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Tuesday, 15 January 2013 10:07

While Department of Justice Let Financial Criminals Go Free, They Pursued Aaron Swartz to Death

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT             justice23 A matter of justice

The status quo managerial elite – consisting of the political and financial masters of the universe – cannot tolerate progressive advocacy that threatens to redistribute power or wealth.  That is why police across the nation were instructed to crush the Occupy Movement, to pummel it into dust as a public occupation of space – and more importantly to remove its message of grassroots power and wealth redistribution from the headlines of the media.

Those in the driver's seat of the nation fear empowering activism such as Occupy, as if it were a virulent contagion that might rapidly spread across the population and infect the public with "dangerous" ideas of financial and political justice.

Last week, BuzzFlash at Truthout yet again chastised the Department of Justice (DOJ) for giving a get out of jail free card to the moneyed elite. But that applies to the political elite too, who generally are not prosecuted for war crimes, torture, etc.  Those in power protect those in power.

But the DOJ appears to have limitless resources to pursue Internet transparency activists such as Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide the other day at the age of 26.  The pursuit only stopped with death, as the DOJ, according to The Hill, formally dropped the charges that appeared to be the precipitating factor in Swartz's taking his own life (in what appears to have been a valley of personal depression):

The Justice Department dropped its charges against Internet activist Aaron Swartz on Monday, citing his death.

Swartz, who was facing computer hacking charges, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday. He was 26.

The filing is standard when the defendant in a case has died.

Federal prosecutors indicted Swartz in 2011, accusing him of breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a subscription service of academic articles.

He faced up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

One can play the devil's advocate and argue that Swartz (an Internet software prodigy) knowingly broke the law and therefore had to face the punishment.  But why do those on Wall Street and in DC who violate laws and regulations retain impunity from the DOJ?  Why does someone such as Swartz face an oppressive legal assault from the US government? It is because Swartz, who was an activist on other fronts, presented a threat to the ruling order.

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz who unrelentingly pressed for a prison sentence for Swartz stated after his arrest:

Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, whether you take documents, data, or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.

Why is it that the DOJ selectively applies this standard? It appears not to have been a legal doctrine as applied to Wall Street, when trillions of dollars were at issue.

Swartz's family released a statement that was sharply critical of the DOJ: "Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach."

As Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks lamented on Truthout:

This is the exact same sort of prosecutorial overreach we’re now getting used to in a nation that more and more resembles a police state. It’s a nation where soldiers like Bradley Manning, whistleblowers like John Kiriakou, politicians like former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman who dare to take on Karl Rove, and medical marijuana growers receive the full brunt of the American Justice system and suffer dearly for their crimes or non-crimes.

To be a principled person in a world of "realist" knaves is a pejorative: it is a sign of subversion to those sitting in DC.  

It is from this world -- the anti-principled consensus villager "wisdom" of the DC and financial ruling elite – that the Department of Justice (DOJ) takes its cue on issues such as the prosecution of Aaron Swartz – whether the administration be Republican or Democratic.

(Photo: Mira66)