Aaron Swartz's death a result of the US government's and prosecutorial zeal to convict and a broken justice system in the USA.
In recent years, as the Wall Street Journal has documented in a disturbing series of articles, Congress has enabled prosecutorial intimidation by criminalizing ever more conduct, passing laws that provide for or require extreme sentences, and reducing the burden of proof (through expanded application of "strict liability", where lack of criminal intent is no defense).
...As a foreigner, I'm surprised that Americans aren't more alarmed by the workings of their criminal justice system. I don't know what ought to scare me more about living in the United States--that I might be the victim of a crime (which happens), or that this ferocious prosecutorial system might one day turn its wrath on me. I'd rather be mugged than threatened with years in jail for something I didn't even know was a crime. Is this justice system actually on my side? I'm by no means sure--an astounding state of affairs.Quote from Clive Crook The Death of Aaron Swartz By Clive Crook at The Atlantic, Jan. 15, 2013
At a conference I attended recently, I vented my preoccupation with rogue prosecutors, an ever-proliferating criminal law and the vanishing rights of the accused on a fellow attendee--a lawyer and former prosecutor. When I'd said my piece she said, "But you have to remember that nearly all of the people who are prosecuted are guilty." For half a second I thought she was joking and I started to laugh. But she wasn't joking.
and some are raising questions about Aaron Swartz's death was it suicide or murder for some they believe that it was unlikely a matter of suicide given how passionate he was about his cause that is to keep the internet as free as possible to permit the flow of information which no one should be permitted to control and censor unnecessarily. -
He (Aaron Swartz)advocated online openness and freedom. He called information "power." He wanted it in the public domain. He wanted everyone able to share it freely and openly. Failure is "too high a price to pay," he said.It's "outrageous and unacceptable," he added. Possessors of information are obligated to share it. They're morally bound not to "keep this privilege for (them)selves.""(S)haring isn't immoral - it's a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.""Large corporations….are blinded by greed." Politicians are "bought off to back them." Legislation follows. It's immoral and unjust."There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture."Aaron advocated open access. He wanted information everyone has the right to know made public. Download them from scientific journals, he urged. Upload them to file sharing networks.Make privatization of knowledge a thing of the past. He asked everyone to join him in a struggle for what's right. He did it because it matters.He paid with his life. New York's medical examiner allegedly conducted an autopsy. He pronounced death by "hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment."
Quote from article by Stephen Lendman : Aaron Swartz: Suicide or Murder? by Stephen Lendman, SteveLendmanBlog, Jan. 17, 2013To avoid the specter of a conspiracy to murder it would seem that as during the dark days of the bully and self-promoting and aggrandizing Sen. Joseph McCarthy some of his targeted victims in fact did commit suicide after being persecuted by him.
Cartoon poking fun at NRA and other anti-gun control advocates who argue if all American citizens were armed there would be far fewer mass murders or murders in America.
Obama 's commitment to tighter gun control -mere rhetoric or in fact action?
Jon Stewart criticizes the NRA and the US government for making it impossible to enforce gun control laws in the USA.
Rachel Maddow's attack on Conservative Trolls and Trolling as merely a way to say outrageous things to get attentio,
And more on the Obama Administration 's persecution of Aaron Swartz which led to his suicide.
Obama is not a champion of internet freedom but instead wants to drastically curb and undermine internet freedom. Obama appears to believe that he and the US government and the rich and powerful he supports ultimately have the right to restrict the free flow of information on the internet.
Jon Stewart: NRA is a Michael Moore-run conspiracy to discredit gun owners by Eric W.Dolan ,The Raw Story, Jan. 17,2013
The Daily Show host Jon Stewart ruthlessly mocked the National Rifle Association on Wednesday night over their latest controversial advertisement.
The NRA’s new commercial called Obama an “elitist hypocrite” because the Secret Service protects his daughters, yet the President is skeptical that having armed guards in schools was the only answer to gun violence.
“And why does he get to veto bills and command an army, when we don’t?” Stewart joked. “If I didn’t know any better, and I’m not a big conspiracy guy, after seeing that ad, I would think the NRA was either an elaborate avant-garde Joaquin Phoenix-style joke, or a false flag operation run by Michael Moore in an attempt to discredit responsible gun owners.”
...While gun rights advocates have said the real problem was that current gun laws were not enforced, Stewart pointed out that thanks to their opposition, the agency tasked with enforcing those laws has been in a state of disrepair.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has not had a director for six years. The agency was also tied down by “comical limits,” as Stewart described them, such as being prohibited from tracking illegal gun sales.
Maddow on new NRA ads: Trolling a key aspect of conservative media by Eric Dolan at The Raw Story ,Jan. 16, 2013
On her show Wednesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said the National Rifle Association was simply “trolling” with its latest ads, a tactic employed throughout the conservative sphere.
“Trolling is a key part of the conservative-entertainment/media business model,” she said. “These guys say stuff all the time that they do not intend to be persuasive. They’re not trying to explain something, or bring people along to their way of thinking, they’re just doing something to attract attention, and hopefully condemnation and outrage from the mainstream, and particularly from liberals. They want to offend you. They seek to offend you. That is the point.”
Maddow said that “trolling” was a “tried and true schtick” for conservatives. Not just for media figures, but for politicians as well. She described Rep. Steve King (R-IA) as a “permanent troll.”
The new ad released by the National Rifle Association was a prime example of trolling, according to Maddow. The controversial ad said that President Barack Obama was an “elitist hypocrite” for having the Secret Service guard his two daughters while being skeptical that placing armed guards in schools was the only answer to mass shootings.
NRA: Membership Has Grown by 250,000 in One Month A quarter of a million people have signed up for new NRA memberships ahead of the White House Task Force's findings By Lauren Fox, USNEWS.com, Jan.15, 2013
And at Mediaite:
Here Are The 23 Executive Actions Pres. Obama Just Signed To Curb Gun Violence by Meenal Vamburkar, Mediaite, January 16th, 2013 Here Are The 23 Executive Actions Pres. Obama Just Signed To Curb Gun Violence by Meenal Vamburkar, Mediaite, January 16th, 2013
Aaron Swartz 's suicide a direct result of on going persecution by federal prosecutors and the U.S. Federal government all the way up to the Whitehouse. And what was President Obama's role in the aggressive unnecessary persecution of Internet freedom champion Aaron Swartz .
As pointed out by Stephen Lendman that as a candidate in 2008 Obama himself claimed he would do all he could to defend internet freedom but as president he has gone out of his way to curb the freedom of the internet and go after those who actively pursue internet freedom.
Aaron Swartz: Suicide or Murder? by Stephen Lendman, SteveLendmanBlog, Jan. 17, 2013
...A previous article questioned the official suicide story. It quoted Aaron extensively in his own words. It asked if he sounded like someone planning suicide.He advocated online openness and freedom. He called information "power." He wanted it in the public domain. He wanted everyone able to share it freely and openly. Failure is "too high a price to pay," he said.It's "outrageous and unacceptable," he added. Possessors of information are obligated to share it. They're morally bound not to "keep this privilege for (them)selves.""(S)haring isn't immoral - it's a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.""Large corporations….are blinded by greed." Politicians are "bought off to back them." Legislation follows. It's immoral and unjust."There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture."Aaron advocated open access. He wanted information everyone has the right to know made public. Download them from scientific journals, he urged. Upload them to file sharing networks.Make privatization of knowledge a thing of the past. He asked everyone to join him in a struggle for what's right. He did it because it matters.He paid with his life. New York's medical examiner allegedly conducted an autopsy. He pronounced death by "hang(ing) himself in his Brooklyn apartment."
... Did Aaron take his own life or was he murdered? America has a dark history of eliminating noted figures it wants silenced.
Aaron perhaps is the latest. His death raises obvious suspicions. He appears a victim of capitalist greed. His open access advocacy had to be silenced. What better way than by making murder look like suicide.
Was he drugged and then hanged? Was eliminating him planned long ago? Was it done to avoid protracted headline-making trial proceedings?
Many of Aaron's global followers would have reported them daily. Doing so would have revealed prosecutorial injustice. Dark forces perhaps decided not to risk it.
Prosecutors hounded him. His attorney, Elliot Peters, accused them of doing it to gain publicity. They cooked up alleged computer crimes against him.
They targeted his advocacy for what's right. They wanted him silenced. They wanted him put away for decades. They wanted him out of sight and mind.
They crossed ethical and moral lines, said Lessig. They did what they did because they can. They made him a martyr in the process. He's internationally recognized for fighting for what's right.
Internet freedom is at stake. In 2008, candidate Obama promised to "(s)upport the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet."
As president he's waged war to destroy it. He wants open access advocates criminalized. He calls doing so investing in America's future. He wants censorship replacing First Amendment rights.
He and likeminded Washington extremists support an alphabet soup of federal and international freedom-destroying measures.
Various cybersecurity acts threaten constitutional freedoms.SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA, and TPP are stealth pro-corporate, anti-populist schemes. Secrecy and misbranding conceal their harshness. Activists know what's going on and say so. At issue is unchallenged global corporate empowerment regulation free.
Internet freedom, popular rights, and national sovereignty are too important to lose. They're on the chopping block for elimination.
Profits alone matter. Compromising civil liberties is a small price to pay. So are public knowledge, privacy, and other fundamental rights free societies should champion. Democratic values are too important to lose.
Obama has other ideas in mind. Aaron and likeminded open access advocates challenged him. Doing so targeted him for elimination. Others are likewise threatened.And Clive Crook at the Atlantic argues that the zealousness by Federal Prosecutors has become par for the course and may have been the major factor which led to Aaron Swartz's suicide.
The Death of Aaron Swartz By Clive Crook at The Atlantic, Jan. 15, 2013
It's usually a mistake to leap to conclusions after a tragedy like the suicide of Aaron Swartz. I know nothing about the details of the case or his state of mind apart from what I've read in newspapers and online. But my unguarded reaction is that the story does seem an instance of reckless prosecutorial excess, and that the prosecutors bear some responsibility for his death. As Swartz's family said,
Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.Let's put the worst possible construction on what Swartz did. In other words, don't claim that no crime was actually committed (which is at least arguable); don't call it a harmless prank (as one might be inclined to); forget that JSTOR wanted to take the matter no further once its files had been returned, and that Swartz wasn't acting for personal gain; ignore the issue that he was aiming to highlight -- the question whether it's right to keep scholarly work, undertaken partly at public expense, behind a paywall; never mind that JSTOR has now granted limited free access to its documents. Assume what Swartz did was simple, selfish, unmitigated theft, as the prosecutors appear to think. Even on that ethically brainless view, the charges and threatened penalties were so disproportionate as to be quite unhinged.
But here's the point: Under the present dispensation, they're actually rational. That's why Swartz's family is right to impugn the wider criminal-justice system.
By and large, American prosecutors no longer fight their cases at trial. The new dispensation is justice by plea bargain. The more savage the penalties prosecutors can threaten, the more likely the defendant (guilty or innocent) is to speed things along by pleading guilty and accepting a light penalty. According to the Wall Street Journal, Swartz was offered the choice of pleading guilty and going to jail for six to eight months, or else going to trial and taking his chances. The multiple counts and their absurdly savage sentences are best seen, just as the family said, as instruments of intimidation.
The prosecutor's bottom line, apparently, was that Swartz had to go to jail. In my conception of criminal justice, the prosecutor's role is to establish guilt, not pass sentence. Juries have already been substantially dispensed with in this country. (By substantially, I mean in 97 percent of cases.) If prosecutors are not only going to rule on guilt unilaterally but also, in effect, pass sentence as well, one wonders why we can't also dispense with judges.
In recent years, as the Wall Street Journal has documented in a disturbing series of articles, Congress has enabled prosecutorial intimidation by criminalizing ever more conduct, passing laws that provide for or require extreme sentences, and reducing the burden of proof (through expanded application of "strict liability", where lack of criminal intent is no defense).And other articles on Aaron Swartz: Was there a conflict of interests on the part of the over-zealous federal prosecutor of Aaron Swartz since the prosecutor's husband is an executive at IBM . Isn't she too close to the very people who are against internet freedom .
IBM Exec Husband of Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Takes to Twitter to Defend His Wife by Jessica Roy via Betabeat.com,Jan. 15, 2013
Justice System "Overreach" Blamed in Suicide of Open-Access Technology Activist By Declan Butler and Nature News Blog Scientific American , jan. 15, 2013
"Aaron Swartz faced an imminent trial for having downloaded some four million articles from a not-for-profit scholarly archive, and a possible penalty of 35 years in prison and a $1-million fine, which some call disproportionate to his actions"
Aaron Swartz's Suicide Puts Internet Openness Fight In Spotlight by John Keilman and Sally Ho, Chicago Tribune via Business Insider,Jan. 15, 2013
and so it goes,