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TSA Screener Arrested: Who's Watching Our Airports?

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The arrest of Nna Alpha Onuoha, a former TSA screener prompted a conversation in our Fox 11 newsroom: Who gets to wear the TSA uniform, who's checking our luggage, who's examining the security scan of passengers. Some might say the screening of the screeners isn't stringent enough. And, even the U.S. Government Accountability Office testified before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives and came to the conclusion that TSA could improve its oversight of allegations of misconduct.

That same report states there'd been about 9600 allegations of misconduct in 2010 to 2012, everything from drug smuggling to lap top thefts. Those are the most egregious cases of misconduct, but what about those news stories that may or may not constitute misconduct, but they did nothing to endear the TSA to the traveling public.  Remember the case of the four year old girl in Kansas?  She was screaming and scared when TSA insisted she needed to be pat down or they'd shut down the airport. There was a 95-year- old cancer stricken traveler who claimed, the TSA patted her down and forcibly removed her adult diaper. 

So who are these government employees? According to the website https://www.usajobs.gov/ those considered for a TSA jobs must be a high school graduate, have a GED or at least one year of full time work in security, aviation screening or as an x-ray technician.  There are also background, credit and criminal checks as well as pass medical and drug screenings.  FYI there's no mental health screening unless you're position requires you to carry a gun,  such as the air marshalls. Meantime, Nico Melendez, the TSA spokesperson at LAX tells me that half of TSA employees have held their positions at least 10 years.  And, if you're former military, as long as you have your honorable discharge papers, you're application will go to the top of the stack. 

Melendez also told me that Onuoha had been working with TSA since 2006 and if there had been any sign that he couldn't do his job properly, he would have been dealt with before he came to the public's attention when he was arrested Tuesday.

(FOX 11 / CNS) A former Transportation Security Administration screener suspected of making threats to terminals at Los Angeles International Airport was in custody today following his arrest in Riverside, authorities said.

Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, of Inglewood was arrested just before midnight Tuesday by members of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force with assistance from the Riverside Police Department, said Los Angeles-based FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

Onuoha Tuesday resigned from the TSA, which had employed him since 2006, Eimiller said, adding without elaboration that he had recently been suspended from his job.

After he resigned, Onuoha allegedly left a package at the TSA's LAX headquarters addressed to an agency employee, Eimiller said in a statement issued early this morning.

A Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad determined the package was harmless, but it did contain an eight-page letter in which Onuoha wrote about the incident that led to his suspension and expressed "his disdain for the United States,'' she said.

"Later in the day, a male believed to be Onuoha telephonically contacted the TSA, instructing an employee to 'begin evacuating certain terminals at the airport,''' Eimiller said. "The caller told the employee that he would 'be watching' to see if TSA was evacuating the terminals as he
instructed.''

Another call was received by the TSA, again believed to have been from Onuoha, saying that specific LAX terminals should be evacuated, she said. "The terminals in question were cleared by law enforcement personnel and no threat to the airport was found,'' Eimiller said.

Members of the JTTF then went to Onuoha's apartment, which they found empty except for a note taped inside a closet "containing an unspecified threat citing the 9/11/13 anniversary,'' she said.

Onuoha was later arrested and was being held on suspicion of making threats, pending further investigation, Eimiller said. Why he went to Riverside was not immediately clear.

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