Please Remove Your Shoes
Are we any better for all our money spent on the TSA?


This was the official website for the 2010 documentary, Please Remove Your Shoes. The film is a revealing documentary about abroken government process. It is also an empathetic story about a half dozen public servants who try to fix it.
It is a familiar topic to all of us who have flown in the last fifteen years: the security routine at the airport, first the FAA and now the TSA. Please Remove Your Shoes asks the questions that make Washington squirm: “Are we any better for all our money spent? Or is it safe to say that nothing has changed?"
The new owners of this site's domain have chosen to keep as much original content as possible since this is still an important issue. This documentary and its information should not disappear from the web.

Content is from the site's 2010 - 2013 archived pages as well as other sources.

Please Remove Your Shoes Movie Trailer

"Security is like an analogy. It only works up until the point that someone considers an angle or an aspect that you hadn't previously considered and accounted for." - Chandler Howell

About the Movie

Please Remove Your Shoes is a revealing documentary about broken government process. It is also an empathetic story about a half dozen public servants who try to fix it. And it is a familiar topic to all of us who have flown in the last fifteen years: the security routine at the airport - first the FAA and now the TSA.

Please Remove Your Shoes examines the period before 911 and the current situation eight years later and asks the questions that make Washington squirm: “Are we really any better for all our money spent? Or is it safe to say that nothing has changed? The answers come in excoriating detail in places, and by unnerving implication in others. Direct disobedience of agency charter, subversion of management practices, and terrifying abuse of power and secrecy become the film’s markers for the superagency charged with protecting us on airplanes.

With testimony from some of the original congressional lawmakers who have created TSA to the federal air marshals, screeners, and testing agents who “served” it, you’ll wonder if we weren’t actually safer before 911, as they reveal their personal stories about a government agency run amok, which lies and covers up its oversights as frequently as it makes them.  Vivid HD visuals and undercover recordings add grit and realism to the personal horror stories of the “cast.”

The film leaves no doubt that we need a better system to watch over our transportation. But the unsettling feeling that occurs to most is a sense of broader familiarity with the sins of this agency that look disconcertingly similar to the crimes of others. Who will watch our watchdogs?   Flying in an airplane will never be the same after you’ve watched Please Remove Your Shoes.



History of the Project

As an aviation publisher frustrated with inconsistent regulation of competitors to his publishing constituency, Fred Gevalt sued the Federal Aviation Administration in 1998.  He lost the suit, but managed to prevail politically, and the FAA was forced to write new regulation to accommodate the problem. This was his personal education about the capriciousness and irresponsibility of executive branch agencies and the damage they can do to commerce and society at large.

Upon the sale of his business in 2006 and departure as publisher in 2007, Gevalt began worrying about the unusual rise in influence and size of the Transportation Security Administration, the agency developed after 9/11 to provide airport security. He wanted to write a book. But realizing that  documentary film has attained a significant following as entertainment and social commentary, he decided to film first, and write later. In recognition of the familiar airport process, both the film and the book are entitled “Please Remove Your Shoes.”

As a two-person crew,  Gevalt and his daughter Emelie (and later  Co-Producer Lorraine Pouliot) Please Remove Your Shoes  criss-crossed the US many times for interviews of people from media and security experts to former air marshals, FAA security agents, and others.

After a year of initial documentary research and interviewing, however, it became clear that the topic of security was too complex to cover completely in a ninety-minute movie. Efforts to tell the TSA story bogged down with the “back stories” of the sociology of fear, economic impact, and media involvement. Gevalt found himself essentially writing a book “on camera.” He also realized that a stronger, simpler, and more dramatic story was necessary to retain the audience’s interest.

So the beginning of 2009 saw the project reignited with an expanded crew, including a writer, director, editor, and full production crew. Hiring Rob DelGaudio and BlackPearl Productions of Hopkinton, Massachusetts to take over the preproduction, production, and postproduction, the new organization decided to begin the filming all over with an emphasis on visuals, more dynamic interviews, and a story focus on the civil servants that FAA and TSA had employed through the period 1995 – 2005.

A new period of discovery has accompanied the second effort, with a drive to get to the bottom of TSA’s creation by Congress, and deep inside the heart of a bureaucracy that seems to care more about its public image than the mission it was charged to accomplish.

Please Remove Your Shoes looks at the way a key federal “super agency” was conceived, developed, and managed, as seen through the eyes of some very interesting and patriotic individuals who are in a position to know the truth.

The video discoveries of 2008, while more obscure, and often more abstract have not been put aside. They are often isolated (but related) discussions that fit concisely into a “chapterized” format. They have found the place where they really belonged in the first place: between two covers, on paper, and with a title of the same name as the movie: “Please Remove Your Shoes.” They will both be available in 2010.

What people are saying ...

 "a damaging documentary..." CNN

"a jaw dropping documentary..." Fox and Friends

"a documentary which you've got to see..." Judge Andrew Napolitano

"It makes for riveting watching...even by frequent flyers..."     Rudy Maxa

 "A sobering look at persistent issues..."  Billie Vincent, Former Chief of FAA Security

"An extremely important documentary..."  James van Maanen,  Trust Movies

"Provocative, timely, long-overdue..."   Patrick Smith,

"Is it safer to fly today than it was before 9/11? The short answer, according to this new documentary, is no."   Scott Mayerowitz, ABC News

"Excellent...4 stars..." Kam Williams, Syndicated columnist


Did you know...

According to GAO, TSA inspectors spend 33% of their time inspecting, 8% on incidents, 5% investigating, 5% on “outreach”, and 49% of their time on “other.” Other?

10% of useable TSA equipment (worth millions) in transit is stored for 2 years or more due to poor logistical processes.

During the first 3 months of 2007, the TSA Logistics Center received eight explosive detection systems units at a cost of about $7 million.  As of January 2009, all eight explosive detection systems units remained in storage at the Logistics Center.

In December of 2009 TSA leaked a full copy of its 2008 S.O.P., screening protocol, and other security standards onto the internet.

 In June 2007, investigators testing the TSA checkpoint screening process were able to smuggle prohibited items past security despite passing through secondary screening and pat-downs.

TSA has not deployed any of the 10 technologies it has created since 2002.

In 2006, TSA screened 708,400,522 passengers in U.S. airports.

In 2006, TSA screened 535,020,271 pieces of checked luggage.

TSA opens 16% of checked luggage (over 85million bags) to screen for prohibited items.

TSA confiscated 13,709,211 items in 2006.

In 2006, TSA confiscated 11,616,249 lighters.  Lighters can now be brought on planes.

President Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in 2004, which banned butane lighters from flights.

TSA’s website recommends that travelers with small children ‘do not pass [their] child to our security officer to hold.

In 2007 a man traveling to NYC from Puerto Rico smuggled a baby alligator in his pants.

As of Dec. 7, 2009, TSA is still in the planning stages for 100% checked baggage screening at many airports.

The 9/11 Act gives TSA the responsibility to ensure that the airline industry screens 100 percent of the cargo on passenger aircraft by August 2010.

As of March 18, 2009, all cargo on small body aircraft only went through daily screening procedures.

TSA paid out $98 million in bonuses and pay raises in 2008.

TSA randomly stops passengers at city subway and bus stations to screen for explosive materials.

The TSA VIPR program is meant to deter terrorists from attacking public transportation through random screenings.

50% of part-time TSA Screeners quit their job in 2006.

20% of part-time screeners left their job in 2008.

Average wait in airport checkpoint line is 11.5 minutes. On Thanksgiving it’s 16.5. In Copenhagen it’s 3.5, and at SFO (privately screened) it’s 5-10 minutes.

Aug 19, 2008: a TSA security inspector grounded 9 American Eagle jets, by climbing  on (and damaging)  their temperature probes and pitot tubes.

According to GAO, TSA inspectors spend 33% of their time inspecting, 8% on incidents,  5% investigating, 5% on “outreach”, and 49% of their time on “other.” Other?

In years 2002-2007  TSA conducted 20,000 covert tests. Over 60% breached security lines, but TSA has not recorded how.

In its first year TSA confiscated 4.8 million items, including 1.4 million knives, 1,101 firearms, and 39,842 box cutters.

Prior to 2007, TSA was confiscating 22,000 cigarette lighters a day.

In December of 2009 TSA leaked a full copy of its 2008 S.O.P., screening protocol, and other security standards onto the internet.

From 2002 to 2007, roughly 67,000 TSA employees quit or were fired from their jobs. There are roughly 44,000 screeners in the workforce.

In the period 2002-2006, TSA screeners lost 3674 badges and uniforms.

In 2005 TSA lost a portable hard drive, with data that contained social security numbers, bank data, and payroll for over 100,000 employees.

In 2009 TSA spent $2mm to store new equipment that had been ready for deployment for three years.

TSA personnel use ready x-rays, advanced technology x-ray, explosive trace detection systems, explosive detection systems, bottle liquid scanners, and enhanced metal detectors to screen personnel and baggage.

As of January 2009, TSA had approximately 20% of its transportation security equipment stored in warehouses rather than in the field.




Troubled by the realization that the ballooning size and influence of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has failed to make air travel any safer than it was before 9/11, pilot and aviation publisher Fred Gevalt teams with director Rob DelGaudio to expose the incompetence and corruption within the increasingly powerful federal agency. Formed in late 2001, the TSA is an organization dedicated to ensuring that the skies over the United States remain safe and secure. Yet despite increasingly restrictive rules that make airplane travel a nightmare for the average American, the TSA has failed to become the effective force it was envisioned as thanks to power abuse, secrecy, overt failure to follow the agency charter, and deplorable mismanagement. Candid conversations with federal air marshals, airport security agents, and various others who have worked in and around the TSA reveal why the agency is entirely deserving of its reputation for being completely superfluous.


Fred Finds Interest in Please Remove Your Shoes

Published July 21, 2010 Fred Topel /

This is an issue I’m really into. I go through all the motions and cooperate with airport security, but I don’t buy it. The only safety I feel is just that I make unstrategic trips. I would like to see the U.S. wise up. Even broader than just the issue of one type of security, we should stop humoring systems that pay lip service and demand actual solutions. And this expose on airport security is sort of being buried. They’re only selling the DVD from their own site, here.

Review: Please Remove Your Shoes
As Please Remove Your Shoes shows, the real problems have been hidden behind the scenes. Don’t worry about travel size bottles and shoes. It’s worse than you know. Air marshal testing is disturbingly lax. Their misguided obsession with a dress code is maddening.

Did you know that basic security testing has been outright ignored? You quickly get a sense that keeping a job is more important to security agencies than the actual job they’re supposed to be doing. It’s a typical perspective of big business. “We know what we’re doing. Just listen to us.” It’s all theory but doesn’t work in practice, and it’s all for appearance.

My favorite airport security story was a guy who managed to hide box cutters in airports after security checkpoints, to prove that the new system wouldn’t even stop another 9/11. That guy was doing a national service. I saw that story get swept under the rug. It’s not in this documentary and I can’t even remember the guy’s name now. The film does feature other expose’s I had not known about before.

One smart traveler found himself being detained by aggressive security people, and decided to record the interrogation on his iPhone. Now he knew what he had to say to get out of there and be on his way, but he let the security guards hassle him and hassle him so there would be a record of their inane waste of time. God bless that man for enduring on principal.

The basic filmmaking is standard documentary with talking heads intercut with demonstrative footage. They got a surprising amount of material at airports, at security where I didn’t think you could film. They do some re-enactments, and visualize some metaphors like an overflowing bathtub. It’s not the most dynamic film, but it’s not trying to entertain. This is pure information and call to action.

There were a few questions I would have liked them to address. Have they actually caught any shoe suspects in the last nine years? I mean, has one person taking off their shoes led to any kind of prevention or incident? Some more details on the basic aspects of security would be nice.

Unfortunately, the only suggestions the film offers are administrative. It’s how to make the system that runs security better, but how about some suggestions for actual superior security measures? Well, I guess this is the first step to making some change.


 You can make a difference.

The Issue

There is something Un-American about the Transportation Security Administration: It is heavy handed, it violates at least three Amendments to the US Constitution. It is rigid and inflexible. It is managed by unmotivated career bureaucrats. It is lazy and ineffective. And we're not getting what we paid for.

The Opportunity

One third of the US Senate and the entire House of Representatives must be re-elected in November of 2010.  The “Christmas Bomber” of 2009 revealed the absurd ineffectiveness and complacency of TSA. Through distribution and promotion of Please Remove Your Shoes and its message, we will launch an active effort to lobby congress for realistic change and tighter control of a super agency run amok.

With intense criticism of this agency’s operation and massive sensitivities about government spending in general, the political climate is ideal for curbing abuse and waste by TSA.  Distribution of the movie to Congress and the White House can be expected to at least put this topic on their agenda.

The Effort

Certain congressional groups like The House Transportation Subcommittee will be canvassed as early as possible in an effort to get the subject of air security reform onto their agendas early in the re-election process.

A majority of the effort for the cause will be education of the public to bear pressure on their representatives. In addition to movie screenings nationwide, presentations at organizations like Rotary Club will be held, with tailored edits of Please Remove Your Shoes  in illustration of the problems of current TSA practices.  

The Suggestions to Congress

Reread the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. Give us a solution that works, is proportionate to the threat, and keep it that way - no more “mission creep.” Clarify the roles of “deterrence” and “interdiction” in aviation security, and see that TSA and the intelligence agencies are properly involved and understand which role they have. 

1) Establish and enforce tough proficiency standards.

2) Emphasize results, scrap the PR.

3) Recruit the right people, with intelligence and integrity - train and test them frequently.

4) Promote based on performance.

5) Decentralize decision making - encourage local problem solving.

6) Admit mistakes and shortcomings - then fix them.

7) Keep terrorists off balance with flexible, changing tactics.

8) Identify realistic threats and dangerous people.

9) Design practical and effective countermeasures.

10) Motivate TSA management to set and achieve meaningful goals.

11) Clear out bureaucratic survivors.


The Cast

The cast of Please Remove Your Shoes is composed of dedicated professionals from the trenches of US Government. Current and former FAA and TSA managers, inspection team leaders, and Federal Air Marshals, the principal commentators for the film have seen the dark side of government laziness, corruption, and cronyism just as they have tried to change it for our benefit from within. Thoroughly dedicated public servants, they offer a striking contrast to the nepotistic management within the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration to whom they report. They all come from a background of military and law enforcement, and they expect to be treated as professionals, and lash out when they are not.

Divided into three pre 911 and three post 911 federal participants, they are all frustrated with the inflexibility and bureaucratic inability of government to listen to “the field,” as they initially try to prevent 911 and later to prevent a repeat of 911. They are at times angry, at times sarcastic, though always instructional, and  clear about their motives. “I don’t work for the TSA,” explains one participant. “I work for a farmer in Kansas, a waitress in LA I’ve never met, and a money manager in Boston I’ve never seen. These are the people who pay my salary, and my oath of office is for them, not some bureaucrat in Washington...not even the President of the United States.”

Supplementing our six key figures are an officer from the US Justice Dept. two seasoned congressman, including the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and a Washington reporter, who all add gravity and factual detail to the stories of our “seasoned six” and the accounts from two passengers of two harrowing incidents which will make you question whether the seven billion dollars we pay each year for TSA has bought us anything at all besides abuse and humiliation at the nation’s airports.





**** Micah U January 6, 2013
This is probably the closest thing I've ever seen to a true horror film. When one considers what this documentary has to say, the fact that this information isn't highly public knowledge is downright shameful.


** TonyPolito September 23, 2012
Before 9/11, self-serving FAA executives & bureaucrats repeatedly suppressed any alerts or action by rank-and-file regarding a woeful lack of security measures for commercial aircraft. After 9/11, self-serving TSA executives & bureaucrats repeatedly suppressed any alerts or action by rank-and-file regarding a woeful lack of security measures for commercial aircraft. There, I've saved you 90 minutes.


***½  Dwayne R  August 19, 2012
The TSA is a dangerous joke of physical security and a nonpareil of constitutional abuse.


****½  Damon D  June 26, 2012
Interesting, disturbing, and thought provoking.


**** Walt W November 25, 2011
I know we shouldn't be shocked to see ineptitude in our government. and yet...


**½  Ed F  April 23, 2011
Not hard to feel outrage at government bureaucracy, and this film points out some good ones... But overall this film really grated me for some reason. I think it would have been better if they actually addressed the probability of real terrorist threats vs how much is spent on it.


***½  Mark C  April 14, 2011
No one does bureaucratic inefficiency better than America. We've elevated the practice to a fine art.


****½  Dylan B April 11, 2011
'Crispy kreme donut memo".


*** Steve G January 20, 2011
A pretty damning whistleblower-style exposà (C) of how 9/11 could have been prevented had the upper powers of the FAA had taken notice of pre-attack warnings and intelligence, and then how those same people went on to create and manage the TSA, in turn implementing useless procedures that amount to little more than security theatre. All airline passengers should watch this and ask themselves why government employees value their own jobs more than the safety of the very people who are paying their salaries and how easy it is for terrorists to undermine the system when Washington bosses lazily - and publicly - discuss security measures and the procedurals of air marshalls.


Secrecy - A “Balance of Power”

The federal government spends billions each year on the classification (and less frequently) the de-classification of documents. Many of these are questionable recipients of such care and fastidiousness. In fact a chronic school of thought maintains that while classification is intended to keep information from the eyes of those who might hurt us, a more frequent unintended consequence is that other government entities don’t share the benefit of useful information. A classic example of this was the apprehension of the Unabomber only after parts of his file had been declassified and released to the public. A less successful example of the hazards of unshared information was 911 itself.

With the degradation of “classification” into areas like “Sensitive Security Information,” a category currently in favor by DHS and TSA, troubling examples of overuse and abuse abound, and without adequate incentive to NOT categorize material as SSI, the government ensures that conservative managers throughout these agencies will continue with more of the same.

In the interim, SSI will continue to be used to hide things from the public, to enhance the mystique of routine, non critical oversight of transportation facilities, for instance, and to cover up items of departmental and individual malfeasance.The original intent of SSI was to provide the government with a controlled instrument for sharing potentially sensitive facts and practices with relevant private contractors, like a private sector “NDA.” However, with the continuation of governmental abuse of SSI, including the shielding of information from Congress, something has to be done.

GAO is the entity of record for the task. Mindful that they have allowed the phenomenon of over ”classification” to flourish, they should be ordered into the trenches of aviation security to productively audit the files of TSA. All evidence suggests that this would reduce abuse, increase usefully shared information, and help enlighten Congress and the public as to what they’re getting (or not getting) for their security dollar. 



The Filmmakers

Rob DelGaudio, Producer/Writer/Director/Editor 

Rob is the founding partner of Black Pearl Productions and a filmmaker with more than two decades of experience.  He has crafted a wide range of projects from documentaries and short subject dramas to commercials, interactive mixed media, and multi-screen exhibits and shot in nearly every format available from 35mm to the iPhone .  At ease working across cultures and languages, Rob has helmed numerous bilingual productions, filmed in studios and on locations across Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.  His portfolio includes work for  IBM, GE, Proctor & Gamble/Gillette, CEMEX S.A., Adidas/Reebok, State Street Financial, Caterpillar, Liberty Mutual, XL Insurance, NEC, SED Serono, Hearst Broadcasting/History Channel, and PBS.  His filming escapades include being surround by a Mexican SWAT team and accidentally breaching the security of a Secret Service command center.

Thomas DeRenzo, Composer

Film composer Thomas DeRenzo has scored over thirty theatrical and documentary film productions, including the highly successful documentary films,Control Room and The Road AheadState of Denial, and the Showtime romantic comedy, The Break Up Artist. He was the first American to compose for the Russian cinema, All My Lenins, a work of historical fiction about Lenin, for which he received numerous award nominations for his score. Thomas uses his diverse musical experience and cinematic sense to compose beautifully expressive music, unique to each of his films. He was honored by an invitation to appear at Carnegie Hall as a guest speaker, featured in their 'Carnegie Notables: Art as Advocacy' series, along with actor Anna Deavere Smith (HBO's Nurse Jackie) and composers Moby and Jeanine Tesori. Thomas spoke with the audience of his experiences as a composer working on socially significant films and the effects of his work and art in general on society. Thomas lives with his family on Long Island,  New York.

Susan Escher, Co-Producer

Susan serves as President of Symphony Financial Group, a consulting firm specializing in product development and project management and GeoREstore, a renewable energy data service.  Susan recently served as Senior Managing Director in Penton Media’s Information Data Products division where she worked with a variety of commercial and business aviation properties. Susan also served as Senior Vice President at Investors Fiduciary Trust Company (now a part of State Street) overseeing the bank products and treasury divisions.  Susan has a Masters in Business Administration and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Joe Figucia, Director of Photography

Joe Figucia is a veteran Director of Photography based out of New England with 25 years experience providing his services worldwide. He has lensed projects in 35mm, super 35mm and 35mm anamorphic as well as all high definition video formats. He has shot in all major domestic markets and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, The Philippines and the Caribbean. Joe's work has received numerous Telly, Cindy and Golden Slate awards. His films have been recognized with a gold medal at the International Film and TV Festival of New York, and a Best of Broadcasting award for Cinematography. He has acted as Director of Photography on many commercial, broadcast and top tier corporate projects where he has serviced a broad clientele of fortune 500 companies such as Gillette, Reebok, and IBM. His most current endeavors include longer format narrative and documentary work including the current Please Remove your Shoes and the indie El Bolero, filmed just prior in Mexico City.

Frederick C. Gevalt III, Executive Producer

Fred Gevalt is founder of The Air Charter Guide, a directory and information business that serves the worldwide market of on demand aircraft charter. Gevalt began the business in 1984 and sold it in 2005 to Prism Business Media, a spin off of K-III Communications, which later merged with Penton Media. A political activist, Gevalt cut his teeth on countering federal agency behavior in 1998 with a successful lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration on behalf of his air charter constituency. An avid pilot since returning from VietNam in 1968, Gevalt has built airplanes himself, and currently flies aircraft for business as well as recreation. He graduated from Harvard College in 1972, and earned a Master in Architecture in 1976.

In his varied (some would say “checkered”) career, Rocco has worked as a rock band roadie, medical photographer, communications consultant, freelance corporate scriptwriter and media personality.  One happy result of Rocco's broad-based experience is his ability to handle any kind of content, and to write in whatever style works best for the job at hand. Rocco has written hundreds of video scripts and executive speeches for high stakes events such as investor meetings, global conferences, trade shows, and product launches. His clients include industry leaders such as CEMEX, Sepracor, Covidien, US Department of Defense, EMC, HP, and Iron Mountain. Rocco's media credits include:

 • Writer/Star, Soundproof (2008), Film Short        • Writer/Star, Marathon Theater, 38 Late and Rocco Goes To The Drive-In WSBK-TV

• Writer/Star, Verbal Assault Radio Free Augsburg (DE), Music Radio Holland     • Commentator, Morning Edition NPR, WBUR-FM, Boston

Lorraine Pouliot, Co-Producer

Lorraine studied film and communications at Boston University, where she produced a graduate student's award-winning thesis film, the comedy Disturbing Leonard. While still a student, she was Line Producer and Production Manager for the independent dramatic feature Mother's Little Helpers. Lorraine honed her skills over four years as a producer and project manager with Northern Light Productions, a successful Boston-based documentary film production company. There, she worked with teams large and small to fuse aesthetics with relevant content for clients ranging from the History Channel to the Smithsonian Institution. Lorraine is passionate about exploring storytelling with new media formats and continues to develop independent projects.