Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Education The Internet United States Your Rights Online

US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide 656

Posted by samzenpus
from the rest-in-peace dept.
theodp writes "The e-mail that Defendant Swartz's supplemental memorandum (pdf) cites as paramount to his fifth motion to suppress [evidence against him] is relevant, but not nearly as important as he tries to make it out to be,' quipped United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz (pdf) in a court filing made on the same day Aaron Swartz committed suicide. In the 1-7-2011 e-mail Ortiz refers to, which was not produced for Swartz until Dec. 14th — almost two years after his 1-6-2011 arrest — a Secret Service agent reported to the Assistant U.S. Attorney that he was 'prepared to take custody anytime' of Swartz's laptop, although no one had yet sought a warrant to search the computer. In Prosecutor as Bully, Larry Lessig laments, 'They [JSTOR] declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the "criminal" who we who loved him knew as Aaron.' Swartz's family also had harsh words for MIT and prosecutors: 'Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron.' With MIT President Emeritus Charles M. Vest currently serving as a Trustee of JSTOR parent Ithaka as well as a Trustee of The MIT Corporation, one might have expected MIT to issue a statement similar to the let's-put-this-behind-us one JSTOR made on the Swartz case back in 2011."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide

Comments Filter:
  • terrorism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:23AM (#42574123)

    the US seems to have terrorized a youth into killing himself.

    I'd seek gitmo for the US 'official' who performed this act of terrorism.

    if we don't stop the american terrorists (gov hacks who can ruin lives at-will for essentially no good reason at all) then we all have BECOME part of them.

    a message needs to be sent. TO THE GOVERNMENT. stop being asshats wrapped in the false flag of 'justice'.

  • Catalyst (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:26AM (#42574133)

    If anything good comes of this situation it would be nice if Swartz were to become the Mohamed Bouazizi [wikipedia.org] of prosecutorial reform in the US. Unlikely, but one can hope.

  • Shame on MIT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:31AM (#42574151)

    It used to be the home of the hacker culture.

  • So now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fafaforza (248976) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:32AM (#42574161)

    we'll criticize people that had no personal tie to a person for not recognizing their true mental state? How many immediate family members do not recognize a suicidal condition in someone? But we expect a lawyer to see it?

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:35AM (#42574171)

    Fuck off asshole. If you are facing decades in prison and being forever named a felon, wouldn't you consider it?

    These prosecutors need to pay for their crimes. They need to be fired, disbarred, and then thrown in jail.

    Culprit #1: Stephen P. Heymann, the head of the Cybercrime Unit and lead prosecutor
    Culprit #2: Carmen M. Ortiz, US Attorney (and Bostonian of the Year as Twitter tells me)

    Sign the petitions:
    [1] [whitehouse.gov]
    [2] [whitehouse.gov]

  • Psychopaths (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:35AM (#42574175)

    These people seem to be soulless automatons devoid of any compassion and quite willing to destroy a life without good reason just so they can advance their own careers a bit. This behavior is the hallmark of dangerous psychopaths. People like that belong into a closed mental institutions, not into positions of power.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:38AM (#42574187)

    A lawyer filed court documents attacking his opponent's case! How do we get from that to blaming the attorney for the defendant's suicide?

  • Re:So now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:41AM (#42574209)

    we'll criticize people that had no personal tie to a person for not recognizing their true mental state? How many immediate family members do not recognize a suicidal condition in someone? But we expect a lawyer to see it?

    Who or what are you talking about?

    Maybe you would be suicidal too if facing 35 years for downloading scientific articles, when the people you downloaded them from don't want to proceed but the justice department says "too bad".
    That's the point the poster is making, isn't it? It doesn't matter who it is, being on the receiving end of a witch hunt is enough to ruin anyone's life.

    35 years in prison for downloading scientific articles. Really? What a great country he and I share, where we give those convicted of murder softer sentences than we do for some "copyright infringers".

  • by Slyfox696 (2432554) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:42AM (#42574217)
    Someone who sees it as not only as a steady job with decent benefits, but also someone who wants to remove the vast amounts of scum from walking the street? The scum such as those who rape and murder?
  • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:45AM (#42574235)

    They deceived the court that multiple felonies were committed. And their intimidation lead to suicide. There are a multitude of charges that can be filed. Find a prosecutor with the balls to charge another prosecutor, and these two will be in jail.

  • stopbullying.gov * (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:48AM (#42574253)

    * the government reserves the right to engage in bullying any time it wishes, for any reason. In this case parents are encouraged to teach their children that bystanding is appropriate and expected.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:52AM (#42574273) Journal
    Suicide can only be blamed on the person that did it.

    I absolutely agree with you.

    That doesn't preclude charging the prosecutors with a whole array of harassment and misconduct-related actions.


    Unfortunately, the US has a serious problem wherein prosecutors have effectively infinite resources to harass someone; on top of which, we reward them for convictions, not for serving justice. On the flip side of that, public defenders lose money for every hour they spend on a case vs working at their "real" jobs; and since they don't generally do it as their primary job (more like an act of compulsory charity on the side), they have little incentive to care how they perform in that role. Thus, you have a supposedly-antagonistic system where both sides have strong incentive to push everyone brought up on charges to settle, regardless of guilt.

    You want to fix the system? We need to have "prosecutor pays" for privately retained defense; and we need to ban settlements entirely.

    Yes, that means every two-bit punk who shoplifts gets to hire Johnny Cochran. And yes, I realize how much the second point there would slow down the system - Or more accurately, it would mean nonviolent cases with no "real" damages, such as Swartz', would never have made it past a private student misconduct panel at MIT, and we'd have a brilliant but bored kid still alive.
  • Just taking orders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordThyGod (1465887) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:58AM (#42574307)
    It's not so much the prosecutors fault, as it is a system that over zealously values intellectual property, so that the prosperous can be even more prosperous. We, as a society, have lost our bearings. Things are out of whack. I read today an article in the nytimes about sex trafficking, and how border guards in Pakistan, are on the alert for terrorists and pirated DVDs, yet ignore blatant evidence of young girls being sold into slavery. The reasoning? They want to please the Americans whose priorities are terrorism and piracy. We are broken.
  • Re:So now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmacs27 (1314285) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:02AM (#42574323)
    Yea, and infringing on copyrighted material generated with public money! The nerve of this guy!
  • Re:Who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Necroman (61604) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:04AM (#42574339)

    As a reader of Hacker News [ycombinator.com] I'm getting a bit sick of this coverage myself. Last night, 9 of the 10 top stories were in relation to Aaron and the whole situation. The guy did some great work, but he never even got into a courtroom to see how things would play out. The other thing to note is that it was known even publicly that he suffered from depression [aaronsw.com]. A high-stress situation plus depression is the recipe for this type of situation.

    I'm not say either side (the people making him into a martyr or prosecutor for going after him) is right or wrong with what they are doing. But to me, the reaction I've been seeing so far from those on sites like Hacker News seems to be a little far out there.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:09AM (#42574361)

    You're questioning his strength of character? He was charged because he wanted to liberate academic documents. He drew the ire of the Feds because he freely released court documents. He stood up against SOPA. And he helped launch Creative Commons. I'm pretty fucking sure he had a shitload of "strength of character".

  • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mumblestheclown (569987) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:11AM (#42574379)

    For what, AC? For what, exactly, should "the prosecutors ... be fired, disbarred, and then thrown in jail?" Please lay out a compelling case based on something other than your circumstantial reasoning, ad-hominem attacks, and naked assertion?

    Also: as meaningless as petitions are, they'd be slightly less meaningless if you at least courageously offered those an ability to sign a petition in the opposite direction too. In fact, this should be a moral requirement for all those who ever make a petition.

  • Re:So now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:15AM (#42574405)

    How many immediate family members do not recognize a suicidal condition in someone? But we expect a lawyer to see it?

    First, lots of people knew about Swartz' depression, especially his family. Secondly, the US attorney's office is being criticized for not seeking justice, but for seeking unusually harsh punishment. Swartz was afraid of being sentenced to 30 years in prison. You don't think 30 years is excessive?

  • Stop the bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:24AM (#42574473) Journal

    35 years was the maximum he could be sentenced to, that doesn't mean he was going to get it.

    That case also started 2 years ago and the case hadn't undergone any startling twists that explain a suicide. Yes, after arrest I can understand, after a search I can understand, after being found guilty I can understand, after sentencing I can understand, in jail I can understand.

    But in the investigation period when the lawyers are duking it out over admissible evidence? Either it had to be a slow deterioration in his mental state, which his family should have noted OR something else happened. That linked letter from the prosecutor is to trivial to kill yourself over unless you been slowly going over the edge in any case.

    The guy went against the law as a form of protest, he knew that what he was doing was illegal and wanted that to change. And his treatment was legal letters. SCARY! A while ago, I called a scumbag to account himself for claiming the womens right to vote was achieved without violence by linking to just one of the countless incidents of women being arrested and tortured in jail. And these women endured. This guy offed himself over an email?

    Then either he was always a unstable person OR he is a crybaby who wanted to look cool by protesting and then pissed himself when "The man" came down on him OR something else is going on entirely.

    I think he had a cause, I think he could have expected that it would land him court and I don't think a person like that panics over a letter in a legal case that is/was far from concluded. That kind of person does NOT kill himself over a letter from a prosecutor. Read the letter, it is a trivial non-issue in the run up to a court case, it isn't a smoking gun, it isn't saying "we got you and you are going to federal pound in the ass jail sonny boy". It is almost saying "your lawyer got a good point but obviously I am not going to say it like that but you won this round". Chiding? Hardly.

    Now I don't know him at all, don't know his personality (the real one, not the media one) but I think something more is going on. Either the pressure on him was far greater then we know, he was killed or his he had other mental issues already.

    It is NOT the job of the prosecutor to weigh every communication on a silver platter to see if it might push someone over the edge. It is the job of family and the person himself to recognize mental issues and seek help. Something is missing here, normal people even under stress of an investigation do NOT off themselves over the linked letter. I would examine if there are other causes for an unstable mental condition that could have been triggered by anything, something as "trivial" as taking the Christmas decorations down.

    We like when something tragic happens, to blame someone. It can be something as stupid as a cat not wanting to be petted that day that pushes people over the edge. That his family is so quickly ready to put the blame on others is to me a red flag. How hard did his family push him to succeed? Most boys at 14 worry about girls (how icky they are and how you can stop them thinking you are icky) this guy was designing RSS. Many a wonder kid has far from a happy youth. Who pushed this guy the hardest? The prosecutor or his family and friends who wanted him to achieve time and time again? Far more kids commit suicide because of pushy parents who are never satisfied then over long running legal cases that so far have NOT gone against him (as far as I know I freely admit, please feel free to put me right and show links to articles were it was becoming clear that he was going to loose this case). How hard was Lessig pushing yet again for someone ELSE to fight HIS fight for him with Lessig not being the one facing jail?

    I think this case is going to stir up a real nasty mess with pushy parents and people expecting Swartz to fight everyone elses battle but him alone the one facing jail.

  • Re:terrorism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:26AM (#42574491) Homepage

    the US seems to have terrorized a youth into killing himself.

    I've highlighted the operative word. While it's reasonable to assume that they probably didn't help (to put it extremely mildly), even those closest to him will spend years agonizing over what exactly was going through his mind and what, if anything, they could have done to prevent this. Why does everyone else seem to think they've got to the bottom of it in five minutes?

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:26AM (#42574493)

    I agree. if the full power of the gov is coming down on you, the gov SHOULD also pay for your legal fees, and good defense people, too.

    else, it is purely and clearly bullying. legal bullying.

    the way we win hearts and minds in the world is by example. the Rest Of World(tm) looks at us and is not convinced that they want to import anything AT ALL like american freedom and justice.

    if we don't start fixing our broken-ways, we will never be taken seriously by the world. and yes, we have dropped in our high moral ground several notches over the last several decades.

    does anyone in command CARE about how we look? never mind how we act, but at least give the impression of fairness!

  • Re:So now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:31AM (#42574521)

    we'll criticize people that had no personal tie to a person for not recognizing their true mental state? How many immediate family members do not recognize a suicidal condition in someone? But we expect a lawyer to see it?

    Look, stupid: Harassing, intimidating, bullying Aaron Swartz, and destroying his life... that was the injustice system doing it, not the family members.

    The world would've been much better off today with Aaron Swartz alive, instead of you and/or the prosecutors, who are squandering resources on bullying rather than going after real criminals, like themselves or the fuckers who've fucked up this country.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:45AM (#42574621)

    What part of 'contributed to his death' do you not understand?

    It's established at this point that he had bouts of depression. But it's also obvious that facing the prospect of 35 years in jail would be extremely stressful and was in all likelihood what he was depressed about when he committed suicide.

    And yes, he probably wouldn't have gotten the 35 years, but you can't dismiss that point, for at least two reasons.

    One, he shouldn't have been on trial in the first place; the 'victim' dropped its claims against him; at worst, he should have been charged with mischief.

    The second reason relates to prosecutorial bullying: if they don't expect to get all 35 years, then part of their strategy obviously involves charging people with crimes they can't be convicted of in an attempt to get them to settle. It is intimidation by the prosecutor.

    As an outsider looking in it appears that the prosecutors in this case had no sense of proportion and/or threw everything they could think of at him in the hopes that some things would stick.

    Remember if you might what actually happened to precipitate this sad series of events:
    - He wrote a script using wget or similar to download JSTOR articles (which by the way are freely accessible to the public if you are on a public terminal on campus, at least at my alma mater).
    - He left a laptop in a utility box overnight, running the script

    That's it. He was caught, he returned the downloaded JSTOR articles, JSTOR dropped any civil charges it had (because there was no harm done).

    But MIT left him out to dry and the prosecutors charged him with a series of crimes totaling 35 years in prison, leaving him to spend years and, from what I heard, a huge part if not all of his savings, defending himself in court.

    It is patently ridiculous. Overloading of charges has got to stop. The prosecutors in this case should be fired as an example to other US prosecutors.

  • Re:Pirate??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:56AM (#42574689)

    So he pirated a few documents and distributed them? Why did this end in his death?

    Because he was weak?

    You should find out whether you are a psychopath. Your response strongly indicated that you are. If so, there are a number of high risks that you face that are not present in sane human beings. Understanding them helps with avoiding them.

  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:58AM (#42574709) Homepage

    A lot of words to say that the Feds don't need to have any sense of perspective.

    A bank can money launder terrorists' and drug producers' money, and face no time (HSBC) or can almost single handedly cause a nationwide mortgage crises (Angelo Mozillo), and face nothing but a small (on a percentage of income basis) fine. A kid can trespass and face virtually the rest of his life in jail.

    You: Gotta love the Feds. More power to them!

  • Re:Psychopaths (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:05PM (#42574751)

    I hate to say this - but I will - most of the so-called privileged class is so heartless and cruel and uncaring that they'd lose NO sleep over doing such things to other people.

    congress, judges, police, governors, you name it: they are so protected and insulated from the real world, they don't UNDERSTAND what compassion and reasonableness is.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:05PM (#42574753)

    Yeah, there's a victim complex in the west. I don't think it applies in this case. Like Alan Turing, who also killed himself, the man was a hero who hit his limit for how much he could take. There's so much apathy towards so many issues these days I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:06PM (#42574757) Homepage Journal

    and won't be fixed by itself. You can get 30 years for making public something that should be, get sued for millons of dollars for copying a few songs, sued for billons for doing common sense implementations. But if you screw the entire world economy (causing indirectly the dead of thousands of people) you get even more money, driving drunk have barely any legal consequences or carrying assault weapons in populated areas for "defense" is all ok (to put very few examples, is far worse than this). Justice is a nice meaningless (or with a real meaning that have no relation with what people think it means) word by now.

    And you can't use the legal or political system to fix it, as not only they broken it, but would break it even more given the opportunity (i.e. the golden opportunity of asking them to fix it).

    With a hopeless situation like this, im not surprised that people suicide themselves when this mess touch them.

  • You mean the scum who have no power and influence. And of course the innocent who get railroaded. Those are the people prosecutors go after. But in our two-tiered justice system, the type of scum with vast sums of money and political friends -- slap on the wrist.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213 [rollingstone.com] :

    Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That's the punishment? The government's negotiators couldn't hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them "partially" wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department's opening offer â" asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?"

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lorenlal (164133) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:23PM (#42574865)

    If the GP AC had made more than just a passing joke (tying in recent gun and sexual assault cases at the same time, it takes some skill and luck to pull something like that off), then AC would not have been marked a troll. Throw in the response that JSTOR *withdrew* its allegations, but the prosecutors pursued the case anyway, and we have a situation where there are serious questions about the prosecutors.

    Specifically:
    Why did they pursue a case when the plaintiffs want out?
            a) Was it because they thought what he allegedly did was so terrible that it must be prosecuted?
            b) Were they thinking this was a meal ticket to fame?

    I don't know, and I'd sure as hell like to find out. If it was a), then I'd like to know what's happening with our laws and to our justice departments so make a copyright case like this so "life and death." This is especially damning in the light of the US attorneys not pursuing HSBC for aiding terrorism and organized crime. If it was b), then these people are pretty sick, and I would hold them partly responsible for Aaron Swartz's death, at least morally if not legally.

  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:27PM (#42574903) Journal

    It's a terrible tragedy, but I can't get beyond this feeling in my gut that what he did -- if true -- was still wrong, and there should have been some kind of legal repercussions. 30 years? No, that's utterly ridiculous. But the police and prosecutors were probably applying pressure in the hopes of getting a guilty plea to a lesser charge as the most reasonable way out.

    He was probably unwilling to yield to such pressure. And do you know what happens when you don't? They go through with the maximum threatened and crush you like a bug. And everyone blames you for not accepting the lesser bargain.

    According to Lessig, one of the hang-ups in negotiations was the potential label "felon". That's a big word with serious implications that last for years if convicted, but it also isn't the end of the world.

    Actually, it pretty much is. Not for someone who makes a living committing crimes, of course. But for anyone who wants to ever make a good living honestly. Few companies hire felons for any but the most menial positions, and many companies even vet contractors for felonies as well.

    And of course, there's always the question of whether he'd have survived prison. People willing to stand up for themselves, but without the personal physical strength to back it up, nor the social ability to assemble a gang of followers, are unlikely to do well in prison

  • Re:Yawn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:28PM (#42574911)

    I've never understood this "suicide is the fault of the victim" mentality. Sure, they're the one who pulled the trigger. But a person in that mental state isn't rational, and may not be sane at all. You have to consider who drove them to that state, if anyone, and who ignored the warning signs, cries for help, or outright helped push them into making an irrational decision when they weren't in their right minds. Maybe they don't deserve the harshest penalties for their (in)action, maybe they didn't really have any ill-will or motive behind what they did, but just ignoring their share of the blame is ridiculous.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:29PM (#42574927)

    I'm not equating them, I'm saying they're both heroes. Swartz was trying to stand up against what seems to be a copyright controlled government (the JSTOR issue, SOPA, etc). We could use a lot more people like him. I'm also saying that when you push a person past their limit bad things happen. It's not easy standing up for what you believe in surrounded by either apathy or abuse.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:37PM (#42574977) Homepage
    I am not signing the petition myself for a variety of reasons, but I do note that district attorneys and their subordinates are part of the executive branch, not the judiciary, and can be removed from office anytime.
  • Re:terrorism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bhagwad (1426855) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:38PM (#42574979) Homepage

    Anyone who starts a moral sermon with "Son" is appealing to emotions and not logic in order to hide their own lack of reason. You can dismiss what they say right from the start.

    There's so much wrong with this bullshit that I don't even know where to start. So I won't. I'll just let this stand here as a testament to the sanctimonious bullshit that people can spew out.

  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:39PM (#42574985) Homepage

    Do we really want a world where a person could face 35 years for trespassing (normal max: 30 days in jail and $100 fine) (1) but merely have to defer a portion of their bonus for laundering money for drug kingpins and terrorists (2)?

    (1) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/feds-go-overboard-in-prosecuting-information-activist/ [arstechnica.com]

    (2) http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213 [rollingstone.com]

  • Re:Remember Rudy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredprado (2569351) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:45PM (#42575025)
    Consider that may be repercussions is one thing, but considering that he would have to spend everything he had and indebted himself to bankruptcy just to defend himself and still face a possibility of 50 years in prison for just downloading articles, access to which he legally had, and which he didn't even distribute is a bit too much don't you think?
  • Re:terrorism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:49PM (#42575059)

    Typical US mentality: law above justice. Procedure over compassion. More important to convict than to convict the right one.

  • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:06PM (#42575173)

    35 years was the maximum he could be sentenced to, that doesn't mean he was going to get it.

    Nevertheless, despite of all the respect I have in general for the USA, a country in which someone could get 35 years in prison for downloading scientific articles seems hardly civilized to me. It's barbaric. US lawmakers would be well advised to take a look at the rest of the industrialized, democratic first world countries from time to time and check what's considered adequate there. In some domains the discrepancy has become huge.

    Whats even worse about this whole sad story is that (i) it is common among scientists to request articles from public mailing lists and from friends when you cannot access them and that (ii) it is a crucial part of scientific method to be open so people can scrutinize conjectures and results.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cinder6 (894572) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:15PM (#42575255)

    He wasn't facing decades in jail. He was facing the possibility of decades in jail. He didn't even fight. I don't know him, and I don't know enough of the particulars of this case to definitively say whether he acted cowardly or not, but on the surface, it does look that way. Regardless, my heart goes out to his friends and family. Coward or not, suicide is one of the most selfish actions an individual can take. Even if your life sucks at the moment, you are more than your own life, and suicide hurts those who care about you far more than it hurts yourself.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:20PM (#42575299)

    It should also be noted that depression is considered a mental illness, not a lack of character. It's likely that he was unable to pay, not unwilling.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ranton (36917) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:22PM (#42575331)

    I thought deceiving the court was the primary job of lawyers. Every time I have needed lawyers it was either to manipulate the court in ways I didn't believe I was able to, or to provide extra intimidation to the opposition.

    If everyone was completely honest and forthcoming, we wouldn't even need lawyers. Judges would work just fine on their own.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:32PM (#42575409)
    Mittnick rode the bus for free and flouted all manner of law enforcement... achieving folk hero stature in the circles to which some us are known to frequent. Hell, the contemporaries of Jesse James & Dillinger often rooted for the little bad guy versus the big evil carpetbagger/banker/economic situation. But when you hunt King William's deer you do so at night for a reason. Fair is in the eye of the beholder.
  • perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cultiv8 (1660093) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:50PM (#42575527) Homepage
    this was his final statement, his final way of making a point.

    When I was in grad school, there was one tenured professor who was true scum; had only graduated 3 PhD's in 15 years, had an affair with a student, had one student who had previously committed suicide, I can go on. At the same time, he had over 300 publications and books to his name, was known and respected in his field, and was a fellow of a prestigious academic society. During my third year, his second student committed suicide. This was the tipping point; within the year, the professor was forced to retire and is no longer overseeing students.

    I can only hope this tragic event becomes a tipping point for copyright reform as well.
  • Re:So now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1729 (581437) <slashdot1729.gmail@com> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:55PM (#42575559)

    So hiding a laptop in a closet in order to download scientific articles is a crime worthy of decades in prison?

    So many people here seem to have no sense of perspective. Yes, what Swartz did was (probably) illegal. It was civil disobedience, not malicious or for personal gain, but I think some punishment would have been reasonable: a misdemeanor (at most), maybe a fine or probation or community service. But a felony and significant federal prison time? That's fucking insane. There was no damage. He was an asset to the community, not a threat. Lessig said is best: 'Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time.'

  • Re:terrorism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0111 1110 (518466) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @02:34PM (#42575841)

    Agreed. That attitude is all too common in the US. No empathy. Just hang everyone who may have a different sense of right and wrong from you. And definitely don't feel at all bad about all the cruelty and death. Instead, rejoice in it. For great justice! At least until something like this happens to someone they know personally and care about. It reminds me of all the people who have no problem with the TSA strip searching and sexual violations. Until it happens to them. Then all of a sudden they see the problem.

  • Re:So now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Golthur (754920) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @05:12PM (#42576829)

    Stop blaming an individual, when the real problem is the adversarial system.

    No. Fuck that.

    I'm tired of the sentiment that the system is to blame, or "don't hate the player, hate the game". At some point, an individual made the decision to do this. They checked their morals at the door, and decided to abuse their authority for their own personal gain.

    While the system is set up to reward that behaviour, it doesn't change the fact that Carmen M Ortiz chose to do this. At some point, we need to hold people who make decisions like this, whether or not the system encourages them to, responsible, and hold them up as the immoral SOBs that they are.

    If we don't, the system will never change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @05:47PM (#42577019)

    Why does the deer "belong" to the King? The taking of the commons by the rich and the punishment of those who challenge its legitimacy is as much a travesty in Aaron's case as it was when the English enclosure acts turned hunting into poaching and peasants into capital criminals.

  • Re:terrorism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @06:12PM (#42577159) Homepage

    You may have missed a nuance or two. First, there's the irony of sending a U.S. AG to Gitmo for doing worse than the people in Gitmo currently did.

    Second, the quickest way to get Gitmo closed forever is to make U.S. officials 'eligible' for a stay there.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dugancent (2616577) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @07:54PM (#42577777)

    He didn't die for what he believed in. He died to escape.

  • Re:terrorism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:52PM (#42578357) Homepage Journal

    "Plain and simple, you don't have to work in the Ethics department to understand he comitted crimes."

    Fuck no he didn't. He showed the real hacker spirit of MIT.

    I'm pretty sure you don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, so I suggest you read Stephen Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution and learn for yourself.

"For the man who has everything... Penicillin." -- F. Borquin

Working...