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Obama Ready to Appoint Former Military Intelligence Official to Run TSA
March 8, 2010
If Obama has his way, military intelligence will soon be running the Transportation Security Administration.
“President Barack Obama plans to appoint a former senior Army official with a career in intelligence to lead the Transportation Security Administration,” reports the Associated Press. “The president is expected to announce his choice, retired Gen. Robert Harding, on Monday, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement is not yet public.”
General Harding’s last assignment before retirement from the military was the U.S. Army’s Deputy G2 in intelligence. He was responsible for the planning and execution of the Army’s intelligence programs. From 1997 to until 2000, as the Director of Operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency, he acted as the Department of Defense’s senior Human Intelligence officer. Prior to working at the DIA, Harding served as the J2, Intelligence Directorate, United States Southern Command, under generals Barry McCaffrey and Wes Clark as their intelligence chief. He also directed intelligence with the Joint Interagency Task Force in the so-called War on Drugs. Between 2003 and 2009, Harding was a government consultant on human intelligence and counterintelligence issues. See Harding’s bio here.
The Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, and the NSA are subject to only token oversight by Congress. During the Bush era, the agency was penetrated by neocons. In 2004, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed to Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans — the group primarily responsible for fake intelligence in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq — came under FBI investigation for spying for Israel.
“The president’s decision to appoint someone with an extensive intelligence background is significant because it comes after the attempted Christmas airliner attack, when the government’s intelligence programs came under scrutiny and attacks by critics who said the Obama administration wasn’t doing enough to foil would-be terrorists. The incident prompted a review of U.S. security policies.”
The Christmas Day non-bombing event was exploited by the Department of Homeland Security to accelerate the installation of naked body scanners around the country. In January, a team of scientists in Britain concluded that a naked body scanner would not have prevented the patsy Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from carrying explosives on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Congress and the Obama administration also used the Christmas Day non-bombing and the Fort Hood attack to push for extending the Patriot Act on February 25.
Three elements of the Patriot Act that will stay in effect include court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones, court approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations and surveillance of what is called a “lone wolf,” or a non-U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activities. Section 215, which allows for the search of library records without probable cause, was also extended despite complaints from the American Library Association, the Daily Titan noted on March 4.
In addition to intrusive and dangerous naked body scanners, the government reportedly provided a research grant to an Israeli technology company to develop mind-reading technology for airports.
Obama’s appointment of Harding to run the TSA indicates the government is interested in further militarizing civilian airports.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to officially announce Harding’s appointment later today.
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