Kentucky Senator Rand Paul detained by TSA at Nashville airport [Opinion: The Arena]

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Sen. Rand Paul at Nashville airport

Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul, was detained at the Nashville airport this morning by agents of the Transportation Security Agency, and it was all over the news.  Many were describing it as a show-down between a libertarian senator and the Obama police state.

He was on his way back to the nation’s capital when a scanner set off an alarm and Paul declined to allow a security officer to subsequently pat him down.  Local police escorted the senator away, but he was allowed to board a later flight. The security scanner was somehow set off by Paul’s knee, although Paul said he has no screws or medical hardware around the joint. 

Rand Paul at airport 2.jpgSenator Paul rolled up his pants leg and showed the TSA agents that he wasn’t carrying anything in his trousers, and asked for another scan.  The agents refused to allow him to go through the scanner a second time, and demanded the senator submit to a manual body search.  Sen. Paul refused.  "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 told the Bowling Green Daily News that he was "detained" in a small cubicle and couldn't make his flight to Washington for a Senate vote scheduled later in the day.  Paul said the situation reflects his long-standing concern that the TSA shouldn't be "spending so much time with people who wouldn't attack us."

Paul went through a millimeter wave machine that uses a generic outline of a body for all passengers, according to a TSA official who spoke to the Bowling Green Daily News on condition of anonymity to discuss agency screening procedures. When an alarm goes off, TSA officers target the area of the body that triggered the alarm and pat down the passenger.

After refusing the pat-down on the grounds that it was an infringement on his rights and “private property,” the senator was ordered by a TSA official 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.  As a result, Sen. Paul missed his scheduled flight to Washington for a Senate session.  He was also due to speak at the March for Life later Monday in DC.  The TSA said Paul was allowed to board another flight after a different screening.  The second screening did not trigger an alarm.

The U.S. Constitution is pretty clear about protecting federal lawmakers from detention while they’re on the way to the capital.  “The Senators and Representatives…shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same….” according to Article I, Section 6.  Because of this, the TSA and the Obama Administration are adamant in insisting that the senator was not “detained.”

In a telephone interview with The Daily Caller, Sen. Paul said that being “detained” by the Transportation Security Administration at the Nashville airport Monday was a major ordeal that underscores flaws in TSA’s procedures that affect tens of millions of passengers every year.  “It was a big headache.  I missed my speech here. I was supposed to speak to the Right to Life March, probably the biggest audience I’ll get to speak to, and I missed it.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney denied Monday that TSA agents had “detained” the Kentucky senator.  "I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe," said Carney.  “Let’s be clear,” Carney said. “The passenger was not detained. He was escorted out of the area by local law-enforcement.”

But Sen. Paul told The Daily Caller that he certainly felt like he was detained. “If you’re told you can’t leave, does that count as detention?” Paul asked.  “I tried to leave the cubicle to speak to one of the TSA people and I was barked at: ‘Do not leave the cubicle!’ So, that, to me sounds like I’m being asked not to leave the cubicle. It sounds a little bit like I’m being detained.”

Ron-and-Rand.jpgRepublican presidential candidate Ron Paul issued the following statement on his campaign website this afternoon, following his son Rand’s treatment at the hands of the TSA in Nashville:

“The police state in this country is growing out of control.  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.  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.

“We must restore the freedom and respect for liberty that once made American the greatest nation in human history.  I am deeply committed to doing that as President of the United States.”

The website also posted a picture of Senator Rand Paul talking to reporters following the incident with the TSA:

Rand Paul at airport.jpg

 

Learn more:  Free Rand Paul facebook page

ABC News reports:

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).

PS Rand Paul.jpg

 

 

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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