Petition to have Carmen Ortiz removed as US Attorney over Aaron Swartz death

Needs 25,000 signatories to get a government response.

Statement by his family:

Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. 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 and its own community's most cherished principles.



Free tagging: 


Not a joke

I think it's probably not a joke to his parents that their son is dead, Whitey.

A brilliant man was hounded to suicide by Carmen Ortiz' threat that he would spend the rest of his life in prison for the stupendous crime of breaking a paywall on journal articles.

If you don't see the problem with that, perhaps you would be happier in Putin's Russia.

Personally, I don't know how Carmen Milagros Ortiz can live with herself, knowing that nothing she could possibly do in her life will bring her contribution to humanity up to zero.

Way, way off....

No one can be hounded to suicide. It's a choice. A selfish one, but still a choice. Are you saying you'd off yourself rather than go to the can?

Myths of suicide

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Suicide as being a selfish act is a myth. See Thomas Joiner. The Myths of Suicide. Why People Die by Suicide.

Get off yer high horse of cruelty.

Aaron's family said

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His parents and partner think there were three factors,

  • He was being bullied by the US Attorney per Harvard Law Prof Lessig but JSTOR did not press charges. In fact, JSTOR decided last Wednesday to make millions of the scholarly journals publicly available. MIT has been ambiguous about whether it pressed charges or not. Swartz was massively overcharged. The involvement of the Secret Service just as the case 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.
  • Aaron had battled spells of depression when the things that normally made him happy did not.
  • The prospect of spending thirty years in jail and being subject to sexual assault was overwhelming.

Was it a choice? Yes, seen through the lens of depression and the very real likelihood of three decades of incarceration, humiliation and physical abuse.

Six months incarceration *IF* he plead guilty to 13 felonies

Six months incarceration *IF* he plead guilty to 13 felonies and over 30 years if he went to trial to defend his innocence and lost. FWIW, many of the 13 sentences would have been served concurrently

The point here is that the Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann refiled his indictment and went from 4 charges to 13 to "convince" him to plead guilty.

The government's case was premised on contract law -- network terms of use -- not criminal law. In contract law, breaches are resolved with civil suits where the damaged party shows damages. This "crime" was breaking terms of use agreement and calling it a felony. JSTOR, the damaged party, told the government it did not want to see Aaron Swartz prosecuted. In fact, a few weeks before he died, JSTOR put millions of the scholarly papers on the Internet available for the world to read.

What's most shocking is the lack of judgment Carmen Ortiz demonstrated in her inability to distinguish an online crime in which real property is stolen, like credit cards or bank deposits, from an act of civil disobedience where publicly-funded intellectual property is copied to make a principled argument -- that publicly-funded research should be available to everyone who paid for it (taxpayers) and anyone who wants to learn from it.

Some compassion for Aaron's choice

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I heard that Aaron Swartz's legal expenses over 2 years had eaten up his funds, and that his parents were going to mortgage their home to pay his legal defense. Perhaps Aaron made an unselfish choice to spare his parents economic hardship... What right do you have to judge him?

thinking suicide is a choice

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thinking suicide is a choice clearly shows you know little about people committing suicide.

they don't see it as an option. most see it as a final solution to get rid of their problems.

it's sad to see that some people see suicide as a choice.

by the way, there is also the expression 'driven to commit suicide'


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Suicide is not a "choice". It has to do with depression. Depression (as we are beginning to understand) has to do with brain chemistry. It's quite sad to see a society that is so poorly informed. What's worse is to see a justice system that is owned and out of control.

All’s but naught; Patience is

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All’s but naught;
Patience is sottish, and impatience does
Become a dog that’s mad. Then is it sin
To rush into the secret house of death
Ere death dare come to us?
. . . Good sirs, take heart.
We’ll bury him, and then, what’s brave, what’s noble,
Let’s do ’t after the high Roman fashion
And make death proud to take us.

Ant. and Cleo., IV, xv

Suicide is Selfish?

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Suicide is a sociological issue, not a selfish one. Open up a book. Also; the charges he was facing, in all due respect, was bull. The dude did what he did as a non selfish act and he was facing 35 years for it.

"It's a choice" seems to

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"It's a choice" seems to ignore a large body of empirical evidence. That "choice," for example, is well documented to run in families. Do you think clinical depression is a choice, or other forms of chronic pain? Suicide may be done in a moment of depression or unclear thinking, and it is tragically irreversible. However, there is no evidence that it is a choice. In fact, most survivors of suicide attempts will tell you that they "changed their mind" just after taking the action.

That is actually a very

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That is actually a very uneducated thing to say. No one can have the choice to commit suicide made for them, true.

However, the situation can be manipulated externally to lead a person to beleive there is no happy ending, so the quick is preferable.

Aaron being as politically inclined as he was couldn't conceive of a life with his liberties stripped away. Felonies take away your right to bear arms, your right to vote. This man did everything eh could to encourage others to vote.

Carmen Ortiz is knowing instigator that lit the ring of fire around the scorpion. she knew what she was doing was going to twist and wry Aaron's soul, in attempt to get him to confess, a practice that is highly unethical. We use this in our justice system alot, but when you combine these malevolent tactics with the inability to gauge excess, not to mention a clinically depressed (and documented) and you just had a shitstorm, there's no way to get around that.

While the Stress of the

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While the Stress of the situation might have affected him to the point where he commits suicide it is still his choice. People are who they are based off of their environment, aaron might have commuted suicide because of his highly stressful environment. But the converse of the situation could be said true also, for example: A happy person continues to live as they have to because their happy and its therefore impossible for them to kill themself (your logic) but it isn't really like that a person who continues living and is perfectly happy could easily kill themself at any point in time therefore them continuing to live is obviously their choice. We are who we are because of all the attributing factors of our environment, our genetics, and our memories, all of these combined make everyone who they are therefore who I am because of my environment and who Aaron was because of his enviorment is still Aaron and we all become someone knew with every memory, change in environment, and slight cellular decay. This does not make my actions any less my choice just because it isnt the choices I would made under different circumstances, infact I wouldn't even be me without my enviorment. So just because Aarons environment was an attributing factor to his unfortunate demise does not make it ant less his choice because we as humans are inseparable from all the factors that make us who we are and we are just the combined result of data collected over all our years of life. So to say Aaron didn't have a choice is idiotic because Aarons environment made Aaron, Aaron.

Not the whole story

Yes, he wanted open access to research. So do I. But he broke and entered on the MIT campus and tapped into their network without authorization. You don't get a pass on criminal activities just because your end intent is good.

Not asking for a free pass

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I don't think people (or most anyway) felt he deserved a free pass. He committed a crime. However the prosecution was overreaching and excessive in their pursuit, with a potential sentence of 30 years.

Even the financial consequences of his actions were overblown - these were academic articles. The academic and corporate institutions that need access to these articles have longstanding subscriptions which did not stop just because an individual made some articles available. It was a political statement which did no physical harm to anyone and very little financial harm as well.

"Some" articles?

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Like, 4 million that he downloaded on a network he broke into?

He had legal access to the

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He had legal access to the network, actually, as Harvard and MIT have a network sharing agreement. And the putative victim, JSTOR, said that he should not be prosecuted. But sure, stay on your high horse.

Hey, anon,

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that's not what the PDF of the charges says.

Swartz was entitled to access the scholarly journals

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He was entitled to access all of the scholarly journals. He was not allowed ('terms of use') to download them by the gigabyte and circulate them. The fact is, he did download a boatload, but he did not circulate them, and JSTOR did not press charges.

Just last week, JSTOR decided to make millions of the scholarly journals available to the public.

Lessig is right, Swartz was massively over charged.

One big question is whether MIT brought in the Secret Service and if so, why?

The DA's assertions are not

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The DA's assertions are not the facts on which the case would have been based. They're just that - assertions.

The point is that the prosecutor overreached.

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To try and say that the prosecutor did not overreach because of the charges the prosecutor, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, levied is like saying in a murder trial that the murderer's denial of guilt is sufficient proof to throw out the murder charge.

This prosecutor has political ambitions--do an internet search. I think she wanted to make a name for herself with the people that give over 99% of all campaign contributions--the 1% that owns corporate america.

KBR has electrocuted and poisoned our service members in Iraq, but no charges have been filed.

James O'Keefe tries to wiretap a senator's office, is caught red-handed, but no charges are filed.

Breitbart repeatedly filed doctored videos that lied to the public that promoted, and often led to, police harrassment of the innocent subject of the video. Again, no charges are filed.

ACORN, the most successful nonprofit community association in helping poor people cleanup their houses after Hurricane Katrina, was put out of business by Breitbart's and James O'Keefe's lies.

If people could not clean up their houses in time, the houses were condemned and taken from them. They should have had insurance, you say? Most of those homes had been in the same family for decades (sometimes more than a century) and most did not qualify for insurance due to red-lining. ACORN helped poor people protect their only asset from the 1% who wanted to obtain those homes at auction for a very low cost.

Aaron Swartz wanted to make academic documents, almost all of which were mostly or partly the result of tax-payer sponsored research, available to the public. He was prepared to pay a price, but a million dollar fine and 30 years in jail for a victimless crime?

Tell that to all the women working for private contractor in Iraq who have been raped by their fellow contractors but who have no way to hold their abusers accountable. Which crime should receive the greater punishment? KBR killing US soldiers? Americans employed by US based contractors in Iraq who allow these America male employees to rape female employees? Or Aaron Swartz who tried to make information available to the public at no profit for himself and no harm to anyone?

Here's a good review of the subject:

What crime?

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What crime?

Six Months

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Stop it with the 30 years already. His own lawyer said he was looking at six months.

Reasonable line

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Jaywalking is against the law. You don't try to lock up jaywalkers for 30 years in prison. Prosecutors have discretion. She should have used some.

Of course, that's the culture of prosecuting in the modern US. Even if Carmen Ortiz is replaced, she won't be replaced with anyone who would have done anything differently.

What criminal activities?

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Read Alex Stamos' post.

Aaron wasn't being charged with breaking and entering. He took no actions to circumvent any locks, digital or physical. Downloading as much as you want was not prohibited by the JSTOR contract. The MIT network does not require anyone to be authorized to use it. Aaron did nothing with the articles he downloaded.

So, what criminal activities are you talking about?

And, even if there were some, do you really think 35 years is a proportional response? Really? (See Lawrence Lessig's post.

I think you're missing the point...

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Federal prosecutors routinely overcharge in order to force plea agreements from defendents. Whether they're guilty or innocent. And when I say overcharge, I mean they pile on rediculous numbers of counts and in many cases those some of those charges can't be substantiated by the evidence. That's why it's called "overreach".

In this case, Schwartz committed what amounted to misdemeandors. But the Feds don't make careers off misdemeanors. So they went with felonies. He was originally hit with 4 charges. But since Schwartz didn't want to be labeled a "felon", he decided to go to trial. So what did the federal prosecutors do? They then tacked on 9 more charges so that he was facing up to half a century in prison.

This is what they do. They use the law to intimidate the accused into doing whatever they want. Even if they're innocent. It's illegal, but they get away with it because the general population doesn't know that it's going on.


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We all know there was some over-charging going on here. No one in their right mind would believe that even if convicted of something that he'd do anything even approaching 30 years.

Exceptions to your point, though

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See the prosecutions (weak and lame) of the big pharmas, where only multiple lives were lost due to corporate malfeasance and decidedly non-open source research findings (see Pfizer, antipsychotic medications, etc)

Ortiz was quite the modest maid when in the presence of the macho corporate overlords.

the wealthy and connected walk

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What is disgusting is the zealousness with which the Government prosecuted Aaron for a crime that had no victim -- these scholarly journals were publicly funded. And how the Government turns a blind eye to people who ordered international war crimes like torture, and have admitted it! And how they turn a blind eye to the people who committed massive financial fraud on Wall St. It's hard to face facts. In America, the wealthy and connected walk and the powerless get fucked. Carmen Ortiz must step down. Same with the Asst. US Atty. We need to know if/why MIT referred the case to the Feds.

don't kid yourself - the

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don't kid yourself - the so-called "wealthy" and "connected" don't always walk. Carmen Ortiz "fucks" other people too and overreaches in many cases - often using illegal tactics to try to "get evidence" against people, which doesn't work. But when she can't "win", she just puts out press releases with the allegations of what she wanted to charge, even with no evidence. She publicly tars and feathers people with no factual evidence. She and her office get off on ruining lives and in this case, she even killed someone. She and her office should not only step down, but they themselves should be prosecuted for their illegal misdeeds.

Awesome! All the charges in

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Awesome! All the charges in the indictment against him shows that they didn't overreach when charging him, because they charged him with all the charges in the indictment!

Not Getting A Pass

But we don't put people in jail for their entire life over stealing a loaf of bread, either. Nor do we conflate shoplifting with terrorism because people with guns sometimes shoot up retail places. That's the level of stretch here. Careerist grandstanding and zealotry.

If you have any doubt that Ortiz is ruthless and ridiculous, see also the Motel Caswell, which she has been trying to strip from a local family for "drug activity at the motel" - said drug activity being on a par with the nearby WalMart, which she is not trying to seize.

So in this case

you believe the Swartz family has a valid argument? That Carmen Ortiz made Swartz hang himself?


His family believes that, were he not facing extreme penalties for a minor crime that the "victim" refused to press charges over, he would not have chosen suicide over possible life in prison.

I think there is probably something to that, yes.

Meanwhile, it merely highlights the fact that Ortiz is not fit for her position given her extreme behavior, in this and other situations.

He was smart enough

to commit the crime, he was smart enough to have figured out the consequences of his crime and he sure as shit was smart enough to know the effect his suicide would have on those who loved him.

I'm no fan of Ortiz, but she did not tie the noose or kick the chair.

The DOJ prosecuted this case

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The DOJ prosecuted this case based upon politics. Congress played a huge role here, too.

But what is our government doing to protect us from FAR bigger threats than copyright law.

"For example, the global bank HSBC paid a record $1.92 billion to settle federal accusations that it operated a huge money-laundering scheme for Mexican drug dealers and Middle Eastern terrorists. The DOJ did not prosecute, fearing such action might jeopardize the world economy. BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion and plead guilty to 11 felony counts in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Thousand Oaks, California biotech giant Amgen paid $762 million in fines and penalties and pleaded guilty to a federal charge involving illegal marketing of its anemia drug, Aranesp. Britain’s Glaxo-SmithKine and Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories paid $3 billion and $1.5 billion in government penalties, respectively, for off-label promotions of blockbuster drugs.

The absence of criminal charges against perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis is also well known, though it’s just a vague nagging feeling among most Americans now, not able to put faces to the thieves. One face not getting much notoriety was that of Countrywide Financial’s CEO, Angelo Mozilo. He settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges against him for a mere $67.5 million – covered by insurance companies and Countrywide’s new owner, B of A. His life of abject luxury was uninterrupted – in fact, a mockery of millions who suffered from the severe recession his actions contributed to.

Incidentally, this is not a new phenomenon. The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s generated thousands of criminal referrals and cost taxpayers a few hundred billion dollars. Still, those orchestrating the crisis were relatively untouched."

This is Nuts

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People, let's get a grip. Since when does anyone get the maximum penalty for any conviction, especially a non-violent crime with no mandatory penalty? Since when does anyone even do time?

The US Attorney did what she was supposed to do. She pursued a case against someone who by the evidence committed a crime. Swartz hadn't been sentenced to 35 years. He hadn't even been convicted of anything. He hadn't even gone to trial.

It's actually shocking to me that you think the "extreme behavior" in this story is the US Attorney prosecuting a federal case and not Swartz making the unbalanced, totally disproportionate step of killing himself.

crime vs CRIME

Even the "victim" declined to press charges.

She was massively stretching an ancient law to make a petty bit of nonsense into a MASSIVE TERRORIST CRIME!!!!!!

That isn't her job - unless that job description includes "promotes career and personal fortunes by massive grandstanding and overinflation of charges against people she doesn't think can fight back", just as she has also done with a small family motel in Tewksbury.

I just signed the petition..

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Not because I'm convinced that Ortiz is completely to blame for Aaron Schwartz' death, but because I'd be interested in seeing the White House response, which is all the petition can directly accomplish. I saw a surprising number of Boston address on the page, so I felt like I was in good UH company.

right, most typically with

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right, most typically with white collar crimes u only get a free pass on criminal activities if ur intent is bad.

It's time MOST prosecutors r prosecuted.

Reply to Lanny Budd

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There is nothing sacred about the law. Just look at our Congress, and what Wall Street got away with. And it was all legal.

Aaron Schwartz did the right thing, maybe the only thing that you can do when the establishment has so much power and our laws support corruption.

Why do you think there are revolutions? Your misplaced reverence for the law is naive, but it is also dangerous. That is the reason why people like Koch brothers come to have so much power. They buy laws, and you obey those laws without fighting and questioning.

You are what is called sheeple.

He went into a unlock server

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He went into a unlock server clost & downloaded files that are avaiable to students at MIT & harvard for free he just downloaded millions of them, but regardless for a The US attorney to continue prosecuting a case that the victim of the crime did not want prosecuted. The charges were also absurd he could have gotten 40 years More that rapist, child molesters, Armed robbers max sentences. Carmen Ortiz should be ashamed of herself, While depression is the cause of suicde by ruining the mans life over what should have been a slap on the wrist crime, she increased that depression.

George Wasington was declared

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George Wasington was declared a criminal and a terrorist. Don't be so naive. Idiot.

The question is not whether

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The question is not whether what he did was "right", but whether the threat of $1 million dollars in damages and up to 35 years in jails was indeed proportional for what amounted to trespassing.

Hounded? Not really....

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Aaron Swatrz, by all accounts was a complicated young man, not at all unusual with his intelligence level and admitted struggle with depression (talked about it on his blot)

A brilliant mind, yes, but even brilliant minds are bound by law. And he broke some, repeatedly....guess what, there are consequences....

Not sure why everyone is flipping out over the "potential" it's out there that his TOTAL crimes can land 30-life,that doesn't mean that would have been his sentence.

No one hounded ghat young man to suicide. He made a choice- a sad, tragic choice, that now his loved ones have to live with. But blaming everyone else for his behavior? That's irresponsible.

Not Just Downloaded

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But also given away repeatedly. That's what everyone keeps leaving out. Assign those songs or files or journal articles whatever value you wish, but they represent income to the people who created, published, or own them.

Say you write a novel. I break into your house, copy every page, and then post it at no cost online because information wants to be free. You don't lose any physical property, but good luck selling your manuscript, right?


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I guess that at this moment the US is even much worse then Russia
I have spend some time in the eastern countries, now I live some years in Poland and must say that its not like its shown in the mass medias, of course its far from perfect
but at this moment I would not go and live in the US ( witch was a big dream for me for many years )

govt has hounded millions to commit suicide

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This is really sad & heartbreaking. You're right. The IRS does the same thing hounding people until they are dead. Just like the guy that flew into the IRS building. They threatened & hounded & hounded. But when we have really truly violent criminals many of our proper reporting agencies do nothing or are a part of the harm. When many individuals in our govt. commit harmful unlawful and hateful actions they are never held accountable are they. When we go to them for help when wrongdoing is being done to correct & prevent we are either ignored or retaliated. I don't understand why our govt. is so hell bent in destroying the people that they are supposed to represent, help and support in such an excessive, violent and aggressive way. Life is hard enough without those helping destroying us. Now a family is without a bother and son. What he did may have been wrong. The corrupt banking industry & certain corporations they never held / hold them accountable & arrested them. Attacking people until they are dead is truly wrong! May comfort & peace come to those that are heartbroken.

Mz. Ortiz and US Attorneys General

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Is this all Ortiz has to do? Ortiz and the other US Attorneys General need to be rigorously pursuing the criminal BANKERS who turned the US and a good part of the rest of the world up side down!

over reaching/ against aaron swartz

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Undoubtedly Prosecuting Attorney Carmen Ortiz was out against Aaron Swartz, and wanted a public statement of what the government can and will do to those the government wants to clamp down on. Aaron Swartz is on a 22 minute internet video rubbing the defeat of SOPA in all the senators faces.
Throughout America, in small courthouses, crooked states attorneys and judges use their powers , to impose their will. Often the goal is not to protect "the people", but rather to promote interests of the connected. Individuals can get sucked in and are expected to hire lawyers to defend themselves against the powers that are paid by the taxes of the defendant. Crooked judges allow crooked prosecuting attorneys to proceed with over reaching charges, daily across this country. Crooked attorneys and judges systematically ruin the lives of good Americans every day in courthouses throughout this country. Most people cave in to the will of the empowered. Aaron Swartz evidently? / allegedly, committed suicide before trial.
The amusing part of over reaching prosecution is prosecution becomes the economic engine that drives the fortunes of lawyers and judges, and parking garages around court houses. The police attending court illegally park in crosswalks, no parking zones or tie up and don,t pay meters, while police issue tickets to private cars a second after the meter clicks off.
Aaron Swartz , if suffering with depression, just did not have the capacity to avoid suicide. Given that the government was trying to put a stop to his kind, was suicide proven? Aaron was suspected of tweaking the FBI at one point. The issue was dropped. Was It ?
I never hear of Aaron Swartz until his death, I bet two weeks from now, I will be a part of the majority, people who learned of Aaron Swartz after his death...
The loss of Aaron Swartz to our world will not be completely senseless if The People take CONSTANT action against the corruption in our government and legal system. Aaron was young , outspoken and naïve. Aaron was a computer and internet wiz, but Aaron was uneducated in government and legal corruption and racketeering.

No, it isn't.

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It's a shame that you think that tapping into JSTOR from MIT, done quite legally on their purposefully open network at first, and then later by using an unlocked closet on campus to hook up his computer, warrants a million dollar fine and up to 35 years in prison. Race is not an issue here. The proposed punishment was not commensurate with the crime, and he was harassed and hounded for doing nothing more than using up a lot of bandwidth. JSTOR didn't even want to see him prosecuted, and they were the supposed "victims" in the first place. This had already been settled prior to the unnecessary federal investigation.

Try this:

It isn't a god damn joke! I'm

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It isn't a god damn joke! I'm sick and tired of these politically motivated prosecutors trying to make examples out of people!!! I don't understand how a person, who presumably has children, could so easily try to put someone away for decades, because they illegally downloaded publications....I mean, there have been people who have put a gun to another person's head and pulled the trigger on camera (a case where a man waited at the airport for his son's alleged rapist to be taken thru by police) and got PROBATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I'm going to lose my mind!!!!!Ortiz should never hold any office ever!!!!

Few excuses for suicide

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And an indictment, which can be fought in court and properly adjudicated by a judge and jury is not one of them. While his death is a sad loss, it is not appropriate to blame the Prosecutor here.

Ortiz is a puppet

Merely being told what to do by her bosses in Washington. We now live in a country where banks can get away with laundering money for drug dealers and walk away with a financial slap on the wrist, yet Swartz was looking at 30 years for hacking documents that JSTOR has started giving away limited access to.

On the other hand, Swartz was a genius but he couldn't figure out you don't mess with a school that is the fourth largest recipient of Federal funding in the US, with direct recruiting out of the box by the DOD, NSA, and the CIA? Given that fact, I'm sure the DOJ was looking to make an example out of him to the hacking community and any other bright eyed computer revolutionaries that feel like fucking with MIT. There are many secrets at that school, secrets that a lot of people in power do not want disseminated.

I feel for his parents' loss, but Ortiz is merely a small fish in a big pond.

*Slow clap*

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Well put dvdoff.

Mr. Swartz was an interesting guy

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I've read some of his Raw Thoughts blog and it makes fun reading. That said, I find it hard to believe he killed himself over his prosecution, the trial of which hadn't even started. Yes, prosecutors can be aholes, yes they can grandstand, and yes, they have bosses, also, who tell them what to do. Someone needs to ask what the hell is up with the Obama administrations' DOJ, who publicly admit they're 'soft-peddling' white collar crime down to fines, while throwing the book at people like Swartz. And of course big institutions like MIT are [surprise!] not very 'nice' people. Big government, big corporations, big institutions [and even medium size and small ones sometimes] are genrally not known for being 'nice'. But, Swartz should have known better or had better impulse control if he did know better.

My opinion is Mr. Swartz probably killed himself for very personal reasons, and who knows if he was taking drugs [street and/or scripts] and how they may have affected his mind. And of course he suffered from serious debilitating depression, so the way his brain was hard-wired also comes into play.

I'm very sorry for Aaron Swartz's family and friends loss.


I've seen pretty much this exact same "smear tactic" comment dropped off in several places.

Care to explain that "who knows what drugs he was taking" comment? Ah yes, we're all so sorry that he "was clearly insane, insane I say - and taking drugs!!!!". Or why this aspersion is turning up with the "I doubt it was the (outrageously ridiculous and overzealous) prosecution ..." comment.

Looks like some interns are busy this weekend, no?

Someone who has

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An admitted history of depression might do well to take care of themselves by not putting themselves into stressful situations, such as committing (or being charged with) federal crimes.

You can blame Aaron Swartz for choosing death

You can blame Aaron Swartz for choosing death but you're flinging poop when you float baseless allegations about drug use or mental impairment.

Before you try to judge the situation, listen to his girlfriend and his father. Learn about their efforts to advocate for him. Read blog articles by his attorney, academic adviser and the network security expert witness who was going to testify for him.

You cannot blame Aaron Swartz for Carmen Ortiz' inexplicably bad judgment.

She compared his theft, by making copies, to a burglar who uses a crowbar, thus obliterating a fundamental difference between theft of real property and thefts of intellectual property, and to go further, theft of intellectual property funded by taxpayer dollars the custodian for which recently decided to make it available to the public.

I'm the OP of the post you were responding to

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NO, I am not anyone's 'intern', and no, I am not maliciously trying to defame Aaron Swartz. Why would it be considered unusual or suspect to question a suicide victim's state of mind, if he/she were on psychotropic drugs or other mind altering scripts, or even street drugs? Is this an obvious question to ask? I personally believe the man had other things on his mind and was afflicted with at least one serious mental disorder, depression. There's a very high likelihood he was taking SSRI prescription[s], maybe even other scripts for anxiety and so-on. Apparently he also suffered from other unnamed physically painful ailment[s] where he may have had to take prescription pain meds. If he suffered from genuine migraines as suggested, he most certainly did. I have a close friend who had to regularly go to a hospital for Demerol injections for his migraines. He became addicted to Demerol and other pain meds.

Why is it hard to believe?

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He was facing 20-30 years in prison, his defense costs ate up all his (once considerable) funds and there was no end in sight.

Faced with decades in prison amounting to a greater number of years than the 26 he had on earth, without the ability to do anything that he loved, and to be perfectly honest... I don't blame him for what he did.

And, you can bet your bottom dollar that I bet Carmen Ortiz. This isn't the first time she's tried to ruin someone's life, just because she can. But this may just be the most successful she's ever done it.

She should be ashamed, and we should make sure she's removed from office. Clearly, she is not fit for the job.

No one to blame but himself.

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Ortiz tried to ruin his life?
He ruined his own damn life by stealing.
Stealing is bad, mkay?

I don't think people realize he was on track to stealing more material than could fit in 30 libraries if it was in physical form.

Material he did not need to steal for personal use, as MIT has an open use policy on it's libraries. And he was bulk ripping files. So there is only one possible reason he did so, to sell it. Yes that's my own supposition.

If I caught someone stealing magazines I ordered from my mailbox I would cap them in the head. His sentence is light in comparison to that.

He didn't steal anything

Stealing means you're taking something away from the owner. Swartz did not delete the files from JSTOR's database. I believe his intent was to give them away as public knowledge.

Give me your social security

Give me your social security number and your banking accounts. I won't be 'taking something away.'

That sort of juvenile argument just embarrasses you publicly. I understand thinking it, but saying it in public is humiliating.

Just stop...

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Not just no, but F' no. The only person that should be embarassed is you for that god awful attempt at an analogy.

Explain to us how a social security number and banking accounts with direct monetary ties, individual use, single user currency are at all analogous to articles on JSTOR that can be replicated repeatedly of which 4.5 are now set to be available for free to the entire public, moron.

Your analogies are garbage. Don't ever embarass yourself again by attempting to act as if you can come up with one.

Aaron was not intending to

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Aaron was not intending to sell the articles; he was heavily involved in the freedom of information movement. He was one of the least profit motivated people you're ever likely to find. And even if he had wanted to sell it, there's basically no market for pirated, slightly-less-expensive academic journal articles. The subscriptions to academic journal publishers are bought almost exclusively by institutions, and individuals get their access through those institutions.

It's reasonable to allege that he *may* have been intending to distribute copyrighted material for free. Most of the articles that he downloaded were in the public domain, but about a third of them were copyrighted. However, he had previously written statements to the effect of wanting to make articles *in the public domain* available for free, and it was well within his abilities as a programmer to sort the articles to remove those that were copyrighted before releasing them. He wasn't even charged with attempting to distribute copyrighted material; there was no evidence that he was going to do so.

... but, they wont't prosecute HSBC for money laundering

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The DOJ decided to prosecute this guy over copyright. How about prosecuting HSBC?

"In fact, the global bank HSBC paid a record $1.92 billion to settle federal accusations that it operated a huge money-laundering scheme for Mexican drug dealers and Middle Eastern terrorists. The DOJ did not prosecute, fearing such action might jeopardize the world economy.

BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion and plead guilty to 11 felony counts in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Thousand Oaks, California biotech giant Amgen paid $762 million in fines and penalties and pleaded guilty to a federal charge involving illegal marketing of its anemia drug, Aranesp. Britain’s Glaxo-SmithKine and Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories paid $3 billion and $1.5 billion in government penalties, respectively, for off-label promotions of blockbuster drugs.

The absence of criminal charges against perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis is also well known, though it’s just a vague nagging feeling among most Americans now, not able to put faces to the thieves. One face not getting much notoriety was that of Countrywide Financial’s CEO, Angelo Mozilo. He settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges against him for a mere $67.5 million – covered by insurance companies and Countrywide’s new owner, B of A. His life of abject luxury was uninterrupted – in fact, a mockery of millions who suffered from the severe recession his actions contributed to.

Incidentally, this is not a new phenomenon. The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s generated thousands of criminal referrals and cost taxpayers a few hundred billion dollars. Still, those orchestrating the crisis were relatively untouched."

-So, someone please explain how HIS prosecution is justified. HE SPOKE out and CALLED out CONGRESS. We do not live in a free land. There is NO such thing as equal protection under the law. DOJ=Criminal

I'm not familiar enough with

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I'm not familiar enough with the case to have a decision at this point about whether ms. Ortiz' conduct actually caused his suicide, but I have observed her conduct since becoming US Attorney and am convinced she has consistently abused her prosecutorial discretion as much, if not more, than her similarly grandstanding Republican predecessor, Michael Sullivan. Those who doubt the current prevalence of prosecutorial excess would do well to read Harvey Silverglate's book from a few years ago, "Three Felonies a Day:How the Feds Target the Innocent." Although I am a member of the bar, unlike Mr Silverglate, i am generally no civil libertarian and fairly conservative on most issues (having voted Republican, I assume I'm not even eligible to join the ACLU). Nonetheless, the conduct of this and other US Attorneys should concern all of us. The War on Terror should not eviscerate the concept of prosecutorial discretion and yet Ms. Ortiz and her colleagues have used it to do just that. To those who say she was just doing her job pursuing a case, you are ignoring her responsibility, legal as well as moral, to consider the circumstances here, most importantly, the "victim" specifically requested no charges be brought. Yet, she cast aside this and other considerations and threatened him with 30 years in prison, with a goal of making the punishment far outweigh the crime and bleeding he and his family dry with legal fees in the process ( the most common tactic among her and her colleagues). I hope this event brings some much needed change to her conduct and until then, I hope neither I, nor any of you, are personally affected by it.

Suicide is tragic

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Suicide is tragic. Who know what truly impels anyone to take his/her own life. Mental illness may influence someone to murder innocent people who just want to meet their congresswoman. We just do not know. Wish there was a bit more compassion in these comments.

There is prosecutorial over-reach here. Is this where money and staff should be dedicated, prosecuting downloading stuff that was already public if you wanted to pay for it? Will the government go after people downloading movies and music with the same zeal?

Carmen Ortiz treatment of Arron Swartz

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Carmen Ortiz wanted to make a name for herself for political gain and now she has one. KILLER BITCH It' a sad day when we have to deal with public officials who would kill to get to the top instead of looking after the American public. Proof we have too many ignorant people in politics.

May God give final judgement to those

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The power and control that some wish to grasp not only assumes to this planet, galaxy, or universe. Whether it be in a micro or macro level; Half of the world's misery is due to those who want to be important and or in power of any kind. Aaron Swartz fought and died for our freedom and liberty from those who abuse power.

I have not read too much on this until today and.....

Swartz turned down a plea deal that would have given him 6 months in prison? If that is true, it seems like people are overeacting a little. Tragic yes, but I don't think all this blame should go on Ortiz. At least not from the little bit I have read about the case.

Boston Globe spin <-meet-> WSJ spin

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"... Swartz’s lead defense attorney, Elliot Peters, said today that both he and Swartz rejected the plea deal offered by the office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and instead were pushing for a trial where federal prosecutors would have been forced to publicly justify their pursuit of Swartz. ..."


"... Mr. Swartz's lawyer, Elliot Peters, first discussed a possible plea bargain with Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann last fall. In an interview Sunday, he said he was told at the time that Mr. Swartz would need to plead guilty to every count, and the government would insist on prison time.

Mr. Peters said he spoke to Mr. Heymann again last Wednesday in another attempt to find a compromise. The prosecutor, he said, didn't budge. ..."

I have not read too much on this until today and.....

Swartz turned down a plea deal that would have given him 6 months in prison? If that is true, it seems like people are overeacting a little. Tragic yes, but I don't think all this blame should go on Ortiz. At least not from the little bit I have read about the case.

Career at all costs!

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Yet another life destroyed by an ambitious proscecutor trying to make her career.

Ortiz' interest in 'justice' is minimal at best. She's a pathological careerist whose primary objective was to make this 'juicy' case as 'high-profile' as possible. Aaron's life was acceptable collateral damage. She's only beefing up her creds in the DOJ so she can move on to the big bucks in private practice defending white collar scum. It's a well-worn path.

Holder's DOJ is every bit as much a corporate attack-dog as Gonzalez' and Ashcroft's were. Timmy made sure they took it easy on his 'wealth creator' buddies at the big banks.

We have lost the services of a genius to advance the career of yet another legal mediocrity.

This is a tragic loss. Laws

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This is a tragic loss. Laws are written and interpreted by people. Illegally or improperly downloading research papers, many of them funded by the US tax payers, and providing them free to those taxpayers should never have risen to the level of threats to jail. Law enforcement has a tough job already-- why are we wasting their time and our taxpayer dollars hounding brilliant young minds to death? This administration is so far over the top when it comes to abuse of power that it makes the last regime of GWB look tame. Frankly, it is amazing that young people don't see that aspect of the current administration. I suppose it is the old adage, "First they came for the Jews and I was silent..." This is a tragic loss.

Unexpected Suicide of Aaron Swartz

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His parents produced a magnificent human being! What a hero to the rest of humanity in our modern age world. This issue had already been civilly resolved between the two parties. Who pushed Aaron to his death and refuses to own up to it? Apparently, these criminals are more interested in furthering their precious careers and that of their respective parties via corporate interests than to take responsibility for him being driven to his death. What is it referred to as, "A New World Order." Censorship is one part of achieving this goal. In there lies the tragedy until we correct it. We can correct it. Aaron performed his duties with excellence, something the rest of us must replicate and pursue to protect our 1st amendment rights. Aaron, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being you!

Why Prosecute Aaron Swartz Instead of Bankers?

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I just signed the petition. Carmen Ortiz's pursuit of Aaron Swartz for two years begs the question: Why hasn't the Obama Justice Dept. aggressively pursued the bankers who caused the 2008 financial crisis? The rich and powerful get away with massive fraud because Obama is afraid that prosecuting them would hurt the "fragile economy". The heavy hand of US Justice is for "just us" -- the little guys.

Becoming Aaron Swartz

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I didn’t know Aaron Swartz, but the story of his life and his speech on “Democracy Now” shook me to the core. I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of Aaron’s short life… his idealism, his brilliant fight against SOPA, and why the US government went after him so punitively.

I think that by making an example of Aaron, our government was actually sending a message to all of us -- a message designed to elicit FEAR and keep us in line. This is also the government’s rationale for its harsh treatment/prosecution of Matthew Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, Peter Van Buren, etc. In our own limited way, we must each become Aaron Swartz. We must become Matthew Manning… We must send a message to our government that we won’t surrender our civil liberties and lead fearful, circumspect lives.

When I voted for Obama in 2008, I never dream that he would usher in a 1984 world, but this is happening in the guise of protecting Americans against terrorism, cyber criminals, copyright infringement, etc. The fact that a bright light like Aaron can be snuffed out suggests that our country is moving rapidly toward fascism, unless we do something to stop it. Aaron's fight against SOPA showed us how to do this creatively, nonviolently, and successfully.