The Obama Administration’s Inspector Javert Speaks: Ortiz Issues Statement In Swartz Case

Carmen-Ortiz-144x150180px-JavertCarmen Ortiz, the US Attorney in Massachusetts, appears to be feeling some of the heat of the global anger over her prosecution of Aaron Swartz — an unrelenting prosecution that many (including the family) blame for his suicide. Ortiz is attempting to portray this abusive and unnecessary prosecution as prosecutors merely enforcing the law in compliance with their oath. They were, according to Ortiz, something akin to a legal version of Inspector Javert — committed to the enforcement of the federal law without discretion or judgment. Ortiz, who had remained silent, appears to have accepted that the case is presenting a serious problem for her and begins with a statement of sympathy that was entirely absent in the treatment of Swartz by her office and Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann who has been linked to another suicide of a defendant.

Here is the statement:

January 16, 2013
STATEMENT OF UNITED STATES ATTORNEY CARMEN M. ORTIZ
REGARDING THE DEATH OF AARON SWARTZ
As a parent and a sister, I can only imagine the pain felt by the family and friends of Aaron Swartz, and I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to everyone who knew and loved this young man. I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life.

I must, however, make clear that this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case. The career prosecutors handling this matter took on the difficult task of enforcing a law they had taken an oath to uphold, and did so reasonably. The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct – while a violation of the law – did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the Sentencing Guidelines in appropriate cases. 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.
As federal prosecutors, our mission includes protecting the use of computers and the Internet by enforcing the law as fairly and responsibly as possible. We strive to do our best to fulfill this mission every day.

It is always amusing to hear an Obama Administration official speaking of the obligation to prosecute federal crimes after President Obama promised CIA officials no one would be prosecuted for torture (a war crime as well as a federal crime) and the Justice Department was unwilling to bring a single charge — even for CIA officials who admitted that they destroyed evidence to bar prosecution. The Justice Department was unwilling to even bring bar complaints against attorneys facilitating the torture program. Yet, they had no alternative but to prosecute Swartz even though he downloaded academic papers later released free of charge and never had a financial or personal motive in his actions.

Her claim of an office struggling with its desire not to severely punish Swartz is belied by the evidence. First, asking for jail time was always an absurdly out-of-proportion demand and Ortiz admits that they insisted on jail time.

Second, her office ADDED CHARGES to the indictment rather than, as she suggests, seeking a sensible plea. The original indictment contained four charges against Swartz with a maximum potential jail time of 35 years. Her office issued a press released heralding their severe charges against Swartz as linked in the article below. Then her office piled on NINE MORE CHARGES with a maximum sentence of up to 50 years. In other words, the statement is at best misleading and at worse intentionally deceptive.

Moreover, reports indicate that Heymann was insisting on more severe punishment in any plea.

For the record, the US Attorneys manual stresses

“The statutory duty to prosecute for all offenses against the United States (28 U.S.C. § 547) carries with it the authority necessary to perform this duty. The USA is invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion in the exercise of such authority.”

The entire prosecution was abusive and not only Ortiz but the Obama Administration was subject to criticism for months for their mistreatment of Swartz. They continued the prosecution because they had no sympathy or decency. However, when their prosecution became a global scandal, Ortiz and the Administration suddenly has portrayed themselves as reluctant — even tortured — public servants forced to prosecute this man. Ortiz should not be surprised if her “heartfelt sympathy” seems a bit forced and opportunistic after the public outcry. More importantly, such sympathy would be more credible if it were accompanied by greater veracity in her statement of the underlying facts of this case.

220px-Aaron_Swartz_at_Boston_Wikipedia_Meetup,_2009-08-18_

Source: TechDirt

186 thoughts on “The Obama Administration’s Inspector Javert Speaks: Ortiz Issues Statement In Swartz Case”

  1. Lots of good discussion.

    Malisha, I agree.

    ralph, you’re stereotyping: biased information applied to a large group of people who are actually rather diverse.

  2. To Ms. Ortiz, malarkey. You are a sorry excuse for a lawyer and a symbol of everything that is wrong with our criminal justice system that targets the weak and the poor then pushes them into jail without trial by overcharging and threatening them with unconscionable and unreasonable prison terms but allows real criminals: war criminals, torturers, corporate criminals, money launders to profit from their crimes and live large and free.

  3. idealist707 1, January 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    What Malisha says, but others too.

    There are many ways to describe corrupt justice. Hers were one. Dredd another, AP and Turse another.

    But hers is closer to what we and the system ARE, and WHY.

    And hers was the proof of what we who can read have observed.
    How easily expectations and prejudices can make us see what is not there.
    ================================================
    And what you say too:

    Truth is difficult to detect or recognize. It bears no uniform, has no brass band, bears shabby rags, not a silk suit, limps forward, some times swaying and lurching with little forward speed. Hidden in a forest of lies, it is hard to see. Its face lights up upon being recognized. As does our reflecting his rays.

    Like Mike S said in so many words, Turley Blog is a jewel with many facets that will flash light in your eyes from just about any direction you choose to view it from.

  4. The fact that Swartz got US Courts angry with him by downloading and releasing PACER documents probably means that the judge would have given him the maximum possible sentence.

  5. What Malisha says, but others too.

    There are many ways to describe corrupt justice. Hers were one. Dredd another, AP and Turse another.

    But hers is closer to what we and the system ARE, and WHY.

    And hers was the proof of what we who can read have observed.
    How easily expectations and prejudices can make us see what is not there.

  6. “anonymously posted1, January 19, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Following up on some of Dredd’s points:

    “Kill Anything That Moves”: New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War Kerry, Hagel Fought in Vietnam”””””

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/15/kill_anything_that_
    ==========

    AP,
    I like your use of hitting key sources. Gives me hope for more will be found.
    You have an almost uncanny way of exposing bits of the “larger” puzzle, Or are these bits so common, that scanning using Google will do it?
    Why this question? Because am wondering if there is an ocean waiting to be drained or only a very small trickle. Important to know if I wonder where this CAN lead to.

    My comments on the truth:

    Truth is difficult to detect or recognize. It bears no uniform, has no brass band, bears shabby rags, not a silk suit, limps forward, some times swaying and lurching with little forward speed. Hidden in a forest of lies, it is hard to see. Its face lights up upon being recognized. As does our reflecting his rays.

  7. I read the sentence:

    Do we really have a justice system for all?

    as if it said:

    “Do we really have a justice system at all?”

    Then when I read the subsequent sentence I got confused, went back, and saw what my eyes had done to change the run for me, and what my brain had done to make me hear what I thought I read.

    But that, for me, was the real question. If you compare prosecutions horizontally and across the country, you find that prosecutorial discretion coupled with prosecutorial misconduct combined with the vicissitudes of the public defender system combined with MONEY (and combined with MONEY and combined with MONEY and combined with MONEY and combined with MONEY) result in:

    We really do not have a justice system at all.

    Read it right and weep.

  8. Dredd.

    Magnificent rebuttal and revelation of “the law”‘s qualities as untouchable eternal truth. Just as you characterized it.

    Are there lawyers who are not aware of this. When do you wake up to the snow job you were given. After you lose a case to bought justice?

    Does the education not include a “Do not worship graven images, nor printed ones either.”
    Seems needed, or a refresher course for those who have drunk too much Koolaid.
    Obviously we are working for public health, They, wittingly or unwittingly, spread their pest to others, who might perchance see the light sometimes.

    Great use of material. Sources besides DemocracyNow, or Turse’s book?
    Skip the praise. Just the sources please. Just the facts we must swallow.

  9. Does anyone doubt that “they” are steering us? Strong evidence revealed.
    Is it just a trend ie our discovery and rage at the treason?
    Let’s hope not.

  10. What a shame that nobody in the Big O administration can find any crime done by anyone in the big financial houses on Wall street for the skimming of $ Billions that the taxpayers ended up bailing out.

    Is this how they prioritize the worst crimes with limited manpower? I’m sorry, I idid not mean to disparage real men, with this administration it is weasel power.

  11. Ralph:

    “Gene, Bron, et al., leftists cannot be convinced of anything.”

    er, ah, I am not a leftist and most everyone on this site can attest to that. In fact they probably say that people like me cannot be convinced of anything.

    Not only is your logic poor, your reading skills and comprehension really must suck if you think I am a lefty. 🙂 Or maybe you just skip what I post if that is case my apologies.

  12. http://www.democracynow.org/live/democracy_now_livestream_of_aaron_swartz

    Democracy Now! Livestream of Aaron Swartz Public Memorial Service at Cooper Union

    This Saturday Democracy Now! will provide a special livestream as family and friends of Aaron Swartz gather at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York City to celebrate his life and remember their beloved friend, sibling, child, and partner.

    Speakers include Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, David Segal, Ben Wikler, Roy Singham, Doc Searls, Edward Tufte, David Isenberg, Holden Karnofsky and Tom Chiarella and other friends. OK Go’s Damian Kush will be performing at the service.

    Watch the livestream online at DemocracyNow.org.

  13. Following up on some of Dredd’s points:

    “Kill Anything That Moves”: New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War Kerry, Hagel Fought in Vietnam

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/15/kill_anything_that_moves_new_book

    “Two of the leading figures nominated to head President Obama’s second-term foreign policy establishment have their political roots in the Vietnam War. If confirmed, Chuck Hagel will become the first Vietnam War veteran to head the Pentagon, while John Kerry will helm the State Department after becoming one of the most prominent veterans to oppose the Vietnam War upon his return from duty. Although Vietnam is far behind them, Kerry and Hagel will now have to contend with the longest-running war in U.S. history: Afghanistan. We’re joined by Nick Turse, managing editor of TomDispatch.com and author of the new book, “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.” The title is taken from an order given to the U.S. forces who slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the notorious My Lai massacre of 1968. Drawing on interviews in Vietnam and a trove of previously unknown U.S. government documents — including internal military investigations of alleged war crimes in Vietnam — Turse argues that U.S. atrocities in Vietnam were not just isolated incidents, but “the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military.”

    ….

    NICK TURSE: Sure. The records that I found on Jamie Henry’s case really—they stuck with me, and I knew I had to find—find this man. They were several phone-book-sized files. A major investigation was done.

    And, you know, Jamie was a reluctant draftee, but he went to Vietnam. He was a medic. He saved a lot of American lives. And—but once he got over there, he saw things that really disturbed him. On his first day in the field, he watched as the point man, the lead man of his patrol, stopped a young girl on a trail and molested her. And Jamie said to myself, “My god, what’s going on here?” And day after day, he saw things that really disturbed him—a young boy who was captured and beaten up and then executed, an old woman who was shot down, a man who was used for target practice, a prisoner who was beaten and thrown off a cliff. On and on he saw these things.

    And it culminated one day on February 8th, 1968—that’s about a month before the My Lai massacre. His officer, while they were in a village, gave an order to kill anything that moves. And Jamie heard this over the radio, and he set out to go to the scene to try and stop it. Well, there were 20 women and children who were rounded up, and by the time Jamie got there, the men opened up on them, on—an automatic, with their M-16 automatic rifles, and killed them all. And Jamie watched this happen, and he told me that 30 seconds later he vowed that he would make sure that this story got out, no matter what it took. So, Jamie’s life had been threatened in Vietnam, so he kept his mouth shut ’til he got back home, stateside. But he immediately went—

    AMY GOODMAN: Told that he would have a bullet in his back, if—

    NICK TURSE: Yes, you know, his—he was warned when he—the first time he spoke up about brutality, that he’d better watch himself. And his friends came up to him after and said, “It’s so easy to be killed in a firefight, you know, look like you were killed by the enemy. You’d better shut up.” So, you know, Jamie did, but once he got back, he went and met with a Army lawyer. And this guy told him, “Look, there’s a million ways that the Army can make you disappear. So you better keep your mouth shut.” He went and spoke to an army criminal investigator, and this man threatened him. He went to a private attorney and asked for advice, and this guy said, “You should get some political backing.” He wrote to some congressmen, but no one wrote him back.

    So, he went public. He spoke out at the Winter Soldier investigation, among other public forums, on the radio. He published an article, had a press conference. But he just couldn’t get any traction. And eventually, you know, years later, he just gave up.

    What Jamie didn’t know was that the Army conducted a very thorough investigation, interviewed all the other members of his unit. They corroborated exactly what he said. And they even painted a more chilling picture, because some of them saw things that Jamie hadn’t. And—but Jamie didn’t know, until I called him up and then knocked on his door and brought those investigation files.

    AMY GOODMAN: Where did he live?

    NICK TURSE: He was in northern California. He was a skyline logger. And, you know, he just never knew that these records existed, that anyone knew that he was actually telling the truth.

    AMY GOODMAN: So when you brought him these phone-book-sized investigations into his allegations, what did he do?

    NICK TURSE: Well, I mean, he was shocked. He did feel vindicated. There was a little trepidation there, because, you know, it was a lot of years later to dredge all this up, and he was a little scared. But he told me that, you know, if it was right back then, then it was right to expose now. And it wasn’t easy on him. After the first day that I spent talking with him and going through the records, he told me that that night, after I had left, he went and sat in his easy chair, and he shook uncontrollably for an hour. He said, you know, “I had some sort of stress reaction,” he said. But he thought about it. He talked to his wife, and he said that this was—it was important to go on the record again and make sure that the people knew that this is really what happened in Vietnam.

    AMY GOODMAN: And you wonder where so many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder come from, that everything you learn is wrong in this country when you’re growing up, you then either commit, see others commit, are forced to cover up or choose not to cover up. Now, today in our headlines, we just read, this year, the worst year for suicides, almost one a day, and that’s just active-duty soldiers right now in the wars now. That doesn’t even include the record number of veterans who kill themselves. (interview continues)

  14. correction due to red letters not working on this site…

    mespo727272 1, January 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Dredd:

    I don’t think you get to have it both ways. He either violated the law or he didn’t violate the law. You say it’s clear that he didn’t — merely a technical violation of JSTOR download policy.

    However, If all is as you say, then Mr. Swartz had nothing to worry about and his suicide must then be due to some unfathomable defect in brain chemistry in his frontal lobes or some emotional pain unrelated to the unbuildable case (which surely his lawyers must have confirmed for him.)

    And if all that is so, how could the prosecutor possibly be morally, ethically, or even causally responsible for bringing an unwinnable case against a defendant assured of victory due to the utter lack of merit of the case and whose injustice was obvious to all?

    Sorry, Dredd but you argue your case much too well.
    ==============================================
    You use “the law” for your justification.

    I quoted the facts I posted up-thread from the indictment and the post at Volkh by a professor who also prosecuted cases like Aaron’s.

    Use of the term “the law” is a mystical practice that attributes wisdom, intelligence, and superiority to an inanimate ideology.

    It is akin to “the law can do no wrong” which is akin to “the king can do no wrong” and “the pope is infallible“.

    In “the law” of war it waxes into “kill anything that moves” and has always produced extremes, including often extreme wrongs:

    The title is taken from an order given to the U.S. forces who slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the notorious My Lai massacre of 1968. Drawing on interviews in Vietnam and a trove of previously unknown U.S. government documents — including internal military investigations of alleged war crimes in Vietnam — Turse argues that U.S. atrocities in Vietnam were not just isolated incidents, but “the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military.”

    Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by “a few bad apples.” But as award‑winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to “kill anything that moves.”

    Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable.

    Robert McNamara: I was on the island of Guam in his [General Curtis LeMays’] command in March 1945. In that single night, we burned to death one hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Tokyo. Men, women and children.

    Interviewer: Were you aware this was going to happen?

    Robert McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that, in a sense, recommended it. [regarding his and Colonel Curtis LeMay’s involvement in the bombing of Japan during World War II] LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he’s right. He … and I’d say I … were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

    (On The Origin of The Bully Religion – 2, emphasis in original). It is historical reality that our secular religion is “the law“, and that it mystically represents the sacraments of The Universal Bully Religion which George Orwell wrote about.

    Even “the wisdom”, “the truth”, “the love”, and “the justice” are way too general to touch upon a particular case under our jurisprudence.

    However, I do concede that you are spot on when you use “the law” to explain the events of Aaron’s case.

  15. mespo727272 1, January 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Dredd:

    I don’t think you get to have it both ways. He either violated the law or he didn’t violate the law. You say it’s clear that he didn’t — merely a technical violation of JSTOR download policy.

    However, If all is as you say, then Mr. Swartz had nothing to worry about and his suicide must then be due to some unfathomable defect in brain chemistry in his frontal lobes or some emotional pain unrelated to the unbuildable case (which surely his lawyers must have confirmed for him.)

    And if all that is so, how could the prosecutor possibly be morally, ethically, or even causally responsible for bringing an unwinnable case against a defendant assured of victory due to the utter lack of merit of the case and whose injustice was obvious to all?

    Sorry, Dredd but you argue your case much too well.
    ==============================================
    You use “the law” for your justification.

    I quoted the facts I posted up-thread from the indictment and the post at Volkh by a professor who also prosecuted cases like Aaron’s.

    Use of the term “the law” is a mystical practice that attributes wisdom, intelligence, and superiority to an inanimate ideology.

    It is akin to “the law can do no wrong” which is akin to “the king can do no wrong” and “the pope is infallible“.

    In “the law” of war it waxes into “kill anything that moves” and has always produced extremes, including often extreme wrongs:

    The title is taken from an order given to the U.S. forces who slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the notorious My Lai massacre of 1968. Drawing on interviews in Vietnam and a trove of previously unknown U.S. government documents — including internal military investigations of alleged war crimes in Vietnam — Turse argues that U.S. atrocities in Vietnam were not just isolated incidents, but “the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military.”

    Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by “a few bad apples.” But as award‑winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to “kill anything that moves.”

    Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable….
    Robert McNamara: I was on the island of Guam in his [General Curtis LeMays’] command in March 1945. In that single night, we burned to death one hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Tokyo. Men, women and children.

    Interviewer: Were you aware this was going to happen?

    Robert McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that, in a sense, recommended it. [regarding his and Colonel Curtis LeMay’s involvement in the bombing of Japan during World War II] LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he’s right. He … and I’d say I … were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

    (On The Origin of The Bully Religion – 2, emphasis in original). It is historical reality that our secular religion is “the law“, and that it mystically represents the sacraments of The Universal Bully Religion which George Orwell wrote about.

    Even “the wisdom”, “the truth”, “the love”, and “the justice” are way too general to touch upon a particular case under our jurisprudence.

    However, I do concede that you are spot on when you use “the law” to explain the events of Aaron’s case.

  16. ORTIZ: Pull Out Now, Like You’re Father Should Have During Conception.

    –Bumper sticker in Boston

  17. ONE DIRECTLY FOR AARON’S AND OUR SAKE
    ======================================

    I got the link from here, but I have now read it and feel we all should, for our own knowledge of him and the criminally done torture and persecotor actions he endured, and the worse ones he would face when convicted.

    I wish to recommend considering Ortiz lies, particularly the promise of light sentence being one which lawyers here can confirm—–no eludication coming from his lawyers.

    The DA held in his hands multiple threats yieldinjg almost lifetime incarceration, loss of rights, etc. She claimed that the minimum would be asked for if a deal were made. As I see it, but not knowing, how would mandatory guidelines have bound the judge to NOT allow lighter sentences?

    http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40845525507/a-time-for-silence

    The Lessig blog witnesses what a great, important and benign figure that Swartz was.

    “They” knew this and took him out for that reason. He was certainly death-marked since some time.

    Many are waiting to see how Obama’s imperial powers to plan the assassination of all Americans as he deems necessary, will play out in the USA. Who gets droned first here???
    Well, there are other ways to assassinate, not only drones.
    Even arbitrary unmotivated use of prosecutorial powers will do the job.

    Maybe this is not done by Obama, but delegated to Holder, but I still suspect that “accusations and nominations” for a
    “take out of action”-decision comes with his fingerprints on it.

  18. OTOTOT

    I don’t think Swartz would mind my mentioning this. He was for informing the people, and so am I in this post.

    (Opportunities lost are often just that, lost. And now the House Repubs are said to have retreated. NYTimes covers that too.)

    Nate Silver analyzes. My question is when do stats, as here in simple forms, lie or is there an overriding proof in these, which motivates the simplification.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/what-is-driving-growth-in-government-spending/#more-38257

    His proof (from a good gov spending stat site which is given)
    contains such items compared as entitlements vs military spending as percentages of the GDP.

    Seems fair, but is it????

    Let’s take a look at entitlements. Has the demographic profile changed during the measuring periods of decades?
    Has the services extended to areas not covered earlier and thus can be said to not properly reflect the results obtained. And some will ask in expressions of political ire, are we secretly socializing our country. Are those numerous here?

    Lastly while his brief presentation of military spending leaves a deal to be answered. This is naturally due to space limitations and the level aimed for in his article. Things do sound different when we can examine them in greater detail. We all agree on that principle, I hope.

    And overall, after looking at the historical view, concentrate on the period from 2000 to 2010, Watch the changes in inter-categories change relative to each other. Many reflect national priorities of political nature.

    Lastly, don’t forget that these stats are relative the GDP, not as percents of our fed budget each year. The military is noted in the text as 25 percent of the budget.

    And you all know where I stand on these issues.
    Less war, more for education, etc.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/what-is-driving-growth-in-government-spending/#more-38257

Comments are closed.