Man abused by TSA, jailed by cops; TSA agent lies under oath

This incident happened two years ago, but we’re only just finding out about it because the case recently got thrown out of court. It’s yet another instance of abuse perpetrated by both the TSA and the police against an innocent man.

Roger Vanderklok, 57, is an architect based in Philadelphia and a frequent flier. Because he runs half-marathons, he flies twice a month to different races around the country. So he’s well acquainted with the TSA drill.

But on January 26, 2013, he ran into something a little different, most notably in the form of a TSA supervisor named Charles Kieser. Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky tells us what happened:

In his carry-on bag was a packet of PowerBars and a heart-monitoring watch. When the bag went through the X-ray scanner, the items looked suspicious to a TSA agent whom Kieser supervises.

For the next 30 minutes, screeners checked the bag several times. Vanderklok told them that a tube-shaped case in the bag contained his watch. Then he was asked if his bag contained “organic matter.” Vanderklok said no, as he thought “organic matter” meant fruits or vegetables

But o woe was Vanderklok! For he was transporting the dreaded PowerBars, “which contain milk, grain, and sugar, are considered ‘organic matter.’”


He was made to pay:

Once the items were deemed harmless, Vanderklok says, he told Kieser that if someone had only told him what “organic matter” meant, he could have saved everyone a lot of trouble. Kieser then became confrontational. Vanderklok says he calmly asked to file a complaint. He then waited while someone was supposedly retrieving the proper form.

Instead, Kieser summoned the Philadelphia Police. Vanderklok was taken to an airport holding cell, and his personal belongings—including his phone—were confiscated while police “investigated” him.

Gee, ya think the crack investigative team found out he was a 57-year-old architect from Philadelphia who regularly ran half-marathons? I mean, the authorities in this country only have access to god-knows-how-many databases stuffed with information on all of us. Did they discover Vanderklok presented no threat of any kind to anyone whatsoever?

Of course not. So they detained him in the airport holding cell for three hours, then took him—handcuffed—to the local precinct and locked him up. Why? Because they can.

He says that no one—neither the police officers at the airport nor the detectives at the 18th—told him why he was there. He didn’t find out until he was arraigned at 2 a.m. that he was being charged with “threatening the placement of a bomb” and making “terroristic threats.”

Whoa! Where did this suddenly come from? It’s a far cry from PowerBars to bombs and “terroristic threats.” (Then again, let us not forget the dangers of terrorist toothpaste.)

Turns out the TSA agent in charge, Charles Kieser, lied to the cops. (He later also lied under oath in court, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

Vanderklok’s wife, having no idea what had happened to her husband, spent the day frantically calling everywhere she could trying to find out where he was. She finally did, in the wee hours of the morning, when she had to put up 10% of a $40,000 bail to spring him from jail.

Read the whole article to get the rest of the story. And remember that name—Charles Kieser, who, as far as we know, still works for the TSA. Wonder how many other people he gets away with abusing? And why isn’t he being charged with a crime? He lied under oath.

The fact that this story is only coming to light two years after it happened yet again proves what I’ve written so many times before: we have no way of knowing the full scope of TSA abuse. It’s impossible. No one person can keep up with all the stories, and most of those stories never even get told publicly. Most are relayed only to family and friends. The thousands we do find out about are, perforce, only a fraction of what’s out there.

By the way, it doesn’t sound like Vanderklok was even given the legally required phone call:

“I was scared to death. I have never been arrested in my life, never had handcuffs put on,” he says. “Throughout the night, I was in a dark place; no one knew where I was. I thought, ‘I could fall off the face of the earth right now, and no one would know it.’”

We’ve seen many cases where the local cops, who should know better, side with the TSA against us, the citizens they’re supposed to be protecting. They’ve harassed, handcuffed, bullied, beaten, arrested, jailed, even Tasered passengers.

Vanderklok is now pursuing a civil case against the TSA, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. He’s not the first to file such a suit. I hope in the settlement that’s surely coming that they all have to pay through the nose.

Then again, it’s we the taxpayers who end up paying through the nose. For the incompetence, negligence, and outright criminality of the authoritarians in charge. Since 9/11, where it’s all Terrorism! all the time, anything goes.

Wonder how Blogger Bob will spin this one?

Lisa Simeone is a writer, editor, political activist, Glamour Girl, and radio host. She is the editor of TSA News, where this originally appeared.

2 Responses to Man abused by TSA, jailed by cops; TSA agent lies under oath

  1. This is state terrorism against its own population. Tommy Rimes

    • Tommy, bingo! But I’ve been writing about this issue for over 6 years, and I can tell you most Americans don’t give a damn. They’re content to let their rights and bodies be violated — that is, they’re content to let OTHER people’s rights and bodies be violated. The sentiment is that it’s okay as long as it happens to somebody else. “Just get me to my flight on time!”

      I am long past sympathy. To say that I have a powerful reserve of schadenfreude stored up is an understatement.