The White House is defending the Transportation Security Administration after a standoff with Sen. Rand Paul Monday morning and comments made by his father, presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul.
The Kentucky senator apparently walked through a security scanner at the Nashville, Tenn., airport when an unidentified issue arose. He refused a fullbody pat-down and was denied access to the secure gate area. Reports began circulating on the Web and on Twitter that Paul had been detained by the TSA.
Paul and his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, are both critics of the TSA and have strongly voiced their opinions about what they deem is misuse of government power. In a statement on Monday, Ron Paul called the TSA a police state after learning his son was reportedly detained by the TSA.
I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe, said White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday, according to The Hill. He did not have a response to the police state comments. However, Carney added that any passenger who refuses to comply with security procedures is denied access to the secure gate area, even if the passenger is a seated senator.
My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full-body pat-down after anomaly in body, said Ron Paul on Twitter. Others also took to Twitter, retweeting his message and sharing their thoughts on the situation.
Later, his office issued an official statement on the incident.
The police state in this country is growing out of control. 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, said Ron Paul in a statement. The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe.
Ron Paul has been an outspoken critic of the TSA. In 2010, he introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act as a response to what he deemed invasive pat-downs and potentially dangerous X-Ray screening procedures by TSA agents. However, the bill never became a law.
We must restore the freedom and respect for liberty that once made America the greatest nation in human history, according to a statement from Ron Paul's office. I am deeply committed to doing that as President of the United States.
Rand Paul also has attacked the TSA in the past. Last year, he questioned TSA Administrator John Pistole on procedures and protocol after a 6-year-old girl from Paul's hometown was patted down.
The TSA also released a statement over the incident. According to the TSA, Senator Paul triggered an alarm during a routine screening. They say he refused to complete the screening process that ensures he was not carrying any hazardous material. The TSA denied claims that Paul was formally detained.
I spoke with him five minutes ago and he was being detained indefinitely, Ron Paul spokesperson Moira Bagley said, according to Politico. The image scan went off; he refused patdown.
Paul was denied access to the secure gate area. He was then escorted out of the security area. However, just before, the TSA announced that Rand Paul was booked on another flight and went through the screening process again without any further incident.
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, TSA officials said in a statement. 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.