So I’m Not the Only One Who Thinks the Over-the-Top Prosecution of Aaron Swartz Was Politically Motivated

I recently argued the overzealous persecution prosecution of activist Aaron Swartz by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz was politically motivated (there’s a lot of campaign contributions to be had). Apparently, great minds think alike. From Charles Pierce, who is a long-time student of the Massachusetts political scene (boldface mine):

But I’ve been around enough courthouses to recognize political ambition in a federal prosecutor when I see it. I’ve been around enough courthouses to recognize where the real power to bully someone comes from, and it doesn’t come from law professors saying mean things about people on the Intertoobz. It comes from the FBI, and a couple dozen federal law-enforcement agencies, and the power to throw people — even for a “mere” six months — into the federal pokey. Every federal prosecution doesn’t have to be balls-to-the-wall. You don’t have to have known Aaron Swartz to conclude with good reason that the U.S. Attorney had an agenda here beyond simply keeping secure some JSTOR files, or maintaining the integrity of the broom closets at MIT. This is especially true when you examine the bill of particulars put together about Ortiz and her office by media critic Dan Kennedy on his blog the other day. Ortiz, whom Vennochi seems hellbent on protecting from the slings and arrows of cybermeanies, knows the political value of being “tough on crime.” I guarantee you, if Aaron Swartz hadn’t killed himself, he’d have been in an Ortiz For Governor campaign commercial one day.

To anyone who follows Massachusetts politics, this is painfully obvious. And, as I mentioned, while Massachusetts, with lots of hi-tech workers, has a hacker-friendly population, the Commowealth (God save it!) also has a lot of hi-tech businesses who want very strict copyright protection. They will reward certain behavior with campaign contributions. As was said long ago, follow the money.

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