Politics
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)  

Jay Carney defends TSA’s handling of Sen. Rand Paul, quibbles over ‘detained’

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

The White House doesn’t dispute that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was refused access to his flight Monday morning by the Transportation Security Administration. Instead, spokesman Jay Carney sought to quibble over the definition of “detain.”

“Let’s just be clear,” Carney said in his Monday press briefing. “The passenger was not detained. He was escorted out of the area by local law-enforcement.”

Carney adds that Paul has since “rebooked” his flight. Carney didn’t name Paul in his comments. He also refused to address TSA criticisms by Paul’s father, Texas Congressman and current Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, made in the wake of the incident. The issue “has resolved itself,” Carney said.

After news broke about his son being detained by TSA agents, Ron Paul told TheDC that the TSA’s detention of his son is a sign that the “police state” is “growing out of control.”

Sen. Rand Paul’s chief of staff, Doug Stafford, told The Daily Caller that TSA agents detained the senator “after their scanner had an ‘anomaly’ on the first scan.”

“He offered to go through again,” Stafford said in an email. “The TSA said he could only have a full body pat down. He would not consent to it. He offered to go through the scanner again. The situation is ongoing.”

The TSA denies charges that it “detained” Sen. Rand Paul. In a statement to TheDC, the TSA said Sen. Rand Paul “was not detained at any point” but “triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue.”

“Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area,” the TSA adds. “He was escorted out of the screening area by local law enforcement.”

“The passenger was screened by millimeter wave imaging technology using automated target recognition,” the TSA continues. “This technology uses the same generic image for all passengers to further protect passengers privacy. When an alarm occurs a yellow box indicates where an anomaly is. A targeted pat down is used to resolve the alarm.”

TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy added that “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. 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.”

Stafford thinks the TSA’s claims are bureaucratic double-speak. “Well, I don’t know what bureaucrat manuals call it, but: an innocent American citizen who was offering to cooperate while also attempting to stop an invasive search was not allowed to proceed without complying,” Stafford said in an email to TheDC.

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