The organization representing Los Angeles airport police says the attempted attack on an airliner over Detroit Christmas day highlights the need for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to get a new permanent leader.
Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, states that the "U.S. Senate should have acted to confirm Erroll Southers as the new TSA administrator before it recessed December 24."
The TSA will be without a top leader until at least Jan. 18, when the Senate reconvenes. Already, on Sunday, there was a jolting reminder that there's plenty of business to tend to at the agency:
A scare erupted on the same flight from Amsterdam to Detroit -- 253 -- when a Nigerian man refused to come out of a plane's bathroom as the crew prepared to land. The problem turned out to be food poisoning. But you can understand the concern. All hands need to be on deck.
The attempted bombing of flight 253 on Christmas day was foiled by good luck, passengers and flight attendants. In the wake of the attack in which 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to set off a small but potent bomb, the TSA was strangely quiet. The United States was experiencing its most-serious attempted act of terror since Richard Reid tried to bomb a U.S.-bound plane more than three months after 9/11, and the TSA was virtually mum.
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Over the weekend news media were driven to find out what new restrictions would be in place for travelers from ... Air Canada. That's right. When new TSA restrictions, including a ban on leaving one's seat during the last hour of an incoming international flight, were revealed Saturday, they were discovered via Air Canada's website.
The TSA's site was useless, save for a statement from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and a few short briefs telling travelers the TSA is on the case and they might notice more security.
It wasn't until late Sunday that the TSA's site came to life (and vaguely so) regarding what new security measures fliers might face. This on one of the busiest travel week's of the year. The U.S. Postal Service is faster.
States McClain, head of the nation's largest airport police association: "When the Senate reconvenes January 18, one of its very first actions should be Erroll Southers' confirmation to head TSA. He will bring his nearly 30 years of extremely valuable experience in homeland security, public safety and intelligence to an agency that has been without a permanent leader for more than 11 months. Friday's terrorist attack on U.S. aviation makes it all the more imperative that there be no further delays in filling this crucial position."