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.
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That said, TSA has a problem with lawmakers in general. Senators and Congress members fly a lot, and they see the glitches in the system up close. Look at it this way: If you ran a restaurant, and you had a customer who had three meals a day there, 100 days a year, that customer is eventually going to find a fly in his eggplant gratin, or some other problem. Law of averages, and all that.Skip to next paragraph
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The personal experience horror story is kind of a staple of TSA congressional hearings. In that sense, Paul is not alone. Last November, at an oversight hearing conducted by the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri complained bitterly to TSA chief John Pistole about her airport treatment. Senator McCaskill has an artificial joint, which sets off alarms and gets her lots of pat-downs.
There’s one female agent in particular at the St. Louis airport that McCaskill dreads.
“If I see her coming, I like just tense up because I know it’s going to be ugly in terms of the way she conducts her pat-downs,” McCaskill told Mr. Pistole.
At the same hearing, Sen. John Boozman (R) of Arkansas complained about an old family friend, an elderly doctor, who was subject to what he perceived to be extremely invasive treatment that threatened to exacerbate an illness. [Editor's note: The original version misstated Senator Boozman's home state.]
“I think it actually did jeopardize him, mentally and physically,” said Senator Boozman.
Full-body imaging and pat-downs have been the drill at US airports since 2010. They are unpopular with the public, as well as with lawmakers. In an effort to defend the need for such procedures, the TSA notes that it catches four to five guns a day at checkpoints in US airports. Occasionally it catches artfully concealed weapons, too. On Jan. 14, TSA agents at the Lynchburg, Va., airport discovered a dagger disguised as a hairbrush, according to a TSA press release. Its blade was ceramic, which wouldn’t have shown up on a metal detector.
“Ceramic blades are more difficult to detect than metallic blades, and just as sharp and dangerous,” said the TSA release.