(CNSNews.com) – Erroll Southers, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), said the war on terror should be given “some parity” with other national priorities such as global warming, education, and the economy.
The TSA, an element of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for the security of U.S. transportation systems, including commercial aviation. Southers made his remarks in a 2008 video interview with the Videojug.com Web site.
In the online interview, Southers was asked, “How high should the 'war on terror' be on our list of national priorities?”
Southers answered: “It should be high on our list of priorities because of, speaking globally, the threat that exists. Due to connectivity that we have with countries such as Israel, France, countries that are seen by groups, by Al Qaeda as being infidels or anti-Islamic, by the true nature of our alliance with them means that we are subject to being attacked as well.
“I do think, however, it deserves to perhaps have some parity with global warming, with education, with the economy,” said Southers.
“National security is always going to supersede everything else,” he said. “I don’t think you could have all those other entities flourish in a state where the security is not felt to be confident, comfortable, and intact; so it is always going to be a priority.
“What’s interesting, though, is that next year the Department of Homeland Security has already announced they are going to be reducing their grant funding by about 50 percent,” said Southers. “So that would suggest to someone like me that they have a reasonable expectation that the risk has been reduced, and they can reduce accordingly.”
Southers said that he would like to see the money previously spent on homeland security re-directed to “those other efforts” he previously referred to: global warming, education, and the economy.
“I would hope that funding would then go to some of those other efforts, nationally, that are priorities for us,” he said in the online interview.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Southers' official title will be Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the Transportation Security Administration. Southers, a former FBI special agent and member of the Bureau’s SWAT Team, was nominated by Obama on Sept. 10, 2009.
Currently, Southers splits his time between teaching counter-terrorism at the University of Southern California and serving as Chief of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism for the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Police Department.
Southers did not respond to an email inquiry from CNSNews.com about his comments.
The “Videojug” Web site, with offices in Britain and the United States, was launched in September 2006 and describes itself as “the world’s most comprehensive library of free factual video content online” and the “definitive online ‘encyclopedia of life.’” It seeks out and interviews experts around the world to “provide answers to common questions and concerns.”