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Retired Army general to lead TSA

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 4:58 p.m. ET
President Obama on Monday nominated retired Army Major Gen. Robert A. Harding to lead the Transportation Security Administration.

“I am confident that Bob’s talent and expertise will make him a tremendous asset in our ongoing efforts to bolster security and screening measures at our airports," President Obama said in a statement. "I can think of no one more qualified than Bob to take on this important job, and I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”

But Harding is Obama's second choice for the post after Erroll Southers withdrew from consideration in January following reports that he may have misled Congress about an incident in the late 1980s involving a background check of the boyfriend of his ex-wife.

Harding retired from the Army in 2001 after 33 years of military service, according to the White House. He served as deputy to the Army's chief of intelligence and, previously, served as director for operations in the Defense Intelligence Agency. In 2003, he founded a defense and intelligence contracting firm, Harding Security Associates, which employs more than 400 people, according to the White House. Harding currently serves on the boards of directors of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

If confirmed, Harding will likely help settle the issue of whether TSA employees should earn collective bargaining rights, an issue that led Republican lawmakers to place a hold on Southers' nomination.

Federal union leaders said they knew little about Harding, but hoped to meet with him soon to discuss labor concerns.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to research this candidate as we have some of the other White House nominees,” said American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage “However, if the administration believes him to be the best person to lead TSA, we will trust that decision until given a reason not to.”

National Treasury Employee Union President Colleen M. Kelley also said she didn't know Harding, but "it appears his lengthy intelligence background would bring an important and useful perspective to the agency’s efforts." Both unions hope to win the right to represent TSA workers and said earning collective bargaining rights remained their top concern.

Harding would join TSA in the aftermath of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing attack and amid Congressional concerns with several recent reports of passenger mistreatment by TSA officers. The agency also continues to deploy 150 new body-scanning machines at major American airports.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday said the TSA job is among the most important unfilled posts in the Obama administration. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urged swift confirmation for Harding.

"This nomination should not be subject to partisan delay tactics," Reid said in a statement. The leaders of the Senate Commerce and Homeland Security committees, which will hold hearings on the nomination, also pledged to move quickly on Harding.

Track all Obama nominees with The Post's Head Count

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 8, 2010; 7:06 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Revolving Door  
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Comments

What is this may have mislead Congress BS. Southers lied to Congress and then fessed up when he knew he had been cought. Just more liberal propaganda from the WaPo.

Posted by: jdonner2 | March 8, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

i wounder if he is a TAX cheat like all the rest of byrocks people in washington.

Posted by: badz34 | March 8, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Collective Bargaining Rights don't have anything to do with Security.

Posted by: RoseKelly | March 8, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

To the GOP stallers...
Checkmate!

Posted by: jms3rd | March 8, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

And yet one more retired general making money off selling their rank and position. ANd the good ole revolving door just continues to revolle. So how much money will his 'former' company get on this deal?

Posted by: KBlit | March 8, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

So, we need to know if the General cheated on his taxes,like Obama's Sec of Treasury
Tiny Timmy Geithner and Obama's Sec of
Health & Human Servies Dud Kathleen Selebius and did this General buy his job
as head of the TSA from the tall skinny
Marxist Dictator from Kenya Barack Obama,
and why hasn't incompetent empty suit liar
in chief Barack Hussein Obama fired both his pathetic incompetent Sec of Homeland
Security Failure Janet Napolitano and goofy
US Attorney General Eric Holder by now?...
And why pick someone as old as General Harding to head the TSA aren't there any
younger qualified people available for it?

Posted by: redheadclaudine | March 8, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

KBlit, I bet General Harding won't make as much as Mr. Cheney. Harding's former company's worth is probably what Mr. Chaney's Halliburton pays for one of its Christmas parties. Plus General Harding put his backside on the line to defend this country. He wasn't always a general, in case you never served in the military.

Posted by: jms3rd | March 8, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

redheadclaudine, do you know how old General Harding is? Did you or do you cheat on your taxes? Goodness, you people need to get a life and stop this madness.

Posted by: jms3rd | March 8, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Q: You do the conservatards want Americans to die?

A: To advance their lust for power. We have to die so they can roll out yet another Goebbels-esque scare campaign.

Posted by: Garak | March 8, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

What are the GOP baying hordes going to fins against him? I bet they're already closeted together furiously trying to find some reason (maybe he stole an apple when he was 7 years-old?) to discredit this new potential nominee.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | March 8, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Hey I know who this guy is, and I approve of him as a choice completely. He's a good guy, and he appreciates freedom, and I am certain of this. So I trust him to act in this role for as long as he can stand it to protect us.

Most of you have no clue who he is... Contempt prior to investigation does not serve you well.

Posted by: Nymous | March 8, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I have to laugh at the ignorant comments. It doesn't matter how many fascist friends of Bush Obummer appoints the mentally challenged idiotic flea baggers still think he's a socialist.
Talk about being stuck on stupid.

Posted by: brattykathyi1 | March 8, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

So,I just noticed some clown here,cannot even put two and two together and even be
able to figure out that if General Harding
had 33 years of active military service,
and also retired in 2001 that would make
him at least in his 60s if he joined the
US Military at age 17 or 18 now then....
However it will make a dime worth of real
difference to our airport and national
security as long as Barack Hussein Obama is
President,and Goofball Loser Janet Napolitano is Sec of Homeland Security,
and Terrorist Lover Eric Holder is the US
Attorney General,and Democrat Party Hack
Leon Panetta is CIA Director and Robert
Gates is Sec of Defense as well.

Posted by: redheadclaudine | March 8, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I know this is a small sample, but there seems to be a link between conservatism and bad spelling. Hmmm...

Posted by: voldenuit123 | March 8, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

REAL CHANGE?! - So far very little Change at all! Many voted for President OBAMA, and for His' promised 'Real Change'. - But, so far next to Nothing America. It is extremely difficult to tell the Democrats from yhe Republicans. da!? - WE-the-People want REAL CHANGE,- and what do WE still get,- but the same-ol' Republican "CRAP"!! - Why has OBAMA continued to protect the $Insurance Thieves, - and the Criminal $BANKsters whom caused the Economic $CRISIS?! -- And now the cry-baby 'BLUE-DOGGYS' are holding up Health Reform. - If DEMOCRATS do Not get this Health Reform Bill Passed,- then all CRAP will break loose against ANY DEMOCRATS Whom did NOT Vote for it,- PERIOD! -- Don't listen to the $Insurance/Republican Propaganda Machine. - America needs this Reform PASSED!! - 40 YEARS of NOTHING is ENOUGH!! -- Over 100-Million U.S. Citizens will Cry "Help-Me-Mama" if this does Not pass NOW!! -- Insurance $COSTS WILL RISE! And the Working Poor, and the UNDER--EMPLOYED {democrats & republicans alike} WILL SUFFER BIG TIME!!! - This HOLD-UP is all about $$tooo-Big Controls & $$PROFITS!! -- After 3-4 Decades of ZILCH on Health Reform, -- we need to get Started NOW PEOPLE!! -- STOP Listening-To, and Supporting the PHARMA/MEDIACL/INSURANCE CORPORATE FEAR & $GREED MONGERS!!! --- PASS THIS HEALTH BILL ""NOW""!!!

Posted by: jward52 | March 8, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Nymous....

As much as I hate to use this term, I must.

Ditto to your post, verbatim.

Posted by: jms3rd | March 8, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Just what exactly are the adverse working conditions that would justify TSA unionization? Black lung? 80 hour work week? Polyester uniforms? Or most likely, greed?

Posted by: tulsadave | March 8, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

That's all the airline industry needs...
As if traveling isn't bad enough, we get a military leader in a civilian role.

I am a frequent flier and the TSA is already an SS operation.

Let's just get it over with and declare the USA a fascist state.

Mind you I have no ill toward the retired Army Major Gen. Robert A. Harding, but how much military can we stand as a nation?

Posted by: No_Spark | March 8, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Collective bargaining what a crock. Make TSA workers join a Democrat controlled union so some of their skimmed wages wind up funding Democrats this election season.

Posted by: screwjob11 | March 8, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Do we really need another military officer running a civilian agency? Labor issues are important but I don't see this is as a critical issue. The critical issue is balancing privacy against intrusiveness without being silly. For example, do we really need to take off our shoes and belts? We build nuclear bombs and we can't detect what's in a belt by a machine? If examining shoes is so important why do so few other countries do it unless you're flying to the US? What's the new guy's position on these issues?

Posted by: interactingdc | March 8, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Do we really need another military officer running a civilian agency? Labor issues are important but I don't see this is as a critical issue. The critical issue is balancing privacy against intrusiveness without being silly. For example, do we really need to take off our shoes and belts? We build nuclear bombs and we can't detect what's in a belt by a machine? If examining shoes is so important why do so few other countries do it unless you're flying to the US? What's the new guy's position on these issues?

Posted by: interactingdc | March 8, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Jdonner-THANK YOU! EVEN BEFORE I SAW YOUR POST, I WAS SEEING RED AT WHAT ED O'KEEFE WROTE!

GD-AMNIT-O'KEEFE! QUIT TRYING TO FUDGE THE GD FACTS! SOUTHERS LIED, OKAY? HE EFFING LIED, AND LIED MORE THAN ONCE TO CONGRESS! THE RECORD IS CRYSTAL CLEAR ON THAT FACT-THIS SHOWS EXACTLY WHY THE WASH. POST IS SUCH A PISS-POOR NEWSPAPER! THEY'RE SO GD'ED AFRAID OF STATING FACTUAL TRUTHS, BECAUSE SOMEBODY MIGHT GET OFFENDED, RIGHT? AWWWWWWWW!

MAYBE, IF YOU STARTED PRINTING THE FACTS, YES, I KNOW, A NOVEL IDEA FOR POST REPORTERS! YOU'D GAIN JUST A SHRED OF CREDIBILITY WHERE YOU HAVE NONE NOW!

GEEZ THIS MAKES ME ANGRY! STATE THE FACTS, OKEEFE! SOUTHERS LIED, HE MISLED CONGRESS, THAT IS WHY HE IS LONGER A CANDIDATE FOR TSA HEAD, RIGHT? RIGHT?

Posted by: arrabbiato | March 8, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Coservartards!

Who came up with that one? I like it!

Posted by: dove369 | March 8, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

What -- no political cronyism? No Chicago connection? No patronage? No baggage -- just a simple, competant leader who has served is country under either party for years? What could Obama be thinking?

Posted by: DOps | March 8, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

What is Uncle Bush-lite up to now?

Posted by: question-guy | March 8, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

This is what happens when people believe that a two-bit Chicago politician and coke-head is their messiah.

Posted by: Jerzy | March 8, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Too funny , since Napolitano called all X military probable terrorist.
Hope he doesn't let her near any airports.

Why is she still there?

Napolitano = toxic buffoon

Posted by: dottydo | March 8, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

dottydoo-doo = ignorant dumb arse, who doesn't know a gd thing about what it takes to run a governmental department-go play with your doo-doo, dotty, that's what your best qualified to post about!

Posted by: arrabbiato | March 8, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I have never seen so many idiots on one Post thread. Where y'all from?

Posted by: interactingdc | March 8, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Maybe a former military man is just what they need to straighten out the bunch of slackers and screw-ups that is the TSA.

Posted by: futbolclif | March 8, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The Party of NO will find something wrong with him - may be the way he parts his hair or the color of his shoes - but they'll find SOMETHING! - because getting ahead of the terrorists just isn't a priority for Republicans.

Posted by: angie12106 | March 8, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Was it a full moon last night?

Posted by: knjincvc | March 8, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Amilitary man running a civilian agency means that the introduction of martial law is in the pipeline.

Posted by: jvandeswaluw1 | March 8, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

futbol-quite frankly, I'm disappointed the WH selected YET ANOTHER military man for the position as TSA Administrator-David Stone was a former Navy admiral who was head of TSA from 2003 until 2005 (now dead at the age of 57-under mysterious circumstances last Nov. 26th, I might add-no one still knows what the cause of death was-or is willing to say publicly, I think it was a suicide-he had just come from a TSA awards party!!!!) and before Stone, there was ADM. Loy from the Coast Guard-all capable administrators to be sure, but I just think you can find private sector, non-military types to run TSA efficiently and competently without always having to go to the military to find them.

That said, however, this TSA candidate Maj. Gen. Harding seems supremely well-qualified to run the agency, so I have nothing to say about that-his intell background is especially impressive, and vitally important in this agency-I'm sure he will do just fine.

Posted by: arrabbiato | March 8, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Excellent Choice...

Posted by: Fei_Hu | March 8, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't sound like half of these people know the first thing about General Harding. Or actually, they do know he's a general. And from that, they just start making up insults out of thin air.

Posted by: kls1 | March 8, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Check out the hypocrisy

http://hypocrites-scoundrels-liars.blogspot.com/

Posted by: teabagger1 | March 8, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

kls1-what a dumb comment-of COURSE they don't know "the first thing about General Harding"-who does, and why would they? Even the Congressional folks who will be vetting Harding don't know him at this point, the candidacy has just been announced-did you read the story above, the federal union leaders have no idea who Harding is! Sheesh!

And O'Keefe, gd-amnit! THERE IS NO "MAY HAVE MISLED" CONGRESS!-SOUTHERS ADMITTED, ADMITTED! TO CONGRESS AFTER HE HAD GIVEN SWORN TESTIMONY AND A SWORN AFFIDAVIT THAT HE DID NOT TELL THE TRUTH! WHERE THE HELL DOES THE "MAY" COME FROM, HUH? WHAT A PANSY-ARSE, DISINGENUOUS SENTENCE!

Posted by: arrabbiato | March 8, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

This is the guy who wants TSA employees to have the right to STRIKE. Now this is an essential part of National Security for average Americans like the ones on the planes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and in a field in PA, but he wants them to be able to strike????????????????????????????????

Posted by: kalamere | March 8, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I see "Big=Sis" is at it again. Why in
Gods name is she still here?

Chevy

Posted by: chainsmokingpresident01 | March 8, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Why is BIG-SIS still employed?

Posted by: chainsmokingpresident01 | March 8, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

A better question to ask: Why is poster chainsmokingpresident SUCH A GD IDIOT? THAT CLEARLY WOULD BE THE BETTER QUESTION-BECAUSE YOU CLEARLY KNOW LESS THAN NOTHING ABOUT THE SUBJECT MATTER AT ISSUE!

Posted by: arrabbiato | March 8, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

To interactingdc: I believe the true issue is security. The problem is finding away to secure americans' safe travel without violating their civil liberties. The U.S. being one of the few countries on this planet that actually give a hoot about its citizens civil liberties. As far as your example, haven't you heard of the shoe bomber? We have people out there that are putting explosives in their underwear to destroy americans. That should tell you the type of situation we are dealing with out there. I am not privy to the President's security briefing at the wee hours of the morning, but I guarantee, you would not want to hear half of what he hears as possible threats against the U.S. I think taking off my belt and shoes is a minor inconvenience for my safe travel or the safety of other americans flying all over the world.

Posted by: jCTrep76 | March 8, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Does he know anything about airlines and general aviation? And what are his ideas about TSA employees vs. airport employees / contractors when it comes to airport security?

Posted by: gmclain | March 8, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Let me suggests some question to be put forward by the Senate to Mr Obama's pick of a major general to head TSA:

(1) Is he the very model of a modern Major-General, does he have information vegetable, animal, and mineral?


(2) Is he very well acquainted too with matters mathematical, does he understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
about binomial theorem?

(4) Is he teeming with a lot o' news--with many cheerful facts about the square of the
hypotenuse?

(5) Is he very good at integral and differential calculus? Does he know the scientific names of beings animalculous?

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, is he the very model of a modern Major-General?

(6) Can he tell at sight a chassepot rifle from a Javelin? And does he know precisely what is meant by "commissariat"?

(7) Is he aware of what progress has been made in modern gunnery? Does he know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery?

So, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

Is he the very model of a modern Major-General?

Posted by: Carl_Goss | March 8, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

redheadclaudine,

Racist much?

Posted by: pathfinder12 | March 8, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

i guess harding will be attacked by the non-serving "warriors" like cheney, gingrich, limbaugh, etc. for betraying republicans by being a veteran and serving his country again-something they just never had time to do.

Posted by: george32 | March 8, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Conservatards, RepublicNO's! and all other pea-brained, sophomoric idiots (Foxbots,incl.) You lost. At least we did not steal the election ... it is majority rule not some goof-ball, 'oh, let's include the minority, kumbaya-crap!'

Majority Rules, not a new concept in the history of our Republic.

Go take a civics class, please.

Posted by: craiglivingstone1690 | March 8, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

People who post in capitals are shouting. This, along with needless abusive language, is a sign of mental instability.

Posted by: kls1 | March 8, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

more business as usual. tsa is a joke. how about a little courage.

Posted by: xxxxxx1 | March 8, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

TO: badz34

Glen Beck joined the tax cheats recently having to pay a fine and past taxes due.

The General should not have a problem with confirmation by the Republicans.

Posted by: COWENS99 | March 8, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Ho-hum. Welcome to the "Retired Officers Club" that is the Washington Politically Appointed Establishment. Look, I have no problem with a military officer as long as he is qualified for TODAY'S needs.

Is a 66+ year old retired General who never worked the civilian aspect of transportation security the right guy for 2010 and beyond? Something makes me think this is a politically expedient choice.

For the cherry-pickers on this board and in today's political (largely GOP and anti-civilian government) environment, have you ever listened to, or read, Mr. Southers? He has some innovative ideas for this agency which will not get put to a test since he was drum-beated out of contention.

Second, the anti-union comments are mis-information. While I agree that all TSA employees need to be held to a high standard, unless those throwing stones here want to work what are largely thankless jobs at busy airports, train stations, and the like, keep your comments to yourself.

Posted by: wxdancer | March 8, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

why would Obama still keep the TSA? The ACLU and the left-wing liberals (two fo the DNC best voting blocs( hated the TSA, the CIA, the FBI the DIA, the NSA....

Posted by: Rockvillers | March 8, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Harry Reid's comment choice that this nomination should not be subject to partisan delay tactics? The Senate’s job is to give advice and consent to executive nominations. We need transparency in government and the American people want to know about the Retired Army general’s qualification for the TSA job.

Posted by: klausdmk | March 8, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

It was the National Guard that stood-up Aeosafe protecting airports following 9-11 until TSA was hastily formed. Quite frankly the NG did a good job and was involved in training TSA. From there it went down hill as TSA grew and grew with less and less command and control.

If TSA followed the Air Force Security Forces model for the physical security of assets, flight operations and personnel (force) protection while incorporating what US Customs has developed TSA wouldn't be the butt of jokes it is today.

Should the general be reading this it is well past time to put this new generation of service-disabled veterans to work and take advantage of their advanced skill-sets. TSA should prioritize the hiring of veterans.

Posted by: bfjackjernigan | March 8, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I retired with 30 years in Army Intellingence. MG Harding is an outstanding choice; he ought to lead the Homeland Security instead of Napolitano. He knows the business.

Posted by: Mindboggle | March 8, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I think it is a great choice. Now Congress needs to do what they have been elected to do.Confirm him. Quit the Republican game playing,or get another job little boys.

Posted by: audrey2010 | March 8, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Jdonner is right. Why didn't you state the truth about Southers?

"...second choice for the post after Erroll Southers withdrew from consideration in January following reports that he may have misled Congress."

Should have read: "...following reports that he lied to Congress."

Posted by: llrllr | March 8, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I've know the General for years and he is a superb choice for this position. A very successful business man, he started Harding Security Associates, LLC and had 350 employees when he sold it to Six3 Systems, Inc in 1999 -- for considerably more, I might add, than Dick Cheney ever got from Halliburton. Just proves he was a far better bussinessman than Cheney ever was.

Posted by: A-COL | March 8, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

HEY AUDREY-GET A GRIP-IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE REPUBLICAN "GAMES PLAYING" AS YOU SO IDIOTICALLY PUT IT, THERE'S A DAM GOOD CHANCE THAT A LIAR UNDER OATH, SOUTHERS-SOMEONE WHO COULD NOT EVEN MEET THE THRESHOLD SUITABILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR FEDERAL SERVICE WOULD HAVE BEEN PUT INTO OFFICE-BY THE TRASHY, DON'T GIVE A DAM ABOUT INTEGRITY, HONESTY AND QUALIFICATIONS, OVER-POLITICIZED DEMS-MY SO-CALLED PARTY!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU REPUBLICANS, ESP. THE SOUTH CAROLINA SENATOR WHO HELD UP SOUTHERS NOMINATION-AND THEN SOUTHERS FINALLY ADMITS, AFTER HIS SIGNED SWORN TESTIMONY, THAT HE "MISREMEMBERED"-MY ARSE! UNFIT EVEN TO HOLD HIS PRESENT POSITION-HE WAS A LIAR 20 YEARS AGO AND STILL IS NOW-UNBELIEVEABLE HOW THIS MAN EVER GOT PAST THE WH VETTING PROCESS!

And A-Col, thanks for your insight on Harding-I screamed bloody murder for days on this blog about the liar Southers being totally wrong for ANY federal service, but especially for the vitally important work of the TSA-I have nothing bad to say about Harding-he has impressive credentials-he is an excellent pick-(but I still wish the WH could find someone non-military to run the TSA).

Posted by: arrabbiato | March 8, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

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