Obama names FBI official as transportation security chief

08:35, May 18, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Monday he is to nominate John Pistole, a deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is responsible for aviation safety.

Obama said Pistole has the talent and knowledge that made him " a valuable asset" to the administration's efforts to strengthen the security and screening measures at airports across the country.

Joining the FBI in 1983, Pistole has held the position of deputy director since 2004, and has worked in the bureau's counterterrorism division. He helped lead the investigative and recovery efforts for the Egypt Air Flight 990 crash off the coast of Rhode Island in 1999, according to the White House.

The TSA was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, but the Obama administration was unable to find a chief for the agency. The absence of leadership became conspicuous after the failed Christmas plane bombing attack last year.

The administration nominated former FBI special agent Erroll Southers and later ex-Army general Robert Harding to the long- vacant position, but both withdrew because of scrutiny they faced in the Congress.

In order to boost airport security, the Department of Homeland Security is installing full-body scanning machines to better detect possible threats across the country.

Traditional detectors that are usually deployed at airports across the world can not detect nonmetallic explosives that a Nigerian used when attempting to destroy a U.S.-bound flight on Dec. 25, 2009. TSA expects to deploy hundreds of the expensive scanners by the end of 2010.



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