Prepare to be even more frustrated by this than you are by airport security.

Vanderklok is the guy in the orange hat. Kieser is the balding guy in the middle who looks exactly like every terrible supervisor who has ever abused their tiny powers.

Yikes! A shocking report by Ronnie Polanecsky on today revealed the harrowing tale of Roger Vanderklok, 57, an architect and enthusiastic runner of half-marathons who was thrown in jail for 20 hours and charged with "making terroristic threats" after he pissed off TSA supervisor Charles Kieser at the Philadelphia International Airport.

There was surveillance footage of the entire event. Roger Vanderklok appeared calm and had his hands folded in front of him, laptop tucked in his arm. The TSA agents in the video chat calmly, drink soda, and help other passengers. The only person seen getting visibly emotional in the video is TSA supervisor Kieser.


The charges against him were thrown out in court after only hearing one witness (Kieser), and as Vanderklok's lawyer Thomas Malone states, "The police at the airport never even questioned Mr. Vanderklok. They just detained him. The detectives at the 18th [District] also never spoke with him. He was charged based on a single allegation by one TSA employee."

One TSA employee who still works there.

Act I

Not a PowerBar, but the US Army took this photo, so it's public domain.

On the morning of January 26, 2013, Roger Vanderklok arrived at the Philly airport to head to a half-marathon in Miami. That did not end up happening.


Mr. Vanderklok had PowerBars and a heart-rate-monitoring watch in his bag, prompting a search. He told them about the watch, but when agents asked him if he was carrying "organic matter," Roger said "no" because he thought they meant actual food like a vegetable. Personally, I forgive him for not realizing that PowerBars are technically comprised of "organic matter" like milk, wheat and sugar.

Well, plastic explosives can register as "organic matter" and watches or cell phones are often used as detonators, so there was good reason for the TSA to check up on this matter. The real problem started after agents realized that the PowerBars and watch were just PowerBars and a watch.


Act II

West Philadelphia, held and detained, in a jail cell is where I spent most of a day.

A frustrated Vanderklok said that everyone could have been saved a lot of time if he had just been told what "organic matter" meant. At this point, supervisor Charles Kieser (according to surveillance footage and Mr. Vanderklok) became visibly agitated with Vanderklok, who asked to file a complaint.

Instead of being handed a form and a mountain of indifference, as you would expect, Vanderklok was taken into custody by the Philadelphia police. His bags and cell phone were taken and he was placed in an airport holding cell for three hours—the maximum length they can stick you in an airport holding cell for no stated reason.


After the three hours elapsed (and his plane took off) he was placed in handcuffs and taken to a police station in West Philly. He had arrived at the airport at 8 a.m. that morning. It was not until 2 a.m. the following morning that he was arraigned and actually charged with something. And what a something it was! "Threatening the placement of a bomb" and "terroristic threats."

At 4 a.m., he was allowed to leave the station after his wife Eleanor was forced to cough up $4,000. Eleanor, by the way, had no idea where her husband was all day. She ended up calling 9-1-1, which finally resulted in a call back from the police to say Roger had been arrested for, you know, terrorism.



These colors don't register complaints.

Well, that sucks. But not as much as this: at the trial on April 8, 2013, supervisor Kieser went full-throttle in his attempts to have this public nuisance thrown away behind bars. Here is a quote from his testimony:

I saw a passenger becoming agitated. Hands were in the air. And it's something we deal with regularly. But I don't let it go on on my checkpoint.

Oh, good, your checkpoint. Keiser also claimed Vanderklok complained constantly that they were "delaying him" and said that Vanderklok

...had both hands with fingers extended up toward the ceiling up in the air at the time and shaking them. [Vanderklok] put his finger in my face. And he said, 'Let me tell you something. I'll bring a bomb through here any day I want.' And he said 'you'll never find it.'

All this was under oath, and Kieser insisted that Vanderklok put his finger in his face at least two more times. If true, those threats are indeed federal crimes.

In the surveillance footage, however, Vanderklok is calm and smiling, obeys all the agents, and never raises his hands. He never points. No agents react with alarm. No one alerts authorities or clears the area or does anything that accompanies a real bomb threat.

It also doesn't jive with Kieser's initial report to cops, which had Vanderklok saying (after being held up for 30 minutes over some PowerBars): "Anybody could bring a bomb in here and nobody would know." Although dumb, it's not criminal, and that is still Kieser's report of what Vanderklok said.


Perhaps to avoid having to charge a TSA supervisor with perjury and corruption, the judge threw out the case almost as soon as Kieser finished testifying.

Thomas Malone has filed suit on behalf of Vanderklok against the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Philadelphia Police Department for wrongfully imprisoning him because he wanted to file a complaint against Charles Kieser.

If it didn't involve 20 hours in jail, I imagine the line to file more complaints would be even longer than airport security.

See more details from this story and photos at