The administrator of the Transportation Security Agency, John Pistole, is retiring of his own accord at the end of 2014 after four-and-a-half years on the job. In today's Washington, that's an achievement in itself.
Pistole's run is even more impressive considering the TSA's status as one of the government's most unloved departments, perhaps second only to the Postal Service if measured by the number of muttered obscenities it inspires on a daily basis. He will leave as the longest-serving administrator in the agency's (admittedly short) 13-year history, having largely escaped the partisan wringer that has ensnared the leaders of departments, like the Veterans Administration, and more recently the CDC, that have traditionally been held in higher esteem.
If the next few months go quietly, Pistole's most important legacy clearly would be keeping the nation's air travelers safe. There has been a terrorist attack and an alarming number of mass shootings in the U.S. in the last half decade, including one at Los Angeles International Airport a year ago that left one TSA agent dead and several others wounded. But nothing has approached the 9/11 horrors that spawned the creation of the agency, and if there has been a close call like the "underwear bomber" that nearly detonated explosives aboard a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day in 2009, we don't know about it.