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Mon, Jan 04, 2010

Nominee For TSA Administrator Hits More Turbulence

Southers Changes Facts On Privacy Breach Story

Erroll Southers, the White House nominee to head up the TSA, changed the story on his illegal use of law enforcement records in the 80's one day after confirmation by the Senate homeland security committee.  The new information and the convenient timing of the revelation adds to the concerns about Southers' being placed in charge of TSA databases full of private information.

Southers reported in a sworn affidavit on Oct. 22 that he used his position at the FBI to access information about his ex-wife and her boyfriend.  He was censured by his superiors at the time of the incident.

Almost a month after submitting the affidavit, Southers sent a letter to Senate committee chairman Joe Lieberman and ranking Republican Susan Collins revising his testimony. The letter says that Southers illegally downloaded the files himself, correcting his previous statement that he asked a police department employee to access the files and simply pass them on to him.

"I am distressed by the inconsistencies between my recollection and the contemporaneous documents, but I assure you that the mistake was inadvertent, and that I have at all times taken full responsibility for what I know to have been a grave error in judgment," Southers wrote in the letter.

"Southers has never tried to hide this incident and has expressed that these were errors he made in judgment that he deeply regretted and an error that he made in an account of events that happened over 20 years ago," said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro.

A statement from Leiberman's office supports Southers' nomination even after the timeline recollection.  "Senator Lieberman is satisfied that the totality of Mr. Southers' career more than qualifies him for the position to which he was nominated."

FMI: www.senate.gov, www.tsa.gov

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