The worst part of this is Jay Carney’s vaguely creepy insistence on using bureaucracy lingo in referring to Paul throughout as “the passenger.” That’s actually a nifty reflection of TSA’s philosophy of treating fliers equally badly so long as they’re treated equally. We’re all random passengers, none of us any more or less a security risk than anyone else. If someone flying in from Saudi Arabia has to submit to a patdown because he set off the scanner, than darn it, a U.S. senator on his way to speak at a rally on the Mall has to submit too. (The perfect cover story for a hijacking plot.) One of these days Janet Napolitano is going to get detained in a TSA snafu and then at last we’ll have achieved the perfect security-theater clusterfark.

Contrary to Carney’s talking points, Paul says he was in fact detained:

“If you’re told you can’t leave, does that count as detention?” Paul asked.

“I tried to leave the cubicle to speak to one of the TSA people and I was barked at: ‘Do not leave the cubicle!’ So, that, to me sounds like I’m being asked not to leave the cubicle. It sounds a little bit like I’m being detained.”…

“But, they’re wasting time, I think, by doing this. Instead of targeting people who meet a risk profile for terrorism, what they’re doing is they’re just doing these random things. But, I think it’s a waste of time and it’s insulting to put people through a body pat down when they have not shown any risk.”

He offered to go back through the scanner to prove that the “anomaly” that showed up the first time wasn’t really there, which TSA finally agreed to — after two hours of arguing. Ah well: If you support creating a “trusted traveler” program, this screw-up is the best PR you’ll ever have short of, say, Oprah getting arrested for trying to carry shampoo on in an overhead bag. (I know, I know, Oprah doesn’t fly commercial.) Exit question: Is detaining Rand Paul while on his way to Washington unconstitutional?

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