President George W. Bush appointed David Stone to be the agency head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2003. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Stone led the agency during a tumultuous period. The country was at war with terrorism. At that time, the TSA was struggling to define its role and responsibilities based on Congressional rules and regulations. Stone led the agency for about two years until 2005. He was the third person to lead the agency since it was created in 2002, a few months after the terrorist attacks in Washington, DC, New York City, and Pennsylvania.
He was regarded as collaborative and a true leader. He led the effort to replace private contractors with 2,700 federal officers at passenger checkpoints in airports across the nation. Stone oversaw the development of an electronic system to screen all checked baggage to protect American airline passengers. Stone also helped LAX airport secure hundreds of millions in federal money for security improvements. He helped transform LAX into a testing site to test security measures. Many of those measures were implemented at other airports in the United States.
Stone was a former Naval officer who was confirmed by the Senate to head the agency. He implemented systems and procedures that helped protect U.S. airports, railways, and sea ports at a time when the TSA had to navigate the uncharted path of figuring out how to constitutionally protect Americans without infringing upon their rights. In a sense, Stone was really the first TSA administrator who helped develop policies that would prevent another terrorist attack from occurring on American soil for over 12 months of efforts. He succeeded in securing the nation during his tenure.