The Transportation Security Administration is expected to fire 36 Hawaii TSA officials and suspend 12 others as a result of an investigation into security breaches at Honolulu International Airport, Civil Beat has learned.
TSA confirmed the news to Civil Beat Friday morning.
“TSA holds its workforce to the highest ethical standards and we will not tolerate employees who in any way compromise the security of the traveling public,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole in a press statement. “We have taken appropriate action through our newly established Office of Professional Responsibility and are committed to ensuring our high security standards are upheld in Hawaii and throughout the country.”
TSA had placed several officers in non-security related roles pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
The investigation, according to TSA, determined that “some checked baggage during one shift, at one airport location was not properly screened, impacting a limited number of flights each day during the last few months of 2010.”
TSA has taken the necessary steps to ensure every bag has been screened properly at HNL since the agency identified the issue. TSA routinely tests security operations to ensure that proper protocols are being followed, and investigates any indication of misconduct. TSA also utilizes a number of checks to ensure bags are being screened properly including the use of CCTV, random inspections, covert tests, as well as peer and management oversight.
TSA management-level staff and National Deployment Force officers have been temporarily assigned to HNL to augment the current staff and continue to ensure that a high level of security operations continues. An effort will commence to hire local permanent replacements in the coming weeks.
Stanford Miyamoto, currently the deputy area director, has been named acting federal security director.
As reported March 1 by KITV, “thousands of checked bags were loaded onto flights at Honolulu’s airport in recent months without having been screened for explosives.”
At least 27 TSA officers on the morning shift in Honolulus Lobby 4 are accused of not properly searching checked baggage before it was loaded on planes, sources said.
Baggage there was supposed to be opened up and checked for traces of explosives, but sources said many pieces of luggage were never checked. In some cases, TSA agents simply marked suitcases as having been screened when those checked bags had not been checked at all, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Also in March, a TSA worker was arrested for allegedly stealing money from a traveler’s wallet at a passenger checkpoint at the Kona International Airport at Keahole. The worker, Dawn Nikole Keka, was a lead transportation security officer at the airport.
The TSA said it conducted a sting operation targeting Keka in response to numerous allegations that she was stealing cash from Japanese travelers passing through her screening lane.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court yesterday, a TSA special agent posing as a Japanese tourist went through Keka’s lane with 13 marked $100 bills in her wallet. The agent placed the wallet in a Hello Kitty backpack.
Keka resigned from her job.
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