Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s press secretary Moira Bagley tweeted on Monday that Transportation Security Administration officials were detaining her boss in Nashville, Tenn.
“Just got a call from @senrandpaul,” Bagley tweeted at about 10 a.m. on Monday. “He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville.”
Texas Congressman and current Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul – Sen. Rand Paul’s father – placed a post on Facebook about the news as well. “My son Rand is currently being detained by the TSA at the Nashville Airport,” Ron Paul posted. “I’ll share more details as the situation unfolds.”
Ron Paul adds, via Twitter, that the TSA detained his son “for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner.”
Sen. Rand Paul’s Facebook page has a post about the incident too. “Senator Paul is being detained at the Nashville Airport by the TSA,” Sen. Rand Paul’s Facebook post reads. “We will update you as the situation develops.”
Sen. Rand Paul’s chief of staff Doug Stafford told The Daily Caller the Senator “was detained by the TSA after their scanner had an ‘anomaly’ on the first scan.”
“He offered to go through again,” Stafford said in an email. “The TSA said he could only have a full body pat down. He would not consent to it. He offered to go through the scanner again. The situation is ongoing.”
“I think you ought to get rid of the random pat-downs,” Sen. Rand Paul said in June 2011. “The American public is unhappy with them, they’re unhappy with the invasiveness of them.”
Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, have not returned requests for comment.
UPDATE 11:35 a.m.:
The TSA says Sen. Rand Paul “was not detained at any point” but “triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue.”
“Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area,” the TSA adds. “He was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement.”
“The passenger was screened by millimeter wave imaging technology using automated target recognition,” the TSA continues. “This technology uses the same generic image for all passengers to further protect passengers privacy. When an alarm occurs a yellow box indicates where an anomaly is. A targeted pat down is used to resolve the alarm.”
TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy told The Daily Caller that “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. 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.”
UPDATE 12:10 p.m.
Sen. Rand Paul’s chief of staff Doug Stafford responded to the TSA’s claim that the senator was “not detained at any point. “Well, I don’t know what bureaucrat manuals call it, but: an innocent American citizen who was offering to cooperate while also attempting to stop an invasive search was not allowed to proceed without complying,” Stafford said in an email to TheDC.
The U.S. Constitution actually protects 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.
The Senate is back in session today at 2 p.m., with votes scheduled at 4:30 p.m. It is not clear if Paul will make it to Washington by 4:30 p.m. on his new flight.