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TSA Nominee Doesn't Check Out

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By Gautham Nagesh November 10, 2009

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My Government Executive colleague Alyssa Rosenberg has some harsh but fair words about he Obama administration's vetting process:

Well, it's disappointing to learn that Errol Southers, President Obama's choice to head the Transportation Security Administration, was reprimanded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1980's after asking a police officer to run a background check on his wife's ex-boyfriend. But I can't say I'm shocked. After all the hoopla about how fabulous the Obama administration's vetting and nomination process was supposed to be, I think it's undeniable that it's turned into something of a train wreck. Tax errors and employer reprimands are the front line of things that show up in a background check of someone. If you miss them, something is wrong.

I agree and would take it one step further: Southers seemingly abused his position to violate the privacy of a member of the public. Given TSA's mixed record when it comes to preserving civil liberties, this appointment certainly won't reassure privacy advocates. As for the vetting process, one wonders if the Obama team should have augmented those many pages of interview questions with a simple Google search.

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