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NBC Promotes Left-Wing Criminals Who Stole 1,000 FBI Documents, Likens Them to Snowden

In a fawning report on Tuesday's NBC Today, national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff touted the exploits of two left-wing activists who stole a thousand FBI documents in 1971 and just confessed to the crime: "In an exclusive NBC News interview, the burglars, anti-Vietnam War activists, admit they committed the crime to expose what they believed were illegal activities by the FBI." [Listen to the audio]

Isikoff dramatically described the heist: "Bonnie Raines cased the office posing as a college student, leaving no fingerprints....Her husband, John Raines, a retired religion professor, drove the getaway car." He then proclaimed: "The documents exposed FBI efforts to spread paranoia among left-wing groups and COINTELPRO, a surveillance program started years earlier by then-director J. Edgar Hoover."

Isikoff included a brief sound bite of the former FBI agent who investigated the theft criticizing the couple's actions, but concluded the segment by declaring: "The Raines' are proud of what they did and have a message for a man they see as their modern-day counterpart, Edward Snowden." John Raines happily remarked: "From one whistleblower to another whistleblower, Hi."

Here is a full transcript of the January 6 report:

7:15AM ET

MATT LAUER: And now to an infamous break-in. The unsolved theft of government documents from an FBI office just outside of Philadelphia. More than forty years later, the burglars are coming forward for the first time in a new book and documentary. And they're speaking out to NBC News. Here's our national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Four-Decade FBI Mystery Solved; Burglars From 1971 Break-In Confess Crime]

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: A mystery for 43 years. The night the nation was gripped by the fight of the century, Ali-Frazier at Madison Square Garden. Burglars broke into this FBI office outside Philadelphia in March 1971 and stole 1,000 secret documents. The culprits never found.

JOHN RAINES: We did it. Somebody had to do it.

ISIKOFF: And now a surprise confession.

RAINES: We just took all the files. We didn't sort anything.

ISIKOFF: In an exclusive NBC News interview, the burglars, anti-Vietnam War activists, admit they committed the crime to expose what they believed were illegal activities by the FBI.

BONNIE RAINES: Massive illegal surveillance and intimidation.

ISIKOFF: Bonnie Raines cased the office posing as a college student, leaving no fingerprints.

RAINES: I never took my gloves – my gloves off.

ISIKOFF: Her husband, John Raines, a retired religion professor, drove the getaway car.

JOHN RAINES: I was sitting by myself in the station wagon and I was getting very, very scared.

ISIKOFF: The documents exposed FBI efforts to spread paranoia among left-wing groups and COINTELPRO, a surveillance program started years earlier by then-director J. Edgar Hoover. Betty Medsger was the first reporter to get the documents in her mailbox. She's now written "The Burglary," about the break-in and how it led to new rules forbidding political snooping.

BETTY MEDSGER: It's safe to say that the FBI was never the same again.

ISIKOFF: The statute of limitations has long expired, but Patrick Kelly, the ex-agent who investigated the case back then, says that the theft remains inexcusable.

PATRICK KELLY: They're rationalizing a criminal act. I don't believe such people have the right to take upon themselves and make decisions.

ISIKOFF: But the Raines' are proud of what they did and have a message for a man they see as their modern-day counterpart, Edward Snowden.

JOHN RAINES: From one whistleblower to another whistleblower, Hi.

ISIKOFF: For Today, Michael Isikoff, NBC News, Washington.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Wow.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.