TSA to Clean House at Newark: 44 Expected to be Fired, Suspended

Will Newark’s Liberty International Airport soon be at least a little safer for passengers and planes?

Impossible to say, but according to news reports, the TSA plans to get rid of a lot of employees who apparently did not perform one of their most important job functions: Making sure all checked-bags are properly screened.

Are We Safer in the Air Since 9/11?

Biggest Personnel Action in TSA’s History

It was announced this week that 25 Newark-based screeners are expected to be fired and 19 others suspended after a 12-month investigation at the troubled airport. According to news reports, that makes this the biggest employee action since the agency was formed in the days after the 9/11 terror attacks – and it comes little more than a year after 28 screeners at Honolulu’s airport were also given the boot.

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Investigation Began with Bag Theft Allegations

The Newark allegations initially stemmed from passenger reports of bag theft – the investigation was aided by a one-time TSA officer who was recorded stealing $5,000 from a woman’s bag before ultimately cooperating with authorities. The cooperating former officer ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to house arrest but not before helping to take down his boss at the airport.

Trouble in Atlanta

Other TSA-tarnishing stories continue to make headlines: Earlier this month, two Atlanta screeners pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges at that airport. Both were caught in an undercover heroin operation.

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Published: October 19, 2012