The Justice Department was once all too eager to announce its prosecution of Aaron Swartz and issue press releases on how they piled on additional counts against him. However, after Swartz committed suicide in response to its unrelenting prosecution, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the Justice Department now want to keep the names of prosecutors in the case a secret so that they will not be held accountable for the abusive case. The Justice Department routinely holds press conferences in which prosecutors crowd stages to take credit for indictments. However, when a prosecution is denounced globally as excessive and cruel, the Justice Department wants to prevent the public from knowing the identities of the prosecutors responsible.
Attorney General Eric Holder left no question about the Administration’s support of the abusive treatment of Aaron Swartz by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Deputy US Attorney Stephen Heymann. Heymann was previously linked to a suicide in another prosecution. We have discussed the abusive prosecution earlier and Swartz’s suicide after months of unrelenting threats and coercion. Holder heralded the treatment of Swartz as an example of the “good use of prosecutorial discretion.” Swartz’s girlfriend has come forward to denounce Holder and the Obama Administration for its misrepresentations in the case.
Ortiz previously tried to dampen criticism with a statement that misrepresented facts in the case. For his part, Holder repeated his solemn obligation to prosecute crimes but that fervent belief in the rule of law was missing when Obama promised CIA officials that no one would be prosecuted for torture. It was missing when Holder and his aides found no ability to prosecute anyone for the torture program. Of course, torture is not just a federal crime but a war crime, but it did not rise to the level of releasing academic papers for free from a collection that MIT later released to the public for free.
Holder and Ortiz sought 35 years for Swartz and amended the charges to add new counts before his suicide.
Of course, despite the insistence by Holder that this prosecutor was a model of prosecutorial discretion and professionalism, they want to hide the names of those model prosecutors. Since they are pledging to continue such prosecutions, they will presumably hide the identities of prosecutors in future cases in the Administration’s continued campaign against citizens.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Christina Sterling stated that “Our argument against it is that not only does it have an effect on the people involved in the case, but there’s also sometimes a residual effect.” This is not an effort to redact personal information like telephone numbers and addresses, which is standard. It is an effort to remove the names of the prosecutors which are historically part of the public access to trials and court records. Such moves would further insulate the Justice Department from accountability for misconduct. It would also further a trend toward greater and greater secrecy in trials from the names of witnesses or alleged victims to types of evidence. Yet, Defendants are fully exposed to public review and scrutiny.
Source: Boston Herald