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Enemies of the State movie review (2021)

In 2009, Matt DeHart was arrested for possessing child pornography, but he almost immediately accused the government of framing him for his involvement with WikiLeaks and the hacker group known as Anonymous. With his parents Paul and Leann serving as essentially his spokespeople, a narrative was built that placed DeHart in the same breath as someone like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden. He discovered the truth about something the government couldn’t allow out and so they trumped up charges, threw him in jail, and even tortured him.

Kennebeck does uncover some remarkable documents that support DeHart’s allegations against the government, including a fascinating document in which he signed away “Consent to Assume Online Identity,” giving agents not only access to his web data but tacit approval to pretend to be him. At this point in the film, it’s presumed this incredible document that I didn’t know was even possible is to entrap more couriers in the Wikileaks universe, but couldn’t it just as easily have been to entrap those involved in the child pornography that DeHart was accused of possessing? “Enemies of the State” regularly plays in this gray area where we’re meant to be uncertain about not only Matt DeHart’s guilt but how much his parents played a role in crafting his narrative. They worked overtime to build the narrative that people were watching all three of the DeHarts, and continue to do so.

They also undeniably tried to help him escape justice, first getting Matt to a Russian embassy, where he may have at least attempted to trade state secrets, and then to Canada, where his public persona as a prosecuted hero of the Snowden era was really built. Imagine if none of it is true and then consider the victims of DeHart watching his face be put on t-shirts. It’s stomach-churning. And there’s a fascinating story to be told about someone who very likely was a predator finding a way through the internet era to turn himself into an icon.

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