Congress demands DoJ explain prosecution of Aaron Swartz

Kim Zetter at Wired News reports: "The two leaders of a congressional committee have sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding a briefing on why the department chose to so fervently pursue charges against coder and internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide earlier this month. The committee leaders asked the Justice Department to explain what factors influenced its decision to prosecute Swartz and whether his advocacy against the Stop Online Piracy Act played any role in that decision."


  1. Congress: “Did our embarrassment with SOPA play any role in the Justice Department (which has nothing to do with us) aggressively prosecuting Aaron Swartz?”

    Justice Department:  “Uh, no.  Why the hell would we…”

    Congress: “Oh, okay, then.  But SOPA was totally not our fault.”

    Totally fucking pointless.  This isn’t about specific politics, this isn’t about “teh gubmint” vs. “internet heroes”.  This is about general politics: this is how you climb the prosecutoral ladder, by going after soft targets and crushing people underfoot to show how “tough” you are.  It just happened that this time it wasn’t some poor black kid from the projects having his life ruined on a stupid weed charge, it was a well-off college educated guy with a large number of internet friends.

  2. Well actually, he was a well-off college-educated internet hero.

    And however ulterior the motive for bringing the DoJ goons to task is, at least some part of the government is ostensibly saying that shit was not cool.

    That’s something, at least. And perhaps it can be leveraged and pursued, with the merest glimmer of hope of some DoJ reform.

  3. Will this be as hard hitting as when they asked them why no one at the top on Wall Street was ever indicted let alone brought to justice?

  4. The problem is this is just grandstanding by Darrell Issa, who wants to embarrass the administration for a few news cycles. There is a scandal in here which is, as Orrin Kerr at Volokh pointed out, this treatment is pretty standard for prosecutors and is abetted by a Congress given to passing overly broad and vague laws (RICO anyone?) which they then entrust to prosecutors (sieze your car to fill out this month’s budget?). But no Republican is ever going to touch that. Fixing the law is hard policy. Collecting one prosecutor’s scalp is not.

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