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Sen. Rand Paul Suspects He Was Randomly Picked For Pat-Down

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at the Nashville airport earlier today, talking about his delay at security.
Erik Schelzig
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at the Nashville airport earlier today, talking about his delay at security.

The news that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was stopped by Transportation Security Administration screeners this morning at the Nashville airport and delayed for about an hour is whipping around the Web.

He is, after all, not only a senator but also the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), one of the Republican presidential contenders.

According to Sen. Paul, after a scanner alarm went off he was asked by a TSA screener to step aside for a pat-down. The senator declined because he felt that would be intrusive and unnecessary. He asked instead, Paul just told CNN, to be allowed to go back through the machine. But he was told by TSA staffers that they couldn't allow him to do that.

It took a while to sort things out. The senator missed his flight. Eventually, he was rebooked on another and went back through security — this time walking through a screening machine with no problem. The alarm did not go off.

Which means to him, Sen. Paul told CNN, that the first alarm was likely "part of a random process." In other words, he said, sometimes alarms are set off when they don't need to be as part of TSA's effort to be unpredictable. And that, the senator said, doesn't make him feel any safer.

As for TSA, it has sent reporters messages saying that "this passenger was rebooked on another flight and completed screening without incident."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.