I saw a real good movie last weekend.
It's called "The Conspirator," and it's about John Wilkes Booth's plot to assassinate President Lincoln, and whether all the convicted conspirators were actually guilty.
The film, directed with great skill by Robert Redford, focuses on Mary Surratt, who ran the boarding house where several of the conspirators either stayed or gathered. Powerfully played by Robin Wright, the strong character of Surratt comes through, as does the ambiguity of the evidence against her.
James McAvoy plays her attorney, Frederick Aiken, who becomes obsessed with proving that there isn't sufficient evidence to convict her, and with demonstrating that the Executive Branch will go to any lengths to convict her in the rigged military tribunal.
Kevin Kline steals the show with his cynical portrayal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Cheney-like character who insists on convictions at all costs in a classic ends-justifies-the means argument.
Redford implicitly draws a parallel between this military tribunal and the denial of due process down in Guantanamo -- a fair and solid point about how our democratic ideals can vanish so easily in times of war and crisis.
It's a point made all the sharper by the latest Wikileaks revelations.
So go see "The Conspirator." It's all too relevant today, I'm afraid.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Obama, War President."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.