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US Attorney General Defends Handling of Aaron Swartz Case 276

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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  • 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 []:

    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 pgoldstein ( 603508 ) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:01AM (#43101247)
    John Cornyn is a Republican, not a Democrat - []. So it should be "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)"
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @12:15AM (#43101311) Journal
  • 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.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle