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US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide 656

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."
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US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide

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  • Re:Catalyst (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:32AM (#42574159)

    Kinda unlikely. I neither have enough faith in the US population to be willing to fight for their freedom, nor enough faith in the US government to be reasonable enough to notice when they should go.

    This ain't Tunesia, ya know...

  • Re:terrorism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:43AM (#42574221)

    Typical american. You'd fight to have Guantanamo closed and I'm sure you criticize him for keeping the place open -- yet when it comes to someone you don't like, you have no problem condemning them to torture, physical and otherwise. You're no better than the attorney himself.

    If you want to stop something like this from happening again you need to take a good, long look in the mirror as a country. You're all guilty, guilty of negligence by putting these people into power and then sitting on your thumbs when they commit atrocities like this. Flail your arms and point fingers all you want but you are ALL TO BLAME.

  • The Aaron Swartz Act (Score:5, Interesting)

    by decora ( 1710862 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:04AM (#42574329) Journal

    1. To reform the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 to rationalize it with the 21st century by the following measure

    A. Repeal any and all language from the CFAA that originated in the Espionage Act of 1918 or its amended forms such as the McCarran Internal Security Act or the Subversive Activities Control Act of the 1950s.

    B. Alter the definition of "Protected Computer" so that the act only covers Federal Government and Financial computer systems, and no others.

    C. Remove any and all language that creates a crime simply because a computer is involved in an activity, where otherwise the activity would not be considered a crime.

    D. Specifically state that the Interstate Commerce Clause does not apply to the Act. Almost all modern communications are 1. done on a computer, and 2. interstate in nature. Whereas it is against the spirit of the Founding Fathers to have the Federal Goverment control every single communication in a Free country, this act should be adopted by the congress and signed by the President.

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

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:04AM (#42574335)

    The Man(tm) wanted to put him away for virtually his whole life.

    yes, at that age, x+35 IS your whole life.

    I bet a lot of people would off themselves if faced and what is, effectively, the end of their lifes and the absolute end of their freedom.

    NH says 'live free or die!'. I think living free is so important, maybe NH has a point, there.

  • Re:So now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:17AM (#42574439)

    No, we expect prosecutors not to be utter shitbags.

    But we do expect them to be shitbags. We reward prosecutors based on conviction rates, rather than just outcomes. Prosecutors are especially rewarded for winning "tough cases" (ie, cases where the defendant is likely to have been innocent).

    This one Carmen M Ortiz is obviously a psychopath that should never ever serve in a public office.

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

    Systems like this have been fixed before. In the 1970s and 1980s police were evaluated by their arrest rate. So the police were "successful" as arrest rates climbed as crime rates soared. In the 1990s we switched to evaluating the police on overall crime rates, and gave them an incentive to proactively discourage crime rather than just react to it. The result has been lower crime rates, and especially lower violent crime rates.

    Now it is time to do the something similar for prosecutors.

  • Re:So now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:32AM (#42574529)
    So hiding a laptop in a closet in order to download scientific articles is a crime worthy of decades in prison?
  • such BS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:40AM (#42574595)

    1. Swartz wasn't facing 30+ years unless he already had a bunch of prior violent felony convictions. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, he was facing maybe 6-24 months if he was convicted of everything.

    2. It was a victimless crime if you don't count anyone that works/studies at MIT, works at JSTOR, or uses JSTOR anywhere in the world. The entire campus was cut off as JSTOR/MIT scrambled to stop Swartz, who repeatedly attempted to circumvent the blocks put up by JSTOR/MIT over a period of weeks. Reports from JSTOR indicated that Swartz activities were causing servers to crash and were impacting other users. JSTOR backed down because of bad publicity, not because Swartz caused no harm.

    3. Trespassing, breaking and entering, unauthorized use of a computer system, and denial-of-service attacks are all crimes. Prosecutors don't need support of every victim or even any victim to pursue a case because they represent the People who have an interest in stopping such activities. Every day, wife beaters are convicted despite the protests of their spouses. You would think a law professor would know this kind of stuff but Lessig, by all appearances, is not much of a lawyer just a supreme bullshitter.

    4. Swartz had a lot of time to realize that he should probably stop his activities because the admins were on to him and trying to stop him but instead he escalated his crimes.

    5. Harvard must be incredibly embarassed to have brought this guy on as a Fellow in their Center for Ethics.

    6. There should an award in memory of Swartz for the person who's own actions cock up the greatest streak of good fortune. Maybe he didn't screw up as bad as OJ Simpson but you can't have a memorial award in the name of someone who isn't dead.

  • Remember Mitnick? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:54PM (#42575083)
    Kevin Mitnick got royally shafted for the crimes he committed. He was grossly mistreated and denied a swift trial, access to the evidence in the case against him and by all means, fair representation. What can happen to Mitnick, could happen to any white/grey/blackhat hacker, regardless of what they are accused of or how much of what they are accused of is actually true. In reality, Swartz could very well be looking at 5 years behind bars and the rest of his working life probation. For some reason US courts tend to put people in jail longer for hacking a computer and not stealing anything than for multiple violent armed robberies lately. He may not have gotten 35 years, but losing everything you have and not having a way to get back on track when you're out of jail is going to make most people rather depressed.
  • by divisionbyzero ( 300681 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:54PM (#42575087)

    governor's race now. If she had any hope of running for governor, as many claim that she does, this kind of PR should put an end to it. Bullying a 26 y/o until he commits suicide isn't going to play well even if the average person doesn't understand the case. And if what has been said so far about the case (i.e. ambitious prosecutor trying to make a name for herself over-zealously pursues disproportionate punishment for a victimless crime when she probably doesn't even understand how a network operates or what JSTOR is), then she is even more screwed. It's a small consolation but at least it's something.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:17PM (#42575277)

    I have an alternate proposal. The total cost of investigation + prosecution must be available for the defense. That is, if the cops and the crime lab and the prosecutors office spend $500,000 on the case, then you get that amount for the defense.

    The reason is simple - if someone is clearly guilty, the investigation is comparatively cheap. And if the cops spend a million bucks on prosecution, this usually means their case is weak and they are trying to amplify this weak signal as much as possible.

  • Re:So now (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @03:38PM (#42576251)

    Does it really matter whether it is 35 years (essentially a life sentence) or only 10? Either way I think suicide is a 100% rational choice in such a circumstance. You can wait until you are found guilty and sentenced but by then it will be too late to suicide via a method of your choice and it may not be possible at all.

  • by SlovakWakko ( 1025878 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @03:34AM (#42579917)
    People, what happened to you? I grew up in the communist block, and we used to like the USA, the country where you could express your opinion, where there was real justice, where anybody could live a decent life if he was willing to work, without everybody else trying to rob him... This seems so long ago. Now I see exactly what we have overthrown some 23 years ago - a totalitarian state with security everywhere and unprosecutable prosecutors (who watches the watchers? well, nobody does), where the government bullies a smart, standup guy, and his neighbours are so twisted by all the intellectual property hype that they don't do anything about it but rather rationalize their apathy by explaining to themselves how he actually did commit a crime. Looks to me like the terrorists already won, your precious freedom is long gone, and your stay in Afghanistan is just a waste of money. Feel free to hate me for this opinion, at least you will have some illusion of freedom ;)

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"