Losing Aaron

After his son was arrested for downloading files at MIT, Bob Swartz did everything in his power to save him. He couldn’t. Now he wants the institute to own up to its part in Aaron’s death.

bob swartz mit

As an adviser to MIT’s Media Lab, Bob Swartz visits campus every month. “I see Aaron on every corner,” he says. (Photograph by Mark Fleming)

Aaron was a child of the Internet, and as news of his suicide began to filter online, the Web heaved in mourning. Berners-Lee took to Twitter: “Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down. Parents all, we have lost a child. Let us weep.” Larry Lessig ended his online requiem with “I will always love you, sweet boy. Please find the peace you were seeking. And if you do, please find a way to share that too.”

The Swartz family released a more pointed statement. “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy,” it read. “Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death…. MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.” At Aaron’s funeral, Bob was even more raw. “Aaron did not commit suicide but was killed by the government,” he said, making headlines worldwide, adding, “We tried and tried to get MIT to help and show compassion…[but] their institutional concerns were more important.”

In March, Bob made his way back to campus for Aaron’s memorial service. He wrote the words he would speak that day in his office in the Media Lab building. Dressed in a dark-gray suit, he stood at the podium and cited the work of other digital visionaries who flouted the law: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and the founder of Polaroid, Edwin Land. “These people did exactly what MIT told them to do, they colored outside the lines…but today’s MIT destroys those kinds of people,” he said.

Now it’s summer, and the August sunlight filters in through his office window. Back in January, MIT asked professor Hal Abelson, a leader in the open-access movement, to lead an investigation into MIT’s role in Aaron’s death, and this is the first time Bob has been on campus since the report’s release a few days earlier. Abelson interviewed dozens of people: Aaron’s friends and family, law enforcement officials, Aaron’s attorneys, MIT’s attorneys, and two sets of administrative officials at MIT (Susan Hockfield’s departure as president would lead to an administrative overhaul and a do-si-do of new appointments). The university’s administrators had held off his requests for meetings until it was completed, but just yesterday, he’d been able to sit down with MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, for nearly an hour. He was heartened to see a portrait of Jerry Wiesner over Reif’s desk. He told the president that the questions associated with Aaron’s death go to the soul of MIT. “There was a complete lack of compassion in the way that they handled the case,” he says now. “And that is the tragedy. And to the extent that that doesn’t change, MIT will have completely lost its way.”

 

It was supposed to be the work of a ghost. In late 2010, after creating the fake user profile Gary Host—shortened to “ghost” on the email login—Aaron began downloading files from JSTOR. Sometime in November, he left a laptop hidden in a basement utility closet in MIT’s Building 16, where it could conceivably continue to download for days without notice.

When JSTOR noticed the bulk downloads, it blocked the ghost email address, and notified MIT. But the downloading continued, and JSTOR locked MIT out of its archives. On January 4, 2011, campus police found the laptop in the closet and called Cambridge police. The detective who took the call was also a member of the New England Electronic Crimes Task Force, which includes representatives from the U.S. Secret Service. In short time, a host of officers descended on campus. They were unsure of what exactly was under way, but they suspected an international breach: When the Secret Service arrived, Bob says, the first thing they asked was whether any of the university’s classified research was threatened.

Officers placed a video camera in the closet, while the Secret Service agent on the case, Michael Pickett, asked the school’s Information Services & Technology staff for relevant electronic records. Without a subpoena, attorneys in MIT’s Office of the General Counsel released the materials to Pickett.

The suspect returned to the closet later that afternoon, but when MIT police arrived he was gone. Only the camera saw him: a lean young man with dark, shoulder-length wavy hair, wearing a dark coat, a gray backpack, and jeans, and carrying a white bike helmet. Two days later, after those images had been distributed to MIT police, campus officers were alerted that someone had entered the closet yet again. They watched via video feed as their suspect removed the laptop, this time with a bike helmet obscuring his face. Later that day, MIT police captain Albert Pierce spotted a young man who resembled the suspect biking through campus on Vassar Street.

Pierce followed the suspect north on Mass. Ave. through Central Square, eventually overtaking him just past the intersection. He called for backup, and another MIT officer and Special Agent Pickett quickly responded. Pierce pulled up alongside the cyclist, showing him his badge and ID. The suspect said he didn’t talk to strangers and that Pierce wasn’t a “real cop,” then ditched his bicycle, taking off toward Central Square. Pierce tried to chase him on foot, but returned to his car. By then, the other officers had arrived, and the two cars followed the suspect onto Lee Street.

Aaron Swartz was apprehended on a quiet block about a mile from MIT’s campus, in front of a row of stately three-story townhomes. Special Agent Pickett put him in handcuffs. He was charged with breaking and entering in the daytime and with intent to commit a felony. He was just a few blocks from home.

 

Bob was walking off a plane in San Francisco when his wife, Susan, called him with the news: “Aaron has been arrested at MIT.” Bob called Aaron immediately. He said he’d been roughed up, that officers took his bike, backpack, and laptop. “He sounded scared,” Bob remembers.

Bob was alarmed, but this wasn’t Aaron’s first brush with the law. Four years earlier, the FBI had investigated Aaron for a bulk download of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website, a government-run court archive. The open-government activist Carl Malamud believed that public documents should be free to the public, and encouraged activists to liberate the files through a free trial PACER was offering libraries. Aaron told Malamud that he’d written a script that could make downloads outside the library network, but Malamud told him to stick to the appropriate channels. Aaron went ahead and used his script anyway, downloading some 2.7 million files.

That time, Aaron warned his parents the FBI might pay them a visit. Bob and Susan were upset, but tried not to show it. “I wanted him to understand that he had our support,” Bob says. “It didn’t seem to us that screaming and yelling at him was productive, so we didn’t.”

The FBI and the Department of Justice did send a surveillance team to the Swartz home, but never brought charges. Malamud and Aaron had not broken any laws, and besides, their mass downloads exposed glaring privacy gaps where the government had failed to redact Social Security numbers, names of informants, and other problematic information from the files. As Bob recalls, “It kind of came and went.”

This time felt different. A few weeks after his arrest, law enforcement told Aaron he could come pick up the possessions they had confiscated. Aaron called Bob: “Dad, will you come with me to pick up my bike?” he asked.

“Of course,” Bob said.

Bob and Aaron walked to the Vassar Street headquarters of the MIT police. As they sat in the station, looking through bullet-proof glass, “It was like, what are we doing here?” Bob remembers. Aaron was miserable and depressed. The MIT cops returned his helmet, backpack, and bicycle, but kept a USB drive that he had used for the downloads. “Now it’s up to the Secret Service,” Bob remembers the cop saying.

“The two of us looked at each other and said, ‘This is a lot more serious than we thought.’”

 

In open-access corners of the Internet, Aaron’s fellow hackers still search for an answer: What had he planned to do with the downloaded files? Most acts of civil disobedience are done publicly, without ghost logins or hidden laptops. Aaron could have done his downloading in the open: MIT’s open-network policies at the time allowed anyone visiting campus to access services like JSTOR. That openness, coupled with the university’s celebrated history of hacker culture, could have led Aaron to think he’d be more likely to be chastised than indicted. But it doesn’t explain why he resorted to clandestine maneuvers.

Only Lessig, who for a short time served as Aaron’s lawyer, has said he knows for certain what Aaron’s plan was. But he’s not sharing. Instead, he has dropped coy hints. In a lecture at Harvard shortly after Aaron’s death, he floated possible scenarios. In one, Aaron was planning to release the files to third-world countries. Another theory: He planned to analyze the data to search for evidence of corrupt science, just as he had done with a legal database under Lessig’s guidance at Stanford.

To Bob, the latter explanation seems more likely. “There was one conversation we had where he indicated that the goal of these documents was to do a meta analysis of them,” Bob says. “He described, similarly, looking at funding associated with the documents.”

But the reasons didn’t matter in the end, he says. He knows they hardly mattered to the prosecution.

The real question is this: Did Aaron know, that fall, the danger he was putting himself in?

ADVERTISMENT

  • natematias

    Update: since my conversation with Janelle in October, some progress *has* been made:

    – MIT is reviewing its policies for the retention of electronic records
    – MIT staff & gradstudents, together with fellows at Harvard’s Berkman Center, are offering a January class called “Coders: Know Your Rights,” which will offer a practical overview of legal issues involved in startups and hacktivism, as well as help to issue-spot students’ own projects for risks

    – MIT did call a meeting of faculty to discuss the issue. Students and staff are looking forward to subsequent meetings in the new year
    – Conversations continue about emotional support for MIT students whose work receives unexpected legal attention

    • ELNIGMA

      I’m glad they are doing things about this. But they should apologize, especially to Bob Schwartz for their complicity.

      • freespeechlover

        They should first acknowledge that they were in no way “neutral,” because they were handing documents to the prosecutor before there was any subpoena. That’s not neutrality.

    • CPO_C_Ryback

      FACTS

      — This was his SECOND run-in with federal police.
      — JSTOR has IP that is STILL OWNED by the authors
      — Those authors also have constitutional rights, no matter what Einsteins like Google’s owners think.
      — He was ARRESTED, fleeing the crime scene —

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

      — Prisons are filled with “misunderstood” persons. Who are not getting the PR that A.S. is getting. Why don’t they get the same PR from this publication?
      — “Let’s make a deal” is a daily staple of courtroom life. To think otherwise is to be a ridiculously-naive fool.

      — He killed himself. No one else was involved.

      47,000,000 Americans are on food stamps. Anyone going to care about them?

      • WasteNot

        We could make everyone eligible and mail them out, and that way 315 million Americans would be on food stamps. Then, we could worry about everyone.

        • CPO_C_Ryback

          Yeah, free beer for everyone (D), and STEAL whatever you like (D). /sarc

      • tdperk

        -Whether it was a second or a 22nd run-in has nothing to do with the merits of the case.
        -Swartz stole no IP. It was freely offered to him per JSTOR’s agreement with MIT,.

        -Swartz did nothing to affect those author’s rights. If the author’s have a beef with JSTOR offering unlimited access to all persons on the MIT campus, those authors have a beef with MIT and JSTOR, not with Aaron Swartz.
        -So he was arrested. So what?
        -Prison is filled with people who, however misunderstood they are or aren’t hopefully have actually committed a crime. It is self evident Aaron Swartz did not, he had legal access to the database.
        -Ridiculous over-charging with the goal of extorting a plea deal does not become just or reasonable no matter how common it is.
        -He killed himself, and the USGovernment’s prosecutors and MIT were involved every bit as much in the circumstances of it as he was. Yes he made a bad choice, and he made it. Those prosecutors and MIT also made bad choices, and they should be made to feel pain for them.
        -What do any number of people on food stamps have to do with any of this, except that a government unable to over-reach as it did in this prosecution would be one less likely to create an economy with 47,000,000 on food stamps.

        I like it when people I’m having an online discussion with become as ridiculous as you just have, it means I’m winning.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Deterrence, deterrence and more deterrence. Just theater.

  • Convivial Cannibal

    In 2000 years Aaron will be the new Jesus.

    • FrankenPC .

      Let’s all work towards a future free from jesus’s.

      • Jason Rosenbaum

        Or martyrdom, period. No one deserves to die for their convictions.

        • CPO_C_Ryback

          We don’t deserve you. Move to North Korea. Thanks.

        • 啞:convivial:啞 ڿڰ:cannibal:ڿڰ 啞

          yet they do. why not honor the worthy life’s that are otherwise wasted in death. though the concept i speak of is to benefit mankind not a higher power. so i think we all are skipping stones from the same shore herein. blessings.

      • 啞:convivial:啞 ڿڰ:cannibal:ڿڰ 啞

        jesus was most likely very rad. it’s all his followers up to present day that have tainted his name. i was also being sardonic. 2,000 years ago nobody knew who jesus was but zeus was worshiped far and wide. i don’t know of anybody whom still worships zeus today. maybe you do!? so 2,000 years from now i don’t suppose jesus will hold the same graces he does today. all i think i know is that jesus was a rebel rouser and had love for the meek, weak & the innocent. remind you of anybody else? either way both are great mortal men in my book, whom no doubt will be twisted to fit whatever model the greedy hands of mankind will profit most from them being set at. awe, super neato stuff.

  • 7worldtraveler

    It is a tragedy to lose a child and it is natural to seek blame. From all i’ve read about Aaron, it appears that this brilliant young man suffered from clinical depression. Had it not been MIT, it would have been something else.

    • blisterpeanuts

      You can’t know that. Being threatened with 35 years behind bars is enough to drive anyone to the edge of despair.

      • 7worldtraveler

        Agreed. But he had attempted suicide before any of his legal troubles.

        • Benjamin Hitov

          I do not believe this is correct. Can you provide a source?

        • ELNIGMA

          So you think this means he would have killed himself anyway & you can rest easily the gov takes no blame?

        • jake481

          Where did you read he attempted suicide before?

      • Cruxius

        He was not facing 35 years. His own lawyer said so.

        He could have gone to court, shouted “I AM ABOVE ZE LAW” to every question, and he still wouldn’t have gotten 35 years. Or even 15 years.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          If they couldn’t get him any other way they would have assassinated him. Just think, they forced the plance of the President of Bolivia down in Portugal because they thought Edward Snowden was aboard. Right after Obama said publicly tht he wasn’t going to send planes after a “hacker.” Can you imagine anyone doing that to Obama’s plane? For any reason?We are a rogue nation. Aaron couldn’t have won.

          • tdperk

            Of course they wouldn’t have assassinated him, nothing he did or likely could have done came close to rising to the level of potential harm justifying such an act–which itself puts the perpetrators in abjectly dire peril.

            And frankly, if the Bolivian President had had Snowden on board, that could colorably be construed as a act of war. There are treaties against such things to which even Bolivia is signatory. Just because Snowden did the public a favor from a certain point of view does not mean he did not also self evidently commit a crime while doing it.

            The whole point of the tragedy of the Swartz case is that it sis equally self evident he committed no crime at all.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Exactly. That was the purpose. That was the way they were going to enslave him for life. To steal his mind.

      • blisterpeanuts

        The DA said 35 years. Of course, prosecutors always try to exaggerate the punishment, to force a plea. But that’s what she said, go argue with her. Too late for Aaron to defend himself now.

    • SCAQTony

      Bologna! – Mr. Schwartz was harassed by the DOJ who insisted he do jail time and they were relentless. They put their highest ranking state attorney on the case so as to kick his ass. Summarily It was the United States going after him not some local D.A.

    • Rob Knop

      By that logic, there’s nothing wrong with murder, because everybody dies eventually, right?

      Even if somebody is depressed and fragile, if YOU push them over the edge, then YOU pushed them over the edge. The government and MIT pushed Aaron over the edge. They are culpable.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Yes but it’s like that part in The Handmaid’s Tale. When the woman is executed for “treason” all the handmaids in their red robes are gathered together to pull the ropes that hang her. Each has pulled a rope. All the ropes are connected to the one that hangs her. Who did it?They all did it. That’s the visual image of the bureaucracy.

    • ELNIGMA

      Because you can read minds.

      • ACSHAMILTON

        And you can?

        Maybe this twink committed suicide because his favourite episode of Seinfeld was interrupted.

        Seems as plausible as anything else.

        • ELNIGMA

          I think the threat of prison is far more plausible.
          Which one would upset you more?

        • jake481

          This “twink”?

          Wow, what a despicable @hole.

        • tdperk

          I am reassured that you will answer to a higher power for your vileness.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      If he hadn’t been melancholy about the world, knowing what he knew, there would have been something wrong with him. Kafka also was depressed.

  • Bo Gusaccount

    If he didn’t want to go to prison then he shouldn’t have committed a crime.

    • tony

      His act(downloading free journals) was not a crime; Anyone could do it, heck every did download, he happened to download all of it, and when forced kicked out from the network, he used basic networking skills to reconnect and get all the already free files.

      The legal system categorized him as a criminal to make an example of him, destroy open culture, manipulate the educational spending to pay corps for “hosting” files, prove that they own the system(after MIT realized their mistake and let him go), suppress future innovation.

      • ovzlekys

        Uh, yes, it is and was a crime. Just because it’s easy to do doesn’t mean that everyone can do it.

        Someone has to pay for the editing and typesetting of the papers. If it’s not the readers through journal subscriptions it will have to be the writers. Or we’ll just have crappy pre-prints with no long term curating.

        • Rob Knop

          For many scientific journals, the writers ALREADY pay. There are page charges to get published.

          And how do they pay? By and large, out of government grants.

          Companies like JSTOR and Elsevier are the worst of corporate welfare. They’re sucking at the public teat, and then claiming exclusive rights to the publicly-funded research that was built on government grants, and which all they’ve done is distribute the written results of. Not only is it a financial scam, but it’s also utterly counter to the very nature of the scientific enterprise, which depends on widespread and open distribution of its results.

          • ovzlekys

            You’re right that they pay, but they don’t cover the entire cost. That’s where the subscription revenues come in.

            In any case, the real battle is not with MIT but with the individual scientists who continue to choose the handholding and coddling of the expensive journals when they could be doing their own typesetting. The question is why do they spend the extra money on page charges when they could be doing everything for free?

            The question is even greater when we’re talking about professors with tenure who also overwhelmingly choose the prestigious journals with the hefty charges. Maybe it’s because they like the coddling and the support from the staff.

            Someone has to do the work. Someone has to pay for it. If the professors send their papers to an Elsevier journal, they get an easier ride. Your battle is with them. Get them to do the extra work and get them to pay the heftier page charges. Then you can really stick it to Elsevier.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Grants are paying for it. Like buying food with foodstamps. It’s not your money. Or credit cards. It’s just plastic.

        • tdperk

          Then show the agreement he broke. Should be easy.

      • CPO_C_Ryback

        ABSOLUTELY WRONG

        JSTOR also holds articles, for which copyright STILL exists.

        They are NOT free.

        He was STEALING. He got caught. Period.

        • jake481

          So every person who accesses the database on MITs campus is “stealing”?

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            This is “accessing?”

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

            Duh. There are guys in prison who did this kind of “accessing.” Where are the tears for them?

          • jake481

            Every single person who stepped foot onto MITs campus had the same access to the database he did. Did every person who accessed the database break a law? Is it legal to access the database for some of the articles and it’s illegal for someone to access TOO MUCH?

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            RIDICULOUSLY STUPID (D)

            Gee, then post the photos of them, busting onto private space.

            Duh.

          • jake481

            You didn’t read any of this article did you?
            Are you saying he was arrested because he BROKE into somewhere? Do you think this database is a building he “busted” into?

            Show me the B&E charge against him.
            I’ll never understand why anyone who is completely ignorant of any subject would insist on debating it.

            He was NEVER accused or charged with “breaking into” anywhere. He was arrested for accessing a database EVERY single person who stepped foot on the MIT campus had access to. So the question is “if it’s legal to access this database SOMETIMES, at what point does it become ILLEGAL to access it?”

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            That article nowhere supports your point of view. For you to continue to reference it shows your lack of reading comprehension.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            Yeah, where’s the fact out of that article which supports you?

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Yeah, you have no-good lyin’ eyes that miss THIEVES who are BUSTING into private property. Otherwise, you’d just be called stupid, ignorant, and moronic. Like OweBama (D).

          • tdperk

            It was public property and nothing was busted.

            It wasn’t so much as even locked.

            He didn’t copy anything that wasn’t offered to him freely as a matter of written policy.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Yeah, you have no-good lyin’ eyes that miss THIEVES who are BUSTING into M.I.T. property.

            Otherwise, you’d just be called stupid, ignorant, and moronic. Like OweBama (D)

          • Techngro

            Actually, there’s a photo at the start of that article of him breaking into actual server room (that neither he nor any other student in MIT would normally have access to) where they caught him connecting a laptop and an harddrive that he used to illegally download the JSTOR files.

            Looks like you can’t read, and even pictures easily baffle you.

          • tdperk

            Looks like you are unable to comprehend he opened a door freely accessible to the general public. No breaking and entering not even trespassing.

          • Techngro

            It was not an open door freely accessible to the general public. It was a basement server room/electrical closet where he directly connected his computer and external hard drive to a network switch. MIT themselves said that it was a restricted area not meant for student access (he wasn’t a student there anyway). In what world would you consider that ‘freely accessible to the general public’?

            You make it sound like he walked into a computer lab at the library and plugged in a thumb drive.

            In addition, if you look at the picture in the article above that you dismiss so easily, you will see that Swartz is hiding his face behind his bicycle helmet. And when the police attempted to stop him, he jumped off his bike and ran. Does that seem like something that someone who is entering an area that is ‘freely accessible to the general public’ would be doing?

            I don’t understand why you just can’t acknowledge that what he was doing was wrong. It’s terribly disingenuous of you to claim that he was completely innocent when it’s obvious to every reasonable person that even he knew what he was doing was wrong (e.g. him hiding his face/running from the police).

          • jake481

            Yeah, you keep on posting that, Dummy. What do you think that’s evidence of?

            You seem to be under the impression that he was arrested for entering that room. That’s not the case.
            Try to keep up or keep quiet. You’re embarrassing yourself.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Why .. of course, Einstein. People who are proud of STEALING, they always cover their faces on camera.

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

            Prisons are filled with Einsteins like that (D). And stupid (D) can’t be fixed — thanks for proving that. You can really pollute the gene pool (D) — as long as Mom says OK.

          • jake481

            You keep posting that as if it PROVES anything. It absolutely doesn’t.

            ..and what’s with the idiotic “D”‘s everywhere? You appear to be suffering from typing tourettes.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • jake481

            I’m betting you probably weren’t the captain of your high school debate team, huh dummy?

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            This is “accessing?”

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

            There are guys in prison who did this kind of “accessing.”

            Where are the tears for them?

            Thanks for so much ignorance (D).

          • jake481

            Wow, too stupid to even come up with a new nonsensical comeback, huh swabby?

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Wow, too stupid to even come up with a new nonsensical comeback, huh swabby?

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Stop letting them frame your argument. Yo will lose.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Why .. of course. Honest people always cover their faces. And OweBama (D) is competent in math.

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

            There are guys in prison who did this kind of “accessing.” They’re called BUMS.

            Where are the tears for them?

          • jake481

            Wow, what a bore.
            You literally have nothing else to say on this subject, huh?

            Congratulations, you’re the most ignorant child on the internet! Hooray!

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Wow, what a bore.

            You literally have nothing else to say on this subject, huh?

            Congratulations, you’re the most ignorant. Hooray!

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Wow, what a bore.
            You literally have nothing else to say on this subject, huh?

            Congratulations, you’re the most ignorant child on the internet! Hooray!

          • tdperk

            Where’s your evidence Aaron Swartz broke into a private space? You do know, for example, that the trespassing laws require that the property be marked, “No Trespassing”, all over the property line for being there to be criminal.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            If they actually broke a law, there should be no tears for them

            Since Aaron Swartz broke no laws, per the rules of access then in force, he was self-evidently innocent.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            Please quote one factual bit of that article which you are willing to pretend supports your opinion.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            I would support you if so many political criminals were never prosecuted and running free with lots of cash and cache in their pockets.

          • lemuret

            I would not cite the Daily Mail if you hope to be believed.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Why .. of course .. and the Guardian isn’t a PR sheet for Communism.

            And our no-good eyes are doing GWB on us ..
            LOL, ROTFL

        • tdperk

          So how much were MIT students on campus charged for access to the database, then? Were they charged by the MB, per day, per title?

          When you can’t answer, you realize you are ignorant or lying to us.

      • Bo Gusaccount

        You are a dummy.

        • tdperk

          You have no counterargument to the facts of the case. Aaron Swartz broke no law.

      • CPO_C_Ryback

        Christ, how many times does this have to be repeated — there are NOT-FREE pubs in JSTOR!!!

        What’s next? You gonna claim “you can keep your doctor” too?

        • tdperk

          Christ, how many times does this have to be repeated, the access was free to all persons on the MIT campus!

          You are the one who’s either lying or ignorant here.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            Back at you, nothing in that article which I have also already read even asserts anything to the contrary of what wrote.

            Access to the JSTOR archive was unlimited to people on the MIT campus.

            I challenge you to produce any evidence to the contrary.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            You can’t tell that’s a circular argument? Of course the prosecutor claims they have a case.

            The fact there was no limit to logons or downloads means they self evidently don’t.

            You need to show he broke an actual rule or law.

            Since you’ve been citing it as evidence, you ought to quote where the article you’ve linked to as your evidence shows that.

          • CPO_C_Ryback
          • tdperk

            You still haven’t quoted a single fact which implicates him in any crime. I have read both articles, and nowhere do they relate a fact which implicates him in a crime.

            Nowhere, for example, does it say, “MIT restricted downloads from JSTOR per person to 100 per month.”

            You need to show a fact which actually makes it at least slightly plausible he committed a crime. The crime is accessing a computer in a manner contrary to the permissions granted by the computer owner.

            Accessing a computer in a sneaky way, or in a way you know the computer owner does not like is not a crime. You have to actually violate a policy, rule, or law in doing so*, Nowhere does either of your “sources” claim that.

            Neither you nor the feds had a case.

            *In fact, I believe as a matter of due process, it needs to be a policy that is directly stated, not implicit.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            They don’t NEED a case. They don’t have one on Dzhokhar either. That’s the whole point of Kafka’s novel The Trial. There is no case. The Justice System is just a curtain that hides the wizard of OZ.

          • tdperk

            “They don’t have one on Dzhokhar either.”

            Well, there’s the video of him carrying one of the backpacks that blew up, but other than that, there’s only the relationship to his radical brother, statements made in support of murderous Islam, and his actions after the bombing, but other than that, I guess they don’t have a case…

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            MORON (D)

            You obviously have never been around a courthouse. They’re rated by cases and convictions.

            A.S. was SURROUNDED by the best lawyers in Boston. And he did not get a fair hearing? You’re smarter than them?

            What a stewing load of unmitigated stupidity. Congrats.

          • tdperk

            Sure, except you still can’t show any explicated rule he broke.

            There was no black and white policy he violated, therefore the application of the CFAA to his case was a grotesque injustice. Between this and hotel seizure nonsense, the prosecutor should do time and be disbarred.

            She’s not functionally different from Nifong.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Gee, then why didn’t he fight?

            Because HE WAS A CROOK (D). DUH!!!

            And M.I.T. is not a stripper, just convicted of murder. DUH, DUH, DUH!!

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Gail_Mangum

          • tdperk

            He did fight, figured he’d lose, and killed himself in despair.

            For the rest of your tripe, why can;t you name the policy he violated? Why can’t the feds?

            Because you don’t really have a case.

            Sadly, Swartz killed himself because the prosecutor corruptly and successfully ran a bluff.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Gee, then why didn’t he fight?

            Because HE WAS A CROOK (D). DUH!!!

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            You are making the mistake of letting them frame your argument. As long as you grant them membership in the Justice System and argue on the merits of that Justice System you are gonna lose.

          • tdperk

            That’s what you think, and it is increasingly clear you are deranged.

            I am framing this as a matter of justice, well, of injustice; and it is such. Without the exact wording of the policy he broke being explicit, without there having been any explicit criminal goal being furthered, there cannot be a crime.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Yes you are stuck in the Dominating Discourse but you would have to have studied Foucault to understand that.

          • tdperk

            Ah, I understand now. You are one of those who is correct only by happenstance.

            Good luck rejecting the concept of objective reality.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Wow, you’re brilliant, knowing more than the MIT Police (most with M.A. degrees) and the U.S. Attys (most with Ivy degrees).

            Next, could you get us world peace, too?

            SFB.

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

            The Club requests that you not speak for MIT Police, Mr. Ryback.

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            Next, could you get us world peace, too?

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

            Thank you.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Yes. But worse to be able to blackmail him to enslave him to work for them to enslave us further.

    • SCAQTony

      If the government grants funds for a medical study with public money, publishing that information is legal because the public paid for it. The DOJ went after Schwartz HARD because of his politics and political accomplishments.

      As of late the DOJ along with the IRS are political tools used by executive branch as of late to exact revenge on their critics and revenge is what it was.

      • jakesdad

        according to the DOJ Aaron was a thief but Jon Corzine wasn’t… forget about Blankfein, Dimon or the parade of “complicated” crimes that “a lay jury just wouldn’t understand” – MF Global was a naked a case of fraud/theft as there’s been since Madoff! pause for a moment, let that really sink in & tell me w/a straight face that we’re a nation of laws…

        • SCAQTony

          Corzine and the missing $1.5-billion via MF Global. What did Corzine want to do, start his own space program?

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          Correct. Now go read Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and get with the program. We need your help.

      • CPO_C_Ryback

        Wow, Bart Simpson uses the same logic. Brilliant. /sarc

        • SCAQTony

          is the “CPO” in your name and title your “Star Wars” rank or are you trolling for some armed forces unit?

          • CPO_C_Ryback

            How’s living in Mom’s basement, Tony?

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Very comfy thank you.

      • Bo Gusaccount

        Irrelevant. But thanks for the info.

        • tdperk

          No, politically motivated prosecutions are themselves violations of law. That they may become business as usual is not relevant.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Hey it has been going on forever. That’s why Kafka wrote The Trial. It has no feel of time or place. It is not the past, the now or the future. It has no Time. Read it. It’s short. You can understand it. It’s much better than the second rate stuff they give you in school.

    • Howard Treesong

      James Clapper perjured himself in front of Congress. This is a crime. He is not in prison or in any legal trouble. Apparently the sanctimonious tripe that ‘the law is the same for everybody’ suffers a bit from the Orwell illness: everybody is equal, but some people are more equal than others.

      The US has a talent for holding its hand above the heads of heinous criminals, expedience don’t you know, while prosecuting till the end of the earth people who are guilty of nothing.

      • ovzlekys

        Send him to prison too.

      • Bo Gusaccount

        I’m not talking about Clapper. Aaron was a smart kid, smart enough to know that what he was doing was illegal. He chose to do it anyway. He made his own bed.

        • jake481

          I’m not so sure it WAS illegal. He accessed a database every single person who stepped foot on MIT’s campus had access to. He had a great chance of being found not guilty. Unfortunately, not everybody can take the stress of being persecuted by the US government.

          • Nate Whilk

            If Aaron had the right to access JSTOR, why did he do the downloading surreptitiously? Answer: HE wasn’t sure it was right.

          • jake481

            Obviously he thought it might not be “okay” to copy the entire database.
            Have you ever done something you weren’t sure was “okay”? That someone might not like? Ever been threatened with 35 years in jail for it?

          • Nate Whilk

            Have you?

            Nothing that would get me 35 years in jail, such as stealing 4 million copyrighted documents. That’s because I KNOW the risks. Sorry, if I got ONE visit from the police, I’d stop doing what I was doing unless I KNEW going to jail was WORTH IT and I’d be prepared for it. Apparently Aaron was feeling invulnerable and expecting a slap on the
            wrist, like his other things that got law enforcement attention.

            And 35 years? He refused the 3 months plea bargain. HIS CHOICE.

            “not everybody can take the stress of being persecuted by the US government.”

            Then a wise person would not do something that would land him in that situation.

        • bill reeves

          Again, so why aren’t you in prison? I’m sure you’ve violated someone’s digital copyright.Go ahead, turn yourself in. Or quit blowing law and order BS. The only thing that saves you is your obscurity.

          • Nate Whilk

            “The only thing that saves you is your obscurity.”

            That and not downloading 4 MILLION copyrighted documents.

        • Howard Treesong

          Spare me. He was first offered what the prosecutor thought was a ‘light sentence’. Because he did not take that deal, the prosecutor was affronted so then the charges were pumped up as high as they could be stacked and all of a sudden the potential hit is 35 years. For access to a database he had an account for. Aaron did make a mistake, yes. He should have just downloaded the stuff on his own account and when the university or whomever complained about that, he should have just said: “I’m working on a statistical model that I want to run on a very large data set to see what the yield is.” He needed more bullshit, he did not need stealth. And if he got called on it he should have just said: “Well, gee, I didn’t know. Should I not have done that? I -have- an account, I’m doing science. Is that not what this place is about?”

          I am talking about Clapper because of the obvious double standard. Some people get away with egregious offences and are never prosecuted for them. Others experience a witch hunt where the might of the state is applied against them as if they were the most heinous criminals alive.

          The truth is that there is no justice. I wanted the same standard to apply to Aaron as it did to Clapper. Clapper can commit a felony in plain sight, with hundreds of direct witnesses, and be proven wrong, embarrassingly wrong, and -nothing whatsoever at all- is done about it. Well, if that is the standard, I want it to apply to Aaron as well. He did not have any nefarious scheme planned, he was just an extremely enthusiastic, intelligent and enterprising young man. Exactly what the country needs right now.

          What we get instead is the criminals being bowed down to and Aaron and his ilk getting prosecuted as if ‘justice’ is being done.

          It’s a load of bullshit and yet another glaring example of why nobody should respect or obey the law because there simply is no justice and why would possibly care for a system that is abused to serve the clientele it was designed for to the cost and detriment of those who cannot escape it.

          “He made his own bed”… we are nowhere, man. We are simply in the middle of nowhere, no direction, no compass to guide us, it just doesn’t mean jack shit anymore.

          • Bo Gusaccount

            Because of what happened with Clapper we should no longer behave lawfully? You are out of your mind. Perhaps someone will rape you or your daughter or your children tonight. You will be the be the first person crying for justice.

            We don’t have a compass to guide us? More nonsense. Forget the law for a moment. Most people have an internal compass that tells them right from wrong. Ask any child about stealing and they will tell you it is wrong. Yet Aron didn’t know this? Stop making excuses for criminals.

            You should just stop because you sound dumb.

          • tdperk

            The point is neither you nor the feds have any evidence he behaved unlawfully.

            You’d stop sounding dumb if you could produce a fact to the contrary.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            You sound dumb and you are just projecting your dumbness on to someone else so you don’t have to acknowledge it in yourself.

          • Howard Treesong

            Clapper is just one example. I could type until next week with examples of where the system is no longer working.

            We could talk about the war in Iraq, we could talk about banks ruining the economy [and LIBOR et al], we could talk about the national security infrastructure. We could mention no-knock warrants served to the wrong address. The list is essentially endless.

            I don’t know why you believe there is a rule of law, but you’re entitled to your own fiction, obviously.

            I’m not talking about a personal morality, I’m talking about society and how it’s lost its way. Clapper lying is actually endearing because it was so obvious. The language he formed immediately indicated he was lying and the whole room understood that he was going to get away with it.

            Aaron, again, did the wrong thing. As in: he had access to the information he downloaded. That is conveniently forgotten. He had legal access. He tried something silly, but he had an account, the information he was accessing was public. His method was off, but not what he was doing. He was prosecuted as if he was worse than a murderer. There are people who have willingly taken the life of another and are serving less time than Aaron was prosecuted for.

            I appreciate I sound dumb but I notice that you scold me for making excuses for criminals. Aaron was not convicted of any crime. He was prosecuted for bullshit reasons.

            HSBC on the other hand, now they were fined for laundering drug cartel and terrorist money, for years. Can’t be prosecuted, it would bring down the economy.

            A system of law that will prosecute someone like Aaron for being clumsy and does nothing against people aiding and abetting drug cartels and actual terrorists and people perjuring themselves before Congress itself, is not a system I care to put my faith in. There might as well not be a system of law because it’s all arbitrary at this point anyway.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Yes you are right. That’s what he should have done. That’s what any public school educated person would have done. That’s one ofthe things public school teaches you – how to lie and get away with it. Aaron did not have that experience. Lying is a skill that has to be learned and with his parenting he never had to learn it. It can be a life saving skill. Adults of a former generation often cannot do it and so they are fleeced and left penniless because they don’t know how to play the system.

            Neither did K in Kafka’s The Trial.Even I remember the deadly outcome and I read it over 50 years ago.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          I give up. You haven’t read Kafka so what’s the point.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Nazis that were war criminals to go to Nuremberg were given different identities, whisked off to the US to work as scientists in our space programs.In other words to become slaves to the state. Stalin did this with his Gulags. Solzhenitsyn because of his math and engineering expertise was in a scientific Gulag to work on their space program and that’s how they did it, with slave labor. Do you think Aaron didn’t know this?

    • Drew

      They offer him a plea for a few months or he could fight it and get 35 years.. They were extorting him with freedom and that is f’d up.

      • Bo Gusaccount

        Aaron was supposedly a smart kid. I’m sure he knew what he was doing was illegal but he chose to do it anyway.

        • tdperk

          He knew it was sketchy, he knew it would be disapproved.

          The prank with the police car on the dome would have been disapproved too.

          In fact, there is no good argument to be made that what he did was illegal. The fact that all persons on the campus had unlimited access to the database makes that clear.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Looks at all the backpacks that were left on the sidewalk when people ran from the explosions. Yet Dzhokhar’s backpack WAS THE ONE THAT DID IT! Hello!

          • tdperk

            It’s far from clear what you are trying to say here.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            I know. If you haven’t done your homework on it then it’s new to you and I don’t have the time for you. These people are pretty good on factual details as they have listened to all LE audios, poured over the images, etc. http://thebostonmarathonbombings.weebly.com/

          • tdperk

            The usual thing those needing a conspiracy hang their hat on is that not all information reported by everyone agrees, so being simpletons or needing something other than reality to be true, they invent a conspiracy.

            That about sums you up on this topic, right?

            Right.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          It’s not a matter of illegality. When you are on an abstract mathematical quest you are in a different realm. Same with Einstein.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Blackmail pure and simple. They would do the same to Snowden. They are already doing it to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It works. If the template ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • jake481

      He accessed a database that virtually every single person who stepped foot on MIT’s campus had legal access to.

      Are you under the impression that every person who is charged with a crime is guilty? I’m surprised you can see your computer screen because you must be wearing the worlds thickest pair of rose colored glasses.

    • bill reeves

      You’ve committed felonies under thus law, as has anyone who uses the internet. Pity you’re not in jail. I mean the way you worship the state and all.

  • BrainImplant

    This is a well written story, and thank you Bob Swartz for sharing your side of the issue. You and your family seem like good people, and I am really sorry for this loss. Your kid is a hero to me, and I’m sorry I only heard about him and his work when it was too late.

    Triumphant blind careerism in law enforcement and at MIT created the conditions that led to this tragedy. Reading that line about “double standards” has made me so incredibly angry. Of course there are double standards in our country and everywhere!!!! It’s fucking deeply dishonest for anyone to claim otherwise. It’s simply access to law enforcement social networks that guarantees criminal behavior is ignored. In my 30 plus years of life, I’ve seen and heard numerous examples, but of course sharing that online would be absolutely counterproductive.

  • ACSHAMILTON

    What a clown. Accept your adult offspring committed a crime, and took the easy way out.

    Boo hoo.

    • Jason Rosenbaum

      There has never been a more appropriate time for me to use this line.

      Kill yourself.

      • CPO_C_Ryback

        You first, please. Thanks.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        These kind never do. They stay around like the plague.

    • jake481

      What an @hole.

      I’ll bet a thousand dollars you didn’t bother to read the article before making your knee-jerk reaction …and if you DID read the article and came to your same conclusion, then you should leap off the nearest bridge.

    • bill reeves

      I would bet you that you have repeatedly committed felonies under the Millennium Digital copyright act without knowing.

      The only thing that has saved you from prosecution is your apparently well deserved obscurity.

    • tdperk

      The supposed crime has never been defined, so it cannot have been committed or justly prosecuted.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        That’s the theme of Kafka’s The Trial my friend.

        • Nate Whilk

          Except for one essential point: In “The Trial” K is never told what the charges were. Aaron WAS told EXACTLY what the charges were.

          • tdperk

            The Kafkaesque bit is there never was any evidence he was guilty, but the prosecutor was promising to bang the table until they got a guilty vote–and it might have worked.

            It simply took more moral courage than he had to fight “the crazy”, and he wasn’t willing to risk that “the crazy” was merely a strategy.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            No one said that Aaron’s case followed The Trial word for word, step by step, etc. And BTW exactly what were the charges since they were made up?

          • Nate Whilk

            abbweysbooks wrote, “No one said that Aaron’s case followed The Trial word for word, step by step, etc.”

            Aaron’s own words about “The Trial” from the article: “precisely accurate—every single detail perfectly mirrored my own experience.”

            Besides which, K. never knowing what the charges were is THE essence of the story. If he did know, he could have fought them (if the story was set in set in a Western democracy).

            A discussion of the charges here: http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/14/aaron-swartz-charges/

            The charges are in (PDF) http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/09/swartzsuperseding.pdf

            One excerpt from page 2, item 4: “JSTOR authorizes users to download a limited number of journal articles at a time. Before being given access to JSTOR’s digital archive, each user must agree and acknowledge that they cannot download or export content from JSTOR’s computer servers with automated computer programs such as web robots, spiders, and scrapers.”

            Was the USA’s prosecution overzealous? Arguably. But what Aaron was doing WAS wrong.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            It wasn’t WRONG – not morally – it was against the agreement he made with JSTOR. I suppose JSTOR was legally formulated but if no challenges had yet occurred, that went to court, they may have been or not, depending on how the court would rule perhaps all the way up to the Supreme Court – who also ruleD at one time on the Dred Scott Case that escaped slaves had to be returned to their owners, a law which was ignored and broken again and again. Was it morally wrong to break the Dred Scott decision made by the Supreme Court of the land. OR is the law of the land ALWAYS right and just? Your choice. Would you have returned the slave you captured in the North to his master to enslave him again? Or would you have done the moral and ethical thing by letting him remain free? Put yourself in that situation because it fits the argument you are making.

            Now both of us know that JSTOR’s agreement does not have the teeth that a Supreme Court Ruling has, does it? And we both know that the AGREEMENT you sign is for an extension of copyright so that JSTOR can continue to get high revenue from educational institutions. SINCE Aaron was not SELLING his information, but using it educationally it was not really criminal in a moral sense, and the charge was used for the purpose of blackmailing Aaron Schwartz into a plea bargain. This would put a felony on his record and would prohibit him from working in his field for many employers who require his expertise.

            To fight something like this requires a great deal of money, a criminal lawyer with strong ethics – are there any? – and enormous time to do it which would stop him from continuing his outstanding work. Countries like ours soon experience a “braindrain” where our best and brightest go to other countries to work. It is happening now. This is why we got Einstein. GET IT NOW STUPID!

          • Nate Whilk

            “Dred Scott”???? Are you SERIOUSLY comparing this to SLAVERY? This case is NOTHING compared to slavery!

            “It wasn’t WRONG – not morally – it was against the agreement he made with JSTOR.”

            If you make an agreement, you are morally bound to keep it unless there are extraordinary circumstances, like someone’s life is in immediate danger. I guess I’m old-fashioned, but if you can’t be trusted, that’s a big problem.

            ‘Countries like ours soon experience a “braindrain” where our best and brightest go to other countries to work. It is happening now. This is why we got Einstein. GET IT NOW STUPID!’

            Einstein left Germany because he was JEWISH. To quote yourself, “GET IT NOW STUPID!” [sic]

            You really expect me to believe there’s a flood of American citizens emigrating to another country? Present your detailed, comprehensive evidence that this “brain drain” is happening right now. The USA is not perfect, but it is still the freest country in the world. EVERYBODY wants to come here, even people from countries that protest or fight us!

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            If you read me more carefully instead of letting your emotions run away with you, you will see I was only comparing the legalese you used with an extreme case. But your logical argument is exactly the same in both. In Dred Scott you would have stopped a bit before ranting. Maybe.

            Everybody wants to come here. Yes immigrants with little or no skills. They want to come en masse. Why do you think we are the freest? Because our govt can lie and fabricate WMD and kill innocent people, because they are free to send Special Ops into third world countries to destabilize them? Or because criminals are free to carry military weapons and kill citizens at will? Free to do what?

          • Nate Whilk

            x

          • Nate Whilk

            You’ve apparently revealed your anti-immigrant opinions. I’ll excuse that because you have obviously let YOUR emotions run away with you in your unsubstantiated rant. As for the rest of it, well, the less said, the better.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Do you know how many computer savants have left the country? Masses are now in Germany as expats. I know of one super genius who went to New Zealand. They all want out of here. My friend dumped all his computers in the trash after removing hard drives that he destroyed. They are all paranoid and are taking their brains elsewhere. The US brain diaspora has begun.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            “If you make an agreement, you are morally bound to keep it unless there are extraordinary circumstances, like someone’s life is in immediate danger. I guess I’m old-fashioned, but if you can’t be trusted, that’s a big problem.”

            I have no doubt that of all the hundreds of “I agree” buttons you have clicked, that you have violated your agreements over and over. It is impossible not to.So if by any chance in the future they want to get you for something or other, they have you by the balls.

          • Nate Whilk

            Yes, they do (and the same is true of you and every computer use). And I accept the risk of that. On the other hand, I have not distributed 4 million copies of the copyrighted software I’ve licensed because I KNOW they’d hunt me down. Which is what happened to Aaron.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            So we go from no charges in The Trial to trumped up charges from OUR LAW which are really no charges at all. Just Fairy Tale charges to frighten someone. The same as they are doing to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the present moment and Edward Snowden who outsmarted them with the help of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. See Snowden knows the evil he was dealing with and he was not brainwashed. Like you.

          • Nate Whilk

            No response to my Kafka comment? I guess you know when you’re wrong.

            If you had read the analysis of the charges, you would have found that all the charges are legitimate, NOT “trumped up”. Perhaps YOU are brainwashed.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            How to explain this to you. Are you familiar with the Sacco/Vanzetti trial and judicial murder? Yes he clicked that I agree button to continue and then violated it. Is that really a cause for a threatened long jail term or a plea bargain (with lots of conditions you may be sure). I am sure students violate this agreement all the time. Have you heard of any others prosecuted?

            As for The Trial. When he says it is exactly what is happening to him, he means the feelings, the closing in of a strange reality, the state bureaucratic machine grinding away. You are bringing up the literal, the difference in the fact that K does not know why he is there, (Solzhenitsyn says the same in his Gulag and in his The First Circle novel:picked up and incarcerated without knowing why. Also Victor Herman in Coming Out of the Ice.) The US has taken care not to do this as the KGB did it, but to throw a “mask of illusion” over it; hence, the charges that are so overkill as to be ridiculous, hyper charges, so outrageous they are “obscene” in post modern thinking. Porn. I can tellI’m losing you now.

            An excessive barrage of charges and threatening punishments is inverted meaning no charges at all. That’s Nietzsche. But I know you just want to argue, sound reasonably intelligent on a comment board, but you don’t really want to try to understand something that is difficult to understand. And this is why they do it the way they do. Because this is OZ we are talking about. And we are not supposed to look behind the curtain.

          • dougkinan

            Nate:
            Read my posts.
            dougkinan@yahoo.com

          • dougkinan

            True. The government can make up any charges against you they want and you have to defend those charges or else As a former federal government employee, I was charged with “disloyalty” for refusing to join in to frame an innocent person, refusing to sign off on fraudulent promotion certifications, opposing egregious sexual harassment, opposing well planned discrimination, opposing heinous and violent acts against female employees and more. The FBI and the DOJ verified these criminal acts, ignored my 30 page affidavit and, by their silence, were complicit with official corruption and high crime subsidized by tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of tax dollars. My request to be a government witness was and continues to be ignored.
            dougkinan@yahoo.com

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            I have walked in your shoes.Until you understand the Foucauldian Grid of power/knowledge/normality/capital an idealistic person will keep stepping in their slime. The secret is to learn where they are most vulnerable and push them hard THERE. Right now it is over Snowden and to a lesser degree Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Keep working the social media against them.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      I see you are not literate having never read Kafka.

  • LLroomtempJ

    This is a very well written article. As an MIT alum, reading this hurt my heart. When i initially heard the story (through the headlines), I thought to myself “aaron swartz’s predicament was of his own making”. After reading this article, I feel very differently. I strongly believe that MIT needs to act. What a tragedy. I will pray for the swartz family.

  • jakesdad

    pardon my bluntness as I usually try to be a little more rational in my writing even when taking sides/positions BUT (in this case):

    if there is a Hell hopefully they’re busy preparing the Carmen Ortiz wing…

    • commenty_mcgee

      Look into the Motel Caswell case, she tried to seize the hotel despite no one who owns the place ever being charged with a crime. The story is really gross.

      • kiki davis

        I’ve read that article,Ortiz is a bitch just out to climb the latter to the top and she doesnt care how many bodies she leaves behind to get there,she has Holder and Obama on her side which is why she hasnt been removed from office .She’s pulling the same typr of BS with the Tsanraev case in Boston.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          Yes. She is out to out man the men, to be more macho than they are. This is the consequence of PC feminism.She is on her way up and she is the weakest link tht we could break. PHiladelphia destroyed Wilson Goode with the MOVE bombing in West Philly and his whole future career was lost in a day. And that’s why they did it. Just to get him and they didn’t care how many innocent people were hurt and killed. And Goode’s career was a rising star at the DC level.

    • jake481

      It is strange how so many prosecutors seem to think punishing people as severely as possible is part of the job.

      • jakesdad

        it isn’t even so much the disproportionate punishing – it’s the political (non-)TARGETING of prosecutors! Aaron was targeted for his anti-ACTA work (& general anti-copyright/pro-public domain stance) – PERIOD! just like the ex-Anonymous guy who broke the Stubenville rape thing – if you’re an inconvenience to the administration and/or their donors they find an obscure/obsolete law to stretch into a rationale to prosecute you but if you’re among said donors (or former party higher-up like Corzine) they shrug their shoulders and say: “gee, we know you’re mad but they technically didn’t break any actual laws…”. on paper we’re a nation of laws but in practice b/c of people like Holder & Ortiz we are in effect little more than a kleptocracy… (& yes, Bush was worse – don’t bother throwing that red herring at me!)

        • jake481

          Hmmm…I hadn’t really considered throwing ANY herrings, red or otherwise.

          • jakesdad

            apologies – that wasn’t directed at you personally, more of a general thing to anyone who would try to play the: “A-HA! you’re just a racist republican!” BS card…

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          What better way to enslave Aaron’s mind than by doing this to him?

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        But it is! Prosecutors do not want to stay prosecutors. They want to move on in their careers. This is the way they do it. You won’t find any Clarence Darrows today altho Dee Wampler of Springfield MO is very close.

    • CPO_C_Ryback

      FACTS

      — This was his SECOND run-in with federal police.

      — JSTOR has IP that is STILL OWNED by the authors

      — Those authors also have constitutional rights, no matter what Einsteins like Google’s owners think.

      — He was ARRESTED, fleeing the crime scene —

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

      — Prisons are filled with “misunderstood” persons. Who are not getting the PR that A.S. is getting. Why don’t they get the same PR from this publication?

      — “Let’s make a deal” is a daily staple of courtroom life. To think otherwise is to be a ridiculously-naive fool.

      — He killed himself. No one else was involved.

      47,000,000 Americans are on food stamps. Anyone going to care about them?

      • jakesdad

        – I assume you refer to the PACER incident where AS downloaded PUBLIC RECORDS (but don’t take my word for it – that’s the FBI’s conclusion) [edit:] BTW – pretty sure you’re making MY point by citing this!

        — and you point is what? AS had a valid JSTOR account…

        — see above

        — WHETHER there was a crime is at issue – you & Ortiz saying it doesn’t make it so…

        — wow, you’ve got this red herring thing down! hopefully most of the prison population actually committed crimes (though I become more skeptical of this by the day). most of the innocent (or at least not dangerous) ones lack the resources ($ and/or political clout). not saying it’s right but you know the answer to that.

        — yeah, whatever…

        — ladies & gentlemen we have officially jumped the shark! (thank you for at least not going Godwin though)

        • CPO_C_Ryback

          Thanks for agreeing that A.S. was a CROOK and deserved federal criminal action.

          Have a day.

  • Hugo

    Blaming the school??
    How about blaming the parents for not giving their children a sense of boundaries and rules? How about blaming the family for not recognizing the emotional/mental state of their son?

    • jake481

      The school clearly has a measure of blame here. The simple fact that anyone on the campus had access to the database is an enormous aspect of the case.

      The father obviously knew his son was distraught. He was appropriately upset for the situation he was in.

      The kid wasn’t blameless, but 35 years in prison for downloading information virtually every person who stepped foot onto the MIT campus had free and legal access to? Does that seem like justice?

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        That’s the problem. That anyone is still referring to this process as justice. This is what K is doing in The Trial by Kafka. He cannot understand. Aaron understood. His father did not and couldn’t even remember the outcome for K – DEATH. This is what Aaron knew, knew his father didn’t know, and was alone. Had this happened after Snowden he would have been able to see better, perhaps to evade. Who knows?

    • John McCloonan

      How about blaming ignoramuses like you? An institution of higher learning should foster creative thinking as a critical part of a student’s success. Schwartz automated access to information he had access to already manually. Ortiz is nothing more than an overzealous prosecutor insistent on making a name for herself, no matter the cost. MIT’s indifference and policy of non-intervention were nothing short of cowardice. They could have made all the difference in developing this beautiful young mind, but instead contributed to a tragic outcome.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Yes. They don’t want any more troublesome Chomsky’s that they can’t get rid of without a furor.

    • Hugo

      It seems odd for an avowed “anti-school activist” to VOLUNTARILY decide attend MIT but then decide that the school’s rules somehow don’t apply to him. While a person may not agree with an institutions rules & policies, there are other ways to protest than just deciding that certain rules don’t apply to them.

      • tdperk

        It doesn’t appear that he broke the school’s rules. The point is that the school broke it’s own unwritten rules.

        Those unwritten rules are why the school could attract an “anti-school” activist.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          yes. It promises one thing and then under pressure delivers another.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        You don’t know what the rules are until you get enmeshed. There are stated rules and unstated rules. Read Zizek on this.

    • freespeechlover

      I hate to break it to you, but the university is not a branch of the armed services or national security state. It seems MIT would LIKE to be such a branch in order to get $$$, but it’s not.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        MIT is enslaved by all the federal money it takes and has taken. It is a branch of the federal govt now, no longer a private institution.

        • freespeechlover

          Point taken.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Do you know about the Global Center for Advanced Studies?Zizek is on the faculty. facebook and then slash to get there. You will like it.

    • bill reeves

      The state despises genius it does not own and fears that it can’t control. In an ‘indict a ham sandwich’ world a guy like Aaron was eventually going to attract the ire of the beast. Break it up break it all up.

      Ortiz was just a semi-sentient tool in this process.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Absolutely. The sick part of this is that on a comment board like this you and I are the only ones that verbalize this for the rest, who can’t understand it. They are still inside capitalism and is abhorrent consequences.Aaron knew this and decided to opt out. No blame.

        • tdperk

          Funny thing is, liberty and capitalism are synonymous, they are the same thing. You can’t have one without the other.

          If I’ve noticed one thing about people opposing capitalism, they always are murderous thieves who want to change the market’s outcome with someone else’s money, and usually at the point of gun too.

          If you, Abbeysbooks, were an operator and not a useful idiot, you would be Aaron’s jailer.

          You’d have to be. At some point, he wouldn’t lick your boots, either.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            you’ve been reading too much of objectivism dogma. Just more sound bites.

          • tdperk

            I’ve never read Rand.

            You fail so hard.

            Your every pretense and prejudice.

    • Peter Boucher

      Let’s see. He was charged with unauthorized access for an action for which the school does not even require authorization, and the school’s excuse for not explaining this to the prosecution was that “they didn’t ask us that.”

      Yes, blame the school. They are to blame. To claim otherwise is simply ignorant.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        The I Ching is very clear on matters like this. “No blame.”

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      He had the kind of parenting all children should have. Imagine a world of geniuses like Aaron tht could uplift humanity and the world. We do not have that world nor anything close to it. We live in a world of domination,oppression, slavery, and evil.

  • motion view

    Swartz should have taken the 3 month plea bargain offered very early. Everybody wants to be MLK but without the jail time.

  • Lyle7

    MIT and the Federal government had nothing to do with Swartz’s suicide. He had personal medical issues, and people who are taking on the “system” are usually willing to suffer a bit for their cause. He is no martyr or MLK or no nothing.

    He killed himself. That’s it.

    • tdperk

      He made a bad choice, but he is not the only one who made bad choices in this.

      The other people such as the MIT admins and the prosecutor need to feel the pain proportionate to their bad choices as well, or they won’t learn better.

      Stupidity, cupidity, these should be painful.

      • Lyle7

        I don’t disagree with you that the prosecutor is the worse sort of prosecutor. MIT can try and protect its files all it wants too. Maybe they could have handled it differently.

        Regardless, Aaron Swartz took his own life for his own reasons. If he at all did it because of what MIT or the Federal government was doing to him, he was a very weak man that no one should be looking up to.

        • tdperk

          It’s not his choice to suicide that is being looked up to or well regarded here, it is the choices of the prosecutors’ and MIT which are being justly derided. By any reasonable measure they gave him his reasons to suicide.

          That’s it.

          • eliastoms

            Perk, listen to what these guys are saying, though. Aaron could have done so much more with his life, been an even greater influence on future legislation and in changing university policy if he’d STAYED ALIVE. Three months in a federal minimum security prison is not hard time. Millkin and white collar criminals do it all the time. Wash dishes for three months? Come on. He was given a chance to be as much a crusader for information rights as the other rights fought for throughout American history, and instead he went and killed himself. Not a martyr. Just another sad little story

          • tdperk

            No one is saying he should have killed himself, or that that was a reasonable thing for him to do.

            We are calling on the carpet–and I hope it happens more consequentially in the future–the other people who also made bad judgements who created the situation.

            Why can’t you straightforwardly make a case that shouldn’t happen?

            Maybe because you have no case?

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            The people who did it to him are simply functionaries like in a Kafka novel. They are bureaucrats. They are non persons. You are not going to change them.He knew that.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            He could not have done any of that. It’s too late for that. He could only have helped them enslave us even more and faster. Like Einstein.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Aaron had no control over what they were doing to him. The only control he had was to decide whether to eventually join them or not. If he lived, he would have to go to them. Like Einstein he had no choice if he lived.So he took himself, his mind, his world away from them. What does it say about a civilization when the best commit suicide?

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          These people in the Justice System are simply functionaries. Read Kafka. They are bureaucrats. Ayn Rand understood this and the horror they will inflict when thwarted. Aaron knew there was no way out but to be coopted. Like Einstein. Look at what happened to Oppenheimer after he did what they wanted in developing the bomb. couldn’t have been done without him.

      • The Sports Police

        Aaron could have called MIT onto the carpet himself for what they did, if he didn’t commit suicide. The suicide was impulsive and unnecessary. We only have one life to live in this world, and he ended his when he didn’t have to.

        Look at the victims of Ariel Castro, who endured torture, beatings and rape for decades. Look at the holocaust survivors and the terror they lived through. These people survived and went on to live productive lives and help others. Nothing Aaron went through approximates this.

        • tdperk

          Why are you making a “Look, Squirrel!” argument?

          No one is applauding his suicide, they are criticizing the decisions other people made which contributed to it.

          • The Sports Police

            So they made his life a living hell by prosecuting him for a crime? Enough to make him kill himself? Sorry, not seeing it. People have endured much more than he did and didn’t kill themselves.

            You wanna live life on the edge? Then suck it up and take your medicine when someone tries to call you out on it.

          • tdperk

            “So they made his life a living hell by prosecuting him for a crime”

            Yes, and did so in patently bad faith.

            “You wanna live life on the edge?”

            Absolutely not, the point is, Aaron Swartz wasn’t out there either.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Your mind is too low level to have any understanding of his suicide. So is his father’s.And I consider his father an exemplary parent.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          Aaron could see far into the future. The future of the others you mention were not ever going to be the same. Aaron was going to be held hostage for his mind and it was coming. This is what Edward Snowden sees, and he does not have the same abstract genius that Aaron had.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. What were his future choices? Who would he work for? What might his employers be doing? What else could he do to live or to survive? His father was of another generation that doesn’t even conceive of the world Kafka was writing about. Virilio does,but I doubt his father was pointing him towards post modern philosophers. And his father couldn’t remember the ending, that K was killed. Why not? What was he denying that he couldn’t remember? His son was aware of his father’s innocence and inability to protect him after he had encouraged the development of his son’t genius mind. You can’t do that with your child unless you are aware of what his future might be. Aaron knew this. And he knew he didn’t have a future. Einstein knew the same and still helped build the bomb knowing exactly what they were going to do with it. His protestations for peace are futile and delusionary. Aaron knew this and knew what was waiting for him as did the unibomber, who tried to warn us in his own particular gory and violent way.

        I think he did the only thing that made sense to him. “I am not going to put my genius in your service. And I cannot live at a dumbed down level.”

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Which is what you would like all of us to believe for whatever your motives are. But you cannot separate the subject/object. Ever.

  • The Sports Police

    Assume for a moment that the law sucks as badly as everyone is saying. Assume it’s selectively enforced. Assume law-enforcement personnel have ulterior political motives, and that Aaron had the purest of intentions for doing what he did.

    None of that changes that he was knowingly in violation of the law, and he chose to do it anyway. When caught, he was eventually offered a deal which was lenient as compared to the maximum sentence he potentially faced if found guilty. He refused it. Yes, 3 months in jail sucks. But even if he did the full stretch (which wasn’t definite–short-term prisoners are often released early), 3 months is not life-altering. It’s three months. He could’ve had his life back. Instead, he refused the deal, then committed suicide before he even went to trial.

    All of these decisions, the downloading of the documents, the refusal of the plea bargain, the choice to go to trial, even the suicide–were within Aaron’s rights. But when a grown man makes decisions which he knows full well are risky, and things go wrong, it rings hollow when he tries to blame it on someone else.

    • tdperk

      “None of that changes that he was knowingly in violation of the law”

      There is no evidence what he did was against the law. There was no definition of excessive in the access policy.

      Where do you–or anyone for that matter–get the idea there ever was anything even slightly reasonable about this prosecution?

      • The Sports Police

        So he thought everything was on the up and up? Then why didn’t he do it in the open? Why stash a laptop in a maintenance closet? Why all the sneaking around?

        For the record, I don’t believe there was any harm done to JSTOR, and if there was, he paid them $26,500 for their trouble. A first-time offender facing 35 years for something like this is preposterous. But the fact remains that, proper or not, reasonable or not, he was facing a felony conviction, and at some point he needed to be practical and find a solution he could live with. There was a way out of this and he didn’t take it, so the whole “You forced him to kill himself” argument isn’t working for me. Sorry.

        • tdperk

          “So he thought everything was on the up and up? Then why didn’t he do it
          in the open? Why stash a laptop in a maintenance closet? Why all the
          sneaking around?”

          Why wasn’t the police car put up on the dome in broad daylight?

          Did you even read the article?

          “A first-time offender facing 35 years for something like this is preposterous.”

          Exactly why the prosecutor should be viciously criticized, and MIT for helping that office.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            This is what state terrorism is. A sentence like this is meant to terrorize, to act as Deterrence. Like the concentration of parking traffic tickets – easy targets – when there are much more serious things going on. Anyone involved in computer coding and at his level is forced into paranoia. Just the obsession with dirt, dust, and absolute cleanliness enables paranoia. His father comes from a different generation and altho he could share what Aaron was doing, he was not dwelling in his rarefied atmosphere. Aaron was frightened as only a serious Kafka reader can be, of the future. And he was correct to be so.

          • mt45

            He wasn’t really “facing 35 years”, that was the maximum sentence of all of the crimes he was charged with, if they were run consecutively. Which was never going to happen. If a defendant is found guilty, It’s ultimately the judge that determines the sentence, and it’s the legislature that sets the outer limits of the judge’s sentencing discretion.

          • tdperk

            The prosecutor was playing crazy as a strategy, and what you are saying was impossible was merely implausible. The implausible thing of a crazy prosecutor was before him, who could say what other implausible things might go on?

          • mt45

            The judge sentences convicted defendants, not prosecutors.

          • tdperk

            If you are pretending prosecutors have no or little influence on sentencing, I wonder why you are pretending that.

          • mt45

            If we’re just talking wild theoretical possibilities and passing them off as the likely outcome, if he had been convicted of all charges and the prosecutor recommended probation, the judge could have still sentenced him to that 35 years.

            Every defendant who enters a guilty plea is warned of the maximum sentences, the possibility of those sentences being run consecutively, and the fact that the judge alone has the sentencing discretion.

            But the reality is, he wasn’t ever, under any circumstances going to serve 35 years. People talking as if 35 years was guaranteed or even likely are either being dishonest to make their point or they’re ignorant of how the legal system works.

          • tdperk

            I think almost no one is talking as if 35 years were guaranteed, but that it was possible, and seemed more likely than it might otherwise because of the fervor of the prosecutor. Doing several years or even a decade was quite possible.

          • dougkinan

            I guess you may not know that the “rule of law” is sometimes replaced by the “rule of like.” And I know how the legal system works.
            dougkinan@yahoo.com

          • dougkinan

            At the recommendation of the prosecutors.
            dougkinan@yahoo.com

          • jake481

            He was certainly threatened with 35 years.

          • dougkinan

            When the prosecutor/judge alliance is “working,” all bets are off.
            dougkinan@yahoo.com

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          Aaron was not a practical person. Neither was Einstein. I watched Einstein in the cafeteria at Princeton one weekend. He ate, went to pay, pulled out his money and change, began to count it, got frustrated and pushed the whole pile at the cashier for her to do it. He obviously was thinking about something and couldn’t be bothered to count simple change for his lunch check. He didn’t want to break his chain of thought.

        • dougkinan

          That’s because it didn’t happen to you.
          dougkinan@yahoo.com

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Someone like Aaron might not have been able to withstand one week let alone 3 months. Some can and some can’t. And we know who can and who can’t.

      If you had read Foucault’s Discipline and Punish you would not have written the above comment.

      • The Sports Police

        If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          Nice sound bite. I am assuming you think in sound bites also. A FOX news person eh.

          • tdperk

            I certainly am a FOX news sort of person, since the MSM is full of outright lies and barely hidden leftist agendas, and FOX is quite middle of the road. I applaud their efforts to be even handed.

            Being much farther to the right myself, I wish a network existed which was frankly conservative in its editorial outlook.

          • The Sports Police

            Yes, an even-handed “news” network that doesn’t let anyone in front of a camera unless they are ultra-conservative. And Alan Colmes is the exception that proves the rule.

            tdperk, based on your argument, AS’s lawyer had a pretty airtight defense. Aaron did not meet the criteria set forth in the statute; case closed. Right?

            So why not go to trial? Didn’t he stand an excellent chance of being vindicated by a jury of his peers?

        • tdperk

          So you are still possessed of the delusion this case proceeded on an evidentiary basis. It actually went forward on the same sort of basis as catastrophic global warming theory did, something really as simple minded as, “It stands to reason…”

          The prosecution’s case boils down to, “It stands to reason that if he was sneaking around, he knew he was doing something criminal.”

          The trouble is that the statute requires you to actually violate some stated rules of access in gaining access to the victimized computer. There is no evidence presented yet that he did so.

      • tdperk

        You know the whole of “deconstructionism” and “post-modernism” make perfect sense if you realize those canons have nothing to do with any goal claimed by their proponents, but are instead the product of the inability of the French to admit to and deal with the fact the whole Enlightenment was corrupted by Rouseau, and became then the Endarkenment. They can’t forgive the fact the Anglophones in 1775 had the Revolution which worked, where theirs only birthed tumbrels and bloody chaos to no better purpose than a string of pusillanimous corrupt republics and supernumerary monarchies–and eventually every horror of the 20th century, the Nazis, the Soviets, Maoism, and killing fields of Cambodia are all to be laid at the feet of French political, philosophical thought.

        They can’t handle it. They blather, hoping impenetrable wordiness can cover their moral vacuity.

        Bastiat and Tocqueville are very nearly the last Frenchmen of prominence to make any sense, philosophically, and if any advancement since 1775 in thoughts of political economy have occurred, it is in the acceptance that rights are universal to sufficient sapience, not to nationality, class, or gender, and so the more universal application of the Enlightenment is progress, but that is a matter of different scope of application, not of different, new, thought. There is Mises and his school, but even there no new thought not presaged by Smith or Locke is forged, but older truths reified with admirable thoroughness and craftsmanship.

        There is no reality in Continental thought in the vein of deconstruction or postmodernism that is worth the effort.

        If you continue to credit the pomos with wisdom, you will continue to be only accidentally and trivially right.

    • John Moore

      In general, I agree with you. However, the feds unreasonably insisted he plead guilty to multiple felonies, and that *is* a very life altering event – regardless of actual time served.

      This is a tragic event where several parties screwed up, including AS, and all share the blame.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        For Aaron to have multiple felonies on his record would have been disastrous. You can’t teach with them so all academic appointments would be closed to him.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Nobody screwed up. They were playing a dangerous game with him and he knew it and decided he couldn’t win so he wouldn’t play. Read Berardi(BIFO)the Italian philosopher on this. It’s very short with his sexy picture.http://cosmopolisfilm2.blogspot.com/2013/05/eric-packer-as-singularity-and-event.html?zx=c5d8ee9cb628ee01

    • ik-5

      Yea I agree, his parents should have treated him like dirt growing up, destroyed his spirit early on, that would have kept him in check. Welcome to the real world son!

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        Can you just imagine how jealous most people are of a boy who had wonderful parents like he had, who nurtured his mind and body and loved him like that. What a lucky boy. But so unprepared for a sick sick world.

        • ik-5

          As a society we seem more prepared for guilt than standing up while the individual suffers. Survival of the fittest, right? People on here saying “don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time”, need to remember that Aaron punished himself most severely. And I feel his guilt was more about putting his family through this ordeal rather than going through it himself. Most suicides are driven by guilt and not fear of punishment.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            I don’t think his suicide was a psychological sound bite at all. I think he knew exactly what the govt had in mind for him. A plea bargain with multiple felonies would block him from employment forever from the very employers who needed him and for whom he needed to work with. He would have been in a “man without a country” situation. Then they would come to him and offer a way out by working with them. And his mind would be enslaved.This was the goal.The strategy is what we are responding and reacting to which is the SPECTACLE obscuring the real meaning.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      You are forgetting that when the ruler abuses his own laws, the people follow suit. A paraphrase of Sun-Tzu.

      No crime was intended. But when a nation fabricates WMD to illegally invade and murder a population of a country, that crime is so extreme that all else pales beside it. Who can respect the law after such a violation. And there are many more such violations by the rulers.

      So violating an I agree button. Really? Like stealing a piece of penny candy and going to jail for it because you already have 2 strikes. (Thanks Clinton cause now they murder you so you won’t be able to give evidence.)

      I cannot take the stupid laws seriously. I don’t respect them. I also do not want to get caught, so I may observe them because I do not want to get caught, but not because I think they are wise, just, or even sensible.

      • The Sports Police

        Right, even though you disagree with the laws, you follow them because you understand there are consequences if you don’t. You made a logical decision that you could live with. Aaron did not.

  • public_servant_watch

    Carmen Ortiz and her minions belong at a Defendant table – this was simply the window that opened view to the corruption and abuse of power by her office. NEWS FLASH – bogus phony court proceedings going on where the FBI files the complaint and US Attorney do not even make appearances in the case. They then file directly on the case dockets fraudulent orders that never make to the court’s master docket. ALL WHILE INTIMIDATING THE DEFENDANTS WITH OUTRAGEOUS OVER CHARGE AND FABRICATED EVIDENCE.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Yep.

  • Holly Eskew


    As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako – who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.

    Aaron Swartz’s Politics by Matt Stoller. (via jedsundwall)

    http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40523192514/days-of-reflecting

    Days of reflecting
    lessig.tumblr.com

    Days of reflectinglessig.tumblr.com

    http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40523192514/days-of-reflecting

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Ah Stoller. I would expect nothing less of him. It’s all true.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Holly I don’t know how anyone can continue to argue about this after reading your comment. Thanks.

    • dougkinan

      Holly Eskew:
      You are correct. Selective prosecution is the standard operating procedure by those in law enforcement who are willfully blind to official crime. Based on my direct knowledge, corroborated by evidence provided to the FBI and the DOJ, official corruption and high crime in government by those who are “connected” is well rewarded, while those who refuse to engage in criminal activity suffer the consequences.
      dougkinan@yahoo.com

  • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

    Honey they wanted to enslave him and he knew it. LIke Einstein. Like the scientists of the Soviet space program in the Gulags. Like the Nazis were given secret new identities and whisked out of Berlin to the US to work on our space program. That’s what was going on in Berlin when the Russians and the US were racing in there to capture their new slaves.

  • http://possible.com/collective/greg-biggers Greg Biggers

    Insightful article.

    You might want to repair a little typo. ‘That’ should be ‘than’ in:

    “I was better connected to people at MIT that almost anyone else, right?”

  • mt45

    It’s the legislature that defines crimes and set penalties. Why is there no discussion about their role?

    • tdperk

      If you were paying attention, you would see it has been discussed, and in such forums as the Senate. What are you looking for?

      Here we are discussing how MIT violated what were ostensibly it’s principles while co-operating covertly with a duplicitous, grasping prosecutor.

      • public_servant_watch

        A little action on this bogus relief would be nice!!! http://rt.com/usa/white-house-petitions-ignored-149/#.Use4njYaUp0.twitter

        • tdperk

          You know, we had a shot at that last year…

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        MIT is a bureaucracy. An institution. You are not going to find ethical principles in that kind of organization.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        MIT was just doing what everyone does. Govt, bureaucracies, universities, everyday people.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Because at Gitmo with the introduction of torture we turned a corner. No longer are we a nation of law. We are following Athens so if you read Thucydides you will see the parallels.This is just where we are folks. Deal with it. Nit pick over laws that are now irrelevant is what they want you to be doing. To still believe in the fairy tale that we are a nation of laws. We are moving into a totalitarian age.I know you don’t want to see it and neither do I but it is right in front of us.

      Our legislatures and Congress are helpless.

      • dougkinan

        Selective prosecution is the standard operating procedure by those in law enforcement who are willfully blind to official crime. Based on my direct knowledge, corroborated by evidence provided to the FBI and the DOJ, official corruption and high crime in government by those who are “connected” is well rewarded, while those who refuse to engage in criminal activity suffer the consequences.
        dougkinan@yahoo.com

  • Techngro

    This is nonsensical. MIT bears no responsibility for Swartz’s death. The kid did something stupid. MIT didn’t make him do it (i.e. downloading JSTOR archives and uploading it to file sharing sites), he did it of his own accord. And he used their servers to carry out the crime (that’s what it is whether you think it should be or not).

    MIT also didn’t push for his prosecution. They didn’t speak against it, but they didn’t have to. Again, it was HIS actions that put him where he ultimately found himself. And it was HIS actions that took his own life.

    It’s amazing how people want to absolve him of all responsibility when, at every turn, it was Swartz that was the sole actor in all of these instances. I don’t blame the government for prosecuting him. That’s what they’re supposed to do. If he had stolen from my business, or used my business to commit a crime, I would have wanted them to prosecute him.

    I suspect (though I have absolutely no proof) that Swartz had some mental issues that were the real cause of his suicide. Most people would want to learn what their sentence was first before trying to kill themselves. Who knows, the judge may have sentenced Swartz to a minimal sentence. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to wait to find out.

    • tdperk

      Looks like you’re unable to distinguish the fact that MIT proactively supported his prosecution in a way they were under no obligation whatsoever to do. I don’t think anyone has said he didn’t have other underlying emotional issues. The point being made and quite fairly made is that MIT did not live up to its own ethos.

      • Techngro

        Your logic is faulty. MIT was completely within their rights to seek prosecution of Swartz. Sure, they are under no ‘obligation’ to do so, but they do have the right to do so.

        Any company/organization/institution has the right to prosecute persons who trespass or misuse/abuse their facilities, whether they are open to the public or not.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          It’s obvious that MIT was pushed to do this. MIT takes huge amounts of govt money in the form of grants, and innumerable other ways. MIT cannot afford to antagonize or go against the govt when it wants to do something and pressures them to go along. MIT is dependent on donors for a great deal of their money. This is the sad situation of all colleges and universities in the US now, as their tuition has gone to the sky and graduates get their degree saddled with student loan debts for the rest of their lives. MIT is dependent upon tech employers for their graduates so you can see what a thicket of thorns all this is. Yes MIT is going to do what it is told to do.A bureaucracy does not stand up against such pressure on moral/ethical grounds.

          • Techngro

            The problem with your statement is that there is absolutely nothing immoral about prosecuting a person who misused your facilities to steal another institution’s data.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            It’s true. I see nothing immoral about it at all. I do see there is something illegal about it. These are two different categories as any lawyer will tell you. The law is not a moral system as religion is, it is a legal system of laws based on our Constitution but mostly on the thicket of precedents. If I am not selling someone else’s material but using it for educational purposes, I have a clear conscience about doing that.

          • Techngro

            There’s also nothing illegal about them prosecuting someone who misused their facilities either.

            It comes down to this. MIT or JSTOR would have been well within their rights to push for prosecution of Swartz. Some people may not like that, but it is true. Neither MIT nor JSTOR did anything wrong.

            Poeple need to start placing the blame for what happened where it belongs, with Swartz himself. He set all of these things in motion, and it was ultimately he that took his life.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Where did I say JSTOR or MIT did anything illegal? Link?

          • Techngro

            Well..I said:

            “there is absolutely nothing immoral about prosecuting a person who misused your facilities…”

            Then you said:

            “I see nothing immoral about it at all. I do see there is something illegal about it. ”

            So I assumed you were referring to MIT’s actions when you talked about there being ‘something illegal about it’ (cause that’s what I was referring to). I’m sorry if I misunderstood what you were saying.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            The Law has little to do with ethics or morality. The Law is a different Order. A different category. You have Law and Morality equated in your thinking. They are different. Sometimes they are the same on a ruling but mostly not. Why you can have the Dred Scott Decision passed by the Supreme Court and then ignored and disobeyed by the country. Yes they were breaking the law. Were they doing the moral thing? Of course they were. That’s the issue and I don’t think MIT would have bothered except maybe to call Aaron in the office and discipline him for doing it. But the govt got into the act, made it a crime with a huge punishment in order to force a plea bargain. That’s how they work. That’s their strategy. Nothing illegal about that strategy. Plenty immoral about that strategy.I don’t think MIT wanted to make this kind of issue about it but would have preferred to keep it quiet and “in the family” sort of thing. It is obvious MIT was forced to do this and now they are taking the hit for the consequence. Many universities now are condemning Israel’s universities who have supported their terroristic policies against Palestine. Intellectuals and academics all over the world are boycotting them. US universities too.About time.It’s the Snowden Effect beginning to snowball.Aaron was before the cusp of all this, just too soon.

    • TheWiseNo3

      “he used their servers to carry out the crime”

      What exactly was his “crime” ? “downloading JSTOR archives and uploading it to file sharing sites” ? First of all, he didn’t upload or share anything, and there is no conclusive proof about what he intended to do with the downloaded articles. Secondly, all students, faculty, visitors etc. at MIT had free access to the JSTOR archive. Yes, you could argue that he abused this access by downloading a very large number of JSTOR articles, but the alleged “victim” of this “heinous crime”, JSTOR, considered the case closed after being paid a $26,500 fine. So what is this “crime”, that deserves to be indicted as multiple felonies and to be punished with prison time?

      • Techngro

        I’ll just copy and paste a bit here and there cause it’ll make it easier:

        From Wikipedia:

        On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested near the Harvard campus by MIT police and a U.S. Secret Service agent. He was arraigned in Cambridge District Court on two state charges of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony.

        On July 11, 2011, Swartz was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer.

        On November 17, 2011, Swartz was indicted by a Middlesex County Superior Court grand jury on state charges of breaking and entering with intent, grand larceny and unauthorized access to a computer network.

        Now, given your obvious support of Swartz’s actions, you may not think that he should have been charged with these crimes, but he was, and most likely would have been convicted of some of them (since there was a video of him entering a restricted basement server room while hiding his face with his bicycle helmet and he was actually caught with the laptop and hard drive that had been accessing MIT’s network and JSTOR in an unauthorized manner).

        Now you say that all students, faculty and visitors had access to JSTOR. This is true, but once the offending activity was detected, both JSTOR and MIT attempted to block Swartz’s access (though they didn’t know his exact identity at the time). First JSTOR blocked the IP address of Swartz’s laptop. Swartz can back with the same laptop using a different IP. So JSTOR blocked a range of IP addresses (which resulted in other users being blocked as well). Then, MIT itself blocked Swartz’s MAC address. Swartz came back with the same laptop and a different MAC address.

        It seems obvious that both JSTOR and MIT intended and tried to completely revoke and block Swartz’s access (again, they didn’t know his exact identity at this time). So to continue to say that Swartz continued to have ‘free access’ to JSTOR through MIT is very disingenuous. They tried to stop him as best they could. And he knew this, which is why he kept changing his IP and MAC addresses.

        As for his intentions, you’re right, none of us know with 100% certainty that he intended to upload the materials. But if you look at Swartz’s own words, it’s clear that that is probably what he intended to do:

        “The Harvard researcher, Aaron Swartz, was indicted on federal charges of downloading articles from the nonprofit online academic database JSTOR last year. Swartz is a prominent programmer who founded a company acquired in 2005 by Reddit, and a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Ethics. In a 2008 “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,” Swartz called for activists to “fight back” against services that held academic papers hostage behind paywalls. “We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file-sharing networks,” wrote Swartz.” (from July 22, 2011 Technologyreview article)

        I hope that answers your questions.

        • onetree

          Regardless, unjust laws must be opposed. This is what people with integrity and a strong ethical base do versus people who are fearful of authority. This is the real reason that Aaron was taken down. It was his integrity, ingenuity, and his intelligence that the authorities wanted to stop, as well as to send a message to other hackers. Anyone who believes laws must be obeyed just because some rich people bought politicians to further their agenda to create oppressive laws for the people while they are protected behind the national security screen, doesn’t really understand integrity and natural law well enough to argue about right and wrong. And even if Aaron had done something “illegal” (and I’m not convinced he did — it seems to me his actions were more of an annoyance), the way he was treated was deplorable and sadistic as the article states.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            Hey Sista way to go! Yes he did something illegal but not something immoral. Most people can’t seem to tell the difference. Two different categories.

          • Techngro

            What ‘unjust’ laws are you talking about? The laws that say you can’t take what doesn’t belong to you just because you don’t like that the people who own that content or license that content have chosen to make people pay for it?

            That doesn’t sound like an unjust law to me, it just sounds like a law you don’t like. Those aren’t the same things. People are creating this myth to make it sound like Swartz was the next Frederick Douglass, working to free the slaves. He wasn’t. He was just a kid who had a misguided notion of what other people should be able to do with their property (and yes, even if you don’t like it, it is their property).

            If Swartz believed that that academic content should be free, there are many other paths that he could have taken instead of breaking the law. He could have, for example started a campaign to reach out to persuade professors and researchers who create that academic content to refuse to place their content behind paywalls. He was apparently very tech-savy, so perhaps he could have even created his own website to host academic content that would be free.

            You say that he had integrity, ingenuity and intelligence, but his actions belie that characterization completely.

          • onetree

            “He was just a kid who had a misguided notion of what other people should
            be able to do with their property (and yes, even if you don’t like it,
            it is their property).”

            Whose property was it? JSTOR? Did they produce the information? Do they pay authors for the articles they store? What do the authors lose if their articles are freely available? Do authors create works for JSTOR so that it can “earn” fees? JSTOR is a business that has put itself between journal articles and papers and the people who use the information. This, in itself, is unethical, making the “stealing” of such information an unjust law.

            “He could have, for example started a campaign to reach out to persuade professors and researchers who create that academic content to refuse to place their content behind paywalls. He was apparently very tech-savy, so perhaps he could have even created his own website to host academic content that would be free.”

            Perhaps that is exactly what he was trying to do.

            “You say that he had integrity, ingenuity and intelligence, but his actions belie that characterization completely.”

            His actions belie nothing of the sort. It’s only your judgment of his actions and not the actions themselves that seem to belie the characterization in your mind.

          • Techngro

            Ok. I’ve tried to be as reasonable as I can with you, but your ideological stance is making you sound foolish.

            JSTOR licenses the content that it has either from the author or from the publisher. So yes, it is their property because they have the license. So they can choose to do what they wish with it, as long as it doesn’t violate the license. Even if every single thing that you say about JSTOR is true (they don’t create the content, they earn fees for providing access, and they put themselves in between the journals and persons who want to use that information) IT DOESN’T MATTER. They have the RIGHT to do that because the persons who DID create that content (or the publisher) decided that that was what they wanted to do with the content they created.

            You are basically saying that YOU should be able to dictate how a person who owns something should be able to use/license their product. YOU don’t have that right. If you don’t like JSTOR, then don’t use it. JSTOR is not the only academic portal where you can get information. Create your own academic portal and then you can run it however you wish.

            You sound very arrogant, trying to dictate how other people should do with that they have created. If you want to control something, create it yourself and then you can make it free and show the rest of us how it’s done.

            As for your assertion that ‘perhaps that is exactly what he was trying to do’, you and I both know that if he was really trying to do what I suggested, he wouldn’t need to steal anything.

          • onetree

            OK, so apparently you feel it’s your job to be the definitive authority here. You sound like a pompous ass. This is a discussion forum and not a court of law or a classroom. You have your opinion (and yes, regardless of what you believe or say it is your opinion we’re discussing) and I have mine.

            You think I’m ignorant and I think you’re a pompous ass. Let’s just leave it there.

          • Solo Atkinson

            Your invocation of a chain of permission starting from the author is very mechanical. Since when do you get to speak for this group? Some of my papers are on JSTOR. I speak for many authors when I say that what JSTOR does in spreading knowledge around is very valuable. As an academic researcher I can always use it and it’s great. What Aaron Swartz did in spreading knowledge around even more is equally valuable. I’m very glad that JSTOR distanced themselves from the prosecution — as MIT did not — because in doing so they represented my views well. You don’t.

          • Techngro

            Nothing that I said in my comment is incorrect. And I wasn’t speaking for the authors, I was just explaining why JSTOR has the right to the academic conetnt it has. You, as a academic researcher, or your publisher, gave JSTOR access to your research. Therefore JSTOR legally has the right to give and refuse access to your content based on that agreement.

            Unless you’re saying that JSTOR has your research illegally and has no agreement with you or your publisher?

            If you believe that academic content should be free and open to all (which is what Swartz was trying tp accomplish), why did you give JSTOR access to yours to put behind a paywall (or why did you publish in a journal that does)? Why didn’t you just put it online for free?

          • Solo Atkinson

            It is online for free.

          • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

            People have to understand with that kind of abstract mind, the detailed action involved in political organizing such as you suggest, is anathema to them. It wastes their thinking time, interrupts contemplation, disrupts their thinking processes.When you NEED that info when in the middleof something, you NEED it quick. NOW. Once can freely order these articles paying for their xeroxing on inter library protocol but it takes time.

        • MakeOne

          “Now you say that all students, faculty and visitors had access to
          JSTOR. This is true, but once the offending activity was detected, both
          JSTOR and MIT attempted to block Swartz’s access (though they didn’t
          know his exact identity at the time). First JSTOR blocked the IP address
          of Swartz’s laptop. Swartz can back with the same laptop using a
          different IP. So JSTOR blocked a range of IP addresses (which resulted
          in other users being blocked as well). Then, MIT itself blocked Swartz’s
          MAC address. Swartz came back with the same laptop and a different MAC
          address. ”

          Where is your source in this blocking of IP by JSTOR? How would they block a range of IP address or a particular IP address? When users intend to use MIT’s free campus access to access JSTOR they would need to use MIT’s internet access. JSTOR would then only see MIT’s WAN address. If he would have changed his IP address it would still reach JSTOR as MIT’s WAN address.

        • TheWiseNo3

          No it does not. JSTOR considered the case closed, there is no proof about his intentions, and anyway we are not in ‘Minority Report’ to arrest someone for his -hypothetical-intentions. The only thing against him is “breaking and entering” into an unlocked closet. Guilty as charged…

          • Techngro

            You’re missing the point. The government has an interest in, and a responsibility to, prosecute crimes regardless of whether the victim wants them to or not. So the fact that JSTOR considered the case closed means absolutely nothing.

            As for his intentions, to quote Barack Obama: “words matter”. Those are his words that I posted. You can choose to ignore them if you want. Of course, you’re only doing so because they don’t fit your fictional narrative of who Swartz was and what he was trying to do.

            They didn’t arrest him for hypothetical intentions. They arrested him because he was in a restricted area in the basement of MIT (where he hid the computer and hard drive) and he repeatedly circumvented attempts by both JSTOR and MIT to block his unauthorized use of their facilities and services.

            I’ve posted all of this info already. I don’t understand why you just can’t admit that what he did was wrong and criminal. It doesn’t make his memory any better for you and others to stick your head in the sand and pretend otherwise. It just makes you look extremely biased.

            I’m sure that even Swartz himself knew that what he was doing was wrong. You don’t walk around hiding your face behind a bicycle helmet, or run from the police when they ask you to stop if you are innocent and doing nothing wrong.

          • TheWiseNo3

            I don’t admit it was criminal simply because it wasn’t criminal, or at least it wasn’t a felony carrying 35 years in prison. And I could easily return your accusations of extreme bias.

            Let’s go again: Access to JSTOR from MIT was FREE. Blocking one or more IPs doesn’t alter this fact. Access from the rest of the MIT IPs was still free. For a real (i.e. not digital) world analogy, if there is a building with multiple entries and open and free access, and the building administrators decide to block someone’s access through one of the doors, if this individual uses one of the other (still open) doors to enter the building this won’t be a crime. Unless he has been specifically and personally warned not to enter, but this was not the case with Swartz. In fact the MIT admins didn’t know his identity. Therefore the use of different IPs and MACs to circumvent the measures against him did not constitute “exceeding authorized access”. A misdemeanor perhaps, because of the use of the closet? I accept that.

            I insist on the matter of the hypothetical intentions. It does not matter what Mr. Obama said. In fact I am surprised that someone uses Mr. Obama’s quotes as a legal argument. The indictment claimed that Swartz ‘had the purpose of distributing the articles through one or more file-sharing sites’. In other words even the alleged thought of file sharing is a crime now? Not to mention that nobody was in Swartz’s mind, apart from himself of course. He could have other plans for the articles. For instance he might want to perform research concerning corruption in science.

            Actually you do run from the police when you are innocent, but you know that you will be wrongfully accused.

          • Techngro

            Well, there’s no point in going around in circles arguing the same points again. We’ve both laid out what we think is the correct view of the issue. People can read these comments (and of course do their own research on the issue) and come to their own conclusion.

        • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

          The Wikipedia passages you’re quoting, Techngro, were contributed by a member of the Club; and she has no opinion as to whether Swartz would have been convicted.

          • Techngro

            I’m pretty sure it’s clear from my comment that that was my opinion, not the opinion of the person who edited the Wiki.

            I based that opinion on the fact that there is a video of him doing what he was accused of, which I already explained in the comment above. No, it’s not guaranteed that he would have been convicted, but that kind of evidence would be hard for anyone to ignore.

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

            The video is a video of Swartz entering a room.

          • Techngro

            And do you normally hide your face behind a bicycle helmet when you enter a room?

            For the love of God, why can’t you people just admit that the kid was doing something (well, many things) that he wasn’t supposed to be doing? Why do you insist on trying to whitewash the story and make it as if Swartz was just an innocent kid sitting in the library?

            Anyone who does even a little bit of research on their own, instead of just reading these articles or the majority of comments on them, can see that the position that many of you are taking is extremely disingenuous.

            Was the government too heavy handed, perhaps. Should they have tried to make an example out of Swartz, probably not.

            But was Swartz totally innocent in all of this? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

            Clarification: The video is a video of Swartz entering a room while hiding his face behind a bicycle helmet.

          • Techngro

            The photo that you see is from the video of Swartz entering the electrical closet. But the REST of the video, according to the article here:

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2261840/Aaron-Swartz-MIT-surveillance-shot-ruined-tragic-Reddit-founders-life.html

            shows Swartz entering the electrical closet (again, with his face covered by the bicycle helmet), removing the hidden computer and hard drive that he was later caught with that had the information that was downloaded from JSTOR. MIT set up the camera SPECIFICALLY to catch the person who was doing this (Swartz).

            What about that is confusing to you?

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

            Clarification: The video is a video of Swartz entering a room and removing his tangible personal property.

          • Techngro

            Yes. The tangible personal property that was connected to a network switch, and hidden under a cardboard box in a restricted area in the basement of MIT. The same tangible personal property that was retrieved minutes later from Swartz’s person full of the illegally downloaded JSTOR archives.

            I hope Swartz’s attorney was better at this ‘defense’ stuff than you are.

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

             “conclusory. Expressing a factual inference without stating the underlying facts on which the inference is based.” Black’s Law Dictionary 329 (9th ed. 2009).

          • Techngro

            I’m not sure what you are arguing here. Are you saying that the video DOESN’T show Swartz doing the things that I stated above?

            If you are, then there’s really nothing more for us to discuss.

          • http://mitcrimeclub.org/ MIT Crime Club

             Correct.

      • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

        It’s partly a prosecutor who wants to make a name and a career off this. It has backfired and ruined him forever.Other prosecutors will stop and think a minute now. Unless he was amply rewarded which I know nothing about.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      I think I could agree with you were the Judicial System a system of integrity with equal justice for all before it. But we know it isn’t. And so it cannot be respected. If you respect it still, that is because you still believe in the “mask” it holds before you, the mask of equality and integrity that disappeared long ago. In another world.

      I cannot assert that Aaron Schwartz committed a crime when terrible crimes are known and go unpunished in our govt. Until they hold themselves accountable I do not respect them. The buck no longer stops there.They can’t have their cake and eat it too. They are trying but everyone sees the Emperor has no clothes on.

      • Techngro

        There will never be a perfect justice system. Humans are not perfect. equality and integrity didn’t disappear long ago, it was never really there to begin with.

        The problem is that just because we have an imperfect system doesn’t absolve persons of their actions. What Swartz did was wrong and he knew it.

        You can argue about what the punishment should be, or whether the government was too tough on him, but what I see here and so many other places is people refusing to even admit that what he did was wrong. Just because he believed JSTOR should be free and open to every person in the world didn’t give him the right to download (or try to download) their whole archive to distribute it as he saw fit. That’s my main problem with so many of the people blaming the government or MIT or JSTOR. None of them put this whole ordeal into motion. It was Swartz, but nobody seems to want to acknowledge that.

        • egdg

          Techngro, nothing is true and everything is permitted. We can make anything a law, you can still do it. Laws are not natural ones. We do not HAVE to abide by them.

          The thing is, you say what he did was wrong. But what part? I have been at uni for the past 6 years. Downloaded a shitload of academic articles from many places, including JSTOR. Aaron didnt do anything different to what I did. Just more.

          The only people in this situation who were wronged is JSTOR, and they were paid by the family. MIT was not wronged, they had an awful access policy and no checks in place for overuse. My uni strictly controls access to academic materials such as these, why didn’t the most well known IT school on the planet?

          It looks like Aaron wanted to learn, not sure at what point that became a crime in your wonderful country. Because the country is the only one who seemed to care. And for little reason other than making an example? Showing that the system is tough? You have an unhealthy obsession with criminal punishment. What were the threats of trial and jail time, and the eventual trial and jail time, supposed to achieve? Seriously, think. Sending a young adult to crime school helps? Think, violent vs non violent.

          And forgive me, seriously, if im wrong. But you have never experienced clinical depression?
          Trust me, Aaron didnt want to make that choice, regardless of what was happening, he felt like the best way out was suicide. Do you have any idea how dark life gets when your at that point? You sound like you don’t even know what happens after you get out of prison, what kind of life is that for a young adult. If he killed himself because of his choice, then admit that victims of bullying who commit suicide “did it of their own accord”.

          • Techngro

            (Some of this is copied from an earlier response I made)

            He didn’t just want to learn. He wanted to take the whole JSTOR archive and upload it to file sharing networks (torrents and newsgroups, etc.). This is a quote from Swartz about his intentions with respect to ‘paywalled’ academic content:

            “The Harvard researcher, Aaron Swartz, was indicted on federal charges of downloading articles from the nonprofit online academic database JSTOR last year. Swartz is a prominent programmer who founded a company acquired in 2005 by Reddit, and a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Ethics. In a 2008 “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,” Swartz called for activists to “fight back” against services that held academic papers hostage behind paywalls. “We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file-sharing networks,” wrote Swartz.” (from July 22, 2011 Technologyreview article)

            And even if you wanted to ignore that and still hold that he ‘just wanted to learn’, you have to admit that as an institution and organization, both MIT and JSTOR have a right to dictate how persons can use their facilities and services. In which case, if you look at what happened, you will see that both MIT and JSTOR attempted to revoke his access on multiple occasions.

            Once Swartz’s offending activity was detected, both JSTOR and MIT attempted to block Swartz’s access (though they didn’t know his exact identity at the time). First JSTOR blocked the IP address of Swartz’s laptop. Swartz can back with the same laptop using a different IP. So JSTOR blocked a range of IP addresses (which resulted in other users being blocked as well). Then, MIT itself blocked Swartz’s MAC address. Swartz came back with the same laptop and a different MAC address.

            So you can see, even though many people are saying that Swartz was accessing a ‘freely accessible’ service, that actually stopped being the case once MIT and JSTOR blocked his access. He no longer had a right to access the service because he was abusing it, MIT and JSTOR found out, and took steps to revoke his access.

            As for his depression, it doesn’t excuse what he did. It’s amazing that people are looking for every conceivable way to blame every and all things other than Swartz himself. As I said earlier, at every turn in this saga, it was Swartz who was the one keeping this drama alive. He could have not gone there (MIT) with the intent to steal and distribute. He could have not accessed the restricted area and attached his hardware to the network switch. When MIT and JSTOR attempted to block his access, he could have not cloned/hacked his IP and MAC addresses to regain unauthorized access. When the police caught him, he didn’t have to run. When they offered him a plea deal, he could have taken the 6 months sentence. And finally, he could have chosen not to kill himself.

            Jesus. There were so many opportunities for Swartz to prevent what happened, but nobody seems to want to acknowledge that it was Swartz’s actions that created the end result.

            As for your last point. Unless someone is standing with a gun to your head, when you commit suicide, you do it of your own accord. If you want to live, then you don’t take your life. To say that a person committing suicide is being coerced somehow is nonsense. There are plenty of people who are depressed and feel trapped, but they choose not to kill themselves. It is a choice.

          • MakeOne

            “As I said earlier, at every turn in this saga, it was Swartz who was the one keeping this drama alive.”

            I agree that he is the one to blame on his action on accessing restricted area, downloading and his other actions, but how could you say he was keeping this drama alive when he and his father were trying to settle with MIT and JSTOR. They have repeatedly tried to set meeting and settled with JSTOR.

          • Techngro

            But once he was indicted by the grand jury, it wasn’t MIT and JSTOR that he needed to settle with anymore, it was the government prosecutors. And they offered him a plea deal which he rejected.

    • http://www.alwayssababa.com/ lishevita

      Aaron didn’t upload any of the files that he downloaded from JSTOR to any file sharing sites.

      • Techngro

        My suspicion is that he didn’t get a chance to (as he was caught by the police right after removing the laptop and hard drive from MIT’s basement). But as I stated in an earlier post, if you look at his words, it’s fairly clear what his intent was:

        “The Harvard researcher, Aaron Swartz, was indicted on federal charges of downloading articles from the nonprofit online academic database JSTOR last year. Swartz is a prominent programmer who founded a company acquired in 2005 by Reddit, and a fellow at Harvard’s Center for Ethics. In a 2008 “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,” Swartz called for activists to “fight back” against services that held academic papers hostage behind paywalls. “We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file-sharing networks,” wrote Swartz.” (from July 22, 2011 Technologyreview article)

        But even if he never uploaded any of the articles stolen, the crime was already committed when he accessed the restricted basement area of MIT, connected his computer directly to the network switch, and repeatedly used his hacking skills to circumvent MIT and JSTOR’s attempts to block his access.

        • Kansan

          You went to great lengths to retroactively rationalize this insanity and disgusting behavior by bureaucrats.

          Do you work for MIT or the USAG?

          • Techngro

            Posting Swartz’s own words to show his intentions is not ‘retroactively rationalizing’ and has nothing to do with either MIT or the USAG. MIT and the USAG didn’t make Swartz do what he did, and they certainly didn’t put the notion in his head that he had to ‘liberate’ academic journals.

          • Kansan

            You’ve avoided the question. You sound like a corporate shill for MIT or someone working for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

            Is either the case?

          • Techngro

            Good lord, you’re such an obvious troll. Try to be more subtle next time.

            If you really want to read my opinion on this issue (and not just throw out insults), it has been stated very clearly below, with facts and source links posted to backup my assertions.

          • Kansan

            You’re about as objective as the prosecutor in the Whitey Bulger trial. Spare me.

          • Techngro

            Yes, that’s exactly what I am going to do. Have a nice day.

  • rmstallman

    David LaMacchia set up an internet bulletin board site where anyone
    could upload and download files. He didn’t put the files in it
    himself, but the US government wanted to hold him personally
    responsible for the files that were uploaded. US government
    representatives systematically smeared LaMacchia, who on his lawyer’s
    advice did not dare say they were wrong; but he had already explained
    the facts to people at the Artificial Intelligence Lab, and that’s
    where I heard them.

    The government used this smear to push for the passage of the law that
    criminalized noncommercial sharing on the Internet, an attack on our
    rights that we will have to fight to undo.

    Meanwhile, please don’t continue repeating the government’s story
    about LaMacchia.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Capitalism is at the root of it tho. It always is. If we defend property rights, copyright,etc we add to the problem. Go anonymous.

  • rmstallman

    MITx courses are available gratis, but they don’t respect users’ freedom
    as they ought to.

    See stallman.org/articles/online-education.html.

  • jimmyt

    Carmen Ortiz, another Affirmative Action failure

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Accompanied by Obama and his father BTW. They are all around us now. Did I or you ever think we would agree with Clarence Thomas on this issue?

    • nom de plume

      Apparently, for her, “making it” meant becoming the oppressor.

  • B.

    What a tragedy but how is MIT to blame here? He was not part of the MIT community, where the credo would then apply to him. In this article, his affiliation was circumstantially associated at best. So why should he, a self-made millionaire (not saying this with a bad connotation but pointing out he had some level of astuteness), be treated as a MIT student with a slap on the wrist?

    That being said I agree with Aaron about the freedom of information. It’s annoying when I just want to see if an article would be useful and I don’t have a subscription. Knowledge is power and it’s a problem when the people who generate the knowledge don’t benefit from the walls build around it.

    • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

      Didn’t know he wasn’t part of MIT community. Not a student? Firewalls are a pain because you have to go to the library and get the article after a wait. Academic institutions are desperate for cash any way they can get it. Hack ‘em down to read it to see if it applies. If it does, go legit.

      • B.

        Just from what I read in the article anyways…

        • MakeOne

          He is part of the MIT community as his father was working in Media Labs. Although not a student he had family access.

          • B.

            As the article notes his father consulted once a month. I don;t know if/how MIT extends benefits to its consultants but normally they are considered contract workers not receiving benefits as staff. In that vein it seems like a weak link at best.

      • http://www.alwayssababa.com/ lishevita

        He didn’t break any firewalls. Internet access, including library and JSTOR access is open to ALL on the MIT campus.

        • http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com/ abbeysbooks

          It seems he broke the “click I agree button” we all auto click in such circumstances. Illegal? Immoral? I don’t think so. But govt can press any charges it wants and you have to lawyer up to protect yourself.And bankrupt yourself.

  • The Sports Police

    FTR, I still think it was very wrong of Aaron to commit suicide. He had at least a good fighting chance to win that case, and even if he did not he could still further his cause and make a decent living for himself while spreading awareness. At the very least, this was a huge waste of talent on his part and an overreaction to what wasn’t a life-and-death situation.

    On the other hand, and I have not said this before, is that I am actually kind of shocked (or maybe not totally shocked) that MIT, a haven for technology and a culture that nurtures those who push the envelope, ran so quickly to law enforcement to report this “hacking”, first because it was a dubious form of hacking to begin with, and secondly because MIT could’ve handled this in house without effectively selling out one of their own. Why not just plug the hole and move on?? Why call the authorities??

    • paul middleton

      It crazy, and if this is such a big deal, then why wasnt the door locked, it was freely open even to the cleaners. stupid. it is such a trivial thing he did. these are labelled public records. he was a member of the public @disqus_wmiO8EIOL5:disqus downloading public records. no matter which why you look at it, he isnt the one in the wrong, the people making money on these records and locking them away, these are the ones who should be in court. not Aaron.

  • nom de plume

    Very good point about the culture of campus pranks encouraged and supported by the university and a case in which students are actually making a point about real issues. Clearly they should have stood up for this young man and, as the article indicates, taken the path of leadership that befits an institution of their standing. They have greatly lowered their standing by going down this road. They could have made a big difference, and he would very likely be alive today and the case would have been dropped, and their position would have influenced these major legal issues around information access and democracy.

    @TheSportsPolice, I don’t know that you can make suicide a right/wrong issue since it relates to mental health. I read in another article that Carmen Ortiz and her whole group knew that Aaron Swartz had struggled with depression and they maliciously went after this extremely bright and sensitive and socially conscientious young man knowing that they were pushing him further over the edge. They were pursuing a 35 year prison sentence, and did so after he refused a 6 month plea bargain they offered. So that goes to show you how much the prosecutors themselves believed that it was a terrible offense.

    It is interesting thinking about this event in light of recent revelations about the seventies break-in at FBI offices – the whistleblowers coming forward who released documents about extensive spying on anti-war and poverty activists. Discussion included J Edgar Hoover who attempted to pressure Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to commit suicide.

  • Solo Atkinson

    Possibly a troll, he uses his intellect to wind people up…

    • Onetree2

      I found his statements predictable and boring. It’s like trying to explain to someone who only knows the dark what the light is like. He’s apparently just not there yet.

      • Solo Atkinson

        There’s this guy on techdirt who’s always winding people up, called out_of_the_blue. Slightly different perspective (he’s apparently an anti-capitalist, not an ownership maximalist) but this is apparently possible because rights-oriented libertarians are split on copyright: for some it’s a natural right, for others a state monopoly. Or to put it differently, hacker anarchists have a strong libertarian streak. But switching from rights to mere customs I would select carefully before dancing on someone’s grave. Maybe Margaret Thatcher’s, like in Glenda Jackson’s speech. Not Aaron Swartz’s.

  • thy name we pray

    i will never think to ask any one to ever use mit schools .. you scared a a adult with kid eyes dreams and aspire .. and shackled him into fear for data .. may you see one day the hell you put one brilliant mind even if it is ripped open to see it .. i may not be a hack or a crack i may be quite clean .. but you mit are sick broken and the reason internet copyright was pushed as much as you took a belt around that bright mind and smashed it for all to see you are not a place of ideals and wonders for the future but a home to vile demons all you wanted was that data

    your blood runs in your own vain heart cold red but dead
    .. may is stop with a similar loss i pray
    ..Awen

    with all that are calling them self legion id say let the TRUE demons be called legion
    vengeance is not for the good willed warriors

    i refuse to take a trade that would get others to assume i have been at a tech institute
    such as this what a sad sad day

  • Mark Tenney

    I have done a meta analysis using JSTOR files and others of whether there was plagiarism at faculty at MIT and whether the Russian government knew of it and used it to obtain benefits.

    I requested MIT investigate this in January 2013 when Hal Abelson’s investigation started. The issues related to econ profs at MIT and Harvard among others.

    Peter Diamond was added after my request was received it appears. Peter Diamond would have been a witness if they had investigated my request.

    I renewed my request this January to a professor at MIT.

    I have spoken with investigators for the government about this but no action has resulted.

  • paul middleton

    Ive just finished watching the film about Aaron. The internet s own Boy. I find the whole story devastating. a brilliant mind whos only will, was to learn and wanted to make the internet a much better place where everyone could have all the knowledge you ever need, its a shame aaron was born at such a time where governments and corps etc. only interests are in money, greed and power. in a better free’er fairer world who can imagine the brilliance he could have achieved not just for himself but for us all. Why should all this knowledge be locked away, why should you have to pay so much for something that is said to be public knowledge, obviously it isnt public knowledge if you cant read it freely, then it is locked away knowledge, you can know about it, but you cant experience it. to think that this is what aaron wanted for the internet, a leap in knowledge for everyone. its not hard to work out what he wanted to do. arnt these men and women in power suppose to be intelligent people. Then if they are so intelligent, how could they see aaron as a criminal. United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz statement is ignorant. HOW CAN downloading a file that was written to give others knowledge. be the same as robbing a bank. These people look at knowledge as power, thus also see knowledge as being profitable. its the only reason for this crazy waste of tax payers money, they attacked a student who’s only will was to learn at MIT. and to get others to learn, thus getting them the information to do so. he wasnt a terrorist, he wasn’t a hacker. he was just intelligent, is that a crime. NO. i’am discussed with this case. how could they take such a stance on someone’s child, a very bright young lad who was doing what he suppose to be doing, learning in collage, he wasn’t out there making bombs. This young intelligent lad who taught himself to read was out in the world learning trying to make the world a better place for everyone. Is that now a crime. They was afraid of his intelligence. they attacked him for all the things they was afraid of and not actually the things he had done. This is a very touching story,this is a life cut down down short its a sad story, i live in UK. and i had heard of aaron, but i could’nt put my finger on where i heard his name from. i cant believe they pushed a young and very bright kid who was out there to learn to his death. Lets hope they learn from there horrifying mistakes. Dear aaron rest in peace. we all can strive for a better life he was such a bright person. what an enormous loss.

  • paul middleton

    the long and the short of this is. just this. Aaron swartz was pushed to suicide by an ignorant government for downloading PUBLIC files. lets underline PUBLIC. there suppose to be public files for f sake. whos in the wrong here. not aaron. his only error was being smarter than the government.

  • The Network Company

    The US government is full of corrupt prosecutors who will utterly and totally destroy anyone they chose to. If you make your opponent cave financially and emotionally they don’t have the wherewithal to fight in court.