The Prosecution of Aaron Swartz Paints Obama's Justice Department as Needlessly Cruel and Capricious
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More Dangerous than Bank Fraud or Drug-Dealing?
Those who know Swartz’s contributions to both the technological and political spheres find that ludicrous. Though still a young man, after all, Swartz had provided technical solutions to help people share information (through his contributions to RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit, among others) and had pushed for ways to make our society more democratic and just ( through DemandProgress and Progressive Change Campaign Committee).
The government, when it explains why it will neither prosecute banks for both foreclosure and LIBOR fraud on a massive scale nor for helping drug cartels and terrorists finance their crimes, points to their systemic importance.
Most who knew him or knew of him would say that the causes championed by Swartz -- open access to information by all and social justice -- were of true systemic importance, and that he was the kind of visionary who could lead this country through this new century. Both online and off, Swartz fought to empower ordinary people against the more powerful. And that may be precisely what DOJ so aggressively pursued him.
On Monday, a day before the family of Aaron Swartz planned to lay him to rest, the government dropped all charges against him.
Marcy Wheeler blogs on law, national security, and civil liberties at Emptywheel.net. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy .