Internet trailblazer and activist Aaron Swartz is dead at age 26

Aaron, who often appeared on this show, was found dead in his apartment after an apparent suicide over the weekend. He had long battled depression. But friends, family, and supporters of Aaron are placing the blame for his death on the Department of Justice, which was currently prosecuting Aaron for an incident that happened back in 2011 on the campus of MIT. Aaron, an advocate for freedom of information on the Internet, was busted for tapping into MIT’s network, and downloading millions of scholarly journals from the online database JSTOR.

Despite it being a victimless crime, and JSTOR itself settling the matter with Aaron, the Department of Justice stepped in to make an example out of Aaron – charging him with multiple crimes and the possibility of serving more than 30 years in prison – which is more than killers, bank robbers, child pornographers, and terrorist sympathizers receive. The Secret Service even got involved in the matter. According to a statement – Aaron’s family blamed his death on, “an exceptionally harsh array of charges.”

Our justice system is clearly broken. How is that banksters who steal billions, or corporate executives who are responsible for the deaths of workers on oil rigs and mines, never see a day in jail. But whistleblowers and freedom of information activists have the book thrown at them, and suffer the full might of the United States Justice Department?

Over the weekend – online activists affiliated with Anonymous claimed responsibility for taking down the websites of MIT and the Department of Justice. One thing is for sure, the online community, which had joined together in the past for significant achievements, like the defeat of SOPA and PIPA, will not let Aaron die in vain.

Like the suicide of the Tunisian street vendor, which kicked off the Arab Spring, Aaron’s death just may be a spark to wake Americans up to this cancer in our justice system, this abuse of copyright laws, and this corporate domination of the internet, and our society. Let’s hope.


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 20 weeks ago

Sorry to hear about what happened to Aaron. That's so sad. Even JSTOR website has offered condolences on it's main page.

Papachuck111's picture
Papachuck111 10 years 20 weeks ago

Our country, our government are clearly broken... dangerously infected! The DOJ is just one symptom of many sicknesses in our society. "The System" fears only one thing... TRUTH. That's why the corrupt connected rich get away with corporate murder at home and abroad... the TRUTH never sees the light of day in the broad swath of America with corporate owned mainstream media. The sad thing is that a majority of mainstream America doesn't want to know the TRUTH, so the cancer will continue to spread. But I hope I'm wrong for the sake of my kids and grandkids. I hope my attitude is only caused by my cynicism from Vietnam war PTSD. I have little faith in "We The People" when WE continue to accept voting for the lesser of two evils, and accept neverending war as the delusion to deal with the fear that infects the core of America.

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 10 years 20 weeks ago

When I was in my late teens, I asked my father what he thought I should do for a living. He said, "Well, I hope you won't decide to be a thief. But if you do, steal big. Steal a lot. If you steal money, for instance, steal at least $100 million at a time." (That was forty years ago, so, adjusted for inflation, we're talking around $100 billion.)

He continued, "And if you want to steal from a huge corporation- which is where the really big money is, here's how to do it: get on the board of directors of a corporation whose board is already thick with thieves, and working together with your legal counsel it should be fairly easy to work up a good scam. Put 10% of everything you steal, into plain paper bags and give it to well-placed members of congress and to key people in the White House. And put an important law firm on retainer for another 10%. Then, even if you get caught you won't be prosecuted. Or, if they have to prosecute you because millions of people are threatening to not re-elect the politicians, and you can't throw someone else under the bus, you can "die," get plastic surgery, and live out the rest of your life in luxury in the Cayman Islands."

Sage advice. But he didn't think this stuff up himself, they teach it at Harvard, Yale, and other ivy league schools.

mitteldorf's picture
mitteldorf 10 years 20 weeks ago

We have no idea how Aaron Swartz died. There is no reason to assume that the police report wasn't a cover up. There is no reason to assume that the mainstream press spent any time or effort looking into the circumstances surrounding Swartz's death. There will not be an investigation or a trial. With a history of assassinations stretching from Huey Long to Mike Connell, all serving the Right, none investigated or reported, why should we take this report at face value.

I don't claim to have any affirmative evidence that this was NOT a suicide. There are plenty of people who would not have wanted his trial to go forward, and lots of big, moneyed interests for whom Swartz's commitment to an open Internet was an inconvenience. I have seen no evidence that they played a role in his death, but I have also seen no evidence to the contrary. An thorough and independent investigation conducted by local police would seem to be a reasonable next step...but don't hold your breath.

I think it is a travesty we can no longer trust either our press or our justice system to investigate events like this or to tell us the truth.

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 10 years 20 weeks ago

I am sorry to hear of Aaron's death.

As you say, they treated him that way as a warning to other Americans who think our government should be run honestly. When a government starts going on and on about "patriot" this, and "patriot" that, you know that these are good times for fake patriots, but difficult times for real patriots.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 10 years 20 weeks ago

I think suicide marks an important event which warrants scrutiny and a diagnosis. What were the circumstances and history of the moment? Suicide, a violent death, is never investigated, eventhough suicide sometimes covers another crime or is actually a murder.

This young man demonstrated a possible threat to the security of information stored on computers which might incriminate some of our most admired citizens.

Therefore, he was stalked, harassed and intimidated to death- an example to others who may get the idea to release sensitive materials stored in computers which are engaged in polictically embarassing electronic money transfers, profiteering, and stock trades.

Yes, in times like these, it's kind of suspicious to keep filling up prisons with penny-ante desperados, the mentally ill and drug addicts, while the lawyers are gloating, the doctors are silent, and the Senate gets richer and richer as the country gets poorer and poorer.

DrMike's picture
DrMike 10 years 20 weeks ago


I would like to contribute to your conversation with the woman who thought we should not have flood insurance.

We should continue to have this insurance, and we should continue to raise taxes on the wealthy. The rational is that the wealthy are more like to live in coastal properties and they will have higher losses (and higher claims) if there is an incident.

Also, a higher tax on higher income should be thought of as a means test. Perhaps a reverse means test. I think I first heard of this notion from Sam Seeder in a conversation about Social Security benefits (a higher cap on FICA taxes is a better alternative to means testing a recipient). I thought it was a brilliant way to think means testing.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 20 weeks ago

Thom, I wish to extend my most sincere condolences to you, the family, friends, fellow readers and listeners who are shocked and reeling from this preventable tragedy. I understand the conspiracy suspicions; but having once dealt with depression myself I know how devastating of a condition it can be. My heart goes out to anyone who may be suffering from this condition.

When it happened to me it was brief--only a few months; but, some of the longest months of my life. I wanted to die for no reason. I can imagine what it must be like for someone with a reason. There were no drugs back then to alleviate the condition. We didn't even know it was an abnormal condition. My parent thought it was a phase. I later learned that manic depression is a normal phase of adultolescence that many people experience.

One of the things that got me through it alive was the notion that I was sent here for a reason. If I took my life before I succeeded, I would be sent back and have to do it all over again until I got it right. I thought how many times have I made it this far already and how many more times will it take till I succeed at what I'm supposed to do. The thought of living an eternal feedback loop of despair and failure gave me the courage to overcome the condition and resist the suicidal tendencies.

Although this reasoning has no basis in reality, it certainly was a helpful notion that helped me survive a difficult time. May God Bless Aaron! He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 20 weeks ago

I think its important for us all to remember when--for the reason of intimidation by a villain--we contemplate suicide, that we are contemplating helping the main cause of our troubles eliminate the Main Hero in our story from winning the good struggle. The price we pay for handing over victory to the Bad Guy is our own life. What the hell are you thinking?

Gandhi, Christ, Mandela, MLK jr., and a host of others refused to do the dirty work of the Bad Guy. They will be remembered forever for their tenacity. Never give up the good fight. Don't take your own life. Make the Bad Guy do it for you. That way, either way, you die a winner!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 20 weeks ago

Of course, I'm also open to the suggestion that Aaron was the victim of a Black Op! I'm not saying that I believe its not possible or likely. I have mixed feeling as to what is a greater tragedy. Personally I'd rather believe it was a Black Op. Unfortunately, like I said, I had manic depression--suicide is very believable.

DenisePf's picture
DenisePf 10 years 20 weeks ago

While I agree with not trusting the news, this particular set of facts hangs together in a way that is entirely self-consistent and understandable. (They still may not be true.)

I wish to second Thom's hope that lots of friends and admirers of Aaron Swartz now step up to fill his shoes.

I, for one, do not believe that our government's corruption is new -- what is new is so many people KNOWing that and talking about that and taking action in response to that. To me the original Constitution itself is suspect in that counting black men as 6/10's of a person to achieve what they deemed to be an appropriate balance of power seems like a crazy notion to me -- not only is that document leaving lots of men and women out of its notion of 'people', it is also granting extra power to the slave owners. It is the original jurimander in a government that routinely sidesteps (and has almost always sidestepped) core issues and uses quick and dirty temporary fixes to things.

What is new is the extent of resistance by the populace to that government. Time for us all to live the words from the old song "We're not going to take it any more!"

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 20 weeks ago

What a waste of a young and promisiong life. Just this evening I first learned of Aaron and his amazing achievements, along with the events culminating in his suicide. It is another example to illustrate how far-gone this government's moral compass is, that they would target the Bradley Mannings and Aaron Swartzs of the world while those white collar thugs who trashed this economy and caused all this mass suffering skate free.

From what I heard on Democracy Now, Aaron lost his entire fortune on legal fees. The situation had deteriorated to the point where his parents had to mortgage their house after that, just to help him. I can't imagine being faced with a situation like that.

Corporate thieves skate free of consequence for crimes that victimize millions, yet this government insists on targeting whistle blowers and freedom-of-information activists. If that's doesn't convince more of us that we're living under fascism, nothing will. - Aliceinwonderland

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 20 weeks ago

And now they are talking about the high rates of suicides in the Army which had hit the highest one-month tally (in July-2012) than any other month. 38 soldiers killed themselves in July-2012. 349 in 2012... More than any other previous year.

Those were all real suicides. But I have strong doubts about others I have read about. Gary Webb, investigative reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, who dared report on the US guns for drugs operation. Paul Kangas, a blogger who made lots of enemies in high places. Look what they would love to do to both Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Lee Harvey Oswald, David Ferrie, Jack Ruby, Clay Shaw and a whole lot more connected to the Kennedy assination.

William Colby, Vince Foster, Jerry Parks, Barry Seal, Danny Casolaro...just a whole lot more too numerous to mention.

ragingdemo's picture
ragingdemo 10 years 20 weeks ago

Hello friend's, Once again I'm amazed that this to has somehow gotten past our dear friend Thom who for whatever the reason is still in his self impossed mental coma and flat out refuses to look at this as the desperate act's they are from the one's in power. Thom continues to talk about what is taking place as if it's some Political debate as he rant's on and on about the left and right when that line has long ago blurred into the same one. Our very freedom & liberty is under constant attack by the true masters of this country as law by law get's past to feed the same agenda that when finished will become so terribly clear people will drop to there knee's in utter disgust , step back and look at how slowly and completely how magically "the project for the next American century" agenda is unfolding before our very eye's . All even the most skeptical need do is be honest about what has already taken place then flip open there {Bible} book and learn in what direction they want this to go in . Our War's will get worse while law's to say anything negative about them will grow as they consolidate there power. Alex jones broke the story about DHS ordering millions upon millions of rounds of ammunitions and today new laws are in place to keep anyone from doing so themselves , now tell Me something friend's Obama can order insane Drone attacks on innocent people killing women and children but then want's you to buy into his heart felt simpathy for our kids being killed by these insane random killings that make no sense but are somehow magically connected ? I'm sure of one thing the month's ahead will get much worse as these very people {elected} force total control over the public in general as we become more aware of what's really going on and what the agenda really is and with the help and complete cooperation of All the Major News media outlet's they will keep people divided by marginalizing us as they have done since the Bush Cheney coup of 2000 . FSTV and other's can play a very important role in opposition to this but instead report on it as if it were taking place on some other world while Thom has his guest speaker's on to discuss what's wrong with republican policy completely overlooking what the underlying forces are behind it all . Friend's do you know Thom to this very day still talks about 9/11 as if Osama bin laden had anything to do with it ignoring completely all that had to take place for that day to even occur which is the infamous "catalizing event" that the Agenda book speaks of but that to was overlooked. Look friend's when I finally realized that Chemtrails were NOT contrails it to was hard to swallow and when 9/11 happened I to was outraged and shocked I'm from NY and have family working in NYC but even with all the smoke and mirrors something still just didn't look right then we were forced to swallow the WMD nightmare and when that to became obvious I to had rethink my own emotions and then the bubbles began bursting and Wall street happened I was forced to deal with the realities of what was actually going on right under our noses and still NOBODY wanted to connect the dots. Friend's listen there are NO COINCIDENCES and nobody can force you to open your eye's but if you truly feel in your heart that your somehow magically going to be safer because they take away liberty's or push more law's that restrict free people well then your just naive ...Our Freedoms are under attack from within OPEN YOUR EYES...

nora's picture
nora 10 years 20 weeks ago

Mitteldorf -- I agree with you. Just hearing on the news that it was suicide was like a red flag. The Illusionists are in charge.

I hope his family will look into the cause of his death.

nora's picture
nora 10 years 20 weeks ago

All over the news Aaron Swartz is being dismissed as a 'depressive'.

Please see my post where I point out how VICTIMS OF INJUSTICE in the USA have a history of being labelled mentally compromised. It is a political tactic long used against those who are discriminated against, such as women and men of color.

Aaron was a SENSITIVE person who cared, and INJUSTIC GRIEF is not a mental illness, it is the response of a caring human being!

Link to my post--

megalomaniac's picture
megalomaniac 10 years 20 weeks ago

The Hell hounds, who are they and why not talk about them. America’s University system is a government funded research domain that is fat with tax dollars. Then these same professionals that use this free money turn around and charge for a copy right fee and sales royalties. The basic University system was based on land grants and tax payer dollars on its inception now looks like it is a self-centered abusive parlor game.

A research article that is sold on the open market, for profit that has a tax payer funded base is that part of the “Dark Thread of Evil” in not only the American system but carried over from the old European system. My personal studies in Mathematics show a change happening likely because of the internet. Exampled now by a mathematics era that has a dynamic view of things that the old European ways did not realize but now is more than a quantum consolidation in a whole system view of math rather than parsed into a matriculated daisy chain leaving it to the reader to figure out the proof.

So, America has another buried industry that is established by the American tax payer, abused by the one percenters. Here free money in many topics that can include huge, large sums from every corner of the medical, pharmaceutical, Legal, science, and military research and development projects over decades that resulted in nifty jobs for special people at special values.

Here an industry that takes the cake, the best part of the derivative, and then slumbers away to a media reflection that it was a good job. In fact Aaron Swartz, points out the unfair practice in the copy right fee and royalties in public funded research. These institutions likely should pay American’s interest of return on successful achievements, but don’t.

Make no mistake these Universities have huge investment banking institutions not talked about. Harvard being the one of the richest. Actually here America has the new age industry, the factory of minds with unlimited areas of places to research, the brick and mortar of equipment, a Fermi lab in every city or suburb, with the sharp sword of talent gives way to a new industry where the mind is needed in a new brotherhood, camaraderie, community, of intellectual expansion beyond anything man dreamed of. One of the reasons to forge ahead with fiber optics for every American connected as in an electronic mail box done with fiber. Foreign influence is an obstacle too. Rather than moving ahead in technology America is in a rhetorical knot with sedition connotations driven by that very media, cable, that would likely lose control of the power and money it now makes in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Perhaps in dedication to Aaron, a different open system that can be used by everyone free to little charge. Aaron’s internet, all fiber optics, with free education through k18. All American have a mail box. By using fiber optics medical applications would leap frog, identity safety would be enhanced, legal systems would expedited, government can be more responsive and more citizens can participate. The caveat to Aaron’s internet would be no porno, no Hollywood, nor twenty four hour news they could stay where they are. Aaron’s internet could wipe out poverty. Yes the discussion is enormous, so let’s get going.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 20 weeks ago

ragingdemo: I know! I agree.

nora's picture
nora 10 years 20 weeks ago

Megalomaniac, I think the system has been corrupted in the last few decades.

Today's universities have been changed to mimic corporations -- complete with CEOs at the healm instead of educators!

Profit, not education, is the new plan.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 20 weeks ago

Ragingdemo, your points are well taken and I cannot disagree. You are spot on and you are well spoken! I also agree with Alex Jones. He meticulously supports his claims and I respect his judgments. In fact, if I were so inclined, there is much more sinister facts that I could add to your rant that would help support your reasoning. I suspect that you are as aware as I of these other little tidbits of fact tossed around the Alex Jones news team and respectfully left them out of your dialogue. I respect that! I too will not taint my rant with the sinister facts. Fear has a way of causing more harm than good; and, I am certain that these credible concerns don't make any difference as far as our struggle is concerned.

The fact of the matter is, the current Cabal of influences in our Government have amast such vast amounts of wealth and resources that they have--in fact--created a system that is top heavy and unstable. If left to it's own devices it is my belief that this system will shortly implode. There is no need to worry about a 'counter offensive' or 'domestic invasion'. The military defense that this Cabal has cultivated is currently suffering from an epidemic in suicide. Their defensive forces worst enemy are themselves. Ragingdemo, if you are not aware, historically, only loyal, committed, and determined army's succeed at defeating enemies. I might be wrong--please correct me if I am--but I personally know of no army in history that won any battles while battling an epidemic of suicide amongst it's ranks.

It is my firm belief that the only weapons you or I need to successfully deal with the current Cabal is Determination, Patients, and Faith. Your Faith may be your main problem. Remember the scripture:

Mathew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

There is nothing wrong with seeking knowledge and asking questions. But don't forget the big picture. You mentioned coincidences and connecting dots. God uses coincidences and gives us dots to connect as well. Please be patient and in time you will see an example of what I'm talking about that is guaranteed to blow you away!

Mathew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him

which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Please don't let faithless fear cloud your thinking. One man can move a mountain if he believes and is patient and determined. Don't give in to Animal Instincts. Your eternal soul is in good hands! God Bless us all!

MMmmNACHOS's picture
MMmmNACHOS 10 years 19 weeks ago

Shame on our government!
Will the True Leaders of Justice please stand up. (crickets)

johngutta's picture
johngutta 10 years 19 weeks ago

The fiscal cliff tax deal - hatched by the 'Democrat' Obama, written by the 'Democrat' Senate, and voted for by almost every 'Democrat' we just elected - probably played a part in Aaron's suicide.

The permanent 40% marginal estate tax rate 'our guys' gave to the 1% was 15% lower than the 55% rate that the 1% would have paid if 'our guys' had done nothing.

That 15% tax cut - worth about 3 trillion dollars - will now be offset by cuts to programs for people that Aaron was trying to help. At this point just the sight of Obama or any of our 'new Democrats' makes me physically sick. It's hard to live with no hope for change in the society we have become.

SteveS's picture
SteveS 10 years 19 weeks ago

Our justice system is inept: Eric Holder is one of the worst appointments Obama has made, and Obama has made plenty of terrible appointments.

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