Please Remove Your Shoes (2010)
by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Please Remove Your Shoes is a disturbing documentary that takes a look at just how secure the nation’s airports, airplanes and passengers are since September 11, 2001. It’s hard to imagine that next year will be the 10-year anniversary of the worst terrorist act in the nation’s history.
But even before 9/11, it was widely known that the FAA had intelligence that suggested that such a devastating occurrence would be carried out. The documentary reports that prior warnings were just ignored.
Please Remove Your Shoes delves into the issue of whether all the grandstanding, checking and interrogations conducted before you travel the friendly skies is really worth the money that’s being spent or whether it’s just theatrics. Near the end of the documentary, the viewer will probably agree that it’s just theatrics.
The feature-length documentary details the weaknesses and corruption within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the federal agency that’s charged with protecting the millions travelers booked throughout the nation annually.
The TSA was formed by the Federal government in the fall of 2001 to tighten security on airplanes and protect people in the air and on the ground. However, within the TSA, direct disobedience of agency charter, subversion of management practices, secrecy and terrifying abuses of power expose citizens to the very threats the agency is tasked to prevent. Undercover recordings and testimony from original TSA congressional lawmakers, federal air marshals, airport screeners, and security testing agents reveal horror stories of a government agency run completely amok.
Executive producer Fred Gevalt has presented a nice documentary that will have Americans seething.
The documentary speaks of probes and dry runs, where when a suspected terrorist will try to “out” the marshal who’s flying on the plane by committing menacing acts, such as standing too long in the aisle, taking too long in the bathroom. All this is done to see whether or not a marshal is actually on the aircraft. A dry-run is what was reportedly committed during a flight in 2004, where a group of musicians from Syria were charged with disturbing activity on a flight, but then it was assumed that the group decided to cancel any plans to hijack or blow up the flight by signaling to one another. This after having crew members and passengers going crazy with fear.
For all the fancy uniforms and shiny badges, which are misleading, the film reveals that the TSA doesn’t have it ducks in order. Said Gevalt, “The TSA is a government agency much more concerned with its public image than the mission for which it was designed, which is to protect people from terrorist attacks. My hope is that Please Remove Your Shoes will be a wake-up call to overhaul the TSA. Until that happens, we’re wasting billions, jeopardizing our way of life and at constant risk from terrorism.”
Well, I say that with all the inconveniences associated with travelling, I would hope that it means that passengers are much safer in the air. But, unfortunately, after watching Please Remove Your Shoes, I suspect we are only a tad bit safer.
Please Remove Your Shows is available on DVD now. It is a production of Boston Aviation Services, Inc. in association with Black Pearl Productions. For more information or to purchase the DVD visit www.pleaseremoveyourshoesmovie.com.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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