TSA fires five, suspends 38 after security lapse

(CBS News) In one of the largest disciplinary actions taken in its ten years, the Transportation Security Administration fired five screeners and put 38 on suspension last Friday after a large airport security lapse in Fort Myers, Fla.

Dozens of TSA workers at Southwest Florida International Airport are accused of cutting corners and violating screening procedures.

An internal investigation revealed that over a two-month period, 43 workers didn't perform secondary checks on as many as 400 people after the passengers went through security.

"The TSA itself admits that this is an important part of the screening process," CBS News transportation analyst Mark Rosenker said.

(Below, watch analysis from CBS News' John Miller.)

In a statement Monday, the TSA said the disciplinary action "...reaffirms our strong commitment to...the safety of the traveling public..."

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., wrote a letter to TSA administrator John Pistole demanding more answers. "If necessary we'll subpoena the documents and find out who knew about what when and why it took a year, a year to take disciplinary action."

This is just the latest embarrassment for the TSA. Last year, 48 screeners in Honolulu were either fired or suspended for improperly checking bags. In Newark, 10 workers were punished, accused of stealing or sleeping on the job. Last week in San Diego, a man fresh out of jai boarded a flight to Los Angeles - without a ticket - before getting caught.

To put the incident in perspective, while 400 passengers were not screened properly during the two month period, another 3.8 million were put through the proper procedures.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.