Aaron Swartz Laid to Rest with an Action Plan For Us

14977_328746487238798_1432979370_n66 comments By Nicole Belle  In New York on Saturday, a public memorial was held for Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide last week. Among the remembrances of Aaron’s genius, his commitment to progressive causes, his idealistic beliefs of making this a better world, there was also an action plan laid out by his partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman:

“Aaron was targeted by the FBI,” said ThoughtWorks chairman Roy Singham, Swartz’s employer before his death. “After PACER, they targeted him. He was strip-searched. Let’s not pretend this wasn’t political,” he argued before being interrupted by applause.

Swartz’s partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman framed her call to action in terms of Swartz’s beliefs: “Aaron believed there was no shame in failure. There is deep, deep shame in caring more about believing you’re changing the world than actually changing the world.”Stinebrickner-Kauffman, also an activist, named five targets for action:

Hold the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office accountable for its actions in prosecuting Aaron;
Press MIT to ensure that it would “never be complicit in an event like this again”;
“All academic research for all time should be made free and open and available to anybody in the world”;
Pass and strengthen “Aaron’s Law,” an amendment to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that would narrow prosecutorial discretion for computer crimes;
Advocate for fundamental reform of the criminal justice system.

“His last two years were not easy. His death was not easy,” Stinebrickner-Kauffman said. Still, she urged the audience to “think big and think tiny… ‘The revolution will be A/B tested,'” referencing three of Swartz’s favorite maxims. “Look up and not down.”

There is no justice in criminal justice when Aaron faced more time in prison than we give rapists and other violent criminals. While we can’t know everything that was going through his mind at the time he decided to hang himself, we do know that just two days prior to his death, the US Attorneys involved in his case (Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann) refused to entertain a plea deal by his attorney, saying that Swartz would have to plead guilty to each count and vowing to “aggressively pursue” his prosecution.

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Operation Last Resort is a ‘call to arms’ by Anonymous to all Anons and hactivists around the world following the killing of Aaron Swartz and the political targetting of Internet activists by the US Administration. Assuming it is authentic, it would be the biggest and most dramatic campaign by Anonymous yet. A message about the operation is given in the above video and reproduced via the text below. Specific demands are given. In the meantime, as a warning shot, Anonymous have hacked and defaced the website of the US Sentencing Commission. Anonymous stated it has distributed encrypted government files and left a statement on the USSC website that de-encryption keys would be publicly released (thus releasing the as yet unknown information held on the stolen files) if the U.S. government did not comply with Anonymous’ ultimatum demands for legal reform.  source Darker Net

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The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless – or especially, as in Swartz’s case, those who challenge power – are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions. All one has to do to see that this is true is to contrast the incredible leniency given by Ortiz’s office to large companies and executives accused of serious crimes with the indescribably excessive pursuit of Swartz.

Bradley Manning. Life in Jail for telling the terrible truth
Bradley Manning. Life in Jail for telling the terrible truth

This immunity for people with power needs to stop. The power of prosecutors is particularly potent, and abuse of that power is consequently devastating. Prosecutorial abuse is widespread in the US, and it’s vital that a strong message be sent that it is not acceptable. Swartz’s family strongly believes – with convincing rationale – that the abuse of this power by Ortiz and Heymann played a key role in the death of their 26-year-old son. It would be unconscionable to decide that this should be simply forgotten.

1. Wikileaks recently tweeted , “We have strong reasons to believe, but cannot prove, that Aaron Swartz was a WikiLeaks source”.
2. Swartz submitted many requests for information about the torture of Bradley Manning. The US Government would have seen Swartz as a threat to their determination to break Manning (their end game to implicate Assange).
3. Swartz played a crucial role in defeating SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act).
4. Via his manifesto and his actions Swartz threatened the monopolisation of information and the Obama regime would see this as being on par with the raison d’etre of Wikileaks.
5. The US Secret Service, coordinated by Michael Pickett, stage-managed the prosecution against Swartz, ensuring the pressure mounted with, presumably, the aim of securing long-term imprisonment or neutralising him by other means.
6. MIT co-operated at every stage of the prosecution via their security personnel. MIT personnel located the netbook being used by Swartz for the JSTOR downloads and decided to leave it in place and institute a packet capture of the network traffic to and from the netbook. This was accomplished using the laptop of Dave Newman, MIT Senior Network Engineer, which was connected to the netbook and intercepted the communications coming to and from it. Marty Weinberg, solicitor for Swartz, said he nearly negotiated a plea bargain in which Swartz would not serve any time, that JSTOR signed off on it but

Aaron and Julian: persecuted  truth spillers
Aaron and Julian: persecuted truth spillers

MIT would not.
7. The Prosecution of Swartz, led by Carmen Ortiz (under the direction of Stephen Heymann) raised the bar from five counts with a possible jail sentence of 35 years to thirteen counts with a maximum 50 years, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million. A reduced sentence was being negotiated if Swartz pleaded guilty, though according to his partner Swartz was unaware of these negotiations.

Aaron Swartz – the unknowns:

There are no unknowns, only known knowns. However…

According to Swartz’s friend and partner, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman… “The US has become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. Those who torture, illegally eavesdrop, commit systemic financial fraud, even launder money for designated terrorists and drug dealers are all protected from criminal liability, while those who are powerless – or especially, as in Swartz’s case, those who challenge power – are mercilessly punished for trivial transgressions.

Jeremy hammonnd. next on FBI death list?
Jeremy hammonnd. next on FBI death list?

Not forgetting…Aaron Swartz’ Internet achievements

“Aaron Swartz was a culture hero in the truest sense of the word. In spite of his tender years, he was a mythical ancestor to not only the Open Access and Creative Commons movements but also to much of the technology which underlies the way we use the web every day. At the age of 14, he co-authored an early specification of the now-universal web feed technology RSS; his other contributions to XML are too numerous and significant to even name. He was instrumental in developing and promoting Reddit, one of the most influential and acclaimed information sharing websites in the history of the internet. He pioneered the development of musicbrainz.org, an early database for sharing metadata about music, and he effectively built the web.py protocol from scratch.He had a passionate belief that the products of the world’s knowledge should be shared with all its citizens. He is described by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive (where he worked for a time), as the “architect and first coder” of the groundbreaking OpenLibrary.org, which sought “…to open the world of books to the Internet generation”. Even his contributions to (and analysis of) Wikipedia itself are now legendary. That this should be so is a testament to his longstanding involvement with open online encyclopedia efforts – he won the now-defunct ArsDigita prize for his work on an early example, the Info Network, when he was only 13.” Source: http://bclainfopolicycommittee.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/the-last-days-of-aaron-swartz/

 

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