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Rand Paul 'detained' by TSA. Does that happen to other senators?

TSA could hardly have singled out a worse person for pat-down treatment than Sen. Rand Paul, up-and-coming libertarian standard-bearer and son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul. He's not the only one on Capitol Hill to complain about pat-downs.

By Staff writer / January 23, 2012

Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, speaks about being detained by the TSA at the airport in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday.

Erik Schelzig/AP

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Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky was detained by the Transportation Security Administration Monday at the Nashville airport, in case you haven’t heard. A millimeter wave scanner detected an “anomaly” in the area of his knee, according to Senator Paul, and TSA agents then said he’d have to undergo a full-body pat-down. Paul said he wouldn’t submit to such a search and offered to show agents his knee, instead. They said that wouldn’t suffice.

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This stand-off apparently escalated to the point where Paul was cornered in a cubicle for a bit – that’s where the “detained” allegations come in.

Eventually the TSA allowed Paul to board another flight for Washington. The second time through, the scanner didn’t see anything in the vicinity of the senatorial kneecap, apparently. This has led Paul to believe that the scanner never saw an “anomaly” at all, and that it is set to go off randomly so as to pick out unwitting travelers for extra-close inspection.

“Two people from the TSA told me there are random bells and whistles that go off,” said Paul Monday afternoon during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”

TSA officials confirmed such an incident occurred Monday, but declined to identify the passenger involved as Paul, citing privacy concerns. White House spokesman Jay Carney took a similar approach, and then defended TSA actions.

“Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area,” Mr. Carney said. “I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe, and I believe that is what TSA is tasked with doing.”

Hmm. Well, we’ve got a few points to make here. The first, and obvious, one is that the TSA could hardly have singled out a worse person for pat-down treatment. Rand Paul is an up-and-coming libertarian stalwart, the son of presidential contender Ron Paul, and he’s not going to go quietly off after this and buy magazines in the gift shop. He’s going to do what he did: go on CNN and accuse TSA of not protecting America.

“I don’t feel more safe [because of TSA protection],” Paul told Mr. Blitzer.

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