Erroll Southers: Right Result, Wrong Reason

Erroll Southers, President Obama’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, withdrew his name today, citing political opposition. His nomination had been held up by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who wanted Southers’ assurances that TSA workers wouldn’t be unionized. That’s a legitimate issue, but Southers should have lost his nomination when it became clear that he had lied to Congress about an incident in which he had breached his own agency’s security to do investigative work on his estranged wife’s activities.

President Obama, who famously pledged to establish high standards for ethics and integrity, ought to have pulled his name immediately, but did not. Today, in response to Southers’ decision, the White House released a statement of regret, saying that he would have been effective at the TSA. But if being effective trumps honesty and integrity in the Obama Administration, high ethical standards are a myth. In an ethical culture, seriously unethical conduct must have consequences, and be emphatically condemned.

Sacrificing ethical principles in the interest of bolstering security is how the Bush Administration came to support water-boarding.

For President Obama to continue to support Erroll Southers after his admission of misrepresentation under oath sent an ominous message. It is good that Southers has withdrawn, but it would have been much better if he had been held to the ethical standards we were promised.

2 thoughts on “Erroll Southers: Right Result, Wrong Reason

  1. I really appreciate all of these postings and you guys run a great site that provides a lot of value to the readers and people learning about ethics. My understanding of ethics would not be the same if it weren’t for this site.

    That said, I just wanted to point out that I believe the person’s name is actually Erroll Southers and not Enroll. Here’s the wikipedia link:

    This is just a minor error and so in general, keep up the good work!

    • Well, you’re right. I have no idea how I got the name wrong, because I sure thought it was a strange one. And I wish someone had flagged this about four months ago. Thanks so much for finally doing it.

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