- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

John Magaw, head of the Transportation Security Administration, resigned yesterday amid criticism from members of Congress that he was unresponsive to their concerns.
Mr. Magaw cited health reasons in his resignation letter to President Bush. In April, he underwent angioplasty to clear a clogged artery.
Congress created the TSA in November as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks to oversee security of the nation's airlines and other transportation systems.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta called Mr. Magaw a "dedicated public servant." But he added: "I also appreciate the difficulty of the task. Creating a nationwide system customized to 429 very busy commercial airports is a huge challenge."
He is being replaced by Adm. James Loy, recently retired commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and deputy undersecretary for transportation security.
Mr. Mineta praised Adm. Loy, saying he "has amply demonstrated his ability to motivate and manage a large federal agency when he was commandant of the Coast Guard."
White House press spokeswoman Claire Buchan said, "The president believes John Magaw has made a great deal of progress in starting from scratch. In his letter of resignation, he indicates that for health reasons he is not able to devote the energy and time necessary to continue in that position."
He resigned the same day a congressional committee granted the TSA emergency funding that was $550 million less than the Bush administration requested to meet federal deadlines.
When Congress passed the aviation security bill in November, it set a deadline of Nov. 19 for all 429 commercial airports to be staffed by TSA security personnel. They are taking over security from private companies hired by the airlines.
A second deadline requires all checked baggage to be searched for bombs by Dec. 31.
Airport directors at a security conference in Washington this week questioned the effectiveness of the mix of automated and hand-held bomb-detection devices that will be used to meet the deadline.
Critics have said the TSA is quickly becoming another bloated government bureaucracy that requests increasing amounts of money but produces few results.
Among them is Rep. Harold Rogers, Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on transportation.
During an oversight hearing last month, Mr. Rogers chafed at Mr. Magaw's requests for more money and staff.
"We will not hire a standing army of 70,000 full-time people to screen your bags, take off your shoes and check your briefcase three times," said Mr. Rogers, who wanted to cap the TSA's work force at 45,000 airport screeners.
Mr. Magaw initially said he wanted to hire 70,000 employees. The Transportation Department's inspector general has said the TSA needs at least 63,000 screeners.
Congress gave the agency a $2 billion budget for its first year of operation, which ends Sept. 30. Yesterday, a House-Senate conference committee agreed to add $3.85 billion in emergency supplemental funds for this year.
"The aviation security bill and its overly ambitious deadlines made it virtually impossible for the TSA to operate and function smoothly during the early months of its conception. John Magaw did everything humanly possible to fulfill the mission Congress mandated from the TSA," said Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Mr. Magaw is former head of the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. In recent months, he refused to allow pilots to carry firearms. Last week, the House voted to arm pilots.
David Boyer contributed to this report.

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