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Pistole confirmed as TSA chief

By Joe Davidson
Anne Bartlett

By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:
After three tries, the Obama administration finally has an administrator for the Transportation Security Administration. John Pistole, who was deputy director of the FBI, was confirmed by the Senate Friday, with a voice vote.

Two previous nominees withdrew, leaving the Department of Homeland Security agency without a permanent administrator since President Obama took office. One withdrew following disclosures that he provided Congress and the White House misleading information about incidents two decades ago. The second dropped out after senators questioned his business and personal dealings as a military contractor.

While the air, rail and trucking issues the TSA oversees are critical to safety and security, the two largest federal employee unions have taken a strong interest in the position because of their desire to win collective bargaining rights for about 50,000 transportation security officers (TSO).

During his confirmation hearings, Pistole took no position on collective bargaining rights for TSOs, saying he would review the issue if his nomination were approved. In response to a question, however, he did say that collective bargaining at the FBI would not improve national security.

“It is essential that TSOs are afforded the same rights to negotiate over important workplace issues, due process, whistleblower protections, veterans’ preference, appropriate salaries, fair pay increases, and leave policies as other federal workers — including other Department of Homeland Security employees, including those working for the Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Coast Guard, Federal Protective Service, FEMA, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Both AFGE and the National Treasury Employees Union plan to meet with Pistole to press their case that collective bargaining would in no way compromise national security or the ability of the TSA to deploy its employees to meet any situation.

“The best way to aid TSA in reaching the goals Congress set for it, and that the traveling public expects of TSA, is for its workforce to have a meaningful voice,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley, “and no mechanism provides such a voice as well as the right to bargain collectively.”

By Joe Davidson  | June 25, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
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This is one of the most critical lines of defense we have in this country, and it has taken us this long to get someone to finally take the job and win confirmation?

No one cares, apparently. No one cares.

Well, they do care. They'll revise their history on this matter should anything happen. You can bet on that.

Posted by: AnAmericanLion | June 25, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Does not having an administrator the excuse for Homeland Security not returning an answer to the Sheriff of Nogales who is worried sick about the threats to his law enforcement personnel made by a cartel? He said no one has returned so much as a phone call. You know this shows we better start protecting ourselves since the Feds are even ignoring our law enforcement. I find this sickening that this administration is putting people's lives on the line for his political behind. Obama is milking this crisis like he is milking the destruction of the gulf. This is disgraceful and shows it is all about him and his agenda. And turning over a national park that you and I own to thugs is beyond belief. Now the little thugs can just march on in and not even a Sheriff can go after them and this is US soil.

Posted by: greatgran1 | June 25, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans have chosen a Three Ds strategy: Delay, Defeat and Destroy. They have taken the position if it's Barack Obama's strategy it must be bad -- even if they were for it BEFORE he agreed to it.

A good example was pay as you go. They had seven Senate co-sponsors for pay as you go. Then Obama backed it and you had seven no votes.

On appointments, their strategy has been to delay, try to defeat and at least try to partially destroy whoever the nominee is. In any case, the least objective is to delay as long as possible.

This makes it hard to carry out change in policies. We already saw the harm of this in the Interior Department appointments. Most of the Obama appointments in the agency that regulates off shore drilling were not confirmed until last July. This greatly delayed changes Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar wanted to make. This is exactly what Republicans wanted and it,no doubt,contributed to loose regulation of the GOP's ally -- BP.

Let's not forget their Interior Department under George II and Tricky Dickey II -- a failed oilman (he ran four oil companies into the ground) and a greedy oilman who is an Iraqi War profiteer --was loaded with oil industry people. And their Interior Secretary Gail Norton is under criminal investigation to determine if she improperly provided favoritism to Dutch Royal Shell Co., her current employer.

This appointment was delayed because Obama's first nominee favored allowing most Homeland Security employees to have collective bargaining rights

Now I understand Republicans oppose that and this is their right. But Obama won the election and it is his right to nominate people that share his philosophy. Republicans may vote against them. But to use outdated Senate rules to prevent an up or down vote is irresponsible and dangerous.

We saw that danger when we had the Christmas Day bombing incident. Nearly a year into his presidency the Republican had not let the Senate confirm this vital security post.

And then they resorted to demagoguery. Obama took decisive action and appeared before TV cameras after three days. Too slow Republicans said, never mentioning that it took George II double that time after the shoe bombing incident.

Of course, Republicans tell us how safe George II and Tricky Dickey II kept us. Of course they leave out that the WORST TERRORIST ATTACK in US HISTORY HAPPENED on THEIR WATCH.

Posted by: Gators12 | June 25, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Does Michelle know about this? I ask because it doesn't look like Barack's been gettin' much of anything.

Posted by: rethman | June 25, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

@gator's12: You, sir, show critical thinking skills and a clear grasp of Repulsive Party strategies that few on WaPo blogs come close to. My fear is that the people who adhere to the "darker angels of our nature" may make it impossible to reelect politicians who are really trying to rectify the sorry state of the country that the previous 30 years of "conservative revolutionaries" have left us in.

Posted by: kdeetz | June 27, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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