Monday, January 14, 2013

Turley On Aaron Swartz' Death By Prosecution

It has truly been remarkable, if not frightening, how few people in the legal community have spoken up about the Obama administration's outrageous prosecution of Aaron Swartz for a victimless crime, obviously in retaliation for political views he took that were contrary to the administration's views, which his family says contributed to his decision to take his own life over the weekend. One of my favorite constitutional scholars, Prof. Jonathan Turley, eloquently speaks out on his blog about the actions of the Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney, who is an alumnus of his own George Washington University School of Law.
The suicide of famed programmer and free access advocate Aaron Swartz shocked the world. However, the underlying story of the how the Obama Administration prosecuted — and, in the eyes of many, persecuted — Swartz for seeking to publish academic papers which were later released by MIT without charge. Nevertheless, United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and the Obama Administration relentlessly pursued Swartz and sought an absurd 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines before he took his own life. His family blames the Justice Department and Ortiz for his suicide. Swartz opposed the Administration’s fight against public access and particularly President Obama’s “Kill List.”  . . .
Swartz was one of this country’s most extraordinary individuals. At age 14, he helped create RSS, the tool allowing people to subscribe to online information. He later was a founder of a company that merged with Reddit where we get many of our daily stories . . .
Like many of us, Swartz was critical of increasingly stringent laws balkanizing information in our society from works to words to even common images. He however took that crusade to extraordinary lengths.
In 2008, he took on PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, for its charging of 10 cents a page for documents. I agreed with Swartz about this charge as being a barrier to public access to our courts and important cases. He argued correctly that there should be free access . . .
In 2011, Swartz took on JSTOR, the academic repository of papers and research. It is a subscription based service. He broke into the computer system at MIT through a utility closet using a laptop and a false identity. He downloaded 4.8 million documents. Notably, however, MIT chose not to pursue charges — to its credit. For many years, academics argued that such material should be free to the public as a matter of principle. Two days before Swartz’s death, MIT releases all documents publicly free of charge . . .
However, despite MIT’s position that it did not want to bring charges, Carmen M. Ortiz saw her chance. Ortiz is the United States Attorney for Massachusetts and a graduate of our law school who spoke recently at our commencement. Industry groups and lobbyists have long gotten what they wanted from Obama on criminalizing trademark and copyright violations. States have shown the same capture by industry groups. Swartz was a prime target as an advocate of public access and the Obama Administration threw everything that they had at him . . .
The abuse of Swartz speaks of industry capture of our government that has now claimed the life of one of the brightest of our country. He is the ultimate personification of how our copyright and trademark laws have been flipped on their head. Rather than protect creativity, they now stifle such creativity. We now have prosecutors and lawyers pursuing people like Swartz to prevent public access to information. His tragic image hanging in his apartment speaks to the dismal state of information control in this country. His was truly a beautiful mind and his death should galvanize his cause to empower citizens in their demand to breakdown the rising barriers to information in this country.
It is so alarming that time and time again President Barack Obama and his administration are permitted to thumb their nose at our constitution and our laws and simply rule by executive fiat to the great harm of our citizens--something our forefathers fought and sacrificed life and limb to win our country's independence from the British. Or even worse, to sit idly by while Congress passes and the President signs into law legislation that permits the President to order the assassination of any American citizen whenever a clique of national security experts deems such killing as necessary for national security interests. People who claim to be advocates and fighters of civil liberties and rights are shamelessly silent, as if all of a sudden it is okay when it's being done by a man with whom they have a frightening cult-like affinity. One liberal, pro-gay rights blog was filled with hateful comments demonizing Swartz because he refused to identify as a gay, straight or bisexual person, believing that his sexual oriention should be irrelevant to who he was as a person. And then people wonder how leaders like Adolph Hitler can come to power and commit such horrific human atrocities before finally being brought to justice. God help us.


Cato said...

This is not difficult. We all need to face the current American reality. Unless you're in sports, don't stand up. Don't be noticed. Don't excel. Don't dispute. Don't challenge. Don't have blogs criticizing the government. Just follow the lead; religiously enjoy the dominant entertainment, and do as you're told. Watch the game at Scotty's, and really convince yourselves that athletics are reality and that the success of a team makes you a better and happier person.

Above all, don't do anything that would cause the government to notice you or fear you.

If you want to make something of yourself, become a government man and land a government job, where your life will be far better, happier and more secure than anyone else. If you do well in the government, you will be revered as a hero and a great man.

Define success realistically. If you have a good widescreen tv, a full cable package, a modest place to live and a new car, that's about all that success can bring.

When the day comes, turn in your guns, and report your non-compliant neighbors to the authorities. The system can bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people, and anyone who disobeys the system or threatens the system is really just a danger to this grand attempt to make a good life for a large population.

The above is good advice for living happily in America. Obey. Comply. Be happy.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Not the kind of life and country I envisioned when I was growing up, but it's become the sad reality, Cato. The warning my sixth grade social studies teacher gave to my class about the bad things she saw coming in our futures unless this country changed was the most honest words I was taught growing up. I didn't understand why she said what she did at the time, but I do now. Oh do I understand.

SW Lane said...

I don't know which is worse nowadays, the government or those who fawn over such anti-constitutionist ideas propogated by the administration.

It's also sickly ironic that most of the people who deplore American military involvement overseas don't hesitate to use them as a threat against law-abiding citizens, i/e "going up against tanks, drones", etc only because they cannot stand guns, and never condemn those who misuse them, but lump all gun owners in the same boat and call them 'nut's or other such filth.

I hope and pray that the government doesnt listen to idiots like Obama, Feinstein, Shumer et al..because if their agenda is attempted, the blood that flowed in Conneticut last month will pale in comparison to what could be unleashed.

Cato said...

What blood in CT, SW? Show me one photo of blood. Or a bullet hole. Or a shell casing. Or (grisly, yes) a body.

Gary, lots of "suicides" when the government is involved.

SW, the people with the guns have been trained for two decades to support the flag, anthem, cops and troops through endless state worship at sporting events, in airports and in schools.

These sheep won't do anything but say "thank you for your service" to the police tac team in full tac gear that conducts its neighborhood rounds to collect guns.

The cops will collect guns without hesitation, because cops don't like an armed citizenry, and a cop's pension is far more important to him than the Constitution. The occasional cop who refuses will be shown the door and be stripped of certifications and benefits, and they'll hire someone else who will collect the guns.

The American people want the television, the high school football game, the car payment, far more than they want freedom.

SW Lane said...

I have more faith in the american public than you do Cato. While I agree with you that sports and circuses are a diversion, there are enough people who would say hell no to confiscation. And I have more faith in the majority of military and police who would disobey an unlawful order. This administrations actions will destroy both as a cohesive unit.

Or is that what you want?