WASHINGTON – In response to public criticism, and a sign of more chaos at a key agency in charge of protecting airline passengers from future terrorism, the Transportation Department has relieved a top official with a checkered record in federal security of a critical assignment investigating the backgrounds of new federal airport guards.
WorldNetDaily first reported April 24 that the official – K. David Holmes Jr. – had a reputation for “rubberstamping” applicants for key jobs, some demanding Top Secret clearance, as Commerce Department security chief during the Clinton administration.
His aviation-security duties at Transportation were reassigned in May, sources say.
Holmes became the Transportation Security Administration’s associate undersecretary for inspection in February – upon the recommendation of
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. Holmes doubled as Mineta’s bodyguard at Commerce, when Mineta, a Clinton appointee, headed that agency.
Holmes, who formerly headed Vice President Al Gore’s protective detail, was hired by former TSA chief John Magaw, also a Secret Service veteran. Magaw reportedly was fired earlier this month after a series of highly publicized security-policy blunders, blown deadlines and cost overruns.
Holmes’ responsibilities included vetting airport checkpoint screeners and conducting internal-affairs investigations. He’s now in charge of internal affairs only, sources say.
“Holmes was relieved of personnel-security duties,” an official told WorldNetDaily.
TSA’s human resources office is now supervising background checks of airport-security personnel, who by law must all now be U.S. citizens with no criminal records, according to sources.
“That was moved to HR the end of May,” confirmed an official in TSA’s office of inspection.
Security officials who worked with Holmes at Commerce say he was lax in vetting employees, at times approving applicants even when background investigations turned up criminal records. Other times, they charge, he would waive background checks altogether.
“Holmes broke all the rules about investigations and vetting at Commerce,” said one official. “He would bring on Schedule C appointees, political appointees, gophers, strap-hangers and entourages without any investigations at all, and give them access to classified information.”
Holmes was hired by former Commerce Secretary William Daley, who later became Gore’s presidential campaign manager, to plug security holes left after the John Huang Chinagate scandal.
But he made little progress and was called to task by the department’s inspector general, a confidential internal document obtained by WorldNetDaily reveals.
Last year, moreover, lawyers for the House Government Reform Committee questioned him in closed session about the chronic security lapses, WorldNetDaily has learned.
In 1999, Holmes, who’s black, shocked Commerce security officials when he sanitized a Y2K counterterrorism report distributed to the Census Bureau by removing Islamic threats. Only threats from white “right-wing” groups were included in the report.
It turned out, however, that the only substantive millennium threat came from an Islamic terrorist who was caught at the Canadian border with explosives. The so-called “right-wing militia nuts” were relatively quiet.