Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Speaking of Really Stupid, Really Wrong Government Prosecutions....

The other thing (see post below) that has disturbed me greatly ever since I heard about it is what happened to Aaron Swartz. This particular case of misplaced prosecutorial zeal was responsible for the death of a brilliant young man.

Federal prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann, trying to build up their own political careers (allegedly for a future bid for the governor's seat in NY), literally harassed Aaron to death. As Glenn Greenwald notes:

Just three months ago, Ortiz's office, as TechDirt reported, severely escalated the already-excessive four-felony-count indictment by adding nine new felony counts, each of which "carrie[d] the possibility of a fine and imprisonment of up to 10-20 years per felony", meaning "the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million." That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced "a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers".

One might think all that determination to put this gentle genius in federal prison would suggest harmful, serious crimes: What was it that he did that was so awful? He downloaded a bunch of academic papers from MIT's server, in order to make them available to others free of charge. Since the professors who wrote the papers never saw a dime of the fees charged by the school, I'm not getting how this constitutes stealing. (In my opinion, it is MIT who is stealing from its staff).

So that's the big crime which prosecutorial toadies Ortiz and Heymann were so determined to see Aaron Swartz in prison for.  Please join me in calling Eric Holder at 202-514-2001, and denouncing the self-serving actions of Ortiz and Heymann.

In contrast to the bank CEOs who presided over money-laundering for the major drug cartels, Aaron's was a non-violent "crime". (I'm sorry, but laundering money for drug cartels makes the launder-ers complicit in cartel-ordered murders, because they helped them happen).

And unlike the Wall Street perps who defrauded millions worldwide, causing massive economic ruin, and unlike the BushCo sociopaths who broke numerous national and international laws and started two wars under false pretenses, this young man harmed no one.

But instead of holding the financial elite and a criminal administration accountable, Gov-corp would rather victimize those who are harming no one, or nothing (except possibly the profit margins of corporations and industry). Obama's DOJ is a mutated, accelerated version of Dubya's, and it's only getting worse.  The current administration is corporate fascism personified.

Greenwald sums it up perfectly: "The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless - or especially, as in Swartz's case, those who challenge power - are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions. All one has to do to see that this is true is to contrast the incredible leniency given by Ortiz's office to large companies and executives accused of serious crimes with the indescribably excessive pursuit of Swartz."


Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

As I asked in the comments section of your most recent post, do you ever have visions?

I'm starting to...

5:05 PM  

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