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IRE Preview: Meet the first intelligence whistleblowers and the journalist who revealed their secrets

Watch the trailer for "1971"

Before Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, there was the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI.

In March 1971, eight citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took hundreds of secret files and shared them with the public. The files revealed massive political surveillance by the FBI against activists in the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement and every movement for rights, including the women’s and gay rights movements.

Despite an intense five-year search for the burglars, the group was never found. Most of them revealed their identities for the first time in Betty Medsger’s 2014 book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI and in filmmaker Johanna Hamilton’s documentary film, 1971.

On Thursday, June 4, three of the burglars will participate in a panel discussion with Medsger, a former Washington Post reporter who was one of the five recipients of the FBI files initially distributed by the Media burglars, and Hamilton.

There also will be a free screening of Hamilton’s documentary, 1971, at 7 p.m. on June 4. The film premiers tonight on PBS. Check your local listings for times.

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