"At a minimum, I hope to wake up the air traveler, who has put up with personal indignities and a very real loss of civil liberties since 9/11," Gevalt said, adding that passengers who are OK "falling into line and cooperating at the airport" are "actually enabling an abusive agency to expand its empire."
He said little has changed under the Obama administration, but Soule countered by saying that the TSA has improved on many of the issues presented in the documentary.
"TSA is a young agency, and many of the allegations raised in the film are past issues that have been long since addressed," Soule said.
"Please Remove Your Shoes" starts off in the pre-9/11 days, when the airlines were responsible for airport security, overseen by the FAA.
Steve Elson, a security special agent with the FAA, explained that his job was to covertly test the accuracy of screeners by trying to sneak guns, bombs and other items through the checkpoints. Screeners almost never detected items, with fail rates above 90 percent, Elson said.
He said the tests were insufficient because FAA testers followed certain agreed-upon rules about what size guns the testers would try to sneak past screeners.
"Terrorists aren't like that. They're sneaky," he said.
Fellow covert FAA tester Bogdan Dzakovic said the best airports only caught the explosives and guns 20 percent of the time.
"Usually the worse the results were that we had on any given project, the less we were tasked to test to see if they had improved," Dzakovic said. "Management simply did not tolerate any kind of dissenting opinion or even discussion about maybe we should do things better."
After 9/11, the government moved quickly to create a new security agency, the Transportation Security Administration. The rest of the movie recaps the TSA's past mistakes, large growth in personnel and budget and, in the filmmakers' view, its inability to improve security.
"I helped create TSA and I've referred to it sometimes as either my bastard child or a monster that we've created, a bureaucratic monster," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., says in the film. "It didn't turn out exactly the way I intended."
One aviation consultant who asked to not to be named because he has done consulting work for the TSA, conceded that the agency still has "a long way to go" but also pointed out that it has made major improvements.
"TSA's got huge problems. But it doesn't mean it's categorically unsafe," said the safety expert and former pilot. "I get on the airlines every week and I don't worry."
Franklin Puello spent 21 years in the New York Police Department, working undercover in narcotics and retiring as a detective just before 9/11. He joined the newly-formed TSA after the terrorist attacks and says he found an agency more concerned about the speed of screening passengers than about security, claiming that this showed in the agencies hiring practices.
"Our military and law enforcement background was a hindrance. They felt threatened that we knew too much, that we were too independent," Puello said. "They wanted really puppy dogs that they could train, malleable individuals, and that's why the recruitment is deplorable."