Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 8, 2010

TSA Administrator Announcement Today

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on March 8, 2010

It is largely expected that retired Army Major General Robert A. Harding will be announced today at noon by Secretary Janet Napolitano as the nominee to serve as the Transportation Security Administration Administrator.  General Harding’s name had been circulating for the last several weeks as the likely nominee.

General Harding is currently President and CEO of Harding Security Associates, LLC where he provides consulting and support services “to US government agencies on HUMINT, Counterintelligence, Security and MASINT.” Before starting the 400+ company, he served as the Executive Vice President for Operations at Innovative Logistics Techniques.

General Harding retired from the Army in 2001 after serving in a number of capacities, including deputy to the Army’s chief of intelligence and director of operations in the Defense Intelligence Agency. A full bio, though dated, can be found here.

He is the second nominee for the position, replacing Erroll Southers who withdraw his nomination after a prolonged nomination process which saw his confirmation stalled.  Southers, as an aside, just announced last week that he would be leaving his current position as assistant police chief of Los Angeles World Airports, effective March 27th, to pursue other opportunities.

General Harding’s nomination comes at a time when TSA is under increased scrutiny for its day-to-day operations and preparedness for the future.  This week, both the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees are holding hearings on the attempted Christmas Day attack by the underwear bomber.  Both hearings are expected to focus on how TSA is working with airlines and international partners on pre-screening efforts, as well as “no-fly” lists.

As detailed in an earlier post this year, TSA has also come under scrutiny for airport security violations and the use of canines.  Just this past week, Rep. Darell Issa, the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to the Department citing that the agency was wrongly targeting travelers to “baseless harassment, intimidation, and situations designed to instill feat and cause public humiliation.”  In particular, Issa cited an incident at a Philadelphia International Airport where TSA officers forced a 4-year-old boy to remove his leg braces before going through a metal detector. As detailed by the Washington Post in an article last week, this was but a couple of examples cited by Issa.

All this comes in the midst of TSA’s effort to increase security by deploying technologies such as full-body scanners that have also come under scrutiny from privacy advocates and a potential legislative and Administration fight over collective bargaining rights for TSA employees.

General Harding, if confirmed, has quite a job in front of him.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 8, 2010 @ 10:46 am

Well good luck to General Harding! Does he know anything about the aviation sector of the transportation industry or any other portion of the transportation sector of the economy?

Since all Flag Ranks are confirmed by Congress assume he will have no problems! Isn’t it good that all these retired Generals and Admirals had such stressful careers that they just have to keep being employed to overcome the terrific stress and danger of their military careers. Not questioning their patriotism just what really has motivated them in the past and now? Apparently he will get full military retirement plus his TSA administrator salary? No setoff?

Comment by christopher tingus

March 9, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

I do hope that passengers are not beinging abused in any way and that any TSA check us done professionally.

I know on my last trip to visit with senior government officials, I, too was asked to leave the line, escorted into another room and given a fine once, twice and three over, yet after all, I am a frequent contributer in comment in this wonderful, necessary and oh so enlightening blog, so from a comment or two I have chosen to share, as the Constitution and individual rights continue to be stomped on, I always leave earlier for flights as who knows what “list” I am on as a very patrriot American always with passport in hand to show my citizenship!

The TSA has a great deal of responsibility and as a frequent passenger, thank you for doing your job, however any TSA employee who hassles unjustly should be fired on the spot! Every passenger traveling as he or she should demands respect!

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