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back to article Federal lawyers, MIT threatened following Aaron Swartz' death

Prosecutors associated with the case against the late Aaron Swartz have received "harassing and threatening communications", including postcards of disembodied heads pictured next to guillotines. Government lawyers have detailed the harassment in a court filing urging the court to keep details of the case redacted to protect …

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Two wrongs don't make a right

...as my dear mother used to say.

Threatening public officials with violence for doing their job is wrong. If they have acted wrongly then the correct approach is to have them disciplined/fired, not decapitated.

However I'm not sure what action one should take if the system is sufficently corrupt that they cannot be disciplined/fired as the system perceives that they have acted correctly.

And the whole US 'plea bargaining' system with threats of insanely disproportionate punishments in return for a plea of guilty to an offence that the victim did not commit is clearly completely corrupt and unjust, and long overdue for a complete overhaul. Let the punishment fit the crime.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

However I'm not sure what action one should take if the system is sufficently corrupt that they cannot be disciplined/fired as the system perceives that they have acted correctly.

Isn't that one of the reasons for the Second Amendment?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

Back in the "good old days" the crowd would be lighting the torches forming a mob and just hang the person in question or better yet burn it.

We sure come a long way to merely make empty threats with vivid photoshops.

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Joke

And two rights don't make a wrong

…Yeah, right.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

I don't know - there's a saying somewhere that the victor gradually turns into the vanquished, and the US legal system certainly seems to be adopting the techniques of Stalin.

There is something deeply wrong with the mindset of American lawyers, and there are too many people who would like to replicate it over here. The more their overbearing comes back to bite them the better. They should feel themselves lucky they did it to a technology geek and not an NRA member, because those guys probably don't stop at postcards.

Or perhaps the reason for the disproportionate response to computer "crime" versus gun misuse actually reflects the lawyers estimate of the different likely consequences?

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Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

>"We sure come a long way to merely make empty threats with vivid photoshops."

Those "empty threats" don't seem so empty after two prosecutors and a prosecutor's wife were brazenly gunned down recently in Kaufman County, Texas, and a Prison Chief was gunned down in Colorado.

The Anonymous kiddies picked a bad time to send guillotine postcards to federal prosecutors. If they are caught, I doubt any federal judges will be exhibiting a sense of humor at their sentencing hearings.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

Im sure part of it is that the guns are enshrined, where as there is no right to commit crimes with a computer.

That said, the issue does seem to just show that the mentally unstable shouldnt be allowed computers, let alone guns.

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Vic
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Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

> Threatening public officials with violence for doing their job is wrong.

Indeed.

However, at the moment, we only have those officials' word for it that they have been threatened. I wonder if the judge will force them to produce evidence of such threats in court before allowing them to censor any documents...

Vic.

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Unhappy

Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

" if the system is sufficently corrupt ..."

The US justice system IS sufficiently corrupt. There is a lot of nominal oversight that in reality is completely ineffective. For example, police keep detailed records of how many police are injured / shot / threatened etc, and they willingly publicise these to show off how dangerous their job is and please can we get some more funding?

The stats on police use of force, on the other hand, are either non-existant or a state secret. Police there routinely use SWAT teams to break into suspects' houses in the middle of the night, for trivial cases such as MJ possession. They routinely shoot pet dogs with no provocation and quite often also break into the wrong house. No-one is ever seriously disciplined if anything goes wrong.

I have no reason to think the AGs offices are any different. At heart most of the US is still a wild west mentality of lynch mobs rather than justice, pandering to the 'tough on crime' crowd instead of seeking real solutions to real social problems. Oh, and, speak it very quietly, but you're still FAR more likely to be stopped/searched and to end up in jail if you are brown or black than if you are white. True story

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Happy

Re: And two rights don't make a wrong

Three rights do make a left, though.

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Stop

Re: James Micallef Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

"....The stats on police use of force, on the other hand, are either non-existant or a state secret. Police there routinely use SWAT teams to break into suspects' houses in the middle of the night, for trivial cases such as MJ possession. They routinely shoot pet dogs with no provocation and quite often also break into the wrong house. No-one is ever seriously disciplined if anything goes wrong....." So, first you claim there are no publicly available stats on such events, but then you claim they happen routinely. Of course, when you get asked to prove your hyperventilating whimsy, you'll just say "I can't, because The Man keeps it a secret....!" You are a posterboy for blind faith. We need a combined Fail-Stop-WTF-ROFLAMO icon for the nonsense you post.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: James Micallef Two wrongs don't make a right

That combination of low melanin and XY chromosomes sure pays off in hubris in your case. Perhaps a dose of modesty might serve to balance the inexperience of negative discrimination your post is airing out. That or shipping you off to a country where none of the cops share your hue.

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Facepalm

Re: James Micallef Two wrongs don't make a right

"first you claim there are no publicly available stats on such events, but then you claim they happen routinely"

No contradiction. There are many such events reported in the press, and private organisations such as ACLU do their best to keep track of what these events, but police refuse to collect or release any statistics about, for example, how many warrants they serve to the wrong address etc.

I don't need to prove any hyperventilating whimsy, you just need to google "US police brutality" or any related term and you will come up with thousands of episodes reported in the press. But any stats that exist are compiled by private organisations and are perforce incomplete.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

"just following orders" has not been an acceptable defense for quite awhile.

It is the duty of government officials, from military to civil, to oppose illegal orders. Not to hide in the bureaucracy like they typically do.

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FAIL

Re: James Missing a Clue Re: James Micallef Two wrongs don't make a right

".... There are many such events reported in the press, and private organisations such as ACLU do their best to keep track of what these events....." Great! So now you back up your wild claims with some ACLU stats, right? Yeah, like I really think that will happen.

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Anonymous Coward

The next move of the DA will be

to press for the death penalty (or life without parole if the state has abolished it) for ANY computer crime no matter how trivial.

Copy a few mp3's? Life. no three strikes.

Look at Porn? Life as a sex offender but in the general population

Hack the Feds? Gitmo here you come.

Yep, the US Legal system is in fine health.

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Re: The next move of the DA will be

Yep, the US Legal system is in fine health. .... AC Posted Tuesday 2nd April 2013 13:24 GMT

What you have to understand about the health of the US legal system ..... to understand where you are going when you support it ......America's Public Enemy No 1 ...... is an odd question, which leads to an ugly truth which only the programmed to be foolish and the mad would deny?

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WTF?

Re: The next move of the DA will be

So you come up with several absurd scenarios and then use them as evidence that the system is broken?

The legal system here has issues, but your ability to say something doesn't mean it can happen. I'm not even sure where the 'porn' thing even came from, given that I haven't heard anyone even mentioning anything about pornography recently, and that the supreme court has specifically and repeatedly upheld not only pornography's noncriminality but has in no uncertain terms stated that the government has no remit to restrict it as long as it involves consenting adults.

There are legitimate things to complain about when it comes to the US legal system - why include something which is probably an example of its greatest strengths? A reader might get the impression that you care more about slating the US for any reason possible than about the actual issues...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The next move of the DA will be

Ask yourself this...

Why do DA after DA stand on the steps of Courthouses all over the US telling the world that they are going to press for the maximum sentence (for example 100years without parole) for any crime that happens to hit the headlines?

Yes, in some places they are up for re-election every few years but honestly, are they really interested in justice at all? Or, are they justusing their position as a stepping stone to Congress/Senate?

I was arrested in May 1982. I'd had a few too many and the cops thought I was going to drive my car home. Their evidence was a set of car keys I had in my coat pocket. I was threatened with 5-10 years inside because they said that I 'resisted arrest and threatened a police officer'. That didn't stand up when a passer-by came to my resuce.

I didn't get an apology when the so called set of car keys didn't fit my car but that of my wife's and she was 500 miles away in said car at the time. I'd left my car keys in the Bar where I'd been drinking.

My opinion of the whole US Justice System is that it should be flushed down the toilet. It is so corrupt it is beyond belief.

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The protestors are doing it wrong

Oritz et al were legally entitled to threaten Aaron Swartz, which makes it Okay.

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typo... again

protect individuals involved in the prosecution of the internet activist

protect individuals involved in the persecution of the internet activist

there fixed it for you!

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FAIL

Re: typo... again

Wow, a sheep that thinks it's a horse!

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Get used to it, IT is not going away ever, and the Truth has a *R*R* World of Pain for its Enemies.

Worlds have changed .... and the targeting of politically incorrect officials personally for acts of decidedly gross indecency, rather than the pitiful and pathetic prosecution of offices in which others toil for them to skulk behind, pretending to exercise power and control with the assistance and complicity of dodgy media and big brother business interests, is the new healthier stealthier norm for reality and the future.

If you wanna be a prat in the media, well, expect to be treated like a prat in the media, and be prepared for the return of all of your own medicine, in spades. It is called natural justice, methinks, and is to be applauded and supported for a better beta world model ........ New Orderly World Order.

I hope that is not ambiguous and it is surely not at all difficult to understand, although I might admit to it being quite an inconvenience for many to ponder on. Oh dear, what a shame, and whatever were/are they doing to realise that feeling? Starting wars, willy nilly ..... stealing billions anonymously inside systems of control they have administration levers in?

*R*R* ..... Remorseless and Relentless

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Stop

Holy sh*t!

Is it just me or did a amanfromMars1 post actually make sense??

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Anonymous Coward

Holy sh*t!

...it scares me too...

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and another

Federal lawyers, MIT threatened following Aaron Swartz' death

Feral lawyers, MIT threatened following Aaron Swartz' death

man im on fire!

lol

fixed!

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Flame

Some hope, still

Some hope for the US still, might not be the best way to react, and probably is not, but it is still a reaction.

I sometimes wonder if the Americans understand the meaning of the word "amendment". "The second amendment" has started to sound like the "first five books of the Bible". Still a amendment is a change, for good reasons, most likely, to something needed to be amended. Good reasons to amend some of it still.

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Re: Some hope, still

Lars, most Americans don't know what "amendment" means. But in the case of the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, they were adopted along with the original text, not added later. They're amendments because the drafters wrote the base text, literally constituting the form of the federation, but couldn't get it ratified without adding the Bill of Rights. Actual amendments come along very infrequently and in the present-day context of the US are virtually impossible, unless perhaps they're really really stupid.

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Oh the irony!

The people who bullied Swartz into suicide, saying he had to suffer the consequences of his activities, are asking for themselves not to suffer the consequences of THEIR activities.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh the irony!

While I lack knowledge of the state of mind of Aaron it does appear that it was not good and sadly people in that state can resort to the only, (NOTE did not say the easy) way they see of dealing with the issue. However, the argument that stacking up enough real or idle threats is a sound way to make laws sounds more like the wish of underworld than of rational people.

Could it be that rather a lot of his new friends have a degree of concern over their own part in the sad saga and that they did not give him the level or style of support that he needed when he was alive?

Creating a martyr is very romantic but does little to help the one you seek to martyr.

If the law is wrong, do something more constructive than throw your toys out of the pram. Provide real support to those who are trying to fight for a cause, and lend weight constructive to the effort.

I understood that the repository of the papers had not asked for pursuit of the case, was that not right?

If so why are they being pilloried?

Or is it another case of people not understanding the case and sounding off like the citizens against child molesting who sought to attack paediatricians

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Re: Oh the irony!

It strikes me that more appropriate postcards would feature the people concerned in bright orange jumpsuits, or their personal details on unemployment welfare applications forms.

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Re: Oh the irony!

Yes, JSTOR decided not to press the charges further. But the prosecution decided to do so anyway, especially Ortiz; *those* are the guys who are actually being pilloried.

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Re: Oh the irony!

"Yes, JSTOR decided not to press the charges further. But the prosecution decided to do so anyway, especially Ortiz; *those* are the guys who are actually being pilloried."

And at least one person who had nothing whatsoever to do with it. You aren't forgetting him, are you?

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Anonymous Coward

They make...

...prisons for those who can't live within the laws of society. Swartz made bad life decisions and now he's gone. Hating those who enforce laws is wasted energy and a very distorted view of reality. Hopefully those making threats will be found, prosecuted and shipped off to prison to live with the other folks in serious denial.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They make...

The early Quakers went to prison because they could not live within the laws. Massachusetts even executed them. Now the POTUS sends his kids to a Quaker school. People like you abhor progress, but others don't see standing up for it as a 'bad life decision'.

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Stop

Re: They make...

Jeez, why are you still lurking around here Morris?!

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Re: They make...

Are you seriously comparing the prosecution of Aaron Swartz for illegal downloading with the Quaker suppression?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They make...

Actually, yes. In our early days Quakers were imprisoned because they were seen as a threat to those in authority since they did not recognise official jurisdiction over matters of conscience. They were threatened with hugely disproportionate punishments to frighten them into obedience.

In this case someone was frightened in this way to avoid a trial which officials might well lose. It's the same abuse.

Just because Swartz wasn't 'good' in the US sense of social conformity doesn't justify his treatment. George Fox and James Naylor were right PITAs. So can Lindis Percy be. The land grab on IP is a similar abuse to church control of ideas and US attempts to control British foreign policy, and arises from the same root. As Quakers, although we disagree with one another a lot - goes with the territory - we endeavour to identify with people who share our concerns.

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Re: They make...

The point that people seem to be missing re: the Quakers and many other civil-disobedience actors is that they understood and accepted the risks that their actions entailed, they took their day in court and they took their punishment standing up and facing their accusers. I dislike speaking ill of the dead but the simple fact is that, when push came to shove, rather than face his accusers and ARGUE his point Swartz punted.

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Re: They make... @AC

By your definition, anyone that fought for the end of the Soviet Union from within is a criminal that made bad life decisions. They should not have hated those that enforced the laws, because it was a distorted view of reality. They will hopefully be found, prosecuted, and shipped off to prison to live with other folks in serious denial.

In other words, you are a total moron who does not understand that laws can be bad, and even good laws can be applied badly by those with a vested interest in doing so. Those who do so should have a little "skin in the game" to keep them closer to "honest".

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FAIL

Re: Intractable Potsherd Re: They make... @AC

"....anyone that fought for the end of the Soviet Union from within...." Your comparison is stupidly wrong seeing as we live in a democracy - you vote for the people that make the laws and the majority view prevails - whereas the Soviet Union was a dictatorship where the minority imposed laws on the majority against their wishes. The majority could not influence the laws by voting in new law-makers, therefore the law-makers had little regard for the opinion of the majority. In a democracy like the US, politicians know they have to pander to the majority or risk not being elected or re-elected. Sucks if you're in a tiny minority of gormless sheeple like you are. Fail!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intractable Potsherd They make... @AC

do you fail to appreciate the irony of calling others sheeple when it is your opinion that is most in line with those of the ignorant masses of America?

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FAIL

Re: AC Re: Intractable Potsherd They make... @AC

".....your opinion that is most in line with those of the ignorant masses of America?" So we're back to the usual Leftie line "the people are too ignorant to think for themselves therefore we will remove their right to think for themselves and do the thinking for them". And you wonder why your opinions are firmly in the minority? LOL!

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WTF?

It was a gross overreaction though, threatening prison for what really was a university prank involving computers. Anyone with a uni account can download papers, and its common practise to email them to people who you want to read them after that.

It was the criminal justice systems weapons designed for hardened criminals aimed at someone intelectual and sensitive. A criminal criminal justice system IMHO.

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Justice has nothing to do with it.

The very first thing taught in law courses is that what is in place is a LEGAL system and it is not a JUSTICE system in any way shape or form.

Calling it a "ministry of justice" is no different to the newspeak which renamed a certain govt department to the "Ministry of Defence". Calling it a ministry of "law and order" would be far more accurate (department of Law and Order for the USAians here)

Once you understand that, a lot of the other pieces fall into place. Just because legal system decisions usually result in justice being done is no guarantee this will always happen - or that it is required in the current scheme of things.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Justice has nothing to do with it.

After dealings with the Court of Abuse, (they think that they have some alternative name), I always thought that there were a few typing errors in the ministry name name, should it not be the Menace of Injustice?

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US Gov on over drive

The Gov agencies in the US have swung the way of unrestrained tyranny recently here like a 3rd world dictatorship. No surprise at the blow back it's getting them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: US Gov on over drive

Yeah, because an overzealous prosecutor hounding a guy is *just like* Robert Mugabe crushing press freedom, arresting opposition government officials, and hiring squads of thugs to machete voters to death.

Sometimes I wonder about people...

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Vic
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Re: US Gov on over drive

> an overzealous prosecutor hounding a guy is *just like* Robert Mugabe crushing press freedom

The first step is the hardest one...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: US Gov on over drive

Yeah, except these kind of steps have happened all over the place. Prosecutors have done terrible things since time immemorial; you give several thousand guys across the country a whole lot of power and some of them are going to be assholes. It goes with the territory. But you do your best to make sure the system as a whole doesn't fall to the level of the worst people in it.

There's plenty of injustice in the US, and plenty more of it elsewhere. Schwarz' case is certainly bad, but it's not unprecedented and not the worst by a long shot. It's a particularly visible example of an eternal problem, and is only as discussed as it is because the people who are concerned about it happen to be relatively wealthy and knowledgeable. There have been situations where entire police departments 'raise money' by pulling over poor minorities who are carrying cash (often for car purchases or such, since they lack banking or credit), and confiscating the cash for being 'drug proceeds'. It's bullshit, of course, but they tend to do this to families who are away from home - they threaten to have the kids thrown in foster care unless the parents cop a plea. Of course, the 'evidence' isn't returned, and now the victims haven't got any money either.

It's basically highway robbery in an almost comically literal form. But you don't hear about it, because poor people don't have web sites devoted to poor-people-stuff like tech guys do tech-guy-stuff.

There's plenty of injustice in the world that eclipses the Schwarz case. And that injustice is neither something we should ignore *nor* a reason to declare the system a total loss and pretend that it's as bad as North Korea or Zimbabwe or Iran. Because it isn't.

Saying the problem is so much worse than it is doesn't make you a brave truth-teller or an anti-establishment rebel; it makes you a coward - because if all hope is lost, you no longer have to fight.

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