This week in overzealous prosecution

Tom Jackson
Jan 15, 2013

 

When Internet activist Aaron Swartz downloaded a big stack of academic articles that he wasn't entitled to, federal prosecutors in Boston decided to make an example of him. They filed a series of felony charges carrying a possible penalty of 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
 
Prosecutors apparently were seeking publicity for their tough stance on "computer crime," but they're getting publicity they didn't bargain for. Swartz, who had suffered from depression, committed suicide rather than face prison time. The case has outraged Internet activists.
 
Computer crime experts have been debating whether Swartz actually committed any crimes. (The alleged victim, a database called JSTOR, didn't want to prosecute.) Law professor Orin Kerr has written a long blog post arguing that prosecutors followed the law, and I have no reason to doubt him.
 
What is missing in the Swartz case is a sense of proportion.
 
You can kill somebody and get less punishment. When I got up this morning, I read an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a woman who killed a young man in a hit and run accident and then tried to conceal the evidence of her crime. She was sentenced to house arrest, except for the occasions when she gets to leave her home. No jail time.
 
But if you download some academic publications you aren't supposed to have, you face hard  time.  Prosecutors have not explained why they felt they had to make an example of Swartz. 
 
Here are some examples of people that Obama's Department of Justice decided NOT to make an example of:
 
 
-- Obama's uncle, who also has been in the country illegally. He reacted to his drunk driving arrest by saying he wanted to "call the White House."(The president's deportations of people he isn't related to set a record.)
 
-- The Black Panthers who harassed voters in Philadelphia during the 2008 election. Most of the charges were dismissed after Obama took office.
 
Activists have launched a petition drive to fire the federal prosecutor who handled the Swartz case.
 
UPDATE: My son emailed me and pointed out that all of the examples I gave above are people who are black.
Fair enough. Well, I don't know the ethnicity of the health care executives who paid kickbacks to doctors and didn't have to face criminal charges. 
 
UPDATE II: Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article about the Swartz case.
 

Comments

Contango

@ Unabasho:

Yea, about as "bogus" as the Benghazi terrorist attack being caused by a video huh?

Your sophomoric attempts at haikus read better than your prose.

The Big Dog's back

Election's over.

shucks

We have to listen to ,at least, 4 more years of this bitching.

goofus

Not necessarily so!!!

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Look on the bright side lil' Buckaroo. It'll give the Obama sheeple four more years to possibly indoctrinate and convert the infidels into his “glorious” cult of personality.

Keep serving that Obama "I won" brand Kook-Aid.

shucks

@ con
Keep smiling... odds are that the Repugnants will NEVER win the presidency again.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Actually hoping that "neither" of the Tweedledee and Tweedledum parties win the presidency again.

BTW: The country is pretty well split politically - never say never.

Know your history: In 1968, 1972 and 1980, the idiot Dems got crushed in the Prez elections.

(I voted for McGovern.)

Besides, four yrs. is a long time and this imperial pres. keeps pushin' the envelope and dividin' the country.

shucks

@ con

The Repugnants are destroying the country.
Never happens.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Have faith in the loony lefty propaganda and ignore history.

shucks

The history of the Repugnants?
We are struggling in their wake.
Obviously you are ignoring and denying history.
I'm so glad that Romney didn't get elected.

Never happens

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Too simplistic.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The "Repugnants" would just delay the upcoming finanicial crisis whereas the "Dumbocretins" are running towards it.

shucks

@ con
What do you mean by "too simplistic"?

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Arriving at easy "simplistic" answers to complex problems ain't difficult and that's why ignorant people cling to 'em.

Lenin had his kulaks, Hitler had his Jews and Mr. Obama has his "Repubs" and rich people.

All demagogues need enemies in order to deflect the ignorant and gullible masses from the "real" issues.

shucks

Too pretentious.

shucks

...and your answers are crazy.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

“Crazy” only because my posts and responses aren't "simple" enough for you. :)

And many in 2005 or 2006 who said that a financial crisis was coming were also thought crazy.

I'm prepared and preparing for the next BIGGER one; are you?

You're too focused on politics and not enough on the economy.

Go ahead, trust that Pres. Obama knows what he's doin'. I trust History.

luvblues2

Occam's Razor. 'Nuff said.

shucks

@ con
No, your posts are crazy when crazy crap like this comes out of nowhere :
"Lenin had his kulaks, Hitler had his Jews and Mr. Obama has his "Repubs" and rich people.

All demagogues need enemies in order to deflect the ignorant and gullible masses from the "real" issues."

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

"Crazy" only because you're not a student of History, Econ or Politics.

You have only childish responses to give.

Just believe in Mr. Obama and sleep tight lil' Buckaroo.

shucks

@ con

I don't need to rant and rave, like you.

You have a overestimated sense of self.

Good "luck".

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

"Luck" is when skill meets opportunity. I'm doin' fantastic - maybe better. Thanks!

shucks

Good for you.

shucks

.

goofus

Last Year???? Here's a few stories from today's news Unabasho oh great unlearned one.
Fast And Furious: Man Claims To Have Shot U.S. Border Patrol...

Holder pleads with court to stop document release on Obama gun-running scandal...

BW1's picture
BW1

While this prosecution lacks a sense of proportion, the suicide has no relevance.
It would be disproportional without the suicide, and attempts to assign relevance to his death only encourage others to martyr themselves to gain attention for their causes.

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