[credit provider=”Greg Skidmore, en.wikipedia.org” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rand_Paul_in_Louisville_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpg”]
On the list of stupid things the Transportation Security Administration could do for their public image: detaining Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the politician most anxious to abolish them, is probably right near the top. But that’s exactly what just happened, his Communications Director, Moira Bagley has confirmed it in a tweet.
Kelly O’Donnell is reporting that aides say Paul was detained when he refused a full-body pat-down, after the scanner went off. Paul lifted his pant-leg to show he had no metal, and asked to be re-screened. He was denied this request.
O’Donnell further reports that U.S. officials say that they didn’t ‘detain’ him, though that is the word Paul’s office is using.
Bagley has now told Politico, “I spoke with him five minutes ago and he was being detained indefinitely… The image scan went off, he refused patdown.”
UPDATE: 11:33 AM: CNN’s Dana Bash is reports a response from the TSA, saying Paul walked away willing.
“When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport,” TSA spokesman Greg Soule said. “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others travelling.”
A TSA official said Paul was “not detained” and left the checkpoint willingly. The official was not authorised to speak for attribution.
I think we can safely say that the liberty-loving Senator may not have been a threat to board the aeroplane but he is likely to be a threat to the TSA from now on.
Paul was scheduled to speak to the March for Life today in Washington D.C., an annual rally by anti-abortion rights activists held on the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling Roe w. Wade. It looks like that won’t happen.
Update 12:59 pPM : The TSA now says that Senator Paul was never detained. Instead, the agency says he “triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and 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.”
Further, the TSA said in a statement, “The passenger was screened by millimetre wave imaging technology using automated target recognition. This technology uses the same generic image for all passengers to further protect passengers privacy. When an alarm occurs a yellow box indicates where an anomaly is. A targeted pat down is used to resolve the alarm.”
UPDATE: 1:50 PM: Paul has arrived in DC, having caught another flight. (Via Evan Mcmorris-Santoro on Twitter_
Here is a video of Rand Paul speaking against full-body searches by the TSA at a meeting of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in June of last year.
and from his father, Ron Paul, on Twitter.
Rand Paul’s Facebook post reads. “We will update you as the situation develops.”