Obama's 2nd TSA Nominee Withdraws
Harding quits after issues arise over past as defense contractor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2010 6:02 AM CDT
President Obama buttons his jacket as he steps off Marine One as he arrives at the White House in Washington in this March 25, 2010 file photo.   (Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Harding took himself out of the running last night as head of the Transportation Security Administration, another setback for President Obama in finding a transportation security chief to shore up the nation's defenses against terrorist threats from the air, road and rail after his first choice withdrew in January. The White House has called the job the most important unfilled position on Obama's team.

Questions arose after Harding's nomination about an Iraq contract his company had. After the government ended the contract early, in 2004, Harding Security Associates claimed more money from termination of the contract than the Defense Department's inspector general said it was entitled to get. The firm refunded $1.8 million in a 2008 settlement with the Defense Intelligence Agency. "I feel that the distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor would not be good for this administration nor for the Department of Homeland Security," Harding said in a late-evening statement released by the White House.