By The Raleigh Telegram
NASHVILLE – According to statements on a radio show on Monday afternoon, US Senator Rand Paul said he was “detained” by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the Nashville airport as he was going through the security checkpoints to board an airplane earlier that morning. Senator Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky and is the son of US Presidential candidate Ron Paul.
In an interview on the Sean Hannity Show on national radio on Monday afternoon, Paul said he was told to go to a back room after a beep went off at the airport screener. Paul said that when he used his mobile phone to call his staff to tell them he would be late, a TSA official told him that he would have to undergo a full body patdown. Paul said he was “detained” because he was told he could not leave the room.
Paul acknowledged in the interview that he refused the full body patdown and was eventually escorted out of the airport by security. Under current flight safety rules, passengers are required to pass through an x-ray imaging screener to search for weapons or contraband or undergo a full body pat-down search by a TSA official before boarding an airplane. If an imaging device sounds a warning, travelers are required to undergo additional scrutiny.
In the interview, Paul said that he has been told by unidentified officials that the “beeps” that are emitted by the screening machines are often “random” and that they do not necessarily indicate that the machine has picked up anything on the screen.
“All of the beeps do not have something to do with a scan…random checks are not helping national security,” said Paul. “You ought to be able to go back through the screener.”
Radio host Sean Hannity commented in the interview that he had undergone pat downs during his travels and although it was “like I’m at the doctor,” he put up with it so that he could move on and board the airplane.
However, Paul commented that he felt as a result of these types of security measures, the American public is being “bullied into submission.”
During the interview, Senator Paul said that the public should not have to give up freedom for security, but then advocated for doing background checks on fliers, especially foreign students who are in the United States on a student visa and mentioned that some of the 9/11 hijackers gained entry to the country using student visas.
In his interview on the Hannity radio show, Senator Rand Paul said that he did not have any problems with the individual TSA workers at the airports, saying that he did not blame them for the incident and that he had a good relationship with those at the Reagan National Airport in Washington DC where he frequently flies. However, he said that he felt the workers were compelled to follow inflexible policies that were set in Washington.
“It’s really the national folks who set the policy,” he said.
In a statement issued to the press, Rand Paul’s father Congressman Ron Paul, said that if he were elected President, he would eliminate the TSA entirely.
“The police state in this country is growing out of control,” said Paul in a statement. ”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.”
The TSA did not post a statement on their website that could be located, but did issue a press statement to The Washington Post about the incident, and denied that Paul was detained.
“[Senator Rand Paul] refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue,” the TSA said in their statement. “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.”
The TSA has come under fire in recent months for claims made against by fliers that they strip-searched an elderly woman and allowed cupcakes to go through one airport, but then seized them at another airport since they were a security risk.
However, the TSA has also made some high profile successful seizures of dangerous items recently as well including an incident where the TSA says that high explosives were found in a Fort Bragg soldier’s luggage as he attempted to board an airplane. ::
Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012