Nightly News   |  January 31, 2014

TSA in Damage Control After Employee’s ‘Confessions’

A former airport screening officer at the TSA is revealing inside secrets about how members of the traveling public are treated.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a former airport screening officer at the tsa is revealing inside secrets about how members of the traveling public are treated and how those full body scanners that were so controversial and had so many passengers concerned about privacy may have worked or never worked in the first place. the revelations have the tsa in something of a damage control mode tonight. we get our report from nbc's tom costello.

>> reporter: from a former tsa officer, disturbing descriptions of fellow officers' behavior, humiliating patdowns and the methods used for the scanning. one wrote, dear american, i saw you naked and yes we were laughing. one writes the only thing worse about how poor they performed was the incredible amount of time the machines wasted for everybody. at the time, they reviewed the full body images in a separate room. according to harrington, many images they got were of overweight people, their every fold on display, piercings of every time were on display. all the stereotypes thrived. but the tsa reported all the scanners were replaced more than a year ago, the screening rooms disabled. the new scanners used radio waves and portrayed the body as a cartoon figure using targeting software that could identify a potential weapon.

>> there is a new tsa in town doing things 180 degrees differently than what he alleges was done.

>> reporter: harrington declined to talk to nbc news and worked for tsa from 2007 until last spring. and adds, co-workers photoed women depending on their apparel. and a general feeling among officers that their jobs represented quote, an abuse of public trust and funds. but the chief insists that tsa has changed.

>> tsa will not tolerate the unprofessional conduct of officers if proven. if an officer is engaging in unprofessional behavior then we take prospect administrative action leading up to and including dismissal.

>> reporter: the tsa has worked hard to improve the customer experience, limiting patdowns and adding express lanes . but this insider's look behind the security line doesn't help the public image . tom costello, washington.