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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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  • An old saying. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:08AM (#42723561) Homepage

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • by starworks5 (139327) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:08AM (#42723563) Homepage

    How else can you hold up the charade of a dual track justice system, if some people are hunted down by the authorities with extreme prejudice, and at the same time others are too powerful to fail, you create an illusion of order and safety and create bogeymen to keep people in fear.

  • Borrowing money (Score:1, Insightful)

    by musikit (716987) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:14AM (#42723587)

    How many of you did similar things when you were a kid? you want $10 from mom..."mom can i have $50", "umm no", "ok $25", "no", "$10", "ok"

    it should be illegal via sentencing the prosecutor to the maximum sentence of the charged crime for charging someone with a crime only to inflate charges.

  • what (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:14AM (#42723589) Journal

    Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power,

    I just want a journalist to tell me what happened. Do some research, so I can read it, because I don't have time to do it all myself. I don't want reporters to shove their ideology and viewpoint at me. That's what editorial pages are for.

  • by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:31AM (#42723637)
    I think the problem is that there is regrettably very little we can do about it. Sure, the revolution is coming, but for now, the revolution looks more painful than the present reality. Eventually that balance will shift, and then, it won't be pretty either.
  • Re:Double Standard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:31AM (#42723639)

    I have no problem with them stacking charges, as long as they can show cause. The court system is already backed up, could you imagine if every charge when to trial.

    Showing cause isn't the same things as proving guilt though, and if you stack the charges you're massively loading the consequences if the person actually tries to prove their innocence. Like the summary points out, the issue here is that many "prosecutions (are) so complex that they are guaranteed to bankrupt all but the wealthiest". This isn't justice, it's more or less blackmail: "We reckon we can charge you with a ridiculous number of tenuously linked crimes. If you try to fight it it'll bankrupt you, and our fancy-pants legal shenanigans will ensure you'll probably do time for something anyway, so why don't you save us all the bother by admitting your guilt in this plea bargain...".

    If the court system is backed up that's a reason to either streamline the system or expand it, not to circumvent what is meant to be the point of it: justice.

  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:50AM (#42723699) Homepage

    The catch is that you only get a public defender if you are indigent. If you have means, they'll be sucked dry first, then you can have a public defender. So you are finally found not guilty, but you have effectively paid a ruinous fine anyway.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:50AM (#42723701) Journal

    In a democracy, the power is supposed to lie with the voter. The voter has power, indeed absolute power to change the leadership every so many years and in the US even sooner because isn't that why you got so many guns... and therefor, the voter is corrupt. Nice.

    The simple fact is that while a LOT of people claim outrage at this case, a LOT of people ALSO want a though stance by the justice system on OTHER peoples offenses. Hang'em all and let god sort them out is a significant voting group.

    An even BIGGER group of voters is "hang em all" "oh my god, you slapped his wrist, how mean!". It is a lucrative market to serve as the media, write a story about how soft the system is on hardened criminals then a story about how hard the system is on misunderstood people and you got your readership nice and enraged and yet feeling like they are caring people after all.

    The DOJ YOU got is the system your society wants. Don't believe me? Nothing has actually been changed with regards to JSTOR and its policies has it. MIT hasn't stopped working with them. Academia still submit their papers to it don't they? Everybody is having a good little cry and a nice outrage at the system and then all back on our hamster wheel part of the big machine just like before.

    It reminds me of Munich. How many seconds was the collecting of wealth and fame halted after the slaughter? Did a single athlete say "no this isn't right, I won't continue". In the Tour de France at least if there is some event like a rider who died, the other riders do symbolic things like letting the affected team win or ride across the finish line as a group rather then in a race. Sometimes... if the stakes aren't to high.

    How many people/organizations have declared to STOP using JSTOR or to keep themselves associated with MIT? Have many MIT students have stopped going?

    People forget that oppression isn't just a person at the top going "send him down", it is an entire support system beneath it. If you want to be nice it is "good men doing nothing" but mostly it is "selfish people not doing anything unless it benefits them and even then only if it doesn't take to much effort". You might blame the Klan for segregation laws in the deep south (see how neatly I avoided mentioning the nazi's and a godwin?) but that doesn't explain how easily it was implemented and supported. Every bus driver, every shop owner, every person who went into a whites only area. Did you push YOUR granddad in the face for being part of it? No? So you think the DOJ should be punished for prosecuting a criminal but racism is okay?

    Life is hard, fighting the good fight all the time is FUCKING hard. Lessig is one person who does it easily by doing the fighting through proxies and getting his proxies lumbered with million dollar punishments or until a depressed young man kills himself. How many cheered Swartz on and how many gave a depressed suicidal guy a shoulder to lean on? I sure as hell didn't. I am taking the easy way out. I know this of myself and just avoid looking at myself in the mirror. SAME AS YOU!

    You can convince me differently if for instance there had been a "Spartacus" event where a lot of MIT students had copied the mass download. There wasn't. If students had left MIT. They didn't. If Academia had stopped using JSTOR. They didn't. If there had been ANY action beyond a few cheap speeches.

    It is even more hilarious to read articles denouncing the DOJ on this subject matter when such sites are heavy supporters of copyright and have in the past attempted to restrict fair use of their own content.

    I predict that NOTHING will change. The reason is simple, NOBODY cares. Well not enough. The next election will be about taxes and employment once again and the people will vote for the guy they think is best for them (or for Romney voters, better for that rich guy they never met and will never be) and copyright is just not a big enough issue to figure in election results yet. Hell, the US doesn't even have a green party of any note.

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by powerspike (729889) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:50AM (#42723705)
    First, I'm Australian and not American, However i know how wrong this is.

    He Stole:- Well no he didn't. If anything it was IP Infringement - and because of the way a law was made in 1984 it means it was a felony and he was going to spend 5+ years in Jail For. The DOJ took the case over from the state. The State was going to let him go with a warning, the DOJ took the case, and started stacking up the charges - 9 of them the i read - which was going to be 25+ years in jail.

    Lets make this clear - if he *STOLE* a hard drive with the files on it, it would of been a slap on the wrist.
    The law basically means if you break the T&C of a website or service, it's a federal crime which is what happened here.

    He tried to do a plea bargain - but the DOJ said you have to plead guilty to all of them. He had a choice - fight and go bankrupt, then to jail. Plead guilty and goto jail, Or take his own life. He chose to take his own life.

    Seriously, The People in the DOJ of the case should either be charged with some type of assisted suicide charges, or involuntary manslaughter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:58AM (#42723733)

    Zippo01, there's no confusion here, a person charged with WIRE FRAUD who committed WIRE FRAUD should be prosecuted for WIRE FRAUD face the evidence in court and and serve a penalty for WIRE FRAUD.

    Whereas, a person guilty of COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, should NOT be charged with WIRE FRAUD, prosecuted for WIRE FRAUD, and lots more extreme laws with the intention of denying them the court hearing by mudslinging.

    Is it really so hard?

    " The court system is already backed up, could you imagine if every charge when to trial."

    MIT & JSTOR didn't want it prosecuted, it was ORTIZ that wanted it prosecuted. SHE created the burden on the court system! The original prosecutor thought it wasn't worth a judicial penalty FFS. Not only did she create the burden on the court, she then misuses the plea bargain to try to prevent the court ever hearing the case. Too risky to let it go to trial due to her mudslinging. All very very unprofessional of her.

    Very unprofessional.

  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:03AM (#42723747) Journal

    If the prosecutor offers a lower penalty for a guilty plea, then the government is admitting that the lower penalty is sufficient if the accused is guilty, and that should be what the defendant is in jeopardy of if he goes to trial. The effect of the threat of drastic sentences for minor offenses means that most of the time, the accused is denied his right to trial by jury.

    -jcr

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:34AM (#42723839) Homepage
    He didn't steal. Not even in the copyright sense of words. He violated the Terms of Use. He had the right to download from JSTOR. What he didn't had was the right to use scripts to download from JSTOR. He used scripts that unattended downloaded documents from JSTOR, so he violated the Terms of Use.
  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru (173381) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:03AM (#42723911) Journal

    "could you imagine if every charge when to trial"

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. -- Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution [wikipedia.org]

  • ironic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:26AM (#42723973)

    Of course, it is "sickening" that federal prosecutors overcharge, that they have so much power, and that so many cases end up in federal court to begin with. But it's Congress that is responsible for this development; you can't blame the prosecutors (for many years, they were required to charge everything they reasonably could).

    It's ironic that Swartz is becoming a poster boy for this, given how linked to progressive causes he was. A large reason for the huge transfer of power to the federal government is due to progressive causes. You want less of this kind of heavy-handed federal government action? Stop handing more power to the federal government and take it back to the states. Of course, you the have to live with the fact that people in Tennessee may not share your views on gay marriage, abortion, weed, evolution, guns, or welfare. But then, you don't have to live there (and fortunately neither do I).

  • by golodh (893453) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:37AM (#42724021)
    There isn't all that much wrong with the powers accorded the DOJ.

    The key issue (that I see) can lead to abuse is the widespread phenomenon of 'plea bargaining'.

    It is this mechanism that provides an incentive for the DOJ to heap unreasonable amounts of far-fetched charges on a single suspect. The sole objective is to render it unattractive for the suspect to let the case come to court and thereby pressure the suspect into copping to specific charges.

    There are two reasons to do this. The first is based solely on cost reasons (as with most decisions in the US), as in: it's costly to prosecute and it's cheap to file charges. If you can get suspects to plead guilty and accept the penalties, you've handled a case cost-effectively.

    The second reason is that people have sought for means to make things sufficient hot for extreme cases (like e.g. mafia bosses) who are likely to shrug off most charges that can be proven against them beyond reasonable doubt. For such cases people saw fit to impose totally disproportionate penalties for relatively innocuous offenses.

    Unfortunately this practice has been adopted for general use, specifically for serving as a deterrent against law-breaking by increasing the perceived risk of law-breaking. As in :

    perceived risk = probability of capture x potential penalty

    In the Middle Ages they used torture, mutilation, branding and suchlike to up the potential penalty to "deterrent values". Nowadays we use disproportional (and crippling) fines and equally disproportionate (and equally crippling) prison sentences for the same purpose.

    People who complain ought to realise that this setup is very 'American' in nature and that it continues to exist only because a majority doesn't think it worth changing this aspect of the system.

    Of course the whole thing can be changed: simply lower maximum penalties to proportionate values and invest (much) more money in increasing the probability of getting caught in order to keep the perceived risk of lawbreaking constant. It's completely feasible, but expensive.

    Only people here don't want to hear that: they (collectively) prefer to destroy the odd individual in order to maintain the balance of terror on part of the law by the cheapest means available.

    It's a choice (if a callous one), and it has nothing whatsoever to do with awarding the DOJ "too much power", let alone with the DOJ being ''corrupted by power". The DOJ simply does what it's told to do ... by the outcomes of a democratic process. If you don't like it, then have it changed.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:41AM (#42724035) Journal

    Swartz broke into a server closet,

    You're making it sound like he broke in, which is untrue. The closet was unlocked. Since you're talking semantics, this is important. That would reduce it from breaking and entering and criminal damage to trespass which carries a much smaller penalty.

    so he could download files he was told he was

    Irrelevant. JSTOR dropped charges.

    The Swarts case was not an example of how the system is broken because the process was cut short. A six month jail term was reasonable for the crimes committed.

    Isimply cannot believe the level of obtuseness displayed by your post. If you believe that threatening a man with 50 years in gaol so that he capitulates to a 6 month sentance without trial is not broken then I simply do not know how to even beginning to explain the basic concepts of justice and fairness to you.

    And if you thing that 50 years is reasonable for trespass, then there is no hope.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:52AM (#42724097) Journal

    Then maybe the problem is there are two many minor infractions. If we are not willing to give someone their day in court over a matter than we probably should not be regulating it in the first place

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:55AM (#42724117)
    1. Quote Martin Luther King as saying disidents should be proud to go to jail.

    Not everyone is heralded like Mandella with a large base of supporters and international attention. Most are swallowed up by the penal system never to be heard from again. Only their family remembers. Look what happened to John Kiriakou who blew the whistle on illegal torture. He's gone away for 30 months. http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/28/convicted-cia-whistleblower-john-kiriakou-confronts-government-talking-points-on-nbcs-today-show/ [firedoglake.com]


    Whistleblower John Kiriakou said "I am proud that I stood up to our government. I am not a criminal. I am a whistleblower. Torture is illegal and it’s officially abandoned in our country and I’m proud to have had a role in that." Sounds a bit like Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death". A hero right? And yet...

    Don't expect the media to save you. NBC's Savannah Guthrie began her interview of him: "Some people say you betrayed your former colleagues in order to raise your media profile in order to sell books and get a consulting business going." Are *you* going to be holding a candlelight vigil for a cad of a man who betrayed his country to sell books?

    Don't expect the judge to save you: The US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema said on Friday that Kiriakou had damaged the CIA. She called the sentence, the result of a plea arrangement with prosecutors, "way too light". Before issuing the sentence, the judge asked Kiriakou if he had anything to say. When he declined, she said: ''Perhaps you have already spoken too much.''
    This book tells how once you're jailed the public think you deserve it and quickly forget about you. http://books.google.com/books?id=Tu5RB6YHf10C&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=51Ya4U8XFt&dq=lynch+in+the+name+of+justice [google.com] (Go to page 43 of this Google Books preview).


    2. Swartz broke the law and should do the time.

    These posts are usually accompanied by an anal exploration of the relevant statute by watched too many courtroom dramas and thinks they are real life, but was there ever an Episode of Law & Order when McCoy said "Let's fuck this college kid over! I want a promotion! "

    People who post these overlook the whole point that these are unfair laws. Volokh showed how unfair they are when he wrote a TOS that could be used to send anyone to jail named "Ralph".
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120803gw.html [japantimes.co.jp]
    http://www.amazon.com/Arrest-Proof-Yourself-Ex-Cop-Reveals-Arrested/dp/1556526377 [amazon.com]
    http://www.volokh.com/posts/1227896387.shtml [volokh.com]
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @07:21AM (#42724211) Journal

    Government, especially the western style democracies didn't happen by magic. They were won by people who believed they could change the system and did. Once there were monarchs who rule, now they just collect a massive wage for not doing much at all. So our ancestors did not create a perfect society but they did improve society.

    But now for everyone who cares, there are far more who want to keep the status quo. See the bitter hatred targetted at Julian Assange, Stallman, the whole wallstreet protests. The elite don't need to attack their enemies, the plebs will happily do it for them. Rock the boat and you will be thrown overboard by the slaves.

    Oh we disguise our attacks behind claiming we want our heroes to be perfect. Oddly enough NOT something we demand of celebrities in other fields. Just that if you dare to suggest a small way in which the world could be made a better place, you better be holier then the pope and then you will be slammed for being to holy.

    People REALLY do not like change, they can tolerate a LOT of badness if just it means they don't have to think, act or take a side.

    And it is that way that tyrants rise to power. There is no need for a secret world government and such nonsense conspiracies. All it needs is for everyone to look away.

    Trust me, I know. I am doing it myself. Just the daily drain of life has indeed made me give up. The little hamster wheel is all I want after all. Sad. BUT that is MY fault. Not the fault of anyone else. I gave up doesn't mean you should. But I can understand why people like Swartz buckle under the pressure and the people who claim his as their champion should ask whether they overloaded the guy or not. Let Lessig face a long jail time, maybe then his legal cases will actually be good and not wishful thinking.

    Oh wait, accusing Lessig of not being perfect am I. Told you I had given up.

  • Re:An old saying. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @07:53AM (#42724351)
    Swartz abused MIT's terms of service, abused services they had subscribed to, effectively managed to DOS that service, actively evaded attempts to block his IP and MAC addresses, hid computers in University property to hide what he was up to and intended to disseminate content to non subscribers of that service.

    He did something clearly illegal and then had the book thrown at him. Perhaps the DOJ was heavy handed and perhaps his subsequent state of mind should have been a red flag to all parties to drop the charges or let him cop a lesser plea. But I don't believe it was inappropriate to prosecute him for what he did regardless of what his intentions may have been at the time.

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

    by sosume (680416) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:01AM (#42724397) Journal

    You are so right. People who disclose (already public) academic data should be thrown in jail for the rest of their lives! After dragging them through hellish court procedures. How dare they disobey the ruling class! That's your point, right?

  • by berashith (222128) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:34AM (#42724557)

    The power doesnt lie with the voter. We only vote for the politicians, we dont get to vote for who is in power. The people in power are smart enough to not allow their position to rely on the whims of the population.

  • by Mattcelt (454751) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:49AM (#42724647)

    I hope and pray that you are being ironic, because if you are not, you are exactly what is wrong with the United States at the moment.

    There is NEVER a more urgent, pressing, and immediate need than liberty. Without liberty, and the true freedoms it provides, everything else becomes meaningless.

  • Re:Um, no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:50AM (#42724653)

    But he did not "crack" any security other than hiding the laptop in a closet. He didn't fake credentials, he didn't use any more access to the journal than MIT granted him.

    A good comparison would be if he was refilling hundreds of water bottles from a public water fountain. Yes, he was misusing the resource... But the resource was not secured to begin with... Nobody at MIT was performing basic WATCHING to simply ask him to stop. In fact they had a policy of "ignoring" minor indiscretions.

    If I lent my neighbor my water hose to water his garden.. But never checked for tree days he was filling his pool instead, the problem is between me and the water service people to cover that bill. It's not LEGALLY my neighbor's fault I didn't check at the end of the day my hose was turned off... Even if he "selectively forgot" to tell me it's still my job to remember to turn my hose off... Or pay the bill.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:02AM (#42724745) Journal

    The key issue (that I see) can lead to abuse is the widespread phenomenon of 'plea bargaining'.

    Bingo, been saying that for years. I'm also assuming they are judged by the quantity of convictions, not the quality of the charges. Other western nations seem to be able to get guilty pleas without turning the whole thing into a Turkish bazaar, so it's certainly possible that it could be improved by democratic oversight. The fact that someone in the US is 7X as likely as someone in the EU to be locked up is a pretty strong signal that there is a systemic problem within the US justice system.

  • Re:Um, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loughla (2531696) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:18AM (#42725411)

    This argument absolutely reeks of entitlement. Just because you are physically able to do something doesn't mean that you have the right to. The resource was not secured to begin with, that is correct, and it's MIT's fault.

    BUT, to use a comparison, it's like walking into your neighbor's house and taking his stuff simply because he forgot to lock his doors, then saying, "If he wanted to keep his stuff, he should have locked it up." That may be, but you shouldn't take the shit in the first place.

    Believe it or not, you're not entitled to do whatever you want until someone stops you. That's not how it's supposed to work, and that's not how healthy people are supposed to operate in a social system. We are supposed to cooperate, do what's right, and be decent people. Arguments like yours, and I assume people like you, are the reason that everyone has to lock their doors at night, lock their cars in their own driveways, and watch their kids when they play in the park. You are not entitled to break the law, no matter how easy it is to do.

    Oh, and if your neighbor used your hose to fill his pool, you have every right to sue for repayment under current laws.

  • by hjf (703092) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:21AM (#42725445) Homepage

    Lil nitpick: Máxima's father is not a "war" criminal since Argentina wasn't in a war at the time. Left-wing activists claim the man is a "represor" as they call them here. "Represores" were people in Argentina's last military governemnt who actively participated in the "forced disappearance" of dissidents.

    The man was Minister of Agriculture. The trend nowadays is to tag anyone who worked at the government at the time to be a "represor". By that measure, my mother must have been one, since she was a high school teacher (a state employee).

    You have to understand that Argentina is now under a "regime" of former leftist-revolutionaries. Most high profile government officials (even the president herself) have been part of the group known as Montoneros (a communist/anarchist revolutionary group known for bombing the restaurant of the police headquarter's, killing only policemen children and wives; and for kidnaping a plane, forcing it down in Formosa, and take a military base at 6 AM killing all soldiers -in training- while they were waking up or showering - poor soldiers no older than 20 who traded their day off with richer kids for a few pesos).

    Our minister of defense is a woman who was in the higher ranks of Montoneros, and photos of her in the jungle carrying an assault rifle have appeared and she hasn't denied. They failed in taking down the military at the time, so they're destroying it from inside now (look at the news of ships sinking IN THE PORT).

    So anything you hear from Argentina, take it with much care. This isn't a government of communists. This is a government of TERRORISTS.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:37AM (#42725659)

    All you have to do is sit on a jury and vote innocent on anyone that is brought up on a stupid law or on charges that are way over the top.

    There are lots of aspects of law that have nothing to do with jury trials.

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

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:37AM (#42725663) Homepage Journal

    This wasn't "clearly illegal" and in fact was just a "terms of service" violation where most ordinary people doing the things that Swartz was doing would even think was perfectly legal or even expected for legitimate scholarship. Where he crossed the line was doing more of it than most people..... sort of like going to an all you can eat buffet and filling up a dozen plates with food that you can't possibly eat in one sitting.

    Perhaps Swartz should have used some better judgement, and had something like his account terminated and perhaps be sent a bill for the "extra resources" he consumed (sort of like the restaurant example charging an extra fee for all of the wasted food), but it certainly didn't cross into the realm of criminal behavior as most people would define the term. Frankly I don't even understand why the Department of Justice was even involved in what was just an ordinary contract violation and should have been handled by a civil court judge at worst.... and a state judge at that. It shouldn't have even been a criminal matter in the first place.

  • Re:Borrowing money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:50AM (#42725801) Homepage

    The US has decided that the 6th Amendment was a bad idea. That jury trials just aren't worth it.

    Um, no. It's not quite that simple. The US (the vox populi) doesn't like it's justice system to appear "soft on crime" - and the justice system doesn't like defendants going free on appeals because the court dockets are too full and they couldn't get a speedy trail because that too gives the appearance of being "soft on crime" (and not doing their jobs). Hence, the plea bargain system evolved to unclog the pipeline, save the taxpayer's money, and send the defendants to jail (all wildly popular with the vox populi).

    Not to mention the increasing reluctance of the vox populi to actually serve on juries when called...

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

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:26PM (#42727205) Journal

    You just described the sick culture of the OP, without realizing it.

    Which was also part of the OP's point. Which you also did not realize.

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

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:45PM (#42728473) Homepage

    Are you joking? TOS violations are WAY worse than terrorism, at least to Holder, the DOJ, etc.

    When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists.
    ***
    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 == asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?

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

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

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:59PM (#42728707) Homepage

    He didn't. He committed a misdemeanor. The prosecutor inflated it into multiple felonies.

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

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @03:16PM (#42729871) Homepage

    No really, you need to fuck off. Where do you get off saying it's OK to charge a person with crimes that could bring 50 years for what Swartz did? Especially in the context where the same DOJ rewards people who helped drug kingpins and terrorists launder money for a decade. Where do you get any moral authority at all to say that the government should be able to absolutely crush ordinary citizens for barely recognizable crimes, all the while letting massive rampant Wall Street fraud that practically brought down the world economy go not just unpunished, but rewarded with the hard earned tax dollars of millions of Americans. Why is it OK for AT&T to help the Feds do illegal wiretapping and then be grantied retroactive immunity for that crime? Yet downloading some articles at a rate higher than allowed is supposed to warrant a possible life sentence, or at least almost all of a life on average?

    So yeah -- in all seriousness -- fuck off. You are part of the problem. Being silent is bad enough, but offering excuses for the oppressors -- that's beyond the pale. You are an enabler of this kind of corruption and slime, and you don't even get it. Wise up or fuck off.

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