America: From Freedom To Fascism

America: Freedom to Fascism is a 2006 documentary film by Aaron Russo. It screened May 22 near the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and opened in theaters in the United States on July 28 in select cities.

This documentary covers many subjects, all specific to America, including: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), income tax, the Federal Reserve System, national ID cards (REAL ID Act), human-implanted RFID tags (Spychips), Diebold electric voting machines, globalization, the possibility of America becoming a police state, Big Brother, and the alleged use of terrorism by government as a means to diminish the citizens' rights.

Through filmed interviews with individuals opposed to taxation of labor or income, Russo sets forth the tax protester argument that, "there is no law requiring an income tax", and that the personal income tax was created to support the activities of the Federal Reserve System. The film argues that the Federal Reserve Bank, a corporation and not part of the government, was commissioned to print fiat money on behalf of the Federal Government, at a fee, paid for by personal income tax. The film includes a call to action, that the viewer promote the abolition of the Federal Reserve Bank.

One of the listed stars of the film, Irwin Schiff, was sentenced on February 24, 2006 to 13 years and 7 months in prison for tax evasion and ordered to pay over $4.2 million in restitution. In pre-sentencing documents filed with the court, Schiff's lawyers had argued that he had a mental disorder related to his beliefs about taxation. A major point of the inclusion of Mr. Schiff in the film is his treatment in open court.

Another listed star, Vernice Kuglin, was acquitted in her criminal trial for tax evasion in August of 2003. This means she was not found guilty of a willful intent to evade income taxes. (A conviction for tax evasion requires, among other things, proof by the government that the defendant engaged in one or more affirmative acts of misleading the government or of hiding income.) However, a civil trial being pursued by the Internal Revenue Service will likely seek restitution and penalties for her failure to file for the years in question.

The preview clip for the film includes assertions contradicted by official government publications regarding the activities and nature of such institutions as the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve System

Russo's promotional materials state that the film was shown at "Cannes" in France. As of July 31, 2006, the web site (at states:

America: Freedom to Fascism Opens to Standing Ovations at Cannes!

The international audience at Cannes as well as the European media has been fascinated by Russo’s fiery diatribe against the direction America is heading...

According to a New York Times article by David Cay Johnston on July 31, 2006, however, the film was not "on the program" at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival itself; Russo actually rented an inflatable screen and showed the film on the beach at the town of Cannes during the time of the film festival. The New York Times article states: "Photographs posted at one of Mr. Russo's Web sites depict an audience of fewer than 50 people spread out on a platform on the sand."

As of late July 2006, Aaron Russo's biography on his website for the film stated: "The film is an expose of the Internal Revenue Service, and proves conclusively there is no law requiring an American citizen to pay a direct unapportioned Tax on their labor."

The New York Times article of July 31, 2006 states that when Mr. Russo asked IRS spokesman Anthony Burke (who according to the article was credited by Russo in the film) for the law requiring payment of income taxes on wages and was provided a link to various documents including title 26 of the United States Code (the Internal Revenue Code), filmmaker Russo denied that title 26 was the law, contending that it consisted only of IRS "regulations" and had not been enacted by Congress. The article reports that in an interview in late July 2006, Russo claimed he was confident on this point. The IRS "regulations" (i.e., Treasury regulations) to which Mr. Russo may have been referring are found at title 26 ("Internal Revenue") of the Code of Federal Regulations, not title 26 of the United States Code.

The article also discloses that Russo has had over $2 million of tax liens filed against him by the Internal Revenue Service, the state of California, and the state of New York for unpaid taxes. In an interview with the New York Times; however, Russo refused to discuss the liens, saying they were not relevant to his film.

In a review, The New York Times notes that early in the film Mr. Russo, asserts that every president since Woodrow Wilson and every member of Congress has perpetrated a hoax to tax people’s wages and issue them dubious currency.

CBS critic Todd David Schwartz called the film "The scariest damn film you'll see this year. It will leave you staggering out of the theater, slack-jawed and trembling. Makes 'Fahrenheit 9/11' look like 'Bambi.' After watching this movie, your comfy, secure notions about America – and about what it means to be an American – will be forever shattered."

Russo and his colleagues at Cinema Libre Studio, Schwartz said, "deserve to be heralded as heroes of a post-modern New American Revolution. This is shocking stuff. You'll be angry, you'll be disgusted, but you may actually break out in a cold sweat and feel a sickness deep in your gut; I would advise movie theatre managers to hand out vomit bags. You may end up needing one."

Nationally syndicated radio talkshow host and TV commentator on FOX & WTTW, Erich "Mancow" Muller on America: Freedom To Fascism: "Director Aaron Russo did a movie called Trading Places. Two old codgers tried to mess with little guy, Eddie Murphy, it's hillarious. Well, in his new documentary, America: Freedom To Fascism, Russo reveals how the IRS is like those two old codgers, and the rest of us, well we're like a nation of Eddie Murphys, being suckered into illegally paying for their party. Infuriating yet fascinating, the IRS has made America a prison without bars, and us hardworking Americans are nothing but slaves. This film is a wakeup call to all the drones, all the sheeple, all the P.C. people that keep paying."

By contrast, Scott Moore, movie critic of the Portland Mercury, writes: "There are a lot of stupid people in this world, and some of those stupid people are going to see America: From Freedom to Fascism and buy into its half-baked, hole-ridden, libertarian rhetoric about the alleged illegality of the federal income tax. And that's a shame, if for no other reason than it'll be a small defeat for logic." Moore states: "By presenting half-baked ideas with the faux certainty that comes through sheer repetition and bending historical facts to fit his agenda, Russo manages to portray the legality of the income tax as something actually worthy of debate. Thing is, it's only up for debate among anti-tax conspiracy theorists who have anarchist, anti-social tendencies."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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