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US Attorney General Defends Handling of Aaron Swartz Case 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-some-good-police-work-there-lou dept.
TrueSatan writes in with the latest in the ongoing Aaron Swartz tragedy. "Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday said the suicide death of internet activist Aaron Swartz was a 'tragedy,' but the hacking case against the 26-year-old was 'a good use of prosecutorial discretion.' The attorney general was testifying at a Justice Department oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee and was facing terse questioning from Sen. John Cornyn (D-Texas). ...Holder stated: 'I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was. And I think what those prosecutors did in offering 3, 4, zero to 6 was consistent with that conduct.' Notwithstanding Holder's testimony, Massachusetts federal prosecutors twice indicted Swartz for the alleged hacking, once in 2011 on four felonies and again last year on 13 felonies. The case included hacking charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was passed in 1984 to enhance the government's ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or to disrupt or destroy computer functionality."
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US Attorney General Defends Handling of Aaron Swartz Case

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  • Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:11PM (#43100925)

    Huge asshole defends being a huge asshole. News at 11.

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:55AM (#43102431) Journal

      As all these happened in the United States of America, why don't we go back all the way to the beginning of the United States of America - to what the founding fathers had in mind for their new country

      What was the one thing that irritated the founding fathers the most ?

      An abusive government

      It was precisely because of the abuses from the Brits that the American colonialists just couldn't stand it no more and decided to take up arms and revolt

      There are over 200 countries in this world, and the United States of America is one of the handful of countries where not only popular revolution was the spark that had created the country, but also that the founding fathers was thoughtful enough to write down their wish and blessings for the new country that they had formed, and their wish was also expressed in the Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights

      The current form of the American government is exactly the form of government that the founding fathers would fight vehemently against

      As an American who isn't staying inside America, I am sad to say that most of my fellow Americans have no idea what America is all about

      How many of my fellow American understand the duty of being an American citizen?

      • Duty? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gwolf (26339) <gwolf@nOspaM.gwolf.org> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @09:56AM (#43103687) Homepage

        Did I read right? Does having been born in your country come with a duty to fulfill the desires of long-dead politicians who would most probably not understand the world as it is today?

        Many countries have a common story with yours, at least in the topic you mention. Countries founded on dreams, aspirations and ideals, and with debates and rationalizations serving as an ideological base. Mine (Mexico) does. And yes, many of those ideals are current, noble and worth defending — "El Generalísimo" José María Morelos, a half-black man, introduced the abolition of slavery (in 1812). Guadalupe Victoria and Vicente Guerrero (first and second presidents) fought for the country to be a democratic republic. But some of the ideals (i.e. assuring there would be only one accepted and tolerated religion, Catholicism) are just anachronic, and had to be completely scraped and rethought — Even within 50 years of their procclamation!

        So, yes, very nice that your Founding Fathers had some vision on what they were seeking. But principles must be debated all along as progress is made, as time passes. Read, yes, the Federalist Papers. But debate them, don't follow them blindly! If you disagree, please make sure your fellow citizens understand your disagreeing! Shape your country different wherever it needs to be reshaped!

        • So as society progresses slavery might be a good idea again? Some principles are in fact eternally valid. Yes, everything can be debated, but most people lack understanding, and are wisest when they are humblest.
        • Re:Duty? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dywolf (2673597) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @01:29PM (#43106125)

          some ideals are timeless and beyond debate.
          life
          liberty
          freedom from oppression
          those are the core ideals, around whcih the rest are based. it is only the rest that need be logically debated and considered and reexamined from time to time.

          one such "reexamining", led to the civil war, and resulted in the 14th amendment.
          another resulted in women sufferage
          another the civil rights movement

          these reexaminings of the logical constructs we have made based on the core ideals are important. we said "liberty for all", but originally only applied it to white male property owners. we've since gotten past that.

          but when people start to question the core ideals, then it's time to start over because the society itself has lost its way and needs a refresher course.

          and yes, Duty. freedom/liberty has a price. it is not self-perpeuating. it needs constant pushing against outside and inside forces that would snuff it out.

    • Re:Duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by boorack (1345877) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:44PM (#43108867)

      The same asshole claims that no criminal prosecutions should be launched against big banks because this would "jeopardize whole financial system". Even if this is HSBC laundering drug cartels money en masse and financing Al-Queida terrorist operations (I'm not joking - just search through news from last 3 monts and read this yourself!).

      So you see who this asshole is working for - certainly not for you. Not for me. His view of "justice" means serving US oligarchic elites and fuck everyone else. Whole justice system of US is fucked up far beyond repair and if Eric Holder's isn't clear manifestation of this rotteness, then I don't know what is.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:12PM (#43100931)

    The puppy sitting next to a big poo on the carpet also claims that it wasn't his fault...

    • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:54PM (#43101197)

      The puppy sitting next to a big poo on the carpet also claims that it wasn't his fault...

      Yes, but a puppy is too young to know better. Puppies can be trained not to shit on everything, unlike US Attorney Generals.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:35AM (#43101405)

        " Even after that, a plea offer was made of a range of from zero to 6 months that he would be able to argue for a probationary sentence. The government would be able to argue for up to a period of 6 months."

        You can see the problem here, he's arguing that the guy's rights are dependent on him pleading guilty. He should have been charged with a crime that had a 6 month sentence, but instead they charge him with crimes which would have locked him away for most of his life, in ORDER TO FORCE HIM TO SKIP THE TRIAL AND PLEAD GUILTY.

        And admitting they thought a 6 month sentence was appropriate confirms they shouldn't have gone for the more serious crimes.

        So MIT and JSTOR didn't think a criminal charge was appropriate, which removed their evidence. That removed the 'exceeded access authority' (they dropped that charge when it became untenable) and the 'didn't have access authority' claim was dodgy as f*** since he certainly did have authority to access the site.

        So the charges they had against were untenable. They then piled on a load of BS Federal claims to try to go for the smear tactic. The 'he's charged with 13 crimes so he must be guilty of at least one of them' tactic. Make it so risky that he has to accept the plea bargain.

        And here the prosecutor is confirming the only way to get an appropriate sentence was to go for the plea. Which confirms what we know.

        Really, the prosecutor is abusing the system, he might think its for the greater good (to reduce court ques and put more people in jail), but its not. Carmen Ortiz on the other hand is the real criminal here, she literally used this case as a stepping stone in her political career.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:12PM (#43100935) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully now they can sweep them all out, from the AG all the way down to the frontline prosecutor. As a warning to others that "Justice" in "Justice Department" is not some vestigal null word.
    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@cUMLAUTox.net minus punct> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:32PM (#43101059)

      Uh.

      What he did was really illegal.

      SHOULD it be super illegal? No. Of course not.

      We also need a sea change in both jurisprudence and how we view crime. You know part of this is him trying to keep his ass out of hot water in the mainstream press. If we change how we as a people view crime and justice, there wouldn't be this snap call to be "tough on crime."

      Rationality has left our culture. It's happening on both sides, but in Swartz's defense, and those who are outraged by Holder and everyone involved, now is not the time for well reasoned disconnected logic.

      Someone died because a prosecutor turned the screw over an incident where no money was lost, no lives were lost and by all measure, relatively harmless.

      To blame Holder or the prosecutor specifically ignores the bigger social context at work. That needs to change. We need to not forget what happened here.

      • This vaguely sounded disconnected and appealing to rationality when that was the thing I was arguing against.

        I advocate for well reasoned and thoughtful outrage.

      • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:47PM (#43101159)

        What he did was really illegal.

        SHOULD it be super illegal? No. Of course not.

        This is not the issue.
        The problem is that plea-bargaining mechanism (an abomination in itself) leads to situation where to get 6 months (!) he was threatened with something like 30 or 50 years (yes, yes, federal guidelines, blah blah, but the judge would have discretion and it could lead to a lot more than 6 months)

        Prosecutors should be barred from piling on an unreasonable number of charges just to scare the defendant into plea bargain.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:25AM (#43101355)

        What he did was really illegal.

        Whether something is illegal or not has no bearing on whether it is ethical or moral. And there are also shades of illegality. It is, for example, illegal to be publicly intoxicated, and yet if you go downtown you are sure to spot drunk people parading about, along with many police officers watching them do so. There's a reason why public intoxication is illegal, just as there are equally compelling reasons why the officers don't give a damn. Morality and ethics is the short answer.

        You know part of this is him trying to keep his ass out of hot water in the mainstream press.

        Do you mean the corpse, or the attorney general? I'm going to go with attorney general: His ass isn't in hot water. It's his job to ensure that the laws are applied fairly, and that the laws themselves are fair. As long as he's doing his job, he should have nothing to fear. So if his ass is in the proverbial hot water, then it's because he wasn't doing his job properly, which in turn means myself, and many others, are quite pleased to see him get a thorough roasting for causing a situation so repugnant.

        If we change how we as a people view crime and justice, there wouldn't be this snap call to be "tough on crime."

        You're assuming that an enhanced understanding of the problem will solve it. That illusion is one of mankind's oldest.

        Rationality has left our culture.

        That implies it was ever present. Even tracing back to the very foundations of our society, we can find plenty of examples of how irrationality dragged us forward. One might even argue that a dose of irrationality is exactly what's needed sometimes -- if you are known for having a strongly vindictive nature, then even though someone may be stronger than you and able to beat you up, they may leave you alone because you're simply not worth the effort. Is being vindictive rational? No of course not: It could earn you an ass pounding! And yet, counterintuitively, that's exactly what it prevents.

        Someone died because a prosecutor turned the screw over an incident where no money was lost, no lives were lost and by all measure, relatively harmless.

        No, someone committed suicide because society had no place for them. What he was doing may have had value to him, but society as a whole has, through its legal system, has made it so even in cases where there is no financial or physical harm to others, said that what he was doing had no value. Since what he was doing was at the core of who he was (obviously, since it drove him to kill himself when he was deprived of it), it is more accurate to say society had no place for him. Whether that's moral, or ethical, right, or wrong, I leave to you. But that is why he died.

        To blame Holder or the prosecutor specifically ignores the bigger social context at work.

        The larger social context here is that nobody gives a damn. It's apathy and indifference on a mass scale. There's no need to make vague motions towards a "larger social context", as though that means something more than "people are fucking self-centered, lazy assholes." It doesn't sound as academic, as intellectual, to say that, but it's closer to the truth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The larger social context here is that nobody gives a damn. It's apathy and indifference on a mass scale. There's no need to make vague motions towards a "larger social context", as though that means something more than "people are fucking self-centered, lazy assholes." It doesn't sound as academic, as intellectual, to say that, but it's closer to the truth.

          It's also really fucking lazy. Because this isn't about JUST Swartz.

          How many people are in prison or on death row or even dead because prosecutors are under pressure to get convictions? Or how many Governors are just simply unwilling to grant pardons or approve parole because of Willie Horton?

          Ignoring why is so superficial and what's wrong with our political system right now. No amount of voter or finance reform will matter unless we stop responding to having hot buttons pressed and giving into sensationali

        • Whether something is illegal or not has no bearing on whether it is ethical or moral. And there are also shades of illegality. It is, for example, illegal to be publicly intoxicated, and yet if you go downtown you are sure to spot drunk people parading about, along with many police officers watching them do so. There's a reason why public intoxication is illegal, just as there are equally compelling reasons why the officers don't give a damn. Morality and ethics is the short answer.

          And whether it is ethical

        • by fredprado (2569351) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @01:14AM (#43101609)

          No, someone committed suicide because society had no place for them. What he was doing may have had value to him, but society as a whole has, through its legal system, has made it so even in cases where there is no financial or physical harm to others, said that what he was doing had no value. Since what he was doing was at the core of who he was (obviously, since it drove him to kill himself when he was deprived of it), it is more accurate to say society had no place for him. Whether that's moral, or ethical, right, or wrong, I leave to you. But that is why he died.

          You make it sound as if the legal system represents society's will, which is obviously not the true (and never was). Society had a place for him, but those who rule did not, and despite any illusions you may have of living in a democracy, rest assured those who rule are not the people.

      • by Rashkae (59673) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @01:04AM (#43101543) Homepage

        The 'crime' here was violatoin of terms of service. It was the equivalent of having out too many library books at the same time. It is the *same* Federal crime as creating a Facebook or Google+ profile under an assumed name.

        Prosecuters refused any plea bargain that did not involve jail time because Aaron was politically emberassing to some.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Uh. What he did was really illegal."

        Uh. No, it wasn't.

        He had authorization to download files from the source in question, though the TOS said he was not authorized to do it automatically. He wasn't "stealing" anything, or even violating copyright.

        He had authorization to be on campus. A sign said he did not have authorization to be in that particular room. BUT... it is important to note that he simply walked through the door. He did not "break and enter" or pick any locks or anything of that nature.

        All Aaron Swartz violated were other

    • by CncRobot (2849261)

      Why would you think this would happen? After the 200+ people killed in Mexico because of him and he doesn't even have to answer questions about it, why would he even have to be bothered admitting this happened?

    • by Scutter (18425) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:37PM (#43101105) Journal

      Fast and Furious wasn't enough to even make him break a sweat. Hell, Waco happened and Janet Reno skated. This won't even be a blip on the DOJ's radar.

      • This won't even be a blip on the DOJ's radar.,

        "Guantanamo Bay called sir, something about not being on the radar? They say we're routinely torturing the shit out of hundreds of people for years at a go, and they are kept on suicide watch all the time because if they had the chance, every single one of them would kill themselves in moments."

        DOJ: "I thought I told you I wanted a LIGHTLY toasted bagel! Wait, what were you saying again?"

      • by funwithBSD (245349) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @01:55AM (#43101815)

        This is the guy that gyrated for quite some time today trying to avoid a simple question:

        It is constitutional legal to use a drone to kill a US citizen, on US soil, if he does not present a clear and present danger?

        "It would be inappropriate." - Eric Holder

  • Derp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:12PM (#43100939)

    The case included hacking charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was passed in 1984 to enhance the government's ability to

    ... be so overly vague as to make anyone who uses a computer for any reason, by any method, a felon? Because that act is the quintessential example of how not to do it, and it's quoted by law professors all over the country as a shining example of the problems caused by strict liability laws.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      vague as to make anyone who uses a computer for any reason, by any method, a felon?

      Yes!
      And the best part is that with such vague laws, the prosecutor could decide to go after anyone they want. The laws don't have to be enforced -- everyone is a felon and can be charged as needed.

      There should be a law requiring to pursue existing charges against everyone and not based on prosecutor discretion. That would cut down on ridiculous laws overnight.

      • Re:Derp (Score:5, Insightful)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:09AM (#43101283)

        There should be a law requiring to pursue existing charges against everyone and not based on prosecutor discretion. That would cut down on ridiculous laws overnight.

        There wouldn't be anyone left then, except perhaps newborns... who would promptly starve to death since any adult capable of taking care of them would be in jail. It would, quite literally, be the end of human life in this country -- there is no person alive who doesn't commit a crime deserving of jail every week in the course of his/her everyday activities.

        And you don't need vague laws for prosecutors to go after anyone they want... it just makes it easier. All you need is a big helping of the just world hypothesis [wikipedia.org] and a side of Milgram's obedience experiments [berkeley.edu] to clean up anyone who doesn't get suckered by the first one.

        This is the morality sieve in every culture that has allowed freedom and liberty to de-evolve into tyranny and abuse of power: Anyone hurt by it deserved it and anyone who disagrees vocally enough to start convincing others this is not the case will be punished, and naturally then, they deserved it too. As far as why people go along with things they clearly know are wrong or hurtful... it's because they're afraid of being punished by The Authorities. But here's the real interesting thing... when you add in a helping of Bureaucracy, then you can have an abstract authority where no one person is responsible. When you divide responsibility amongst even a small number [southeastern.edu] of people, then nobody takes responsibility, nobody is at fault, and the process continues on its merry, eating people left and right. "I was just following orders."

        • there is no person alive who doesn't commit a crime deserving of jail every week in the course of his/her everyday activities.

          I hear that stated a lot, but I've never been convinced. What laws are these normal people breaking every day that would put them in jail? Are you sure this isn't just hyperbole?

          Don't get me wrong, I know there are laws on the books that are ridiculous, and I think it should be simplified, I'm just not convinced that most people break laws deserving of jail every day.

            • I've seen that book, but it's not very convincing. I haven't committed any of those felonies in the last week, or even in the last year. I can't even call in sick to get a sick day off, because I don't have sick days.

              So yes, I know there are laws that are overly broad, but it's not very convincing that everyone commits felonies that could land them in jail every week.
              • Re:Derp (Score:4, Insightful)

                by fredprado (2569351) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @02:17AM (#43101929)
                I am quite sure you think nothing of this would apply to you, until it does. But you can rest assured that there are a few thousands more laws that can and will apply to you if a prosecutor ever feel the need to stretch them a little.
                • If that's all you have to offer, then there is no point left. All your evidence has vanished to speculation. I appreciate the effort, though.
  • by Hangtime (19526) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:12PM (#43100941) Homepage

    Between Fast and Furious, Swartz, and now giving the OK on drone strikes against US citizens in America - he doesn't have a friend in the world, he has ticked off everyone.

    • by mkiwi (585287) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:26PM (#43101031)

      Between Fast and Furious, Swartz, and now giving the OK on drone strikes against US citizens in America - he doesn't have a friend in the world, he has ticked off everyone.

      Don't worry, there are still plenty of people drinking the Kool-aid. People tend to chain themselves to a particular ideology because it makes life easier to absorb. The "us vs. them" mentality is a basic human survival mechanism.

      What will be interesting to find out is how Obama is perceived after the "not so nice" parts of his healthcare law take effect in a couple years––then scholars truly can debate who was worse, Bush II or Obama.

    • Except Obama?
  • If he tells a Justice Department oversight hearing that a prosecutor who worked for him drove a man to suicide then he may as well resign on the spot.

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:24PM (#43101021) Homepage Journal
      It would be the honorable thing to do.
      • I'm immediately reminded of the opening scene in "Serenity" where The Operative is describing to the admin official how, in the old days, when someone failed so completely, as he had, that they would commit suicide. The official retorts about being in a more modern era or some such and The Operative... helps him do things the way they used to.

    • by Genda (560240)

      Folks, the creature staked out in front of the White House, make no mistake is a pitbull. It may wear an expensive three piece suit and answer to the name "Attorney General", but the long polished teeth, wide muscular muzzle, ripped forelegs and haunches bespeak an animal more fit to tear the heads off other dogs. Asking it if it thinks its lust for blood and fresh meat have any moral justification is just a piss poor use of your breath. Its a pitbull. Jeez! Its simply doing what it was lead and bred to do.

  • Same DOJ That (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:29PM (#43101045)
    This is the same DOJ that denied knowledge of gunwalker. This is the same DOJ that that is in cahorts with ICE to take-down websites without due process. This is the same DOJ that...spends thousands going after gambling sites, illegal 'copycap' handbags and sports paraphernalia, etc.

    For being the entity known as the United States Department of Justice, going after torrent sites, going after guys scraping and trying to release academic journals, proprietors of gambling sites, people making gucci wannabe purses, and allowing the sale of guns to cartels....talk about wrong priorities.

    Fuck you people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      > This is the same DOJ that...spends thousands going after ... illegal 'copycap' handbags and sports paraphernalia, etc.

      So what the heck is wrong with going after this sort of stuff? Trademark infringement is seriously bad news. Ask anyone who has gotten fake merchandise thinking it was genuine.

      • Re:Same DOJ That (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@@@gmail...com> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:35AM (#43101411)

        > This is the same DOJ that...spends thousands going after ... illegal 'copycap' handbags and sports paraphernalia, etc.

        So what the heck is wrong with going after this sort of stuff? Trademark infringement is seriously bad news. Ask anyone who has gotten fake merchandise thinking it was genuine.

        My sarcasm meter is off but.... seriously? People who buy a 10 dollar Iphone or a 4 euro gucci purse know what they are getting....point me the the pool of angry people getting fake merchandise unintentionally and I'll point you to a DOJ that prosecutes serious issues of criminal action where actual victims lost life/liberty/pursuit of happiness. Currently they seem to be prosecuting to take those same things away away from whoever their super pac funded blame-thrower is aimed at...making them the wanton aggressor....not the guy pushing handbags or the site taking bets on a football game.

      • Re:Same DOJ That (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:40AM (#43101441) Homepage

        No one on Canal Street has any delusions.

        Don't try to kid us with your claims that trademark in this case is being wielded to the benefit of the consumer. The consumer knows what's going on and wants a cheap knockoff. They would never buy the real thing anyway (for lack of funds). So they aren't really relevant to the poor aggrieved trademark owner.

        You're focusing on the wrong "victim" here. No one cares about the overpriced designer. They can go to hell for all we care.

        Genuine consumer protection issues are interesting but that's not what this is about. Although you will happily help muddle the issue for situations have have ZERO consumer protection concerns.

      • by makubesu (1910402)
        Didn't you read? They spent thousands!
    • So it turns out that the government is inhabited by the same sorts of capricious assholes that one encounters in the private sector. We can ignore private businesses and individuals but the government has ways of forcing the issue, as the DOJ has so amply demonstrated with their handling the Aaron Schwartz affair, among others. Perhaps the libertarians are on to something with this idea of small and limited government? Nah, that would make too much sense. Those who argue for more powerful government and gre
    • Yeah, gunwalking. That sounds really bad. The facts, however, are a bit different than had been reported initially.

      This is an illuminating read: http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/06/27/fast-and-furious-truth/ [cnn.com]

      --AC

  • A Culture of Fear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:36PM (#43101101)

    There has been a significant trend in America that punishment is intended not to provide a reasonable deterrent to crime, but to set an example to keep the rest in line. The higher the possible sentence, the more likely it is for the defendant to plead down to something, or be turned against another defendant in exchange for immunity. All of this is intended to save the prosecutor the hassle of making his case in court.

    Eric Holder is promoting a legal version of the Tarkin Doctrine.

  • Which party? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:44PM (#43101143) Homepage

    terse questioning from Sen. John Cornyn (D-Texas).

    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    John Cornyn III (born February 2, 1952) is the senior United States Senator for Texas, serving since 2002. He is a member of the Republican Party and the current Senate Minority Whip for the 113th Congress. Cornyn previously served as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2007-2011.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Yes this jackass is politically motivated. That's the beauty of the American system. This goes ALL the way back to the beginning. If one party gets out of line with something like the Alien and Sedition acts, then the other party can pounce come the next election.

      Personally I think that Cornyn is a big fat jackass that sends form letters to his real constituents that don't even attempt to hide is insistence on pandering to out of state interests. Although I am happy that our interests manage to align just t

    • Sorry about that...I (submitter of this article to /.) took the offending part from TFA and didn't double check to see if it was correct.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:53PM (#43101189)

    Change the law such that the owner of the computer system that was accessed without authorization has to "press charges" before the feds can investigate.

    If the owner of the computer does not want the alleged offense prosecuted, no prosecution can go ahead.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tftp (111690)

      If the owner of the computer does not want the alleged offense prosecuted, no prosecution can go ahead.

      Not worth the ink on paper.

      DOJ: "Sign here that you want him prosecuted."
      Server owner: "But I don't want to hurt him."
      DOJ: "OK, then I must treat you as a conspirator; you will be arrested in a few minutes. By the way, the English-Arabic dictionary that the guy illegally downloaded may have been used to translate the drawings of a nuclear weapon. You will be charged with terrorism. Or, perhaps, you

  • John Cornyn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday March 06, 2013 @11:56PM (#43101205) Homepage Journal
    While I would like to see this case be the impetus to reform the way we deal with criminals, John Cornyn is not the one who is going to do it. This is just a political ploy to gain points with the right wingnuts. Cornyn sponsored a bill that would force anyone detained by the police to submit a DNA sample. Not arrested, no arraigned, not indicted, but simply stopped by a police officer for no apparent reason. He fully supports the patriot act and wiretapping without a warrant. He in no way is concerned that the police and prosecutors have too much power. He is simply one of those people who is leveraging people fear of the man in the office of the presidency. He is simply trying to win the next election.

    I would add one more thing. While I really question what happened in this case, I also know that when you play with the big dogs you have to be able to deal with getting bit. Someone like Schwartz who father gave him ample opportuniteit and who was private school educated may have they did not have to live in the real world. Maybe they thought they had protection, and when they did not it frightened him. I saw this a lot when I was growing up, and even now. There were some white kids in Louisiana, for instance, who thought it might be fun to taunt the black boys. They were asked nicely to stop, but they did not. When retaliation did occur then thought it was very unfair. After all they were white and protected. I am not saying that the cases are similar, just that some people don't know that real world consequences exist. We live in a dangerous world where people, especially powerful people, will retaliate with excessive force. Fairness is not the point. Solving the problem is. Some of us have had experience with this from a young age

    Compare this case to Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. The retaliation against them are orders of magnitude greater than against Schwartz, yet they are dealing with it the best they can. Actions have Consequences. Thoreau was against the war, did not pay taxes, and went to jail. He honored his conscience and paid the price. Just as we all do.

  • by pgoldstein (603508) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:01AM (#43101247)
    John Cornyn is a Republican, not a Democrat - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cornyn [wikipedia.org]. So it should be "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)"
    • It was also an error in TFA...I submitted this article and had assumed that they had it right.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:15AM (#43101311) Journal
    FUCK. YOU. ASSHOLE.
  • The part of the CFAA being used against Aaron Swartz was designed exclusively for ATMs. Any variance is an abuse of authority on the part of the prosecutors, who reinterpreted a law just to prosecute a benign act. Eric Holder should be held accountable for an abuse of justice and for murder.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:26AM (#43101367) Homepage

    Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz
    http://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck [whitehouse.gov]

    Remove Attorney General Eric Holder from office
    http://wh.gov/GGrN [wh.gov]

  • The focus should not be on the fact that the statute lists 35 years, or that Ortiz offered him a plea bargain of 3 months. The question is more fundamental: Why did anyone even think to prosecute this guy at all, when J-STOR dropped the charges?

  • Every prosecutor wants the POWER to DICTATE the plea bargain that the prosecutor thinks is fair.

    That is a good thing because it enables cost-effective prosecution of bad guys.

    But every prosecutor craves that POWER, and we must watch out that we don't give them too much, of it, because we all know about absolute power . . ..

    Aaron Swartz got SCREWED. We need changes in our copyright law NOW! NEVER FORGET!

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @01:51AM (#43101789)

    Today, Holder testified before the Senate: "US Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill today, and discussed the lack of criminal cases against financial institutions in the aftermath of the financial crisis." -- Forbes magazine online [forbes.com]

    Contrast this with Aaron Swartz. A soft target. It's unclear how much, if any, of a net cost he imposed with his illegal downloads of journal articles. "Illegal Downloads Of Journal Articles." It even sounds trivial. And they hounded him for it. To death. They presented the credible possibility of decades in jail to him.

    But, as always, follow the money. Wall Streets spends a tremendous amount of money on federal politicians so they can keep running their swindles and funnel part of the proceeds back to Washington. Swartz was paying little if anything to the politicians as he was trying to provide information to the public at no personal gain.

    To understand what's going on here, you have to understand politicians: "No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind." -- Thomas Sowell [nationalreview.com]

  • Plea bargains.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @01:57AM (#43101829) Homepage Journal

    Plea bargains make people plead guilty all the time. I remember when Wennatchee sex ring scandal [wikipedia.org] happened. The whole population wanted justice, hang the child rapists! The state went for life sentences for all 40+ people accused.
    Many of the people pleaded guilty when they faced life in prison. Only after years of litigation did it come out the entire thing was a hoax. No child was raped.

    The stresses this young man faced shouldn't be the norm. Obama was suppose to be the voice the people, the people who work in his administration should echo his values.

    I can only hope that a 3rd party takes off someday, we really need to vote the bastards out, not vote pretend in a 2 party system.

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:46AM (#43103251)
    A quieter version of John Ashcroft. Not as preachy, but just as thuggish.
  • a good use of prosecutorial discretion.

    Like, the prosecutorial discretion of doing absolutely nothing with the fat cats that nearly ruined the economy? Like that kind of prosecutorial discretion?

    Damned bought-out hypocrites. They have no right to bring "prosecutorial discretion" as a justification until we see "prosecutorial discretion" being used fairly and uniformingly.

    This was not a case of prosecutorial discretion. It was a case of selective Javertism fueled by ulterior motives. At least the mythical Javert would prosecute everyone. So these prosecutors are even worse.

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @09:26AM (#43103475) Journal

    I wish I could say that Holder was our worst Attorney General. He's criminally corrupt and incompetent to boot, the fact that he's still there speaks to the poor judgement and childish stubbornness of the President of the United States. Seriously, he should have been out a long time ago, and the way certain people get flung under buses for nothing (Shirley Sherrod, Sheila Bair) while others get to hang on forever shows you what this administration and this President really believes in, in case anyone was in doubt.

    But if you compare him to his predecessors, it's not that he looks better but that he looks like he fits in. Janet Reno literally put people in prison for Witchcraft, and Alberto Gonzales.presided over the dismantling of many constitutional protections.

    So, they've been a bad bunch, and it's an office people really need to pay attention too.

    I expect Carmen Ortiz will be an Attorney General some day.

  • by ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:27PM (#43105347)

    Defund DOJ until this thug resigns for both Fast & Furious and Aaron Swartz. This lawless administration only understands money & force, because that is how they do things.

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