Will this TSA supervisor ever be held accountable?
I’ve got my fingers crossed so tightly for Roger Vanderklok, I think I’ve busted some knuckles.
That’s how much I want his lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration to go to trial already. I have no doubt a jury would hand Vanderklok some long-overdue justice.
As a happy consequence, a ruling in Vanderklok’s favor could change the way travelers experience airport-security screening.
I’ll get to that in a sec. But first, let me refresh your memory about Vanderklok’s saga, which I detailed in a column last year.
On Jan. 26, 2013, Vanderklok, now 60, a Philly architect and avid runner, went through the security screening area of Terminal B at Philly International Airport. He was scheduled to board an early morning flight to Miami for a half-marathon.
Packed in his bag were a short length of capped PVC pipe, which held his heart-monitoring watch, and a stack of Power Bars.
The items looked suspicious to a TSA agent, who asked his supervisor, Charles Kieser, to take a look. For 30 minutes, screeners checked the bag before giving it the OK.
Vanderklok, who had remained calm but felt he had not been treated professionally by the increasingly agitated Kieser, told him he wanted to file a complaint.
Kieser left the area, allegedly to retrieve the proper form for Vanderklok to do so. Instead, he summoned Philadelphia police and told them that Vanderklok had made a bomb threat.
On Kieser’s word alone, Vanderklok was held for 20 hours before being charged with threatening the placement of a bomb and making terroristic threats.
At trial, Vanderklok’s attorney, Thomas Malone, proved that Kieser’s story had more holes than a golf course, and Vanderklok was acquitted.
The acquittal happened so fast, Malone didn’t even need to play for the court the very damning surveillance videos from Terminal B on the day of Vanderklok’s run-in with Kieser. They showed major discrepancies between Kieser’s sworn testimony about what happened and what the videos actually showed.
Kieser, unbelievably, remains employed by the TSA.
Said Malone, “He should’ve been fired and charged with perjury.”
Not that Malone didn’t try, in the latter case, to persuade Philly District Attorney Seth Williams to charge Kieser with lying under oath. But Williams declined to prosecute.
Vanderklok subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against the police department and the TSA alleging violation of his civil rights.
The case against the police was dismissed at an early stage because the police had acted on the belief that Kieser had told them the truth about Vanderklok’s bomb threat.
But last month, . . .