Earlier this week, President Barack Obama said he intends to nominate John S. Pistole, the Deputy Director at the FBI, as Assistant Secretary for Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration.
“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,” said Obama in a statement. “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.”
If Pistole ends up taking the job, it comes at a time when transportation security remains as important and vital as it ever has, coming on the heels of a recent attempt to escape the country by the attempted Times Square bomber.
And transportation security is still front and center for freight transportation concerns, with things like air cargo scanning and ocean container screening receiving ongoing attention from shippers and carriers.
The White House statement also made mention of Pistole’s significant career accomplishments, including working in the F.B.I’s Counterterrorism Division, beginning in 2002 as Deputy Assistant Director for Operations, then as Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, and later as Executive Assistant Director for Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence. Pistole began his career as a Special Agent with the F.B.I. in 1983. He served in the Minneapolis and New York Divisions before being promoted to a Supervisor in the Organized Crime Section at F.B.I. Headquarters.
Mr. Pistole later served as a field supervisor of a White-Collar Crime and Civil Rights Squad in Indianapolis, Indiana, and then as Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1999, Mr. Pistole helped lead the investigative and recovery efforts for the Egypt Air Flight 990 crash off the coast of Rhode Island. Following the espionage arrest of Robert Hanssen, Mr. Pistole helped lead the Information Security Working Group in 2001, addressing security and vulnerability issues. He was then named an Inspector in the F.B.I.’s Inspection Division. Mr. Pistole is a recipient of the 2005 Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive and, in 2007, the Department of Justice Edward H. Levy Award for Outstanding Professionalism and Exemplary Integrity. Prior to joining the F.B.I., Mr. Pistole practiced law for two years. He is a graduate of Anderson University and the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis.
The selection of Pistole follows two previous nominations for this position, according to media reports: Errol G. Southers, a former FBI agent and counterterrorism supervisor for the Los Angeles Airport police, and Robert A. Harding, a retired Army intelligence office. Both former candidates withdrew their bids for the job before the vetting process was complete.
“[This] announcement is good news for America’s national security,” said Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, in a statement. “Mr. Pistole’s two decades of service with the FBI give him a unique perspective on the nexus of security operations, law enforcement and intelligence. I have worked with Mr. Pistole over the years, and I believe he is a strong manager capable of getting the job done. I know he is well regarded in the intelligence and law enforcement communities, and I look forward to working with him. I am committed to working with my fellow Commerce Committee members to move Mr. Pistole’s nomination forward as expeditiously as possible.”