Three days after appearing before a Senate Committee regarding his nomination to lead the Transportation Security Administration, Maj. Gen. Robert Harding withdrew his name from consideration, citing questions about his background as a defense contractor. Harding was the second nominee for the position to withdraw because of concerns that background questions would not be good for the administration or the Department of Homeland Security.
Harding’s experience in military intelligence was praised by Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who chairs the committee Harding appeared before. “I have no doubt that General Harding is capable and ready to lead the agency,” Rockefeller said after Harding had been grilled during the hearing.
Experience in intelligence matters was not a reason for Harding’s withdrawal. He withdrew after reports surfaced that his firm collected more federal money than it was entitled to for providing interrogators in Iraq.
The nomination hearing was speeded up and held just two and a half weeks after Harding was nominated both because of the upcoming Congressional recess and the fact that the first nominee had withdrawn. The first nominee, Erroll Southers, withdrew his name in January. A former FBI agent, Southers withdrew after giving different answers to questions regarding police background checks about a man who was seeing his estranged wife.
At the Senate heading, Rockefeller said being director of the TSA is probably the toughest job in Washington and wanted to get the position filled. The second nominee withdrawal, however, leaves many here thinking the job will remain unfilled for several months.