“Republicans are stepping up their effort to block Erroll Southers from becoming head of the Transportation Security Administration,” Politico reports. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has been holding up Southers’ nomination in a political effort “to prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union.”
Southers, a counterterrorism expert, is currently working as a senior official for homeland security and intelligence for the police division of Los Angeles World Airports. He is also an associate director of the University of Southern California’s security studies program, has developed and implemented anti-terrorism measures for a variety of public institutions, and wrote a doctoral study on “Predictive Indicators of Homegrown Islamic Terror Cells.” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) said Southers is “more than qualified” to lead TSA.
Despite Southers’ impressive resume and qualifications, the right wing is intent on playing politics with his nomination. Conservative bloggers and activists have begun mounting a campaign to smear Southers with fallacious attacks. Some examples below:
Right-Wing Attack: “TSA nominee: Global Warming Deserves Parity With War on Terror.” The conservative blog Hot Air highlights Southers’ comment that terrorism “deserves to perhaps have some parity with global warming.” Blogger Ed Morrisey concludes that Southers’ view is “ludicrous.”
Reality: A Pentagon analysis concluded that the long-term security threat of global warming was greater than terrorism, and many security experts agree. The National Intelligence Council assessed the grave threat global warming poses. It could not only fuel further terrorism, but spur mass migration, refugees, poverty, environmental degradation, and pandemics. The CIA is now dedicating resources to analyzing the security implications of climate change.
Right-Wing Attack: “Obama TSA Nominee Erroll Southers Calls Pro-Life Advocates Terrorists in Video.” LifeNews attacks Southers for saying homegrown terrorist groups — particularly white supremacist groups — are “anti-government, in most cases anti-abortion, they are usually survivalist type in nature, identity oriented.” Gateway Pundit writes, “This kook rattled off every leftwing nut conspiracy in one interview.”
Reality: A Homeland Security report published last August warned right-wing extremists, “specifically the white supremacist and militia movements,” may “include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion.” Subsequently, the report was vindicated by acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists and anti-abortion crusaders.
Right-Wing Attack: “TSA nominee in 2008: Alliances with Israel, France make us subject to terror attack.” The Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso takes issue with Southers’ observation the U.S. alliance with “countries that are seen by groups, by al Qaeda, as infidels” may subject us to greater risk of attack. “So Southers is a hack leftist and a fool,” the conservative blog Powerline writes.
Reality: Consider the words of Osama bin Laden. In 1996, the terrorist leader complained of the “iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance” and called for raising “the banner of Jihad against the American-Zionist alliance occupying the sanctities of Islam.” In 2008, he reiterated his hateful screed: “We shall continue the fight, Allah willing, against the Israelis and their allies.”
In their desperation to smear Southers, the right is grasping at straws.