Administration chief David Stone has announced he will resign his post in June,
leaving many with questions about the agency’s future.
Stone announced his resignation April
8, but some in Washington say the handwriting was on the wall even before that.
“David Stone didn’t always play
nice with the other (Bush supporters) on the hill and in the administration,”
Rod Nofziger, government relations representative for OOIDA, said. “He didn’t
always tow the line of the administration. Stone tended to listen to the
advisement of his people more than he listened to the advisement from above.”
The Washington Post reported that Stone was in fact asked to step down by the Bush administration.
While neither TSA nor the White
House is commenting on the future of the organization, some experts say Stone’s
departure could be the latest sign that TSA its on its way out or, at the very
least, on its way to a serious downsizing.
“With (Homeland Security Secretary
Michael) Chertoff coming in, there have been indications that they were going
to try to consolidate,” Nofziger said. “Or at least make sure everybody was
working from the same page.”
Several pieces of legislation seem
to point to the end of the TSA, not the least of which is President Bush’s 2006
budget proposal. The budget contains language calling for more privatized
contract screeners at airports. Airport screening has been one of the signature
programs of TSA.
Nofziger, however, said most
Washington insiders did not see screening services being privatized.
“There is some talk that folks
want to come in and replace the public airline screeners with private airport
screeners,” he said. “But that most likely is not the case.”
The administration has come under
fire before for privatizing security services. Most recently, the trucking
industry was outraged at the news that TSA is using private companies to
collect fingerprints and personal information and conduct security assessments
for truckers who haul hazardous materials.
Chertoff is currently working on a
review of the Department of Homeland Security that, when completed, could bring
further changes for TSA.
A retired Coast Guard admiral,
Stone was the third TSA chief since the organization was created as a reaction
to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. John Magaw, former head of the Secret
Service, was the first to hold the position. He was replaced by James Loy, a
former commandant of the Coast Guard.
When he leaves in June, Stone will
have served the longest tenure in the post at 16 months.
– By Terry Scruton, senior