Robert O’Harrow Jr.
Saturday, Jan 2nd, 2010
The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show.
The disclosure comes as pressure builds from Democrats on Capitol Hill for quick January confirmation of Erroll Southers, whose nomination has been held up by GOP opponents. In the aftermath of an attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day, calls have intensified for lawmakers to install permanent leadership at the TSA, a critical agency in enforcing airline security.
Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as “inadvertent” and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a “grave error in judgment” in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife’s new boyfriend.
His letter to Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, and Susan Collins (Maine), the ranking Republican on the panel, attempts to correct statements about the episode that were made in a sworn affidavit on Oct. 22 and have been reported.
Southers did not respond to a request for an interview.
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This article was posted: Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 5:09 am