by Scott Creighton
What exactly was Aaron Swartz’ crime against humanity? Was it really that he “liberated” some academic papers from MIT in order to make them available without cost on the internet? Is that why the prosecution hit him with 14 felony charges facing 35 years in prison or was it something else?
Aaron Swartz was found hanged in his Brooklyn apartment a year ago today. Many, including those who profess to honor his memory and his activism, parrot the official talking points about Mr. Swartz saying he took his own life rather than face the possibility of going to prison.
That story is bullshit and anyone repeating it, ANYONE, is NOT to be believed in any fashion. Lest we forget:
“During plea talks held in the months before his death, federal prosecutors told Aaron Swartz and his attorney that the computer prodigy must spend six months behind bars and plead guilty to 13 federal crimes in order to resolve the criminal case short of a trial.” Boston.com article from 1/14/13
“The best deal the prosecutors would offer was four months in prison with Swartz pleading guilty to 13 felonies. And they warned Peters that his client had better take it while he still could.
“They told me over and over again that the offer had been on the table,” Peters says. “And any future offer would be less attractive.” Daily Beast 1/15/13
Granted, that is the defense attorney’s statements on the matter of the deal offered to Aaron Swartz prior to his “suicide”. Here is what the prosecutor herself said:
“… That is why in the discussions with his counsel about a resolution of the case this office sought an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct – a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low security setting. While at the same time, his defense counsel would have been free to recommend a sentence of probation. Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge. At no time did this office ever seek – or ever tell Mr. Swartz’s attorneys that it intended to seek – maximum penalties under the law.” Attorney Carmen Ortiz 1/16/13
Are we to believe this young man who stood up against SOPA and PIPA and won, took his own life rather than spend 6 months max in a minimum security facility (a.k.a. Club Fed)? Is this the level of discourse being offered up by various “alternative” sites across the nation and the globe on this, the anniversary of his murder?
Yes, Aaron Swartz was murdered. But there is a larger lesson here today for us to ponder.
His courage is proven by the fact that he expressly rejected the 6 month offer, choosing instead to go to trial where he would have faced 35 years. That’s courage folks. The story of him taking his own life makes no sense whatsoever.
Why did they kill him?
Aaron Swartz was murdered for two reasons.
First, the prosecution knew that they were going to lose in the trial against Aaron. MIT didn’t have the stomach for the fight and since it was basically their property he “liberated”, Carmen Ortiz knew she was ham-stringed from the start. MIT’s official position is they “didn’t do themselves proud” during the prosecution’s early stages of their case against Aaron. Aaron’s father Robert said they didn’t “advocate” for Aaron like they should have considering their policies regarding the files he took are vague at best and also considering Robert worked for MIT. You can read all about MIT’s tenuous position in this Boston Globe article.
MIT claimed in a report filed after Aaron’s death that they didn’t stand opposed to the plea deal offered to him. Robert says that wasn’t enough. Fact is, MIT knew they were in a bad situation. They were being used by the Obama Justice Department to bring charges against Aaron right before the roll-out of their new CISPA plan which is being backed by 800 major corporations and considering the fact that Swartz had been instrumental in helping bring about the demise of SOPA and PIPA in the past, getting him out of the way via a stay in Club Fed would certainly help matters.
CISPA was barely defeated back in 2012. It was said to be SOPA and PIPA on steroids. One writer said it didn’t harken to the totalitarian state, that it WAS the totalitarian state.
The main focus of CISPA is the privatization of the security state, something Chris Hedges and William Binney recently called corporate totalitarianism during a Real News interview.
Barack Obama is expected to unveil his suggestions for fixing the Snowden crisis which will be based on the work done by his own research group headed by Cass Sunstein.
Primary to the 40-something suggestions they put forward is the continuation of blanket collection of data and the retention of that information by corporate entities, some that collect it and some that are simply contracted to store it.
As Hedges and Binney both point out, this is not a fix. In fact it’s much much worse than what we have now.
There should be no mass collection of your data period, by anyone. But a fool or a complicit liar would suggest that handing over this data (which DOES include, by the way, the recordings of your calls and the contents of your text centered communications) to the corporate world is in any way a solution to this manufactured crisis.
As Binney points out in the interview, the real way to reform this broken system is to stop the mass data collection altogether and to use systems which target only those who are suspected of terrorism after a court order showing cause is produced.
Binney states makes it quite clear that the intention of the Bush administration, Cheney in particular, was NEVER to use this system to fight the Global War on Terror, but rather to spy on U.S. citizens and citizens in countries friendly to the United States and her “interests”, in support of their corrupt policies and even more corrupt governments.
As Hedges pointed out, the BEST reform of this program is to hold those who created it accountable for the illegal and unconstitutional nature of it. Without accountability, it will simply continue as is, no matter what anyone claims they are doing to fix the crisis.
These are absolutely some of the best points being brought up these days about this situation we find ourselves in since Mr. Greenwald started selling his advocacy.
When Obama throws his backing behind the continuation and privatization of mass collection of your data, this country will be literally teetering on the brink of the abyss. Those of you who know me understand that I seldom resort to dramatic hyperbole but today, this specific anniversary of this specific murder, is a day in which such statements need to be made regardless of the critical backlash I am destined to receive.
It is not a coincidence that these three major corporatist agendas are converging at this particular moment in time.
- Obamacare is being implemented after 3 years. Obamacare is nothing more than the first stage of the abject privatization of what’s left of the social safety net for healthcare handing over millions of people forcing them into an unconstitutional mandate to purchase a product for the vested interests of the insurance industry. It also frees up major corporations allowing them to drop coverage that cost them millions in profits.
- The new CISPA, under the guise of various similar bills like the USA Freedom Act (written by the same guy who wrote the Patriot Act) is about to hand over not only control of the collection and distribution of your personal data (yes, they will be allowed to use that info as they deem necessary) but also control of the internet itself.
- The Trans Pacific Partnership – perhaps the most intrusive and all-encompassing piece of corporatist legislation ever.
As Hedges rightly claims, there is no going back from this corporate totalitarian state (a.k.a. “fascism”?) once it is achieved. All dissent will be criminalized like we see in our client state Egypt (and Israel for that matter). Thanks to Obama’s midnight signing of the NDAA 2012, the military is poised to take up actions on U.S. soil, against U.S. citizens.
As a long term writer for this blog I can tell you for a fact that the Snowden psyop has produced a rather chilling effect across the internet. People are reluctant to speak out against this coming storm. Few still make an effort compared to what was around just a year ago today.
I cannot stress this enough: any deal which involves the continuation of the mass data collection, either by “ebil big guberment” or our friendly folks at Google, Verizon, Yahoo, the Blackstone Group, CitiGroup and AT&T MUST be vigorously rejected by the community at large. Any deal which includes a form of retroactive immunity for violations of current law and our constitutional rights MUST be vigorously rejected by the community at large.
If you think somehow that your lack of criminal activity will somehow protect you in a closed totalitarian state, you fail to understand the meaning behind those words.
This kind of intrusion isn’t about stopping criminals. Aaron Swartz was NOT a criminal. Yet he was murdered by the state or actors working on behalf of this transition, just the same.
You may not be a criminal now, but when thoughts, feelings, expressions are criminalized, who is to say your actions, your feelings, in the future won’t make you into an enemy of the state?
It doesn’t matter if you love Obama or revere Bush… it doesn’t matter who is in charge today. What matters is the existence of a system with the capabilities to turn on it’s own citizenry at the drop of a hat or the whim of a charismatic leader, a captain of industry or a master of hedge funds.
Old divisions are meaningless. They are ghosts haunting a world we no longer live in.
What stands before us in the stark reality of this morning’s light is what we conspiracy theorists have been warning about for years. It is the manifestation of decades of effort by those who truly hate you for your freedom. People born to bring about the Meritocracy of America.
Today, in memory of a young man who dedicated his life, and gave it, defending our freedoms as much as any patriot did 200 years ago, I submit, humbly, that we attempt to recommit ourselves anew to this fight.
To honor him we must honor ourselves by not settling for a safer road home. There is none at this point. Aaron knew that. Today we should remember that about him.
There is no easy way out. He didn’t take it. Neither should we.
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