Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Ex-TSA nominee Erroll Southers speaks out

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 12:12 p.m. ET

The former nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration lashed out at Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in an interview on Thursday, saying his hands were tied on whether or not he would ever extend collective bargaining rights to airport security screeners.

Erroll Southers also admitted that his decision to access personal information about the boyfriend of his ex-wife was wrong, but shouldn't have derailed his nomination.

"The personal attacks and partisan attacks over collective bargaining and some other issues were really getting to be quite disastrous," Southers said in a lengthy interview with Federal News Radio. "As the controversy got hotter and hotter, I believe that I was becoming more and more of a distraction for the White House and that the honorable thing to do was to remove myself so that the country and the organization could move forward."

Several Republican senators objected to his nomination following revelations that he misled Congress about an incident in the late 1980s involving a background check he performed on his ex-wife's boyfriend, possibly in violation of federal privacy laws.

"I didn't spin it, I didn't deny it," he said when he had to go back clarify his previous statements about the incident to Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

"It was wrong," Southers said of his decision to access the information. "It was a need-to-know database and I didn't have a need to know, although I was driven by the fact that the individual living in my home was living with my one year old son -- which has not been mentioned in any media -- but I'm not justifying it. I just want to present the reasoning behind it. I was disciplined. It hasn't happened since. It didn't happen before."

(Southers's concern for his young son was in fact mentioned in The Federal Eye's original reporting on the database search last November.)

Despite his comments, Southers didn't provide more of an explanation -- and wasn't asked -- why he failed to tell lawmakers from the start that he had accessed the information himself.

Despite admitting that he improperly accessed information on the ex-boyfriend -- arguably a more serious concern than his potential support of collective bargaining rights -- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) placed a hold on Southers over those unionization concerns.

Southers said the senator's concerns and criticism were unfair, because he didn't have access to internal TSA information about unionization.

"I wanted to make the best recommendation that I could to Secretary Napolitano after I had that information. That was insufficient for him. He wanted a yes or no answer," Southers said.

In a separate interview with, Southers said the White House never discussed a recess appointment with him, but said he thought the thwarted Christmas Day bomb attack on a Detroit-bound airliner might have justified such a move.

He further explained his decision to withdraw:

"Here I was -- the most apolitical guy you could ever meet. I serve a republican governor. I was nominated by a Democratic president. And I became a political football, a game that had nothing to do with increasing our security posture. It needed to stop."

Southers also appeared Thursday night on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," but Maddow failed to ask him why he misled Congress about accessing information about his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 22, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Eye Opener: Salazar says bipartisanship key to climate bill
Next: NASA live tweeting from space


It happens all too frequently that very qualified nominations never get to serve in the positions they were nominated for because of Congressional politics. And that does the Executive Branch a huge dis-service and ultimately the American people. The process of vetting and confirming nominations is broken. It takes way too long to accomplish now and individuals like Southers become casualties. Why anyone would want to subject themselves to this process just to serve their country amazes me.

Posted by: Sojouner | January 22, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

He lied. Said someone else did the records check for him. Then, much later when pinned down admitted he actually did the check. Ouch! He's former FBI and a law enforcement officer. Memory like that is convenient.

Posted by: Maximus6 | January 22, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I can only agree with Sojourner. What a shameful episode. Senator Demint dishonored his oath of office not only for partisan purposes but to indulge his own obese "aren't I important" ego and inflated sense of self-importance.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | January 22, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Southers, I appreciate your capabilities and accomplishments. Regrettably, your meddling in the relationship between your ex-wife and her boyfriend is unlawful and the act of a pervert. I don't care if such a pervert gets on a plane, but I don't want such a pervert running the TSA.

Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | January 22, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

It was very foolish, almost "Clintonish", for Mr Southers to prevaricate on the facts of an event 20 years in the past. As it turns out, it is also unfortunate in that it gives "Bubba" DeMint all the rope he needs, without betraying his true motives for blocking this nomination.

Maybe we can get Bernie Kerik... sure, he's in jail, but at least he is White!

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 22, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Pure and simple, you lied. Therefore, you did not get the job.

Posted by: djudge1 | January 22, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Southers may be right. When you fight terrorism you don't want Boy Scouts.

Knowing your leader is not shy about breaking rules can give you some confidence when you do.

Posted by: oracle2world | January 22, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Why don't the Repthugs just tell the truth , they don't want the black man

Posted by: lgregory2 | January 22, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Ask anyone in law enforcement what the penalties are for illegally using the information this man used to get "dirt" on someone he did not like.

He's now crying that his nomination was aborted because he was only doing it for his infant son? There were many legal paths he could have followed to get the same information.

He got off easy.

Posted by: jayjay9 | January 22, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

mr. southers is as clueless as anyone can be if he thinks his vindictive little indiscretion while in the FBI was the dealbreaker for his nomination to head TSA.

even before the latest incident involving a TSA employee in philadelphia slipping a bag of white powder (but it was just a joke!) into an innocent passenger's luggage, we had that incompetent TSA twerp at newark who went "on a break" so some chinese graduate student could breach security to kiss his girlfriend goodbye one more time. and there's no telling how many other incidents of TSA employee incompetence and/or tomfoolery have gone unreported.

the fact that southers thinks it's just fine for the TSA to have a union tells you he's not qualified, period. TSA employees are on the front line of protecting the traveling public. would we let the army, navy, air force, and marines unionize? i don't think so!

Posted by: yesnomaybe213 | January 22, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Those database systems require an individual to sign in, and then an access code is assigned to the user. This access code has to be entered after each query. So the system has a record of the user making the query. He knows this, and yet,,,he lied. He perjured himself. And yet,,,he claims he is ethical, really,,,just a few lapses. Just a few lapses that were caught! What else has he done that wasn't caught?????
Any other employee would have been FIRED! Looks like reverse discrimination to me, he got a pass for the illegal search and for the perjury because he is a black employee. Now why would we want such a person to head a government agency??? Who nominated this crook? I have to agree with the Republicans on this one.

Posted by: AnnsThought | January 22, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

The position is just too important.

You lied.

Posted by: happyjysfree | January 22, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Southers is just as arrogant as Obama - I'm glad he withdrew his nomination but that's not the end of him - Obama will stick him somewhere in his Administration that is already filled with old cronies.

Posted by: Meeche1 | January 22, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

It is very hard not to question as to why Mr. Southers would leave the FBI after 4 short years and giving up a good pension with health insurance. Perhaps he was nudged along a little by the FBI after he was caught perfoming 2 unauthorized and illegal background checks on his ex wife's boyfriend. My sense is that there may be a little more at play here.

Posted by: Manassas2 | January 22, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Besides forgetting what took place, my concern is why have a kid if your marriage is on the outs? Your claim for your 1 year olds well being but doesn't divorced mean you were separated for some time? I think there is more to the story but we'll never know. As for the politicians, it's funny how they feed their egos by trying to look tough,meanwhile they're the most corrupt americans in the world. I wouldn't be surprised/shocked that everyone in congress/senate has done something as bad or worse, they just don't allow us to ask them the tough questions or investigate.

Maybe some day, we the american public can hold hearings for every politician in office... might make for some reality tv.

Posted by: larry40 | January 22, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Sojourner -- the vetting process is broken.

Also, I think that racism and meanness from the Republicans played a role in this. I have lost a lot of respect for that political party in the last couple of years -- I now see them as a bunch of mean, old men who want to turn the clock back to 1948.

Posted by: Valkyrie1999_222 | January 22, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Erroll Southers also said that his decision to access personal information about the boyfriend of his ex-wife was wrong, but shouldn't have derailed his nomination.


Of course not! He's a Dem! That's only supposed to happen if you have an (R) after your name.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 22, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Southers told the committees he had been censured. He forgot the details of the charges. As soon as he remembered he corrected his statements. Sounds like a very conscientious person to me.

Remember Dr. Foster, I believe he was Clinton's nominee for head of DHHS. The Republicans derailed his confirmation because he had performed abortions. They will use any excuse, or just make something up.

Posted by: dotellen | January 22, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

OH, and Foster is also a black man.

Posted by: dotellen | January 22, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

From the November session with Sen Collins....

"The boyfriend had moved in with my ex-wife, from whom I had separated only a short time before, and I was concerned for the safety of her and my infant son, who was also living with them," he wrote. "The database search revealed an outstanding warrant for his arrest, about which I informed my ex-wife."
"I recognize that it was a mistake to have used my official connections to investigate the matter," Southers said.

...actually, if most of us were faced with the same situation, I seriously doubt if we wouldn't have done the same thing. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. If something had happened to the child, which happens between boyfriends and children of the girlfriend, then the same people would have said, "he was in the FBI, he could have done something".

Such hypocrisy among us.

Posted by: jms3rd | January 22, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

He's nothing but a street chump who only advanced for reasons we all know. Reality has caught up with him, as it has Hussein O'B

Posted by: mindmagnet | January 22, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Southers took an oath to uphold the Constitution. A significant part of that document is the bill of rights that constrains government agents from unreasonable searches and seizures, which is exactly what he did. All attempts to explain or minimize this violation of a core responsibility are the type of spin that he vehemently denies.

Posted by: friday3 | January 22, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Southers, Please go away. You are exactly what is wrong with this administration. You are arrogant, you refuse to accept the fact that you were wrong ( read broke the law) and then you lied about it. Take responsibility for your illegal actions.

Posted by: nosuchluck | January 22, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Whoa...interesting comments above.

Lets skip to the chase, and state what's really going on.
The current Republican party leadership has devised a political plan to block, delay, & say "No", to everything this administration tries to put forward.
They want to be able to say, "What has Obama accomplished in 4 years? (Nothing).

When Sen. Mitch McConnell was asked the other day whether there was anything the Republican party could compromise on or work with Democrats on, he stated, "Yes their retirement party". I'd caution the Senator not all Republican voters think like him. The majority of us haven't forgotten the last eight years of leadership that got us here.

I keep hearing No, no, no, but also "No Ideas" either.
There may have been a few recent state victories in the polls, but look at the overall Republican approval rating with registered voters. If you want this party to make a come back, you best not trot out the same old horse and think your going to automatically win. That "dawg ain't going to hunt".

Posted by: JAD2 | January 22, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

An egregious unethical act and subsequent attempt to cover it up.

Yep, he's qualified to serve in Washington.

Posted by: DagnyT | January 22, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The guys a liar! Who needs him. We have enought liars and tax cheats in this Administration.

Posted by: Jimbo77 | January 22, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My grandmama always said that if a person will lie to you, they will steal from you, and if they will steal from you, they will kill you.

Now I don't know if all that's true or not, but when you think about getting caught up in a lie - and trying to get yourself free, there just may be something to grandmama's saying.

The candidate for office lied.

Matter over.

Posted by: adjjones | January 22, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the Republicans use their bully tactics to derail the nomination of a very qualified individual to serve their political agenda. Shame on them! But also shame of these individuals who cave in to their tactics. This has been their strategy for decades. Isn't anyone even slightly disgusted? It's a shame to see the type of politics the Republicans practice. It's of no benefit to the country and certainly none to the citizens of this country. Politics and politicians are usually disgusting, but i tell you, the politics the Repulican party practices is just nasty!!

Posted by: cherylann_36 | January 22, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

All public employee unions are corrupt cancer. The TSA is charged with travel security and is no place for institutional laziness.

Posted by: carlbatey | January 22, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Southers is right, but lets face it - this was just another petty "gotcha". Business as usual on the Hill, unfortunately. The Dems are the targets now. I would hope the GOP will decide to put the pettiness aside just this once, because in this case, they are jeopardizing America's security.


Posted by: free-donny | January 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The Chicken Little Republicans will say and do ANYTHING to derail Obama.


That's the Republican plan to take back power. The more people with NO HOME, NO HEAT, NO ELECTRICITY, NO FOOD, NO HEALTH CARE REFORM AND NO CHANCE AT RECOVERY THE LESS PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO VOTE IN 2010 & 2012!!!

The only health care reform the Republicans want. Is a cut rate cremation service to get rid of the bodies of those who opposed them quick & easy!!

Posted by: imZandor | January 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Southers did something both illegal and immoral in accessing the information about his ex's new boyfriend. He can spin the reason all he wants yet I doubt that there wasn't also some spite in what he did, a private hope he'd learn something negative about the boyfriend's background he could use to damage their relationship. Then, he lied to Congress in first saying another person did the background check before admitting that he himself did the check.
That lie about who actually did the check is the pattern of someone who will lie when he has something to gain for himself. And we cannot trust such a one to hold a post heading a government agency because he has amply demonstrated with his actions (and a person's actions say more about them than their words) that if a situation arises wherein he needs it while being an agency head, he will lie again to get what he wants or needs. It's a good thing that Southers, a proven unprofessional liar who puts himself first, is not going to be the head of any government agency.
Before kneejerk defending him because he is a Democrat's nominee and you are a Democrat, ask yourself the following: if I owned a private business, and was hiring a general manager who would have access to my private finances and the business' monies in his job, would I trust someone in that post who had lied to me once before?

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | January 22, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Southers problems skyrocketed when YouTube videos of interviews with him saying there is no homegrown islamic terrorism problem in the US, and that the most dangerous US terrorism is "PRO-CHRISTIAN" groups and pro-life groups. Southers was a typical liberal -- ignorant of the hispanic gang issue, the islamic radicals within the US, and spend their time worrying about white supremicist groups that are too stupid to put chewing gum in their mouths correctly.

Southers was a liberal with an OD of political correctness. He was Napolitano with a tie. These are the same type of people who allowed Majory Hasan to be promoted through the ranks because of PC BS and fear of being accused of discrimination.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | January 22, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm a non-partisan and I just have to say that by all evidence here we have a well-respected, qualified, willing candidate, who has a mark on his record from decades ago. Where are we going to grow these perfect, qualified pod-people that some seem to demand? I see no evidence that the incident is indicative of a pattern of behavior or a disdain for rule of law. The people who are celebrating should ask themselves if the country wins by continuing to have a rudderless TSA.

Posted by: Green_Ipod | January 22, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

he had his chance to speak and we said NO THANK YOU!

Posted by: infantry11b4faus | January 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

My son in-law works as an airport screener.
If he had the record of Mr. Southers he would not be qualified for employment as a screener.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Posted by: travisg2 | January 22, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

When Palin used her influence to go after her sister's ex, she at least had some valid reasons for doing so, according to her anyway.
However, what this guy did sounds perilously akin to stalking. That doesn't sound like the kind of personality one would want in charge of an agency like the TSA and I agree with the decision to remove him from nomination. Obama can do better.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | January 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I suspect it had more to do with...

A. He was going to do some HOUSECLEANING at the agency. Translation....get rid of some of the Secret Service retirees who have NO idea what they are doing and treat hiring like membership in a club!
B. He decided security and TSA shouldn't be just about airports....he realized the T stood for transportation...all transportation, not just airports.

Posted by: spyinthesky | January 22, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Southers' crime - that's what it is - of accessing data he does not have the right to access is so serious he can never be trusted with anyone's data again. The White House should not even have nominated him. That is an unforgivable mistake, and on top of a nomination for Treasury Secretary that had errors on his taxes filings.

Who is vetting President Obama's nominations?

Posted by: agupta1 | January 22, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Probably, if it hadn't been for the fact that just about everybody Obama has nominated seems to come out with a criminal record, or else ought to have one for failing to pay taxes, Southers might have had a chance.

But, really, this simply comes down to respect for the law. Southers broke it and lied about it, and even in defeat continues to minimize the seriousness of what he did. From the sound of what he says, he would do it again if he didn't like someone that his ex-wife was seeing. That kind of moral compromise is not a quality that we want in the person handling the security of our country.

Posted by: blert | January 22, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"I only murdered my wife once, it hasn't happened before, and it has happened since" nice logic there. I noticed some liberal commentary here, which has nothing to do with the fact that this person is not trustworthy, and should not be managing any information on any group of people, because he has proven himself to engage in illegal conduct, using his family to justify his actions. Partisan politics WORKED in this case, and got rid of a bad appointment. How about appointing someone who is qualified?

Posted by: Dr_b_ | January 22, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please. A law enforcement officer unlawfully uses his badge to access records, lies about it, then whines that he's still fit for high office. It's disgusting to see him playing the victim. He needs to "man up." Unfortunately this arrogant, condescending behavior is all too typical of the Obama administration. Just look at our tax-cheating Treasury Secretary. These guys have no concept of common people, common sense, or common decency.

Posted by: Chippewa | January 22, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Southers broke the law and then lied about it. Not only is it correct that he withdrew/lose the nomination, he should also face charges over breaking the law he, as LE, was familiar with.

Absent that criminal behavior, his defeatist attitude will do NOTHING for TSA. I don't want someone in charge of airline industry security to have the idea that "well, there's nothing we can do." BS. We can and will win, and we need to name the enemy and PROFILE ACCORDINGLY. Geez. The fear of the pansy-$sses is currently a serious obstacle to the safety of civilians. Identify the problem and deal with it accordingly. If you've already capitulated, then stand aside for people who WILL do the job!!

Posted by: dahozho | January 22, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

loser - Go Home !

Posted by: kstobbe1 | January 22, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

How the NeoCon Rich conquered America:

1. Reagan - Cut income tax for rich from 70% to 28%, doubling the National Debt in 6 years, creating more debt than the 39 presidents before him combined. "Debt doesn't matter" he convinced Americans. Subtext was to destroy the Federal government with massive debt so the rich can rule.

2. Talk radio - A 24/7 NeoCon propaganda machine.

3. Fox News - In 1986 the NeoCons launched their own TV and news network with the propaganda motto, "Fair and Balanced."

4. Supreme Court - Republican controlled, by a 5-4 vote, declares Bush the presidential winner over Gore under the theory, “we must meet the date for transition of power, counting the votes of the people to find out who actually won is not important.”

5. Bush - Lying America into the war on Iraq for oil. Doubled the National Debt, again. By the end of Bush’s presidency, he, his father, and Ronald Reagan had created $9 trillion of America’s $11 trillion debt.

6. Neocon Rich - move most of America’s jobs overseas, to India and China, creating massive, permanent unemployment across America.

7. Supreme Court - Republican controlled, by a 5-4 vote, decides corporations are people so they may spend unlimited amounts to corrupt elections.

Posted by: chucky-el | January 22, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Many of you don't get. Whether or not he was an appropriate choice is immaterial. The fact is that one man - Sen. DeMint completely blocked this nomination. There was no process for anybody else to express their opinion directly via a senatorial vote. This is what is most un-American about this broken nomination process. Pass the nomination forward, argue about it, and then vote on it. That is the way it used to be done in the past and the way it should be done. Let the people's will be expressed through their elected representative, not by a single individual with the power to block a nomination.

Posted by: warren5 | January 22, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Of course he should have withdrawn his name as that background check was a clear abuse of power.

However it is telling that the moron DeMint was much more worried about Unions gaining a foothold in the TSA than an abuse of power by a gov't employee.

"Despite admitting that he improperly accessed information on the ex-boyfriend -- an arguably more serious concern for lawmakers than his potential support of collective bargaining rights -- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) placed a hold on Southers over those unionization concerns."

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 22, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Another democrat who doesn't get it!
It wasn't the event that happened 20 years ago that sunk him. It was his own actions in either refusing to answer a query from those confirming him about whether he would push for changing to unions and therefore the original hold was placed, and the fact that he apparently deliberately lied to Senators during his interview thinking perhaps it would sound better if he said someone else did it once rather than the truth of him doing it twice.
When will people like this who withdraw their names stop trying to pass off phony excuses for their own actions and own up to what they did to scuttle themselves.

Posted by: justmyvoice | January 22, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Give me a break!
Southers abused his Police powers. He's also stated that American Christians are more dangerous than self proclaimed Islamic extremists from overseas!

First class but typical wack job that Obama loves to have on his team.

Posted by: Etek | January 22, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Since I started this string of comments, let my say one last thing. If the standard for service in the federal govt. is that you can never have made a mistake, or recover from one made 20 + years ago, then no one is eligible to serve, esp. members of Congress. And the truth is that Southers confirmation was originally being held hostage for political reasons by DeMint. And that is why I stated the process is broken and needs to be fixed.

Posted by: Sojouner | January 22, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't want someone heading the TSA who does not respect his fellow citizens' privacy rights. But that said, I have no doubt that politics and perhaps racism figured in this. The Republicans are shocked, shocked! that such a breach was done a couple of decades ago? Are any of them the same Republicans who fell over themselves to strip away privacy and civil liberties during the Bush admin? Are any of them the same Republicans who dismissed the Bush admin's public outing of Valerie Plame as payback for her husband? That was something that could cost lives. I think what Southers did was wrong, but I think the Republicans are hypocrites on this and perhaps many of the posters on this site UNLESS they also objected 100% to all the violations of Americans' privacy rights under the former admin.

Posted by: Leila1 | January 22, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Jim demint is the dumbest senator in the senate hegot elected by racial profling lied about paying his taxes on time and you people like him.he is more worried about unions than the safety of this country.Mr southers was more qualified than any one who had this job,it is time for the democrats to man up and stop letting idiots like deminted hold them up.

Posted by: ronaldemiller | January 22, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

It is always the attempted cover-up that does these guys in.

Posted by: TheDubb | January 22, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Surely someone else is better suited for this job. We're lucky he wasn't confirmed. Move on.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | January 22, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Looks like we will have to go back to birth and check out everyone who serves in the government to placate the Southern terrorists. Too bad Gov. Sanford wasn't thoroughly checked out for tendencies to be unfaithful. We'll go back at least to 10 years of age to see if you've ever done anything wrong no matter what the reason. You were starving and stole job.

Posted by: clairevb | January 22, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

If Southers lied to Congress in preparation of his confirmation hearing and got away with it, then what would stop him from lying to Congress as head of TSA? Nothing. I agree with the other commenters, he didn't deserve the job.

Posted by: ElisabethMarshall | January 22, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Separate from the union consideration, he paid a high professionalism price for making incorrect testimony to Congress and then revising it afterwards. Clearly this topic was going to get scrutiny, so being under-prepared for questioning seems sloppy at best. Harsh, but fair. Except that Roland Burris “mis-stated” more recent and more important events about his slimy appointment process, and somehow was given a finger wagging and still accepted as Senator. Odd to hold an appointed senior government official to a higher standard than an appointed US Senator. Actually, “odd” is not the right word. Disgusting.

Posted by: jfx1 | January 22, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

OK .. Now submit a name from the 10,000 more qualified candidates for the job.. ignore skin color this time..

Posted by: genbarlow | January 22, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the administration could try a new approach like hiring an experienced and competent senior TSA professional instead of a political loyalist.

Posted by: waltonr1 | January 22, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

whining cop. cuckhold career officer of the law with an impotent gun. public humiliation.

congratulations jackass

Posted by: therapy | January 22, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Didn't people just complain about abuse of privacy during the Bush years? Southers might have gotten in if Obama hadn't already nominated so many people with ethics issues (Geightner, I'm looking at you) but it's getting a bit silly by now and looking like a pattern.

Posted by: msully25 | January 22, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes and felons should be allowed to own guns. Sorry Southers but you are nothing more than a jealous petty criminal. You have to love how the some PIGS of today feel their above the law.

Posted by: askgees | January 22, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Boy, you know better than to cross Massah DeMint.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 22, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

He did wrong, then he lied about it. It's always the cover-up that hangs you.

Posted by: gbooksdc | January 22, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Someone said the Repthugs should just say they don't want the black man. Well, I don't want a lying back man, lying white man or any other lier under oath who won't come out and state why he did it, it was wrong, illigal and if someone he was overseeing at TSA (if given the job) did the same thing would it be acceptble because he had a compelling reason? I think not!

Posted by: swahealy3 | January 22, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I can only agree with Sojourner. What a shameful episode. Senator Demint dishonored his oath of office not only for partisan purposes but to indulge his own obese "aren't I important" ego and inflated sense of self-importance.

And yet you two LIB T@RDS are crying about your rights being violated by Bush. There listening to our phone conversations Boo Hoo. But then you say it's alright for someone THAT VILOATED OTHERS RIGHTS to lead the TSA. LOL. I even recall you whining and crying about having to submit to body scans. I guess you’re to stup1d to figure out that the US Constitution applies ALWAYS not when you feel like applying it. Friggin dumb@zzes.

Posted by: askgees | January 22, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"Southers also appeared Thursday night on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," but Maddow failed to ask him why he misled Congress about accessing information about his ex-wife's boyfriend."

Ya think? And people complain about Fox News?

Posted by: gbooksdc | January 22, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The nomination process is indeed broken. It is broken because we have an administration that beleives it knows better than the Congressional overseers when it comes to who is fit to serve. If you didn't pay your taxes, that's ok if you are - in their eyes - good at what you do. If you violate state and federal laws in pursuit of personal interests - that's ok if you are good at what you do. The people of the United States of America deserve better than what they have been offered by this administration. If you come from the right, a "Red State" or dare to promote conservative values/agenda, you are subject to one standard, with no wiggle room. But if you are, oh.. let's say Harry Reid, and you tell people that the party nominee just might have a chance since he doesn't look too black, or sound like a "negro" unless he wants to, then we can support him and he just might win.

All of the posturing, wiggling, and squirming around the law has to stop. We deserve the best of the best to head our federal agencies, and we are not getting that today.

It's not a "red" or "blue" issue. It is right and wrong. Politics change. Right and Wrong came down on stone tablets that we all recognize. Stop whining and take a lesson from Spike Lee and "do the right thing."

Posted by: MichaelOConnell | January 22, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

here's what it boil's down to, ''i'm black''.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | January 22, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I do have to give this to Southers though - with his sloppy ethics and kneejerk cover-up instincts, he belongs in DC.

Posted by: msully25 | January 22, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Breaking laws and purgery are not reasons to prevent appointment to federal office? What, is he still in the Bush mentality?

Posted by: laurelphoto | January 22, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It is absolutely astonishing, after the record of the Bush Administration on wiretapping, the outing of Valerie Plame, etc. that any of the Regressives would have the audacity to suggest that someone who illegally accessed private information and lied about it would be unqualified for a job.

Let's be very clear - the fact that the candidate was not a "white man" was conclusive for DeMint.

In most situations outside the Senate, the racial animus of a single individual would not be a cause for concern. Send him to his racist corner for a “time out” and go about your business.

Unfortunately, the Senate rules allow one racist Neanderthal Regressive to block a nomination reported out of the Homeland Security Committee with a unanimous voice vote. It is time to tell our senators to change the Senate rules or we won't send them back to the club. It is way past time for the Senate to adopt democratic principles for operation.

Posted by: jdcolv | January 22, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

It is absolutely astonishing, after the record of the Bush Administration on wiretapping, the outing of Valerie Plame, etc. that any of the Regressives would have the audacity to suggest that someone who illegally accessed private information and lied about it would be unqualified for a job.

Let's be very clear - the fact that the candidate was not a "white man" was conclusive for DeMint.

In most situations outside the Senate, the racial animus of a single individual would not be a cause for concern. Send him to his racist corner for a “time out” and go about your business.

Unfortunately, the Senate rules allow one racist Neanderthal Regressive to block a nomination reported out of the Homeland Security Committee with a unanimous voice vote. It is time to tell our senators to change the Senate rules or we won't send them back to the club. It is way past time for the Senate to adopt democratic principles for operation.

Posted by: jdcolv | January 22, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Southers improperly accessed confidential information, then lied about it. And he should have been rewarded for this by being placed in charge of TSA?

Posted by: smc91 | January 22, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

He was an FBI agent who violated federal law - a VERY big deal. Yet his story changed, so he either lied, or he genuinely forgot, in which case it wasn't a big deal to him. Either way, it's unacceptable.

Posted by: WdbrgWanda | January 22, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Southers needs to understand that Black people will never be considered equal, not even when they become the majority. White people from the South HAVE to feel superior or they have nothing. I grew up in South Carolina and it was something that I asked racists over and over, what makes you hate Black People. The reply was actually pretty uniform... that you had to, to defend your race. So there you have it... DeMint is defending his race against the perceived encroachment, that is, Black folks moving forward equals white people moving back. That is why they fought schools for blacks, then integration... it's just the way it is. It makes no sense but to them it is a feral sense of why they are collectively a Repuglican section of the country... simple people afraid of growing larger. They are a collective afraid of another collective. They are also afraid of Chinese (Chinamen) for the same reason. Fear is ignorance and ignorance is fear. It is no accident that Wilson is also from South Carolina. Most good people just leave, like me and most progressives I know. Ignorance is also depressing. Anyway, I'm sure your pulling out as brought many cheers, another victory for the forces of evil.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | January 22, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"Southers also appeared Thursday night on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," but Maddow failed to ask him why he misled Congress about accessing information about his ex-wife's boyfriend........."

.....That's because Rachel Maddow is a flaming liberal/progressive liar.....

..... It's clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the most corrupt liberal/progressive institution in America is our MSM wolfpack longer......keep the censoring coming Rachel.

Posted by: allenridge | January 22, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

here's what it boil's down to, ''i'm black''.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | January 22, 2010 12:58 PM
============================'s what it boil's down to, " i'm dirty"

Posted by: allenridge | January 22, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

angriestdogintheworld: WOW! you've got some issue there pal!

Posted by: not4n | January 22, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

You know, there's also the possibility that he was opposed because he broke the law guarding someone's privacy and then lied about it.

If you don't take this kind of thing seriously, then all sorts of privacy infringements occur as a result.

We can't just allow anyone who knows someone with access to a database checking people's confidential information. PARTICULARLY if they're being considered for the top position in a government agency in charge of SECURITY!

Posted by: postfan1 | January 22, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I would be more impressed with the all these right-wing holier-than-thou commenters who claim liars shouldn't have any role in their government if the Republican party didn't have so many liars, scammers, and adulturers themselves. One needs to look no further than Sen. DeMint's own governor, Mark Sanford ("I was hiking the Appalachian Trail"). The list is long and disgusting and many of those who are not in jail are still in office.

When are all you holier-than-thous going to clean up your own mess?

Posted by: Trakker | January 22, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

We are such hypocrits. This guy was wrong to not disclose his use of privilege to research a personal matter. It happens all the time; we did it to check out boyfriends in the past - so even DeMint knew it was not a deal breaker. This was so about BLOCKING OBAMA rather than making decisions best for our country. Those saying they'd rather allow a pervert to get on a plane than Southers serve over a 20-year old incident, represent people allowing misplaced emotions to drive poor decisions rather than INTELLIGENT solutions to issues we face. These same Republicans who are BLOCKING OBAMA went to Mass. to support a candidate who posed NUDE over 20 years ago? So where is the harm/foul? Politics and framing senseless issues are killing our country while banks are trying to blackmail Congress to get their way - the BUCKS stop there! Who's really in charge? Unless we stay on point, distinguish what is real from political bs, and make the hard choices that will anger and aggravate some people American will continue to slide into an abyss lacking the moral authority and a role as a superior power. We can't pay attention long enough to fix problems - discord kills progress.

Posted by: HarrietA | January 22, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I wish, I wish, I wish Democrats and others would stop bowing to the terror tactics of the Republicans. They are bent on derailing everything the government and others try to do to benefit this country. When will people wake up and see who the real problem is. They want to return to power by any means necessary. Know what? They will and that's when y'all will know.

Posted by: cherylann_36 | January 22, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

While those of you who are condemning what happened in that mans past, is just as stupid as the republicans who didn't want him in. What that man did yearsss ago, has nothing to do with this man mainting a position for Tsa. Rather you know or not, the longer this positon goes without an appointment, the more vulnerable this country is. Unionization has nothing to do with the officers getting what they deserve. Those officers deserve collective bargaining just like the rest of the federal government. The officer's want what's best for security, unionization will not stop that. For those dumb-asses who don't understand how important it is to have this postion filled, I hope the next time your on a plane, it doesn't blow up. Tsa goes through so much for the job they have to do, why would you want those officers pissed off while there trying to do their job. As fas as a senior tsa taking that position, no you need a outsider with a fresh perspective. Get a grip people it's not about you. It's about protecting our nation.

Posted by: ybs1777 | January 22, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

You guys are right...we can't tolerate liars in high government posts...except when they use lies to justify attacking a country that poses no threat to us, lie about "outing" a CIA operative, lie about not ever contemplating the use of aircraft as weapons of mass destruction, or, in a more contemporary vein, lying about "death panels" and "socialized medicine." The so-called "tough on terror" Republicans apparently have no problem delaying and derailing the filling of an important security post by a qualified candidate...but that should not surprise anyone, since the Republicans showed their true colors in the 90's when they were busy going after Clinton instead of bin Laden. Turn off the Right Wing propaganda once in a while and learn some facts.

Posted by: geodude | January 22, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Southers lied? Oh my! Diogenes spent a lifetime looking for an honest man. Not really. Diogenes lied as well. Moreover, every person who has posted on this thread has committed an illegal act and lied about it, if they spoke of it at all...of that we can all be certain. Lying is part of the SOP of human behavior. In that context, Southers' lie was a minor one.

Is it really acceptable for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to place a hold on Southers over possible unionization concerns? What's wrong with this picture?

Posted by: ptgrunner | January 22, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

As a father of four children, divorcee, and a law enforcement profeessional I can understand Assistant Chief Southers' concerns over the safety of his son who was then living under the same roof of his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. I can also understand why he might allow his emotions to override his professionalism and his oath to uphold the laws of our country; he made an unprofessional choice which I would imagine would have been a very significant moment in his life especially after having been caught and censured as a result. Not that I am agreeing with his actions because I don't but I understand them; what I don't understand is how he can tell reporters with any sincerity or integrity that he inadvertantly misled Congress by not clearly remembering the facts of this event. An event that he claims never happened before or since being disciplined and one that he gives a very clear and emotional reason for his conduct which he himself agrees to having been wrong and illegal (It is a crime). He his a high level law enforcement professional who expects his officers to be above reproach and yet he can claim that such a significant moment in both his professional life and personal life was a little fuzzy. I am sorry but if you get censured by the FBI for illegally accessing a Federal database for personal reasons and then decades later you tell Congress a story that it inconsitent with the truth (like he was the one that directly accessed this database)and then claims to being a victim of potical partisanship is being dishonest and delussional. I think the Washington Post had a no brainer here and I don't understand how the White House can fail so easily on the vetting of such high level positions. Shame on you Mr. Southers

Posted by: verum-i | January 24, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company