Will John Pistole, the FBI deputy director nominated to lead the TSA, go the way of the previous two nominees? Let’s hope not, but it all depends upon whether certain Republicans intend to embarrass themselves – again – by demanding answers from Pistole that he simply will not be in a position to answer. I am speaking here of the unionization issue.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no friend of unions. I was delighted to watch the internal combustion that occurred when the unions sunk millions into the Arkansas Senate election in an effort to hand pick a pro-union candidate. An effort that failed spectacularly as much of the nation watched. As a former government manager, I faced countless frustrations in dealing with certain lackluster employees who relied on government unions to shield them from any accountability for their mediocre performance. As a taxpayer, I am offended that government unions – funded with taxpayer dollars in the form of government employee salaries – are allowed to engage in partisan politics.

I’m not interested in seeing the TSA unionized. This is a national security agency that needs flexibility to respond to threats – and the general inflexibility of unions undermines this flexibility. Sorry, man, I can’t work late tonight to help deal with that guy caught with a bomb in his pants – talk to my union rep.

All of this, however, does not change the fact that John Pistole is in no position to assert whether this administration intends to organize TSA workers.

I cringed as Republican Senator Jim DeMint led a posse to take down Erroll Southers, President Obama’s first choice to lead the TSA, over the pointless exercise of demanding that Southers say whether he would unionize the agency.

Whether he would unionize? Who are we kidding? Does anybody really think that the White House is going to let such a high-stakes decision be left to Erroll Southers – or John Pistole?

I can tell you this: Senator DeMint doesn’t really think so. He’s been around Washington too long to have any delusions about who makes such calls.

And what of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison? “The unionization issue,” she recently told CQ Homeland Security, “is clearly one that he’s going to need to answer.”

It is not. He cannot. And he won’t.

He will dodge it, just as Southers did. You can bet he has received training and talking points from well-placed sources on just how to dodge it.

The TSA has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for an embarrassing and dangerous amount of time. Certainly, President Obama must take a lot of the blame here by not bothering to nominate anyone for close to a year into his administration. However, DeMint’s hold on Southers over the unions issue was absurd.

Pistole is eminently qualified to lead the TSA. He has been the point man on the FBI’s leading counterterrorism cases. Considering his seniority within the FBI, it is highly unlikely the man has any skeletons in his closet, considering the number of background investigations he will have gone through by now.

The TSA needs leadership, and American citizens deserve somebody to finally take the reins and start making the necessary reforms and implementing the necessary strategies to move this critical aviation security agency forward.

Have we already forgotten the Christmas Day bomber incident?

Chris Battle founded Security Debrief as a forum for the homeland security community to discuss pressing issues and current debates in national security, counter-terrorism and law enforcement. After a long fight against kidney cancer, Chris passed in August 2013. Read More
  • Culandun

    There's nothing wrong with Unions. The UK AVSEC people are mostly in the Transport and General Workers Union. I myself was a Senior Shop Steward for some years and negotiated with the Clegg Commission in the 1970's. The problems arise when unreasonable demands are made of a workforce or employer, or unreasonable people negotiate reasonable demands. Only fools indulge in this. Does the Federal Government employ fools?

    • Ha, yes, I would submit there are a few fools in government on all sides of the equation. You raise some good points.