January 26, 2010

A Couple of Colleagues Who Read This Blog…

…have e-mailed me, wondering why I haven’t yet commented herein on the Errol Southers kerfuffle. After all, they reasonably reason, I do tend to pursue topics that concern the government’s affairs regarding our mutual area of endeavor, especially those of the Transportation Security Administration, with what one of my distinguished colleagues describes as “a tenacity that would make a pit bull envious”.

So here goes…

Truth to tell, I was first pleased, then disappointed by and at the same time, cynic that I’ve become where the neo-Democrats are concerned, unsurprised by the entire affair, from Southers’ nomination to his stepping down as nominee.

When he was first put forward by the Administration, I thought, Alright (High Five!!!!), the White House is finally getting it! Unlike in their appointment of the supremely unqualified and profoundly incompetent Janet Napolitano as National Security Advisor, they’re actually looking to appoint a qualified security professional to head up a security agency, the TSA no less.

Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department’s Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence, head of USC’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. Well thought of in the security field, a man who has devoted his career to security and counter-terrorism and who is an expert on both counts.

The man was also appointed by the Governator as Deputy Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection of the California Office of Homeland Security.

Since he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Brown University and later served on the Santa Monica Police Department and the faculty of the Rio Hondo Police Academy, every aspect of his career has been dedicated to the protection of the public and combating terrorism, and eminently qualify him to head up TSA. While with the FBI, he worked in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism, and was a shooter to boot: he was a member of their elite SWAT team.

Southers’ vision for the future of the agency, in the training aspects, the adoption of Israeli methods for identifying potential threats and enhanced utilization of existing technologies, was exactly what is needed.

I was truly impressed. The Obama Administration was actually going to put the right person in the right position, a real security expert as Director of the TSA!

Who’d a’ thunk it!?

And then…

…along came the broadsides, first the revelation that Southers was entertaining the idea of unionizing (collective bargaining, anyone?) the TSA.

“What!!!?” I exclaimed.

I’m sorry, but I in no way believe in unionizing any part of critical infrastructure, and as a protection professional, there’s no way I can condone the unionizing of any security agency.


“We’re going on strike, screw the lives or itineraries of the public, we want more lucre!”

“I don’t care if you’re short handed, my union contract says that I don’t have to work any overtime if I don’t want to!”

“My union contract says that I get two twenty minute coffee breaks every day, and if I take ten minutes to guard that door, I’ll only get half my break! I’m not guarding that door, I don’t care if you can’t get anyone else to do it!”

“I’m real sorry you’re short-handed, boss, but I’m taking a personal day. I promised to take my kid to the zoo.”

“You can’t fire me, buddy, I’m union all the way!”

Sorry, but those entrusted with the safety and security of others, by nature of the responsibilities involved, must be prepared to make sacrifices unasked of those in other lines of endeavor; sacrifices of personal time, personal convenience and, as often as not, personal fortune. If you’re not prepared to assume these sacrifices and such other elements as taking personal risks to protect the lives and the safety of others, you do not belong in the security business.

Unionizing TSA would drive a wedge between the objectives of such an agency and the efficiency necessary to realize them.

Based on the above, Senator Jim DeMint was correct in putting a hold on Southers’ confirmation. Given the virtual ownership of the Democrat majority by the unions, a suggestion by a head of the TSA that his or her agency be unionized would be all it took to see greedy, corrupt union czars authorized to “bargain collectively” with the very lives of the traveling public.

Civilian or not, a security department or agency has to be run more like a military venue than a Teamster’s operation. Imagine all of the firemen, EMTs and surgeons simply walking off the job in the middle of a natural disaster because they have a gripe with the institutions that employ them!

Unions have proven, time and again, to exploit the vulnerabilities of members’ employers by threatening strikes or actually going on strike when the employers have been at their most vulnerable.

Collective bargaining in the public sector is one of the factors behind governmental budget shortfalls and tax increases, and strikes, often tragically, can inconvenience and even endanger the majority of taxpayers to accommodate the greed of a very few. Again, it has no place in the safety and security sectors.

Then, there was the back issue of Errol Southers using the information access of his position to pursue inquiries into his ex’s new flame. To me, the only major problem with that is that he was less than truthful when asked about it.

Look, I’ll level with you here… Only a sanctimonious asshole can say with certainty that in a moment of desperation, he or she would definitely not use information access to which he or she is privileged (the exception being if it jeopardized national security or the integrity of the agency, firm or department in which he or she worked) to obtain information he or she felt he/she absolutely needed to possess.

Southers used such access to gain information relevant to a personal matter.

On the same token, any public servant has, without hesitation, got to tell the truth when under oath or otherwise asked about anything pertaining to his/her actions or those of others in the course of any official inquiry. That in itself is part and parcel in the scheme of things. When you serve the American people, you simply do not lie to them about such things — the people own the decision as to whether or not you are to be trusted in a given position and are entitled to all the facts that pertain to your character and to the details of any actions you have taken in the course of your service that are not officially classified as secret.

Errol Southers lied as a first instinct; There’s no way that anyone with even the most minimal intelligence could possibly believe otherwise. He “didn’t remember” that he himself had used his access to information directly, but rather had others seek private information on his behalf. If he had told the truth in the first place instead of having a “memory lapse”, I could easily find the wherewithal to overlook the underlying incident in light of his dedication and qualifications.

DeMint’s and others’ concerns were reality based, yet the left-wing (mainstream) media and the Democrats cried that blocking Southers’ appointment was based on “politics”.

Southers himself, on stepping down, said that he is “Nonpolitical” and was withdrawing because he believed his nomination and the subsequent ado presented a political lightning rod. On that score, I completely believe he is sincere.

It’s right that Southers did not end up in the job, even though, in my opinion, he was qualified from a professional standpoint.

Yeah, I did mention cynicism, that in my not being at all surprised that Erroll Southers had some “back trail”, as it were, if for no other reason than that he was selected by the Obama Administration: Barack Hussein did, after all, unabashedly bring the corrupt Chicago political machine with him to Washington, and in keeping with everything else he represents, he is forever hard put to produce key position nominees who do not have skeletons, problems with embracing veracity, or at least negative agendas of some kind.

In summation, politics has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion here. Had it not been for the lie and his perception that collective bargaining might have a place in a security organization, I would be, at the least, overjoyed to have a person with Erroll Southers’ knowledge, vision and experience at the helm of the Transportation Security Administration.

by @ 2:30 pm. Filed under Homeland Security, Security, TSA Concerns