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Oct 16, 2014 3:27 PM

TSA administrator Pistole to retire

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, said Thursday he will retire from government at the end of this year and expects to accept a position in academia next year.

Shortly after the TSA administrator's announcement, Anderson University posted a statement on its website that said a search committee will propose to the school's board of trustees that Pistole be the school's next president. The university is located in Anderson, Indiana, Pistole's hometown.

Pistole received a bachelor's degree in 1978 from the nearly 100-year-old university, which was founded by the Church of God, according to the school's statement.

Pistole, TSA's administrator for four and a half years, instituted a "risk-based" security philosophy that has enabled the agency to move passengers deemed to be low risk through airport screening more quickly and significantly reduced complaints. The Trusted Traveler and Pre-Check programs are used by 5 million passengers per week at 120 U.S. airports, according to the agency.

"John Pistole has been integral in leading TSA's transformation to a risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency dedicated to protecting our transportation systems," said Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. "Because of his efforts over the past four and a half years, our country's transportation systems are more safe and secure."

Pistole was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010. Prior to that, he had spent 26 years with the FBI, most recently as deputy director.

TSA has a workforce of over 60,000 employees and security operations at more than 450 airports throughout the United States.

Pistole ran afoul of flight attendants, airlines and Congress last year when he announced his intention to allow passengers to carry small knives, sports equipment like bats and golf clubs, and other previously prohibited items onto planes. Pistole said the odds of the items being used to threaten the safety of a plane were extremely low, but critics said they worried unruly passengers might use the items as weapons. Pistole was eventually forced to back down.


Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy


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