Nightly News | June 04, 2012
>>> good evening. it is not just the first line of defense, it is the last time a passenger gets checked before boarding an aircraft in our post 9/11 era. everybody has their own opinion about the blue-shirted tsa inspectors at the airport they have a big job, they don't always do it well. case in point -- ft myers airport in florida where tonight over three dozen tsa personnel, officers, supervisors hav been pulled from their jobs for the failure to conduct the kinds of secondary inspections that are supposed to keep terrorists off-guard. this will send a shock through the national system . it is where we begin with nbc's tom costello.
>> reporter: it happened at southwest florida international airport , fort myers , five front line security officers fired. another 3 suspended for two weeks including supervisors and the federal security director, the person responsible for the entire airport security . government sources say a large number of tsa officers on the late shift were no longer conducting random passenger screenings after passengers went through the checkpoint. critics say it is more evidence of trouble at the tsa.
>> you have 14,000 administrators, 65,000 personnel. and they don't need to have tsa in that personnel business. they need to get out of it and get into the security business.
>> reporter: in a statement to nbc news, the tsa says, accountability is an important aspect of our work and tsa takes prompt and appropriate action with any employee who does not follow our procedures and engauges in misconduct. fort myers is a small airport, but the tsa troubles here come after a series of high profile embarrassments. in honolulu, 48 fired or suspended amid allegations they improperly screened baggage. in charlotte, 12 accused of botching inspections fired. in newark, eight suspended for sleeping on the job or theft.
>> tsa is a giant organization, tom. it has tens of thousands of employees. those folks are doing a very mundane, day in, day out, high volume, high stress job.
>> reporter: 50,000 officers work at more than 450 airports screening 1.7 million people each day. security experts acknowledge the monotony of the job can lead to fatigue and complacency. this happened over a two month period last year. tsa insists security was never compromised because what the officers stopped doing was additional random screenings that many of us get selected for from time to time. but the tsa says that randomness is a critical part of its security approach and it cannot have groups of officers deciding on their own that they're simply not going to do it. brian.
>> tom costello in washington. tom,