As a young reporter for the Chicago Tribune in the months following 9/11, Will Potter was already growing weary of reporting on cops, crime, and shootings in the city. On a whim during some time off, he decided to help a group of activists hand out leaflets opposing animal testing.

“It wasn’t what journalists usually do,” says Potter, now 37. “But I was feeling like I wasn’t making a difference in the world as a reporter.”

Shortly after that, two FBI agents showed up at his door and told him he could be put on a terrorism watch list if he didn’t help them gather information about the animal activists he had helped. The agents knew that both he and his then girlfriend had applied to graduate school and warned them that the student aid they had applied for could be pulled if they didn’t cooperate. “ ‘Everything changed after 9/11,’ ” he recalls them saying.

“I couldn’t believe they were using that rhetoric of terrorism against someone handing out leaflets,” says Potter. “That was really shocking to me.” READ MORE

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