Security camera video provides some visual proof of what exactly happened when Rand Paul clashed with TSA agents in Nashville airport Monday, but bloggers and journalists still can't agree on whether or not he was detained.
The Kentucky senator and son of presidential candidate Ron Paul missed a flight to D.C. when he set off an alarm with a routine security check and refused a pat-down. His communications manager told reporters Paul had called her to tell her he was detained indefinitely, but the agency denies doing so. The debacle drew outcry from his father, who spread the news on Twitter and started an End the TSA fundraising campaign.
I tried to leave the cubicle to speak to one of the TSA people and I was barked at: 'Do not leave the cubicle!' Rand told reporters, according to The Atlantic. So, that, to me sounds like I'm being asked not to leave the cubicle. It sounds a little bit like I'm being detained.
The Tennessean obtained the footage, which shows Paul sitting in a chair and talking on the phone in an area cordoned by glass walls at around 7 in the morning, local time. Three officials--one in a blue security uniform--talk to each other. The video, however, only shows one minute of the alleged hour in which the TSA prevented him from entering the terminal. He reportedly booked a later flight and got on that plane shortly afterwards.
Gawker's Max Read said he believes the video proves the Republican was totally full of sh-t when he called his spokesperson.
I got a lot of mail, some of it syntactically and orthographically correct, disputing my account of Rand Paul's full-of-sh-tness by referring to the dictionary definition of the word 'detained.' Here is my feeling: when your argument centers around 'the dictionary definition' of anything and involves the adverb 'technically,' you are full of sh-t. When you tell someone you are being 'detained by the TSA,' you don't mean 'sitting in a chair while they decide what to do.'
Atlantic's Dino Grandoni sided with Read. Because there's no audio, we have no way of knowing what was said, he wrote. And while we can disagree on whether what happened to Paul constitutes 'detainment,' the way Paul was treated (not a finger laid on him) doesn't quite illustrate the harshness that word usually suggests.
A number of commenters ran to Rand's defense. One person wrote in response to Read's blog post: 'Detained' is a legal term that very much applies to this situation. It does not matter that he is not in handcuffs or behind bars; when a peace officer restricts your freedom to vacate an area through verbal instruction (the consequence of disobedience being immediate arrest for disorderly conduct), you are detained.
One thing most people do agree on, however, is that Paul's behavior contradicted police reports that he was acting irate. The Tennessean, Politico, and Atlantic all observed that he appears quite calm during the recorded minute.
Obviously this minute doesn't show us everything about one hour; we're not seeing the full context; and so on. But with those caveats, it's worth watching Paul's demeanor, wrote the Atlantic's James Fallows.