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TSA fires screener caught sleeping in Seattle

From Patty Davis

Twenty-three incoming flights were delayed after a baggage screener was discovered napping.
Twenty-three incoming flights were delayed after a baggage screener was discovered napping.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal airport screener who was discovered sleeping on the job at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has lost his job, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said Monday.

"This screener's behavior doesn't meet our standards of security and professionalism," TSA spokesman Robert Johnson said.

The TSA said the screener was a middle-aged man but refused to identify him further. He was at his post at a concourse exit lane when another airport employee discovered him asleep between 5:30 and 6 a.m. (8:30 and 9 a.m. EST) Sunday.

That prompted officials to evacuate several concourses and re-screen passengers. The TSA then investigated, and the man was fired Monday afternoon.

"The TSA holds its screener work force to the highest standards of security and professionalism," Johnson said, "and will continue to focus on these principles as critical elements in the ongoing effort to provide the traveling public with world-class security and world-class customer service."

The man was the first TSA screener to be fired for such an incident. There are 56,000 federal passenger and baggage screeners at the nation's airports.

Before September 11, 2001, only 5 percent of bags at commercial airports were being screened. Now, all bags are screened.

More than 90 percent are screened by expensive bomb-detection systems that use CAT scan technology or by hand-held swab devices that detect traces of explosives.

In addition, the TSA uses canine teams, hand searches and passenger-bag matching systems to screen the 2 million pieces of luggage checked on average each day.

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