This doc recounts the story of how, years before Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, a group of ordinary US citizens blew the whistle on the FBI
This low-key but engrossing doc is a powerful reminder that the current hot-button issue of individual rights vs state surveillance is no new development. In 1971, the theft of FBI files from an agency office in Pennsylvania led to historic revelations lifting the lid on the activities of J Edgar Hoover’s agency. The information was leaked to The Washington Post, which detailed wholesale illegal FBI infiltration and disruption of leftist students, black activists, anti-Vietnam protestors, even feminist groups.
The agency’s moral authority took a major pasting, all thanks to the theft perpetrated by the self-styled ‘Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI’, whose identity has never been revealed – until now. In a major scoop, the ordinary householders, academics and even a cab-driver who planned and executed the raid appear on camera recalling how they did it, and their subsequent years of anxiety when its significance became apparent.
It’s fascinating, very human testimony, and though the film could work a little harder to draw out the parallels/differences to today’s security situation, it still offers a remarkable insight into people power in action.