Rand Paul blocked at airport after refusing TSA pat-down

Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican and son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, was blocked at Nashville airport Monday after refusing a TSA pat-down, his spokeswoman said.

"Just got a call from @SenRandPaul," his spokeswoman, Moira Bagley, wrote on Twitter Monday. "He's currently being detained by TSA in Nashville."

In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Paul said that the incident occurred after an alarm went off when he passed through a scanner at Nashville Airport Monday. Paul said the alarm had apparently been triggered by his knee, though "the senator said he has no screws or medical hardware around the joint," the AP said.

TSA agents refused his request to walk through the scanner again to reconcile the anomaly, and he refused their demand for a pat-down, Paul said.

The Kentucky Senator said that "he asked for another scan but refused to submit to a pat down by airport security," the AP reported. Paul "said he was 'detained' at a small cubicle and couldn't make his flight to Washington for a Senate vote scheduled later in the day."

TSA officials disputed however that Paul was "detained," but said rather the Senator was "escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement," ABC News reported.

"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," TSA said in a statement on the incident, according to ABC.

Paul was later "allowed to board another flight after a different screening," the AP report said, citing TSA sources.

At an impromptu news conference at the airport, "Paul told reporters....that he had no idea why his knee raised concerns with TSA," the AP reported.

"It was just a problem with their machine," Paul said. "But this is getting more frequent, and because everybody has to have a pat down it's a problem."

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul joined his son's Senate staffers alerting the news media to the incident, writing on his Facebook page Monday: "Senator Paul is being detained at the Nashville Airport by the TSA...We will update you as the situation develops."

Sen. Paul, a libertarian Republican, has been a vocal critic of TSA, charging that the agency has gone overboard with overly intrusive screening procedures.

"You've gone overboard and you're missing the boat on terrorism because you're doing these invasive searches on six-year-old girls," Sen. Paul said at a Senate hearing last summer, according to MSNBC. "I think you oughta get rid of the random pat-downs. The American public is unhappy with them. They're unhappy with the invasiveness of them."

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