No Easy Way Out: Remembering Aaron Swartz on the One Year Anniversary of his Murder

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.” 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

12 Responses

  1. Aaron Schwarz, according to a number of allegations by several bloggers, in addition to providing substantial leverage against the fruits of the Greenwald/Snowden psyop you so elegantly have deconstructed and its relationship to corporate spying because of his hacking activities, apparently stumbled onto some substantial evidence of rampant criminal pedophilia which existed in the files and networks Aaron Schwarz had accessed. If true, that information would have been devastating to any number of individuals within the intelligence community and would have represented devastating leverage against the efforts to shift and/or embellish NSA/various other agency spying to corporate spying pursuant to legislation which is being put into place as you have indicated. That is clearly where this is headed and the involvement of Cass Sunstein, Bolshevik/Corporatist estraordinaire puts the lie to any non-political agenda and innocence which might be posited.
    Of course the answer to these criminals is to simply not comply with anything that is unlawful/unconstitutional that they propose, but also be aware that a number of individuals are proposing alternative systems to their pervasive criminality. Fortunately, those who wish to live free, lawful constitutional lives will have ample opportunity to end-run the systems- if they’re smart enough to avoid complying.
    If you’re a betting man or woman go long:

    Cats (as in herding cats);
    The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Most (most does not include Cass Sunstein and other Bolsheviks such as Wiley Coyote) know that you can’t fool Mother Nature. And you certainly can’t fool Willy Loman.

  2. This is scary stuff. I think you are correct. The transition is in progress and relatively few people seem to see it even now. It’s so much like science fiction that it doesn’t seem possible for a small minority to gain nearly total control over the internet. When the internet is sufficiently locked down, it’s possible that people will be able to be disappeared with greatly diminished free chatter about it outside of local areas. When a totalitarian system goes fully live anywhere, the first order of business is usually a decisive crushing of all dissent.

    It’s surrealistic to watch this transition while only last night I was hearing on the radio that the US wants to open up relations with Cuba, but first demands that Cuba be more accepting towards democracy and that Cuban citizens not be deprived of their freedom of speech or expression. It was stated that Cubans must not face punishment for expressing criticism of their government. Makes my head spin.

    • “The second law of thermodynamics” not withstanding.
      I like that - not so pessimistic as my reply and not without merit. In an increasingly-interconnected and increasingly complex world, it’s nearly impossible to lock down all the pockets of chaos that spring up here and there continuously. Someone once told me “in chaos lies opportunity”. Entropy is your friend.

  3. At least the senate is making some attempt to pursue the matter with Holder:

  4. Here is a link to an interview of National Security Agency Deputy Director John C. “Chris” Inglis:

    How you read/interpret it will probably depend heavily upon your particular bias going in. Amongst a whole lot of double-talk and proclamation that there has almost never been a singe employee of the NSA who has ever, under any circumstance, abused their position or access to data, all the way back to WWII, these statements may be timely in light of upcoming CISPA-like legislation:

    “INSKEEP: Are you effectively abandoning the metadata
    program? If you’re thinking about just leaving it with the
    phone companies, leaving the information with the
    phone companies, querying it when you have a specific
    need and you can get a judge, wouldn’t that just be,
    basically be giving up the program?

    INGLIS: I don’t think so. I think a different
    implementation could meet the same four criterion that I
    told you about. That last one of which is that it’s agile
    enough to essentially give domestic intelligence
    organizations, FBI, information at the speed that they
    need it to uncover and follow a plot. You can do that by
    implementing it at NSA. You can do that by
    implementing it at the vendors. You can do that by
    implementing it at a third party. But given the first three
    requirements, they’re going to probably have to be some
    statutory and very likely some court involvement in order
    to setup the legal framework to achieve that. But that’s
    not abandoning the program. That’s implementing it a
    different way.”


    “INSKEEP: What have the disclosures done to your
    relationships with technology companies?

    INGLIS: Oh, it’s strained them, to be sure. Those
    technology companies have only tried to do the right
    thing and to support this nation and other nations.
    There’s no nation on the planet that doesn’t do what we
    would call lawful intercept, that under legitimate
    authority try to understand a little bit about the threats to
    the nation that might be communicated in today’s
    technologies. And as those companies have been described as

    perhaps being inappropriately in collusion with various
    governments, not least of which this government, they’ve
    taken some I think unfair hits. I think when you look into
    it, those companies are responsible. They are a source
    of power of this nation. They are a source of benefit to
    anyone who would avail themselves of the services. And
    they therefore deserve to have the record set straight.”

  5. What’s even worse is that those 3 markers of the transition to unfettered corporate totalitarianism also signal an exponential increase of all the destructive effects and structural problems of capitalism itself. The health of both human beings and the earth will significantly worsen.

    The latter is all the more dire because we are literally reaching the point of no return in regards to the damage we have done to the earth. Forget climate change, I’m talking about ocean pollution, fresh water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, and numerous other issues. We keep this shit up and by 2050 we’re gonna need multiple earths to sustain ourselves.

    Not a good sign of things to come. Not at all.

    And lest I forget, RIP Aaron.

    • No kidding. It’s ironic that “climate change” is used as a bullshit shield to deflect attention from the fact that we’re physically burying ourselves in garbage.

  6. I want to see ’12 Years A Slave’ when it gets here. Been reading some about it. Wonder if there might something in it will click for The People about all this.

    If there is, Bummer and them will be right on top of it, twisting, smothering

    • I’ve seen it. It’s intense but I have a hard time imaging anything clicking in any real sense. I suspect it had the pre-approval of the clan of Bummer.

      • It’s already come and gone, my son tells me. Guess I’ll have to wait, rent the disc. Saw it get an award last night. It’s people looked a little different than the rest of the winners—to me, anyway.

        So, maybe…

  7. First, Scott that was very well written and compelling. I will definitely heed your warning to stay clear of Swartz’s so-called friends. Especially those who just can’t fathom that he didn’t kill himself.

    Are you familiar with Clay Shirky? Even if you are, definitely watch this 5 min clip I cued up…
    I will look into him further and see if I can engage him. If he isn’t backing down from his former stance on SOPA PIPA, he would be a good soldier.

    His final statement is pretty damn powerful, “Time Warner is calling….They want us all back on the couch….just consuming…not producing…and not sharing, and you should say no.”

    Winston - Thank you so much for linking that letter to Holder. If it isn’t just another theatrical element, then it’s good to know someone is pointing the finger at DOJ. However, this reminds me of Holder’s handling of the OKC bombing aftermath and Trentadue. I wonder how Jesse is doing with his ongoing quest? At any rate, it looks like the system is too rigged to expect an expedient resolution. Something outside of the system is required.

    FYI, and to your point about what Swartz was “really” doing down at MIT. Swartz had an unlimited personal account and access to all of these academic papers. I’ve heard a few people familiar with the system say it could easily be scraped off the Internet and stored with ease. But, Swartz took his laptop and ducked into an MIT server room to make a hard-wire connection. Whatever he was doing, I think it had nothing to do with academic papers and MIT as well as the DOJ knows this.

  8. Has no one considered that Aaron might have “died” of Ken Lay syndrome? I.e. faking death to avoid legal penalties? Would make sense if he was working for someone other than the “public good”…

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