The TerryReport does not go in for casual meanness or anger. Let the ranting go on elsewhere, it seems there are a million cubby holes on the Internet where people do little or nothing but scream and accuse. Yet...
Pistole’s comment that he “didn’t like that” when it comes to the excessive security measures that have been applied to American citizens strikes a false note. Come on, he’s been the main, mean face of the TSA telling journalists and Congress that he would not change, would not lower barriers. No matter what the criticism, Pistole fired back.
He very likely did not get to be number two at the FBI without knowing a great deal about politics and how to maneuver in Washington, DC. The same for becoming head of the TSA. His statements now can easily be taken as insincere, just a political ploy as he moves on to become president of a small college. Be your own judge of that. Why didn’t he show some balance and restraint when the full responsibility of running the TSA was his? Well, there was very little to be gained by that, of course. By putting on a tough face, he put on a big show that he was in charge and the agency he was heading was doing the most possible to protect us from terrorism. Then, if an attack were to occur, he would have that stance to hide behind.
Does Pistole get any credit for the newer, somewhat lighter approach at the TSA, such as putting some travelers through the “preferred traveler” security lines on a regular basis and implementing the preferred program? I don’t know. At least he didn’t stop it, he allowed those measures to go forward. Yet, it took close to twelve years after the 9-11 attacks for changes to be made. Before that, we got the x-ray scanners, which were mainly a way for some people to make a lot of money and an all purpose excuse to pat down anyone who didn’t want to be scanned.
It is my personal view that we don’t need a “tough cop” running an agency that comes in close personal contact with millions of peaceful citizens going about their normal business of travel. Sure, some tough attitudes are necessary in planning security measures and there must also be constant awareness of the risks, but, in short, we don’t need the policeman’s mentality at the top of such an agency. Maybe tough on the inside, softer on the outside would do just as well or better.
A lot of what’s been wrong in recent years can, in fact, be blamed on John Pistole. He was the man in charge of the security clamp down no matter what he wants to say now, but in a classic Washington way, he gets to slide off to a better, cushy job with far less risk and far less public criticism. Escaping responsibility for what you do is one of the great accomplishments of many people who pass through top government positions. Maybe Pistole can teach a class at his new college in that art. Should be an interesting course.
Doug Terry, 12.17.14