John Pistole Nominated: Will TSA Finally Have a Chief?

AP

Someone might finally be taking the reins of the Transportation Security Administration.

President Obama today announced his intent to nominate John S. Pistole, the deputy director of the FBI, to lead the TSA. Pistole is Mr. Obama's third pick for the post, following Erroll Southers and retired Maj. Gen. Robert Harding.

Pistole, who is 53 years old, is a "very safe pick," says CBS News Producer Stephanie Lambidakis.

"He's a popular and highly-regarded senior executive within the FBI...sort of the day-to-day operational person there," she said. Pistole joined the FBI in 1983 as an agent, and he is known for his counter-terrorism experience.

Pistole had previously been rumored to be one of the top candidates to take over the Drug Enforcement Agency. In announcing the selection, Mr. Obama suggested Pistole's experience at the FBI will help him lead the TSA.

"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," he said. "I am grateful that he has agreed to take on this important role, and I look forward to working with him in the weeks and months ahead."

Gale Rossides has been leading the agency on an interim basis; the lack of a permanent chief has been particularly notable in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day underwear bombing and other terror threats.

Southers, Mr. Obama's first pick, withdrew in January, claiming his selection had been "obstructed by political ideology." He had faced criticism from Republicans tied in part to reports that he may not have told Congress the truth about background checks conducted about his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Harding withdrew in March amid questions about his previous work as a defense contractor.

"I am confident that John's talent, integrity and expertise will make him a tremendous asset in our ongoing efforts to improve security and safety measures at our airports," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "He is well qualified for the critical position of Transportation Security Administration Director, and, if confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role."

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.