In September President Obama tapped Erroll Southers to lead TSA, but his confirmation has been blocked by Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C. DeMint was concerned that Southers would allow TSA employees to join a labor union and about conflicting reports over background checks he ran on his estranged wife's boyfriend as an FBI agent.
The conflicting reports on the background check include an affidavit where he claims to have asked a San Diego police employee to run one, but was censured by his FBI superiors for the isolated instance. Then a day after he was approved and sent to the full Senate he wrote the Senators and told them that he was incorrect that twice he actually ran the background checks himself. In correcting the record Southers admitted to downloading enforcement records and sharing them but that he forgot the incident.
During his nomination Southers
raised additional concern with this statement, "Due to connectivity that we have with countries such as Israel, France -- countries that are seen by groups, by Al Qaeda, as infidels or anti-Islamic -- by the true nature of our alliance with them means we are subject to being attacked as well." This in an interview wtih VideoJug.
In a statement released this past week Southers
wrote, "I was extremely excited about the opportunity to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and fulfill Secretary Napolitano's objective to develop it into the best organization of its kind in the world, however, it is apparent that this path has been obstructed by political ideology."
Republican lawmakers who were in opposition of Southers' nomination said they were pleased with his decision to step down.
According to Arizona Senator John McCain
, "I think he did the right thing. I think the hold we placed on him was justified. I hope the president moves forward with a new nominee."
added, "The Senate could have an open and transparent debate this week to approve Mr. Southers, but apparently, answering simple, direct questions about security and integrity were too much for this nominee."