Following hasty hearings by the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation and Homeland Security Committees, the Senate gave unamimous consent on Friday, without a recorded vote, to the nomination of John S. Pistole, the pistol-packing deputy director of the FBI and right-hand man to Robert Mueller in the FBI’s often extra-judicial “war” on terror, to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the TSA.
The hearings (see the links above for archived webcasts) were a mix of praise for Pistole’s police “toughness” and criticism of the possibility that he might allow TSA employees to form a labor union. ”Should law enforcement officers be unionized?”, several Senators asked, apparently duped by their badges, uniforms, titles, and attitudes of presumed authority into thinking that at Transportation Security “Officers” and contractors are law enforcement officers, when in fact they are civilians without police powers (except for a handful of investigators like the ones the TSA sent to serve subpoenas on journalists who published leaked descriptions of some of their procedures).
The last thing the TSA needs, in our opinion, is more cop-think and an even more paramilitary attitude. We’re hoping for the best, but we suspect that this appointment will make it even more important for US citizens’ and visitors to exercise our rights rather than relying on the TSA or Congress to recognize on their own initiative.