Rand Paul calls for changes after pat-down standoff with TSA

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by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 23, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 23 at 11:05 PM

(WHAS11) -- Saying he was detained by the Transportation Security Administration after refusing to submit to a full body pat down at the Nashville airport, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is again calling for changes to TSA procedures.

"These are the indignities," Paul said to reporters in Nashville.  "And it's not just me.  It's not because of who I am.  Americans are going through the airport everyday being subjected to these indignities."

It's not the first time the freshman "Tea Party" Republican has taken on the TSA for treating all fliers with equal suspicion, yet it's the first time that Paul personally is at the center of the debate.

"Nobody's thinking about who could attack us or would attack us," Paul said, "It's just this mindlessness."

After an alarm went off when Paul went through a Nashville airport scanner, he then refused to allow a TSA officer to follow through on the next security procedure -- a full body pat down.

The TSA scanner identified an issue with the Senator's knee. Paul says he has no screws or medical metal in his knee and even offered to roll up his pant leg to show it to security. 

But when the TSA rejected his suggestion for another scan, Paul says he was detained in a cubicle at the airport, missing his flight and a Senate vote before he could rebook another flight and finally be allowed through security.

A White House spokesman defended the TSA today -- saying such issues need to be resolved before any passenger is allowed to proceed to the secure area of the airport.

"Let's just be clear, the passenger was not detained," said Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary.  "The passenger triggered an alarm during routine airport screening, but 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 secure gate area."

Travelers at Louisville International airport had a mixed reaction when interviewed near the security checkpoint.

"If (a full body pat down is) what it takes for me to get to where I'm going safely, I have absolutely no problem with that.
at all," said Chris Perry as he waited to board his flight to Chicago.

"I kind of agree with (Paul)," said Jessica Dorcis, "because I think that someone like him is obviously not a threat to American security."

"I think (Paul) is putting everybody in jeopardy by doing that," said Bruce Underwood, a consultant traveling from San Antonio.  "I saw those people drop some of these bombs on these planes.  So, for everybody's security I think he should submit to it and encourage other people to do it.  Quit whining you know?"

"I believe that what they do is necessary," responded Al Snow, an actor and professional wrestling agent.  "It's a hassle. It's an aggravation, but it is for our safety."

Yet Snow, who said his profession has involved extensive travel for three decades, added that the TSA is not exempt from criticism and examination.

"There are some things they do that seem a little ridiculous," Snow said. "The fact that weapons sometimes get through and then they'll pull somebody over for a belt buckle and have the police standing there with an armed guard for it."

Speaking on CNN after arriving at the U.S. Capitol, Paul reiterated his call for the TSA to alter its procedures.

"I would rather see selective risk assessments done on people who are international travel, people who have ties to groups that may be terrorists," Paul suggested.  "But the ordinary citizens don't need to be put through this, particularly frequent travelers."

The issue of pat-downs has been an important one to Paul, the son of libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Sen.  Paul brought this issue up at a hearing in 2011.

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