Prosecuting Glenn Greenwald

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Some in the media are aghast that NBC’s David Gregory asked Glenn Greenwald a perfectly reasonable question on Meet the Press: “To the extent that you have aided and abetted [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”

The question is entirely legitimate. Section 798 of the Espionage Act absolutely prohibits the publication of classified information in the area of communications intelligence. That would include programs of the National Security Agency (NSA).

Snowden has been charged with violating the Espionage Act, as well as theft of government property (18 U.S.C. 641) and the unauthorized communication of national defense information (18 U.S.C. 793 d).

Do David Gregory’s critics believe reporters should be above the law and allowed to make it easier for the enemy to kill us? Why is such a question beyond the pale?

In addition to his role as Edward Snowden’s mouthpiece and handler, we have disclosed Greenwald’s speaking appearances at Communist conferences co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization. This is not an ordinary journalist. He maintains friendly relations with international organizations that want to destroy the American way of life.

Commenting on Gregory’s question and Greenwald’s rebuttal, the left-wing Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) said, “To Greenwald, the assumption is that he is involved in a crime—aiding and abetting—and the question Gregory is pondering is the extent of his wrongdoing.”

But since Snowden has been charged with espionage, the assumption is not unreasonable.

And the disclosures will continue. Greenwald confirmed to Amy Goodman on Monday that Snowden has given him a number of leaked documents and that “my only priority at the moment is going through these documents, vetting them and continuing to report on them. And there are lots of other stories coming.”

Some of these are undoubtedly stolen and classified documents.

On the Fox News Sunday show, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that he favored investigating whether The New York Times should have been prosecuted when its reporter James Risen revealed details of a highly classified counter-terrorism programin clear violation of Section 798 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code on espionage. This NSA program had monitored al-Qaeda communications.

The law applies to whoever “knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information…”

“I was not advocating prosecuting Risen,” Cheney said. “I did think that The New York Times violated the law because there is indeed a provision that says it is a felony offense to publish information about communications intelligence in the United States. It’s never been enforced. But it’s a felony calling for a sentence of 10 years to do that.”

He added, “I urged that we ought to investigate. And either the law is the law or it isn’t. It’s never been enforced. Nobody had the nerve to actually go after The New York Times. But it’s on the books.”

Gabriel Schoenfeld had published a thought-provoking article in Commentary, “Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?,” which argued that “the press can and should be held to account for publishing military secrets in wartime.”

AIM had argued at the time that New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and his editors should be held accountable for revealing the existence of a highly classified NSA terrorist surveillance program. “Bring forward the indictments,” we said.

Sulzberger had said that he and the editors “made the decision” to publish the classified information and that, “in the battles between civil liberties on the one hand and national security on the other, civil liberties won.”

We countered: “Whose civil liberties are you talking about? Certainly not the civil liberties of those Americans who are possible victims of a terrorist attack carried out by the terrorists who are under surveillance. So whose civil liberties are you protecting in this case by going public and alerting our enemies as to what we’re doing?”

To be honest and consistent, such questions need to be asked in the present situation. In the case of Snowden and Greenwald, how many Americans will die as a result of the leaks? This is the question that needs to be asked. Gregory actually didn’t go far enough in his grilling of Greenwald.

At the time of the controversy over the Times’ NSA disclosures, Dr. John Eastman, a professor of law, had delivered congressional testimony which was titled, “Does the First Amendment’s Freedom of the Press Clause Place the Institutional Media Above the Law of Classified Secrets?” He said, “The constitutionality of protecting intelligence gathering and other operational military secrets in time of war is therefore beyond dispute, and the institutional press is no more permitted to ignore the legal restrictions imposed by the Espionage Act on the publication and other dissemination of such classified information than are ordinary citizens.”

He also put it this way: “It is illegal to publish classified information about our intelligence-gathering efforts and capabilities.”

This is the law.

In a Washington Post article, “Yes, publishing NSA secrets is a crime,” Marc A. Thiessen, a member of the White House senior staff under President George W. Bush, noted that “Greenwald’s crime is violating 18 USC § 798, which makes it a criminal act to publish classified information revealing government cryptography or communications intelligence.”

The facts are not in dispute, except among Greenwald and his groupies. So why is it somehow inappropriate to ask about Greenwald’s involvement in criminal activity?

But when the question was discussed on the Fox New Channel show “The Five,” panelist Eric Bolling said, “It’s absolutely insane…We need more Glenn Greenwalds, we don’t need fewer of them…Bottom line, David Gregory is carrying water for the Obama administration by asking that question.”

Such comments earned Bolling laudatory headlines and coverage at the far-left Huffington Post.

But it appears that Bolling’s disgust for a rival network, NBC, led him to say things that he didn’t really mean. He should rethink and recant. The facts are not on his side.

More Glenn Greenwalds? As we have noted, Greenwald is a journalist who proudly accepted an award named after Soviet agent I.F. Stone. During one of his appearances at a Communist conference, he said the weakening of America is a “very good thing.”

Rather than attack Gregory and defend Greenwald, the following questions ought to be directed to the Obama Administration: Will you prosecute Greenwald? If not, why not?

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].


Despite New Revelations, IRS Scandal is Still a Scandal

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

The IRS scandal is not going away, despite the media’s best attempts to bury it. During Karen Finney’s new weekend MSNBC show, Disrupt, she argued that the IRS scandal is a “non-scandal.” Finney, a Democratic Party operative and former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton, referred to it as a “so-called scandal that turned out to be about a guy in Cincinnati who was trying to determine if these groups qualified for tax-exempt status so they could keep the names of their donors secret.” Her statements trivialized the IRS’s unconscionable behavior, where conservatives were disproportionately targeted for their stated beliefs and a “moratorium” was placed on their 501(c)4 applications. Even Ezra Klein, in a piece for The Washington Post, argued that the controversy erupted because there was disproportionate scrutiny on conservatives instead of liberals. “The scrutiny was the part they did right. The targeting was the part they did wrong,” he argued.

Does that mean now there is no scandal if both sides were treated with appropriate scrutiny? That’s what the liberal media have been arguing given recent revelations from the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

As Accuracy in Media has previously reported, President Barack Obama called the IRS actions “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” “White House spokesman Jay Carney…called the IRS action ‘inappropriate’ and said the Obama administration supports a full investigation, suggesting the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration would have jurisdiction,” reported USA Today. IRS official Lois Lerner also apologized. “That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate,” said Lerner. Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said he regretted that the IRS actions happened on his watch and was “deeply saddened” by them, but refused to apologize at a hearing, reported The Washington Post on May 21.

And on Monday, June 24, a report was released by Danny Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, in which he acknowledged that “The Internal Revenue Service’s screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed.” While he called them “mistakes,” he claimed that “We have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the IRS or involvement in these matters by anyone outside the IRS.”

But Chuck Todd, on his Tuesday MSNBC show The Daily Rundown, asserted that “the IRS ‘scandal’ looks like it’s a bureaucratic scandal, not the political scandal that Republicans were wishing that they had come up with.” That’s because, allegedly, both liberals and conservatives were targets.

However, if these key figures have all apologized for the IRS misconduct, can it really be called a non-scandal?

Todd asserted that “They [the White House] were so fearing the political impact that they sort of let this, they almost gave it, by their lack of reaction, gave it legs.” However, as Accuracy in Media has documented, both the White House chief of staff and the White House counsel knew about the scandal in April, before it came out on May 10th with a staged question. Does anyone really believe that President Obama and his communications apparatus were not informed?

For Karen Finney, the Tea Party is just using this scandal as an excuse to kill ObamaCare through the IRS. We have argued that the scandal does indeed make ObamaCare an even tougher sell.

The IRS scandal has also taken a large toll on the credibility of the Obama Administration. A recent CNN poll of 1,014 adults indicates that 51% of respondents considered the IRS scandal “very important.” And 47% indicated that they believe that the White House directly “ordered” the targeting of conservatives by the IRS—a 10 point jump from the May 17-18 poll. (In the older poll 55% of respondents believed the “IRS acted on their own.” Clearly growing evidence of Washington involvement is taking its toll on public opinion. All the more reason for the media to intercede on Obama’s behalf.)

National Public Radio (NPR) has pushed the Administration’s line that this was a mistake, the “inartful” misconduct of line workers lacking political savvy. “But as we delve deeper into this, it seems just as likely, maybe even more likely, that it was a matter of bureaucrats trying to figure out how to deal with these hundreds, thousands of applications that have been coming in since court rulings made this form of group more advantageous for use in politics,” said NPR’s S.V. Date on June 22. Date “coordinates campaign finance coverage for NPR,” according to their website. “And shortcuts were taken and what we’re seeing here is perhaps more inartful use of their procedures than any type of political malice,” he added.

After all, IRS official Lois Lerner stated on May 10 that “It’s the line people that did it without talking to managers. They’re IRS workers, they’re revenue agents.”

Lerner’s assertion has been directly contradicted by the revelation that Holly Paz, a Washington, D.C. IRS official, was involved in those cases as early as 2010.

“In an interview with congressional investigators, [the] transcript of which was released to several news outlets, Paz acknowledged having ‘reviewed 20 to 30 applications’ from politically active groups seeking non-profit [status],” writes Media Matters’ Oliver Willis. “But it was not improper for the IRS to review such applications—the reason the IRS has been criticized is because they used politically slanted criteria to select conservative, but not progressive, groups to receive that scrutiny” (emphasis added).

Now the media have seized on new IRS documents that show that some liberal groups may have been targeted at the same time that conservative groups were. The Be On the Lookout (BOLO) lists included search terms such as “Israel,” “Progressive,” and “Occupy,” according to the Associated Press, which received “15 lists of terms that the IRS agency used and has provided to congressional investigators” from Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. Many news outlets led with headlines highlighting this new revelation, from NPR, CNN, The New York Times, and others.

What is notable about the subsequent news accounts is that reporters aren’t specifying which particular groups were targeted, just that BOLO lists were used. This is a far cry from the overwhelming evidence that conservative groups have brought forward to make their case: that the IRS demanded lists of donors, all tweets or Facebook postings, and even the list of participants and minutes from meetings.

“Neither the IRS document obtained by the AP or the 15 IRS lists of terms addressed how many progressive groups received close scrutiny or how the agency treated their requests,” the Associated Press recently reported. “Dozens of conservative groups saw their applications experience lengthy delays, and they received unusually intrusive questions about their donors and other details that agency officials have conceded were inappropriate.”

For example, have any of these progressive groups that were supposedly flagged for extra scrutiny been visited by the FBI, like Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of King Street Patriots and True the Vote? Let them come forward and testify about their scrutiny and delays, rather than ask us to just blindly accept that they received similar treatment with no evidence to back it up.

Eliana Johnson, writing for the National Review, clarifies how the far broader BOLO lists don’t eliminate the scandal—and they don’t even undermine the narrative that conservatives were targeted. “A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word ‘progressive,’ screeners were instructed to treat progressive groups differently from tea-party groups,” writes Johnson. “Whereas they were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status ‘may not be appropriate’ for progressive groups—501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from conducting any political activity—they were told to send applications from tea-party groups off to IRS higher-ups for further scrutiny.”

This contrasts greatly with the 27 month “Tea Party moratorium” described by Gregory Korte at USA Today in May. Korte reported at the time that “There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.”

“In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.”

This point remains regardless of the existence of BOLO lists allegedly “targeting” liberal groups. The IRS’ behavior was still clearly discriminatory.

But the Administration would like Americans to believe that the IRS is incompetent—and apolitical. So would Holly Paz. In her Congressional interview, IRS official Paz played the incompetence card. In a bold statement, she said that she didn’t understand that when the Cincinnati officials referred to Tea Party cases, they were only targeting conservatives. Instead, she said that the use of the words “Tea Party” were just a shorthand reference. “Yes. Just sort of a shorthand reference,” she said. “You know, I think they may have reference, you know, it’s like calling soda ‘Coke’ or, you know, tissue ‘Kleenex.’ They knew what they meant, and the issue was campaign intervention.”

Such comments are risible. Paz gave $4,000 to the Obama campaign in 2008; did her political biases color her good judgment? (IRS officials gave to Obama by a ratio of more than two to one in 2012, and overwhelmingly in 2008, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.) Perhaps their political biases colored their good judgment as well.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected].


One Tea Party’s Experience With the IRS

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

A Press Release from the Lane 912 group of Oregon.


IRS Targets Local Conservative Group

Recently, Tea Party and other conservative groups have registered complaints nationwide that the Obama administration is using the IRS to attack citizens whose political or social views vary from that of the administration. The list of grieving parties now includes a local group – the 912 Lane Project. The experience shared by all of these organizations has been the bureaucratic gauntlet they have been forced to run to obtain tax exempt status. Tea Party groups report having to send in thousands of pages of highly intrusive documentation on their membership and their donors, transcripts of every presentation by guest speakers, discussions by members at meetings, even verbatim transcripts of invocations or prayers that might have been spoken at meetings and events. Most groups say they have tried to comply with these bizarre and sometimes frightening IRS requirements, but are still awaiting approval two or three years later.

The experience of 912 Lane is typical, judging from reports nationwide. The group submitted all the required forms and documentation, paid fees, and followed up with polite telephone inquiries to an ever changing stream of IRS representatives. 912 Lane has been running this, now infamous, gauntlet without a hint of positive results for almost four years. One IRS worker told the group that the application would be denied because the organization had failed to submit one set of documents. 912 Lane responded that they sent the documents via registered mail and would be happy to forward a copy of the signed receipt from IRS. The IRS representative told them to wait a short while for the problem to be resolved. The organization is still waiting, 6 months later.

912 Lane is non-partisan and provides no support to any political candidate. The group has held candidate forums with speakers representing all major parties and widely divergent political and social views. The group reports that the stifling of donations from members may be the least harmful impact IRS has had upon them. Of more concern is the chilling effect the IRS’ data gathering is having upon free political discourse in small communities like Eugene. Some members are reluctant to step up to leadership positions when they realize that they will be required to have their resume submitted to the IRS and may be subjected to special scrutiny or even harassment from the IRS from their mere association with the 912 Lane group. The organization’s members typically react with shock to discover that a government agency like the IRS could somehow feel the need to know the content of their prayers.

Those who join 912 Lane are students of the US Constitution and proponents of limited, fiscally responsible government. It is especially ironic to the 912 Lane membership that the most important dicta of the US Constitution, its’ guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly, should be so blatantly denied to its most ardent defenders. In spite of the cavalier treatment afforded 912 Lane by IRS, the group continues to be dedicated to preserving the free speech rights of all our citizens, including those with whom they disagree.

I spoke to around 200 912 and Tea Party groups in 2011/12.

I heard countless stories like this.


Chicago Socialists Reveal Small, But Significant Obama Connection

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

In recent years, the US’ largest Marxist organization Democratic Socialists of America has done its best to obscure and minimize their long term and extensive ties to Barack Obama.


After all, with patriots up in arms over Obama’s socialism, they certainly didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. Not before an election anyway.

But now that their comrade is back in power and doesn’t have to face another election, secrecy isn’t quite so important.

The latest edition of Chicago DSA’s New Ground featured a story about the group’s 55th Annual Debs- Thomas-Harrington Dinner, the highlight of Chicago socialism’s social calendar.

Labor activist and writer Amy Dean, keynoted and awards went to activist and long-time Obama friend and supporter William McNary, the Chicago Teachers Union and Keith Kelleher, another old Obama collaborator and former SEIU leader.

DSAer Peg Strobel gave the award to Kelleher.

DSAer Peg Strobel. Keith Kelleher

Peg Strobel, Keith Kelleher

According to an article, Peg Strobel “included in her introduction of Keith Kelleher a much belated (from 2007) greeting from Barack Obama.”

Here it is, bottom right.

New Ground, No. 148, June 2013

New Ground, No. 148, June 2013

So why did DSA wait until now to mention this little message from Obama to the Marxists? In 2007, Obama was at best an outside chance for the presidency.

For a comprehensive review of Obama’s ties to the DSA Marxists, go here.


“Enemies Within” Teaser: Why Does This Senior Democrat Hang Around With So Many Communists?

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Why does this woman know so many communists?

Red Rosa DeLauro

Red Rosa DeLauro

Rosa DeLauro represents Connecticut’s 3rd District in the House of Representatives and has been the second highest ranked woman in the House after her friend Nancy Pelosi.

DeLauro has been the Co-Chair of the House Democratic Steering Committee since 2003, where she makes committee assignments. She is a very influential representative.

So how come she knows so many communists?

Like why does Rosa DeLauro have such a close relationship with Joelle Fishman – head of the Connecticut Communist Party and daughter-in-law of late Soviet spy Victor Perlo?

Rosa DeLauro, Joelle Fishman

Rosa DeLauro, Joelle Fishman

Why does Rosa DeLauro seem so fond of this Connecticut Communist Party supporter Celestino Cordova?

DeLauro, Celestino Cordova

DeLauro, Celestino Cordova

Why is Rosa DeLauro cutting this cake at the Connecticut Communist Party headquarters?


Why did Rosa DeLauro recently serve on a radical led “jobs” panel with Young Communist League supporter Inez Bell?

Inez Bell

Inez Bell

Why did Rosa DeLauro serve on the Host Committee, in honor of Connecticut Communist Party veteran Al Marder’s 90th Birthday celebrations?

New Haven People's Center blog

New Haven People’s Center blog

Find out the answers and much, much more in Trevor Loudon’s soon to be released “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress.


The book will be released officially August 20, 2013, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

However, if you are a U.S. resident, you can receive one of the very first copies hot off the press by pre-ordering through the button below.

Pre-order today!!!


Copperhead Movie a Unique Take on the Civil War

By: James Simpson

Wednesday, June 25, 2013 – Orthodox mythology of the Civil War holds that the Northern states rallied in unity behind the messianic President Lincoln on a noble mission to liberate the slaves and preserve the Union. Its terrible cost in American lives – unmatched by any other conflict before or since – is taken as a measure of that nobility, and anyone who challenges that view can only be an idiot, or worse, a closet racist. The truth, as usual, is a little more complicated.

Copperhead, a movie set to open this coming Friday, June 28, grapples with one of these complicated truths: Northern opposition to the war. This is a truly unique Civil War movie. There are no battle scenes; no exploration of different campaigns and the military logic that informed them. Rather, this movie explores the politically uncomfortable realities – the divergence of interests and opinions, of rhetoric versus reality, and the social upheavals – that accompany major conflict. It may not change your view on the Civil War, but certainly challenges orthodox thinking, and deepens our understanding of an aspect that is rarely mentioned.

Copperheads were the derogatory name given by Republicans to “Peace Democrats,” a wing of the Democratic Party that opposed the Civil War. While Republicans were referring to the poisonous snake of that name, Copperheads responded by defiantly wearing lady liberty lapel buttons cut from copperhead pennies. They wielded a fair amount of influence, especially in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, but their protest was felt throughout the North. Most Copperheads believed the war was unconstitutional and destructive, and that Lincoln was abusing his power. Some low-income laborers, for example in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, also saw liberation of the slaves as a threat to their jobs. Prominent leaders included Ohio Representative Clement Vallandigham.

The Copperheads’ polar opposites were the “Radical Republicans,” represented by such figures as Ohio Senator Benjamin Wade, Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass, Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens, who believed that Lincoln was not working hard or fast enough to emancipate the slaves. Their sentiments at the time were perhaps best captured by General Order Number 38, written by Union General Ambrose Burnside, making it illegal to criticize the war effort. The Order was used as pretext to arrest Clement Vallandigham for treason. Embarrassed by this excess, Lincoln commuted the sentence, but banished Vallandigham to the Confederacy.

The movie centers on two upstate New York families and the town’s reactions to their unyielding positions as the war’s effects hit home. The Copperheads are represented by patriarch Abner Beech (Billy Campbell), his wife M’rye (Genevieve Steele) son, Jeff (Casey Brown), and the orphan they have taken in, Jimmy (Josh Cruddash). The Beech’s run a dairy farm.

The Radical Republicans are represented by the family of Jee Hagadorn (Angus Macfayden of Braveheart fame), his daughter Esther (Lucy Boynton), and son Ni (Augustus Prew). Jee runs a saw mill and manufactures wooden barrels. Avery, an elderly Republican who attempts to keep peace among the various town factions, is played ably by Peter Fonda. One criticism of the film is that it is slow in developing the characters, thus it takes a while to figure out how each one fits into the story.

The period covered in the film, 1862, saw Democrat Horatio Seymour elected governor of New York State, along with a number of other Democrats. A Democrat was elected governor of New Jersey and Copperheads also won majorities in the Illinois and Indiana legislatures that year. Abner Beech provokes the town following the election by holding a celebratory bonfire, which the town’s Republicans see as an open act of defiance.

The antagonists opposing sentiments are well captured when Abner comments aloud to his family on a local newspaper story following the election: “Benjamin Wade, a Republican of Ohio, says anyone who quotes the Constitution in the current crisis is a traitor. A traitor! Can you imagine? But listen how a Democrat paper in Ohio gave it right back to him: ‘Such an abolitionist should be hung until the flesh rots off his bones and the winds of Heaven whistle Yankee Doodle through his loathsome skeleton.’”

Echoing Romeo and Juliet, Jeff Beech becomes enamored of Esther Hagadorn. Esther only courts him, however, after he agrees to use his middle name, “Tom.” She finds “Jeff” unacceptable, because it reminds her of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, even though he explains that he was named after Thomas Jefferson. He agrees anyway and becomes “Tom” to her family and his friends. Abner’s response to the influence Esther and her father is having on his son’s political views is classic Dad: “The way to a woman’s heart, boy, ain’t by rejecting one’s own kin and parroting the asinine opinions of her father.” Nonetheless, Jeff defies his father, joins the Union Army and goes off to war.

Jee Hagadorn, meanwhile, seeks to dissuade Esther from her interest in Tom with a torrid quote from Mark: “Brother will betray brother unto death, and the father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death…” He adds “I am a blind pilgrim on this earth, but even I can see when a boy sparks a girl.” To which Esther responds “Dear father, sparks don’t always lead to a fire.” He then flatly states, “If you marry him, well, he will kill me.”

Jee Hagadorn’s son, Ni – short for “Benaiah” one of David’s Old Testament generals – tolerates his father’s rigid dogmatism with sarcasm and defiance. Ni relates to Jimmy how every day his father lambasts him for not living up to his name. “I should’ve named you Pete, or Steve, or William Henry!” Jee wails. “I get this every day,” Ni tells Jimmy, but adds, “I said ‘Now listen here, patriarchs in glass houses mustn’t heave stones. You’re named after Jehoaddan, that’s in the Bible. He made a covenant with God. I ain’t never seen you make no covenant. All you do is make barrels.’” Jimmy asks “What did he say?” Ni smiles, “I left before he could say anything.”

The movie’s plot thickens as news of town casualties come back from the front, and the Radical Republicans, led by Jee Hagadorn, become increasingly hostile to Beech and the other Copperheads. Beech finds almost no buyers for his dairy products, and is scorned by the local preacher at the Sunday service. It is easy to imagine such drama playing out in a small town, where residents interact on a daily basis. I won’t spoil the dramatic ending for you.

The film has an unmistakable air of authenticity. It was shot entirely on location at Nova Scotia’s King’s Landing, a “living museum” reconstructed to mimic a 19th century North American town. The book on which the film was based, Copperheads, was written in 1893 by Harold Frederic, an author who lived through the period in question. His novel therefore captured the mannerisms and speech of the day.

Copperhead was directed by Ron Maxwell, who also directed two other well-known Civil War classics, Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. The screenplay was written by Bill Kaufman, a novelist whose contrarian political leanings appear well-fitted for this contrarian plot. Kauffman has been described as a pacifist, an anarchist, an anti-war conservative, even paleoconservative; he is most decidedly anti-war and this is a prevailing theme in Copperhead.

This is perhaps best captured in an exchange between Jimmy and Abner. Jimmy asks, “Mr. Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal. Those slaves are men, aren’t they?”

Abner responds, “They are, they surely are. But their cure is worse than the disease. War ain’t a cure for this. Slavery ain’t right… but killing people, destroying whole cities and towns and turning the government in Washington into God’s almighty army isn’t right either. Why make things worse… only make for a lot of dead boys.”

One is tempted to draw a comparison between Copperheadism and the anti-war sentiments of sixties radicals. The Copperheads were boisterous activists and a few did have sympathies for the Southern cause. However similarities cease there. Copperheads really were opposed to the war, both because they saw the death and destruction as unnecessary, and because they believed it to be unconstitutional. Most also remained loyal to the Union.

Leftist leaders of the anti-war movement, on the other hand, aren’t really anti-war, but anti-US. This is best exemplified by Obama’s friend Bill Ayers, who wrote in his manifesto Prairie Fire, “We are communist women and men… Our intention is to disrupt the empire, to incapacitate it, to put pressure on the cracks, to make it hard to carry out its bloody functioning against the people of the world, to join the world struggle, to attack from the inside… Without mass struggle there can be no revolution. Without armed struggle there can be no victory.” Peace Democrats, for sure.

Conservatives will appreciate the other major theme of the movie, the U.S. Constitution. Many Copperheads firmly believed the war was unconstitutional and that Lincoln was abusing his power. What is left completely out of the movie, however, is the fact that some were also racist, and opposed the war on that basis. So while one can appreciate their devotion to the Constitution, and enjoy the movie because of it, their image remains tarnished by that reality.

Kauffman deliberately remained faithful to the book’s rich dialog. As Maxwell explained, “That line where an ear of burnt corn is described as ‘tougher than Pharaoh’s heart’ is so good you’d be crazy to cut it. The book was filled with them, illuminating a time and a place and a mind-set that’s been positively informed by the memorizing of scripture.”

This loyalty to the day’s dialog is refreshing in its honesty and wholesomeness. There is only one curse word to be found, and that uttered by the town bad boy, from which such might be expected – but even that seems out of place. I kept contrasting this in my mind with the idiotic Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters, which I had to sit through recently. The film pretended to be set in some fantasy medieval period, but was so rife with “F” and “S” bombs you couldn’t even enjoy the sophomoric humor, much less believe the setting. As Hollywood would doubtless be surprised to learn, Copperheads is enriched by both its authenticity and the absence of such base gimmicks. This historical honesty also evidences the nation’s then devout Christianity, another welcome departure from typical Hollywood fare.

As Paul Buhle & Dave Wagner write in a Swan’s Commentary review: “This is a movie with a script that is for a change equal to the complicated politics of the dangerous moment it explores, when the outcome of the Civil War was far from certain.”

This is a movie well worth seeing; both for its accurate depiction of the times, its rich narrative, and the unique, rarely discussed subject matter, which was in fact a major component of the days’ controversies. It is also completely family friendly – a rarity in Hollywood these days.

Here is a theater listing.