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Rand Paul in TSA showdown after refusing pat down

Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., son of Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, campaigns for his father at Windham High School in Windham, N.H., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Monday found himself in a showdown with the Transportation Security Administration in Nashville, Tennessee after refusing to undergo a full-body pat down. Paul was later re-screened and booked on a subsequent flight.

The senator went through the scanner at the airport but was told there was some sort of "anomaly" with the scan and would have to get a full-body pat down, Paul's chief of staff Doug Stafford told CBS News. Paul did not consent to this and offered another scan, but the TSA insisted on the pat down.

According to the Associated Press, Paul said he was "detained" in a small cubicle in the airport, which is about an hour from his Bowling Green, Kentucky home, and missed his flight to Washington for a Senate session.


The TSA disputed the characterization that Paul was "detained." The TSA told CBS News that Paul wasn't detained at any point, though he triggered an alarm during a routine screening and refused to complete the screening process.

Passengers who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area. In this case, Paul was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement, according to the TSA.

"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," the TSA said in a statement to CBS News. "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."

Paul's father, Republican presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, quickly tweeted about the incident Monday morning: "My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville. More details coming."

Ron Paul left a similar message on Facebook, and Rand Paul's communications director Moira Bagley also tweeted the news.

Around midday, a TSA official told CBS News that Rand Paul was re-booked on another flight and re-screened without incident.

Both Rand Paul and Ron Paul are known for their libertarian policy positions, and last year, Rand Paul blasted the TSA for conducting unnecessary pat downs.

In a June 2011 hearing, Paul told TSA administrator John Pistole, "I think you ought to get rid of the random pat-downs. The American public is unhappy with them, they're unhappy with the invasiveness of them."

After reports surfaced of young children getting intense, random pat-downs, Paul said in the hearing, "It just really just shows that no one is thinking... We need to be doing better police work and doing less of the universal giving up of our freedom to live our life the way we would like to live our life."

He suggested there should be a "trusted traveler" program in which people who travel frequently and are known to be not a threat, like congressmen, don't have to be searched.

Monday afternoon, Ron Paul released a statement decrying the dispute, noting that as president, he would eliminate the TSA.

"The police state in this country is growing out of control," he said. "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."

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