Editor’s note: to watch Rand Paul tell his story, read our follow-up story here.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was detained at the Nashville airport, according to his Facebook page. Reports say he was in a “standoff” over an incident involving a full body scanner and a subsequent request for a patdown. Paul reportedly refused the latter, and now TSA denies he was officially detained, but rather stopped.
The Facebook message appeared around 10 am ET:
ABC News has more:
@moirabagley, the Twitter account associated with Paul staffer Moira Bagley tweeted around 10 a.m., ET, “Just got a call from @senrandpaul. He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”
A spokesman for TSA said the agency was looking into the matter but could not immediately comment.
Paul apparently set off an airport security full-body scanner, “on a glitch,” a spokesman in Paul’s office told ABC News.
The Paul staffer said TSA agents would not let Paul walk back through the body scanner they were demanding, according to the staffer, a full body pat-down.
The senator’s chief of staff, Doug Stafford, told the Daily Caller that Paul refused to get the full-body patdown after TSA would not let him walk through the scanner again.
“I spoke with him five minutes ago and he was being detained indefinitely,” Bagley told Politico Monday morning. “The image scan went off, he refused patdown.”
Ron Paul, the senator’s father who is running for president, acknowledged the story on his Twitter account:
Ron Paul later released a statement lamenting the “police state:”
“The police state in this country is growing out of control,” the elder Paul said in a statement released by his presidential campaign.
“One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities,” he continued. “The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe. “That is why my ‘Plan to Restore America,’ in additional to cutting $1 trillion dollars in federal spending in one year, eliminates the TSA.”
Rand Paul has long been an outspoken critic of the TSA and its procedures. Earlier this year, ABC notes, Paul brought up the issue in a hearing:
TSA has responded and is denying that Paul was “detained,” but rather eventually left the screening area willingly:
“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 traveling.”
When asked about the incident this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended the agency: “I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe.”
According to Nashville’s WTVF-TV, the scanner detected something in Paul’s lower pant leg. He apparently tried to show he had nothing under the fabric and requested a rescan. TSA, however, wanted to do a full-body patdown, and Paul’s refusal led to the “standoff.”
Paul eventually booked another flight and made it through security without incident.
“There is no problem,” Paul told the Associated Press. “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.”
By the way, Rand Paul will be joining the Glenn Beck radio program on Tuesday at 11 am ET.
(H/T: Simon Conway of WHO-RADIO in Des Moines, IA)