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Review: ‘1971’ Tells Story of Americans Who Broke into FBI Field Office

Dorothy Rabinowitz 
Wall Street Journal

“1971,” an Independent Lens documentary, resurrects the story of a group of Americans involved in the anti-war movement, who broke into a small field office of the FBI that year and stole its files—an act this film describes in worshipful terms, as it does the small band of activists who took part. These many decades later, the former burglars (none of them ever caught) seem to have got on with their lives, brought up their children—one or two even hint at having grown a bit more conservative.

Filmmaker Johanna Hamilton, is however, of another mind entirely—one that sees in them national heroes comparable to those in the great pantheon of classified-secrets leakers known to the world today. Watch the film’s camera linger reverentially on the gritty little bits of leftover hardware preserved by the burglar who had picked the lock on the door of that FBI office.

The film’s source of inspiration, made clear from the outset, is, not surprisingly, Edward Snowden. There are, Ms. Hamilton has said, “a lot of similarities between Edward Snowden and the burglars.”

A large claim, and still another indicator of the heroic status accorded Mr. Snowden by acolytes in the press, Libertarian and leftist ideologues, the anti-anti-terror legions, and assorted other groupies prepared to believe that government surveillance, intelligence secrecy itself, are threats far greater than enemy attack.


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