Friday’s Headlines: TSA Nominee Under New Scrutiny

BY Carolyn O'Hara  January 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM EDT

TSA nominee: The spotlight on airline safety continues Friday with a report that the nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration misled Congress about accessing confidential records of his estranged wife’s boyfriend, according to a report in the Washington Post today. Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent, has said that poor memory was to blame for his inaccurate descriptions of the background checks he ran more than two decades ago, and in a November letter to key senators, accepted responsibility for his “grave error in judgment.” Souther’s nomination has been held up by the GOP for political reasons, but his admission of error could upset civil liberties groups concerned about privacy at the agency in charge of airline security.

Blackwater case: The Iraqi government said Friday that it may pursue its own case against five Blackwater guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad two years ago. Yesterday, a U.S. federal judge dismissed charges brought against the guards by the Justice Department. It remains unclear if the Justice Department will appeal the ruling.

CIA base attack: The CIA base where a suicide bomber killed seven agency operatives on Wednesday was a key station for the agency’s counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, according to reports in the Washington Post and WSJ. The NYT’s Mark Mazzetti files on the CIA’s expanding role in Afghanistan, and the risks that new responsibility entails. The bomber who attacked the CIA base may have been courted as a potential informant.

Iran’s opposition: In a statement on his web site Friday, Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said he was “ready for martyrdom” after the worst public unrest since the country’s contested election in June.

Pakistan bombing: At least 25 people have been killed in Pakistan after a suicide bomber attacked a volleyball match in the country’s northwest frontier province.

New Year’s celebrations: Slide Shows of celebrations around the world courtesy of WaPo, NYT, Guardian, WSJ.

And in resolution news, the price of vodka increases in Russia today — part of a government bid to curb alcoholism.

Happy New Year.