The Christmas Day bombing attempt spotlighted the empty seat at the helm of the Transportation Security Administration, the agency primarily responsible for keeping terrorists off airplanes. But a closer look at the administration’s security leadership reveals that the TSA director’s position is only one of a number of top-tier posts that remain empty nearly a year after Barack Obama became president.
In the finger-pointing aftermath of the botched airliner bombing, Democrats blame partisan politics for TSA’s rudderless state, pointing to the decision by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint to invoke a senatorial prerogative and block a Senate confirmation debate on Erroll Southers to lead the agency. DeMint placed his hold last fall out of concern that Southers, a former FBI agent and top cop at Los Angeles International Airport, would support efforts by TSA employees to unionize, which many Republicans see as a threat to homeland security. Meanwhile, Republicans blame Obama for not forwarding his nomination of Southers until he’d been president for eight months.