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FBI Deputy Director Nominated to Head TSA

Updated: 7:48 p.m.

The White House is undoubtedly hoping that the third time is the charm in its attempt to nominate a director of the Transportation Security Administration.

President Barack Obama announced Monday he plans to nominate FBI Deputy Director John Pistole to the post of TSA director, which the White House and top Senate Democrats have characterized as the most important of several unfilled posts.

Two other nominees — retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Harding and Erroll Southers — withdrew their names from consideration earlier this year amid challenges from Republicans. Harding’s March 26 decision to withdraw his name came after a confirmation hearing in which GOP Senators raised questions about his private sector work.

Southers withdrew his name from consideration in January — even though his confirmation had been approved by both the Senate Commerce and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) placed a hold on his nomination on the grounds that Southers had not taken a firm position on whether he would support collective bargaining rights for TSA employees.

Obama said in a statement that he was looking forward to working with Pistole “in the weeks and months ahead.”

“The talent and knowledge John has acquired in more than two decades of service with the F.B.I. will make him a valuable asset to our administration’s efforts to strengthen the security and screening measures at our airports,” Obama said.

Pistole, who has been in his current position since October 2004, previously held numerous other FBI posts, including jobs within the bureau’s counterterrorism and organized crime divisions. His 27-year career at the FBI also included stints in the New York and Minneapolis field offices.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) released a statement in which he characterized his initial reaction to Pistole’s nomination as “extremely positive.”

“He has a great law enforcement background and understands the threat of terrorism as well as anyone in the government,” Lieberman said.

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