January 13, 2013

Screen-Shot-2013-01-13-at-10.45.23-AMThe chronicle of Aaron Swartz got a little more twisted this afternoon with the inclusion of the US Secret Service into the supposed legal case against him — I really don’t understand how the freakin’ Secret Service could/should be involved in a case like this.

Reportedly, Swartz was arrested in July 2011, charged with illegally downloading academic journals from MIT for public consumption,  a crime similar to putting “…someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”

(Illustration: Screensaver of January 2011 Secret Service e-mail found here).

However, Swartz was actually first arrested in Jan.6, 2011, though, two days earlier the Secret Service took over the whole case.
Details at Emptywheel with the conclusion: But the involvement of the Secret Service just as it evolved from a local breaking and entry case into the excessive charges ultimately charged makes it clear that this was a nationally directed effort to take down Swartz.

Dan Kennedy at HuffPost brings the tragic Swartz scenario into focus with an eye toward the federal prosecutor, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz of Boston: By Sunday evening, nearly 9,000 people had signed an online petition asking President Obama to remove Ortiz. Swartz’s family released a statement that said in part: “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
Swartz did suffer from depression and to blame Ortiz is “unfair.”

Nevertheless, the case she was pursuing against Swartz was wildly disproportionate, and illustrated much that is wrong with our system of justice.
Nothing good can come from his death.
But at the very least it should prompt consideration of why such brutality has become a routine part of the American system of justice.

America is becoming a sad, bewildering place.

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