Spencer S. Hsu and Ed O’Keefe
Washington Post
March 27, 2010

The Obama administration’s second choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew from consideration Friday, days after senators questioned his business and personal dealings as a military contractor who provided services ranging from Iraq war interrogators to private guards at the White House.

“Distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor would not be good for this Administration nor the Department of Homeland Security,” retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert A. Harding said in a late-evening statement released by the White House.

“The president is disappointed in this outcome,” Obama spokesman Nicholas Shapiro said in a separate statement.

Obama’s previous nominee, Los Angeles airport police executive Errol Southers, withdrew from consideration in January. He blamed stalling tactics by Republicans opposed to extending collective bargaining rights to TSA employees, but his withdrawal also followed disclosures that he gave Congress and the White House misleading information about incidents two decades ago.

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