Senator misses flight to Washington after refusing to be groped by federal agents
January 23, 2012
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was briefly detained this morning after a standoff incident with TSA officers In Nashville.
In a telephone interview with AP , Rand Paul confirmed that an “anomaly” on his knee was picked up by a full body scanner. Paul said he asked for another scan, but the TSA insisted he submit to a pat down by airport security.
After refusing the pat-down on the grounds that it was an infringement on his rights and “private property”, Paul said he was then “detained” in a small cubicle and consequently missed a flight to Washington for a Senate session. Paul was also due to speak at the March for Life later today in DC.
Paul also said that the incident highlights how the TSA should not be “spending so much time with people who wouldn’t attack us.”
The Senator expressed confusion over why his knee would set off an alarm on the body scanner, adding that he rolled up his trouser leg, showing his knee to the security agents. Paul also confirmed that he does not have any metal plates or screws in his knee joint.
“There is no problem. It was just a problem with their machine. But this is getting more frequent, and because everybody has to have a pat down it’s a problem,” Paul said.
The Senator also told reporters that when he was in Denver earlier this week, a similar alarm went off, however, TSA agents had allowed Paul to walk back through the screener a second time, negating the need for a pat down.
Paul added that he did not expect to be treated any different to everyday Americans by the TSA just because he is a Senator. “I think we need to treat everybody with dignity.” Paul said.
Paul’s office elaborated on the incident, explaining that a TSA official told the senator to wait in the security area without giving an indication of when he would be allowed to leave. Security then escorted him out of the area but let him remain in the airport.
Reports suggest that TSA officials and law enforcement officials have told the media that Paul was not officially detained.
An anonymous TSA official told the AP that Paul “refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue.”
“Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area. He was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement.” the official added.
The TSA official also confirmed that Paul was allowed to board another flight to Washington after passing through a separate screening.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The story broke when Paul’s communications director tweeted that the Senator was asked to walk through a full body scanner and set off an alarm “on a glitch”.
The Paul staffer wrote  “Just got a call from @senrandpaul. He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”
“I spoke with him five minutes ago and he was being detained indefinitely,” Paul staffer Moira Bagley elaborated Monday morning. “The image scan went off, he refused patdown.”
Ms. Bagley said that Paul’s office had been in contact with TSA head John Pistole regarding the incident.
Paul’s father, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul also tweeted out news of the incident, saying that there had been an “anomaly” with a body scanner.
“My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville.” the tweet stated.
Indeed, Ron Paul has had run ins with the TSA in the past specifically regarding his knees. In a 2010 interview the Congressman told Alex Jones that he is subjected to pat downs “all the time because I have metal in my knees… it is disgusting and I tell them so.”
Rand Paul and his father have been ardent critics of the TSA and the heavy handed security tactics the agency employs within the nations airports and beyond.
During a congressional hearing last year, Rand Paul tore into the TSA, exclaiming “You’ve gone overboard and you’re missing the boat on terrorism because you’re doing these invasive searches on six-year-old girls.”
“I think you oughta get rid of the random pat-downs. The American public is unhappy with them. They’re unhappy with the invasiveness of them.” Paul said following an incident in his State where a young girl became distressed after being forced to undergo a pat-down.
The incident became a national story when it was captured on video by the girl’s parents.