Things With Wings

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  • Babbitt's Mistake
    Posted by Andrew Compart 10:15 PM on Dec 05, 2011

    Of course, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt's biggest mistake, if the charges prove true, would be driving while intoxicated, which endangers lives. But even if Babbitt is innocent of those charges, he has made a huge blunder if it is true that he failed to tell his bosses--including President Obama--about his arrest until after it became public.

    In a statement issued early this afternoon, the Transportation Department (DOT) said DOT officials learned of Babbitt's Saturday night arrest "within the last hour." At a White House briefing soon thereafter, primarily on other topics, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama--who opened the briefing--also was "informed of this in the last hour."

    Babbitt should have warned them Sunday morning, at the latest. There is no way a story like that is not going to leak. But it did not even have to leak: Fairfax City police are required to report on the arrest of public figures. On Monday morning, it issued a news release. That release led to breaking news from a local television station, WJLA, and a Washington Post blog. At best, from the timeline provided by the DOT and White House, it appears they learned about the arrest from Babbitt after the police issued the news release. At worst, they learned after the first news reports about it.

    Babbitt subsequently asked for and received a leave of absence. In its statement, the DOT adds that DOT officials "are in discussions with legal counsel about Administrator Babbitt's employment status." Asked at the White House press briefing whether the president plans to ask Babbitt to resign, Carney referred questions to the DOT. Babbitt may yet keep his job, but that's not exactly a vote of confidence.

    Tags: tw99, Babbitt, FAA, dwi, Obama

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