Rand Paul detained for refusing TSA pat-down

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was detained Monday morning by the Transportation Security Administration. 

The incident was reported by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the senator's father, on his Twitter stream. TSA later confirmed the incident, saying Paul had been escorted from a security area for refusing a pat-down. 

Rep. Paul said his son, who was elected to the Senate in 2010, refused to take a pat-down from TSA officials at the Nashville International Airport, which led to his detainment.

"My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville," Rep. Paul, a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, said in a message to his 205,000 followers on his congressional Twitter page.

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Sen. Paul's communications director, Moira Bagley, also mentioned the incident on Twitter.

"Just got a call from @senrandpaul," Bagley said on her page before Rep. Paul's office sent his message. "He's currently being detained by TSA in Nashville."

TSA said Sen. Paul was treated like every other passenger it processes.

"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 agency said Monday in a written 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."

U.S. security officials denied that Sen. Paul was detained by the agency for refusing to be patted down. Instead, they said, the senator was escorted out of the security area after his refusal.

White House press secretary Jay Carney defended TSA, saying it is "absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe."

Both Pauls have been vocal critics of the TSA, calling for the controversial agency to be disbanded.

"This kind of gets back to this whole idea of what we are willing to ... give up as a country," Sen. Paul said of pat-downs last summer during a hearing in which TSA Administrator John Pistole appeared before lawmakers.

"The press reports are horrifying," Rep. Paul also said last summer, during one of his weekly "Texas Straight Talk" audio addresses.

"Ninety-five-year-old women humiliated, children molested, disabled people abused," he continued. "Men and women subjected to unwarranted groping and touching of their most private areas, and involuntary radiation exposure.

"[I]f the perpetrators were a gang of criminals, their headquarters would be raided by SWAT teams and armed federal agents," said Rep. Paul.

"Unfortunately, in this case, the perpetrators are armed federal agents," he added.

Sen. Paul's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

—This story was posted at 10:37 a.m. and updated at 1:51 p.m.