nominated for the job is Errol Southers, who is eminently qualified to deal with terrorism, as a former special agent with the FBI, the Los Angeles airport assistant chief for security and intelligence, the associate director of the University of Southern California's Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events and most recently the deputy director of homeland security for the state of California.

Two Senate committees have already approved Southers by a bipartisan vote. This should be a no-brainer.

Enter DeMint, one of the most combatative conservatives in the Senate. He has single-handedly blocked the nomination over the specific issue of preventing TSA workers from exercising their right to vote on whether they want to be represented by a collective bargaining agreement.

So thanks to DeMint, instead of having a highly qualified expert on terrorism running the TSA, someone who certainly would have attended to the detail of letting the Dutch know who they should pay closer attention to during an inspection, we instead have a vacancy in this critical position.

Thankfully, no one lost their life in this attack. But had 279 passengers and crew in the plane, and perhaps hundreds more on the ground died in the attack, it would be fair to ask whether Jim DeMint was at fault.

The Senate should vote to confirm Errol Southers IMMEDIATELY!

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