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Tom Ridge takes the blame for a long airport line

By Al Kamen
The struggling Transportation Security Agency has not had an administrator since President Obama took office. The first nominee, Los Angeles airport police executive Errol Southers, withdrew in January, blaming Republican opposition to collective bargaining rights for TSA employees. Republicans said he misled Congress about the time he inappropriately accessed a federal database to get info about his estranged wife's new boyfriend.

The second nominee, retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert A. Harding, dropped out Friday after senators questioned his dealings as a military contractor providing services from Iraq war interrogators to private guards at the White House.

Some may wonder: Who needs a TSA chief? Well, the folks who showed up at Orlando's airport at 6 a.m. on Monday this week sure could have used someone to move the crowd through security. Hundreds and hundreds were there waiting at the crack of dawn.

Among those stuck in the super-long lines? One Tom Ridge, the man who arguably helped create them in the first place, as the first White House homeland security adviser and later secretary of homeland security. A long-time Loop Fan tells us Ridge, trying to make a flight back to Washington, was good-humored about the whole thing, even if some of the other passengers were not quite so sanguine.

"Even you have to wait in line?" one passenger who recognized him asked.

"Yes. Absolutely," Ridge replied. "Some say it's justifiable punishment."

Sounds about right.

By Al Kamen  |  March 30, 2010; 4:27 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , In the Loop , National Security  
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