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Prosecution of Swartz Typical for the "Sick Culture" Pervading the DOJ 443

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the on-second-thought-let's-ruin-your-life dept.
tukang writes "According to a report in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, State prosecutors had planned to let Swartz off with a warning and Swartz would not have faced any criminal proceedings or prison time had it not been for the decision of Carmen Ortiz's office to intervene and take over the case." Although the CNET article focuses on Aaron Swartz's particular case, the original article calls attention to general abuse of power within the DOJ: "It seems never to have occurred to Ortiz, nor to the career prosecutors in her office in charge of the prosecution, Stephen Heymann and Scott Garland, that there is something wrong with overcharging, and then raising the ante, merely to wring a guilty plea to a dubious statute. Nor does it occur generally to federal prosecutors that there’s something wrong with bringing prosecutions so complex that they are guaranteed to bankrupt all but the wealthiest. These tactics have become so normal within the Department of Justice that few who operate within the bowels of this increasingly corrupt system can even see why it is corrupt. Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power, no longer see what’s wrong and even play cheerleader."
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Prosecution of Swartz Typical for the "Sick Culture" Pervading the DOJ

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  • Re:what (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:30AM (#42723633)

    Doesn't happen so much any more. Journalists are under far greater time pressure than they once were - editors expect them to write more in less time, to satisfy our new 24-hour news culture. Investigative journalism is a very time-consuming process and can take weeks or months to produce a story. So it has been largely abandoned in favor of a form of 'production line' news which focuses on just collecting quotes and getting them broadcast as quickly as possible.

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:19AM (#42723795)

    I don't think he was a student at MIT. He just got in to one of their data closets.

    Swartz was a research fellow at Harvard University, which provided him with a JSTOR account; additionally, visitors to MITâ(TM)s "open campus" were authorized to access JSTOR via the campus network.[47] The authorities say Swartz downloaded the documents through a laptop connected to a networking switch in a controlled-access wiring closet at MIT.[48][49][50][51] -wiki

  • Um, no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grashnak (1003791) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:47AM (#42724077)

    What happened? He downloaded some papers from the public library in an automated fashion and shared them for his colleagues.

    Sure, if by "some" you mean "4+ million", by "public library" you mean "a private datastore" and by "in an automated fashion" you mean "by sneaking into a computer room and illicitly connecting to the network".

    I'm disgusted by the DOJ charges too, but people like you who try and gloss over the facts of what he was doing are just making the rest of us look bad. The DOJ response was ridiculous even given what he actually did. No need to pretend he was just innocently downloading a couple of papers from Gizmodo...

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Weezul (52464) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @07:24AM (#42724221)

    MIT has an intentionally open wifi setup, like everyone should.

    We're having trouble with the fire Stephen Heymann petition [whitehouse.gov], only like 10k signature out of the needed 25k.

    What do people think we should do? Start a second more well written and informative petition perhaps?

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:4, Informative)

    by todrules (882424) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:20AM (#42724483) Journal
    Don't start another one. You need 100,000 signatures for the new petitions from now on.
  • Re:An old saying. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:13AM (#42724829)

    You do realize they do absolutely nothing about those petitions at all, even if you get the signatures. They're just a honey pot for gathering the names of political dissidents. I know a lot of you don't think this has started in this country but it has.

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:44AM (#42725037)

    I think his point was that we have this thing called cruel and unusual punishment. The penalty must be proportional to the crime and 35 years in prison for what he did is clearly unjust. As an absolute maximum I'd say 2 years and then only if he was doing it for his own profit. If you think otherwise then you're the one with the issue.

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Teancum (67324) <(robert_horning) (at) (netzero.net)> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:27AM (#42725519) Homepage Journal

    I'm curious about what you say are successful? Has any new legislation actually been enacted? There are many petitions like the "Build the Death Star" petition that have been "successful" in terms of getting a response as in somebody at the White House actually sat down and typed up something, but in terms of getting things to happen like having Texas actually secede from the United States has not happened.

    Petitions in general are pretty pointless and useless, and online petitions in particular are even more pointless in terms of getting something to happen. It is a good way to vent steam, and as was said it is a good way to find out who your political enemies might be as well. I agree with the GP post that in many ways the White House website is pretty much a honey pot to track down those people who might be political dissidents and cause problems in the future. Nixon had an "official enemies" list, why not Barack Obama?

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sentrion (964745) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @11:05AM (#42725975)

    So copyright infringement without any possible commercial gain is just as bad as domestic terrorism and mass murder? There are thousands of convicted murderers that serve much less than 35 years. I think the OP has a point that a punishment should fit the crime. Otherwise, why not just take out all your personal adversaries with a modded AK47 if you're already committed to violating their copyright.

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:46PM (#42728511) Homepage

    They have a trap for nullification too. When I was in voir dire, we were asked to swear under oath that we would judge the facts and not the law.

    So, tell the truth and get excused or perjure yourself.

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