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Edward Tufte's Defense of Aaron Swartz and the "Marvelously Different" 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the diamond-in-the-rough dept.
zokuga writes "Data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte spoke at hacker-activist Aaron Swartz's public memorial. In his message, he described how he came to know Swartz at Stanford and how Tufte's own college hacking exploits had the potential to ruin his own life."
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Edward Tufte's Defense of Aaron Swartz and the "Marvelously Different"

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  • Poor young people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:10PM (#42641213)
    The stupid stunts I did back in the '80s were as bad, if not worse, both in the real world and the BBS scene. The difference is no one stored my every stunt for posterity and instant access for all.
    • Re:Poor young people (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:18PM (#42641255) Homepage

      Yeah, I was going to say pretty much the same thing. In high school, a friend and I had a running interaction with NASA security at the Manned Spacecraft Center (Lyndon B. Johnson Spacecraft Center to you modern folk). This involved penetrating the MSC by walking into places we *really* should not have walked into looking stupid / innocent. This was tolerated to a large degree until we found a place were we *** really *** should not have been.

      Then we were politely told by security to cut it out. Enough fun. We weren't arrested. It was logged - when my friend went to get some high security clearance they brought it up (as well as asking for the every time we had done drugs since college - every time). Didn't seem to be a problem.

      I hate to think what would have happened if we had done this in the past decade. We probably couldn't even get past the first gate now. We'd be in some high security prison somewhere learning really useful things like home made weapon production instead of being nominally useful members of society.

      • Then we were politely told by security to cut it out. Enough fun. We weren't arrested.

        Now what would have happened if you kept doing it?

        • Dunno. We were stupid, but not that stupid.

          • I suspect that if Swartz had stopped the first couple of times MIT tried to block him, that would have been the end of it.

            (No, Swartz did not deserve years in jail for what he did and the whole situation was a tragedy. I'm just noting that you were warned and you stopped. Swartz was warned and he kept at it).

            • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:23PM (#42642157) Journal
              Of course you're comparing two stupid young kids fooling around and someone working towards a reality where knowledge is freed.
              • And how do you know that we weren't searching for the Texas version of Area 51?

                (Well, we weren't but we could have been).

                • by Jmc23 (2353706)
                  Oh, I'm sure you were. Just as I fondly remember breaking into a top secret, guarded, military facility, to take out some rogue agents. ...though an outsider might just have seen some kids rolling around in the dirt at the local airport.
              • The silliest thing about this is that JSTOR is working towards exactly the same goal.

                • by Jmc23 (2353706)
                  Actually, it's a bit more like JSTOR is trying to cover up the underlying wrongness, sure makes academics feel better about themselves though.
                • by dbIII (701233)
                  It was out of their hands once a copyright lawyer with an axe to grind heard about it.
      • We've all done stuff in the past the difference between you and Aaron is two fold. One the times, which is sad but true, but more importantly you were in all likelihood a minor, Aaron was in his twenties. The guards even back then probably would have treated an adult differently.
    • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:33PM (#42641347)

      *IF* something would happen, OMG, someone could sue us!

      Today, they find ways to make you regret you were even born.

      So what's left to blow steam?
      Doing bad things because that's all there is left.

      You can't sneak into a flooded quarry to swim that's on private property.
      You can't jump your bike into a river for fun.
      OMG, someone could sue...

      • Blame the litigation happy culture that has arisen.

        "My boy Jonny died on your property. Sure he had to climb a 10 foot electrified fence with barbed wire on top and then get past 5 security guards and surveillance cameras. But you should have done more to stop him. I'm going to sue!!!"

      • by DogDude (805747) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:02PM (#42641495) Homepage
        So what's left to blow steam? Doing bad things because that's all there is left.

        Kiddo, there are plenty of things one can do to "blow steam". If you want to do "bad" things, there are generally consequences, hence the "bad". I don't really know what point, if any, you're trying to make.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "Kiddo, there are plenty of things one can do to "blow steam". If you want to do "bad" things, there are generally consequences, hence the "bad". I don't really know what point, if any, you're trying to make."

          Because decades of kissing ass builds up during our rebellious period. I won't say teen years because it isn't always individuals in their teenage years that are affected. You know when you think most people are morons when you point out their fallacies in their reasoning but stil

    • by nbauman (624611)

      Potassium chlorate, anyone?

    • by sjames (1099) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:04PM (#42642009) Homepage

      The great hypocrisy is that the older adults implementing all of this zero tolerance all likely have a history that wouldn't stand up to the level of scrutiny they impose today.

      The law doesn't care if you inhaled, it only cares if you had the tiniest trace of a dried plant in your possession.

    • by Weezul (52464)

      I did worse.

      Apologies for reposting this, but we really need the 25k signatures on the fire Stephen Heymann petition :

      https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-assistant-us-attorney-steve-heymann/RJKSY2nb [whitehouse.gov]

      Please spam your friends! :P

      It's a poorly written petition. And nobody who sees only the petition understands that Heymann also drove another probably innocent young hacker to his death, way back when Heymann wanted to be the first ro prosecute a juvenile under the CFAA.

      Anyway this prosecutor seems pa

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:14PM (#42641235)

    more like injustice amirite?

    RIP Aaron, we'll avenge you.

    So Tufte was a phreaker. He and a pal did this "longest long-distance call" thing. AT&T caught onto it of course, and a tech rang 'em up. The tech just said, don't do it again, don't tell anyone, and nothing happens. But seriously, the tech (and by extension AT&T) could have seriously ruined Tufte's life. But didn't because it was just a silly prank that didn't actually harm anyone.

    By extension, one of Aaron's legal team contacted Tufte who talked to JSTOR and convinced them not to participate in the ruining of this young man's life. After all, there was no harm to anyone, and nothing of value was lost or stolen (copies were made, which Aaron subsequently deleted after being caught).

    So, in conclusion, fuck the system.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      After all, there was no harm to anyone

      Not quite. MIT and JSTOR had to spend resources addressing this problem. (In theory, maybe the didn't really *have* to, but if JSTOR routinely ignored such actions, they'd run in to trouble with the journal publishers. If MIT ignored it, they'd run into trouble with JSTOR. And, they can't tell the difference between something innocuous and something more malicious until they investigate.) As part of it, JSTOR cut off access to MIT. That's the sum total of the harm that resulted. How much of that is attribut

      • I do not think any should be attributable as damage caused by Swartz and here's my thought behind it. If I break a door lock I can be held accountable for replacing it, however I cannot be held accountable for the need to add a dead bolt just because the previous lock didn't stop someone. In the same vain, he could be held accountable if he deleted files or otherwise caused damage, but shouldn't be held accountable for any additional security added as a result.
        • by blueg3 (192743)

          I agree with your comment. However, the "damages" they're talking about are the expense of a response to his actions -- investigating and mitigating those specific actions. It's not the same as someone exposing a need for more security. It's still arguable, but it's fairly different. (You could argue that unless their expenditures were unusually high, that their actions are simply a normal cost of maintaining security. You can't pin the cost of having a guard on whatever thief he happens to catch. You can a

  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:25PM (#42641297)

    Glenn Reynolds [pjmedia.com] just posted his essay Due Process when Everything is a Crime [ssrn.com] relating in part to the Aaron Swartz case.

    Cases like the Aaron Swartz prosecution are a direct result of the huge, intrusive, abusive government we have. Unfortunately most Slashdotters seem to support this government and want to make it even larger and more involved in everyone's daily lives. Will Slashdot learn anything from Aaron Swartz's death? Or are we still just a few more government programs away from living in a utopia -- this time for sure?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Libertarian Logic: I have chronic pain in my knee. Time to get out the bone saw and cut off my leg!
      • by Kohath (38547)

        Libertarian Logic: I have chronic pain in my knee. Time to get out the bone saw and cut off my leg!

        The government probably killed another basically good person during the time it took you to write that. Congrats.

        On the other hand, he probably wasn't a geek and probably didn't invent anything cool when he was a kid. So who cares, right?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Isn't that the same logic everyone else is trying to use as an excuse for gun bans?

      • Are you saying that is NEVER the correct option?
      • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:44PM (#42641829) Homepage

        You know what, maybe instead of bringing out this offtopic canard about libertarians, you should read the article. It's thought provoking. Like how in the 80s prosecutors would play a game where they prosecute the person not the crime, i.e, pick a famous person like Mother Theresa and find a crime that would put that person in jail, not because they did anything wrong, but because you're such a clever prosecutor. That sounds not like justice, but persecution.

        And how is the complaint that the government has made criminal so much stuff so divorced from common sense, entitled to some epithet about libertarians? Everyone should be worried because when everyone can be charged and sent to prison for random things, the government has total tyrannical power. That's an issue only libertarians worry about? I think not.

        Read the essay. It's only 6 pages -- takes you a few minutes. Then come back and explain what in there sounded like the ravings of a "my property GTFO" type libertarian. It contains nothing like that all -- not even a hint. Instead it talks about how the decision to prosecute and what to charge is made in a milieu of total immunity without any consequences at all, and how that decision is perhaps the most important part of the due process rights which we are supposed to enjoy, but instead we have absolutely no protection at all when prosecutors decide to get medieval.

      • by stms (1132653)

        Libertarian Logic: I have chronic pain in my knee. Time to get out the bone saw and cut off my leg!

        That's a pretty good metaphor for Libertarian Logic. Cutting off a knee that's giving you a lot of trouble is a good solution if there is a better alternative. We're probably only a decade or so away from prosthetics that are as good or better than the real thing. When that happens I wouldn't be surprised if doctors recommend amputation as a treatment for chronic knee pain depending on severity of the pain lifestyle and age. Actually technology as a replacement for what government once did is one of the rea

    • Are you saying a Libertarian government wouldn't have data crime laws, or that it would suppress harsh prosecutions, or...

      I'm having a hard time figuring out how Libertarianism would be linked to state prosecutions.

      • Libertarianism in general seeks to abolish most laws, leaving in place only those relating to the protection of property and life. If your computers are hacked, it's your own fault for not having good enough security. Sounds almost good, except that they apply this everywhere. Your house burn down? That's your own fault for not paying the local private fire service to send the fire engine around to put it out. Rival business flooding your phone lines with fake calls, posting advertisments in your name promi

        • by Kohath (38547)

          And the "ridiculous extreme" is just that. It has the support of very, very few people.

          So why bring it up? Are you arguing that the government needs to be able to kill an unlimited number of people whenever it wants because otherwise we can't have a fire department to put out fires? Or can we be more thoughtful than that?

          • We bring it up because it's the argument you're already making. The existing government has issues so the solution is apparently to eliminate it and replace it with some form of magical private enterprise which is somehow angelic despite all evidence. Government has issues, but it also does a lot of good and tends as far as I can see to be slightly less evil than most alternatives. Libertarians could work with the rest of us to try and fix the broken bits, or offer some form of viable alternative, but ins
      • Any government should suppress harsh prosecutions. Would a libertarian government fare any better on this score? At the very least they'd be more wary of any wrongdoing in that area, as they have an intrinsic distrust of government (hence the desire to keep it as small as possible). Contrast that with socialists who think everything government does is great, or at least fixable.

        I've no idea who Glenn Reynolds is by the way, but he's spot on. I see the same in my country where the actions of (our equiv
        • by sjames (1099)

          Not really, our current government that has degenerated into this mess started out with people so paranoid about government power that they felt compelled to ensure that the people were afforded the tools needed to overthrow it by force (in take 2. The 1st take was so toothless that it fell apart).

          Meanwhile, a socialist revolution would be (for now) deeply suspicious of any prosecution that looked like it could be oppressing the workers for the benefit of big capital.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Kohath (38547)

            Meanwhile, a socialist revolution would be (for now) deeply suspicious of any prosecution that looked like it could be oppressing the workers for the benefit of big capital.

            But, since a vast majority of socialists are basically fools who can be convinced of anything that confirms their personal prejudices, they'll continue to empower the government and continue to be surprised when "big capital" uses this power against them over and over and over again. The resulting anger just reinforces the prejudices, making them even easier to fool.

            Or we could finally learn that concentrating power in the hands of government overlords isn't helping.

            • by sjames (1099)

              Or we could finally learn that concentrating power in the hands of government overlords isn't helping.

              I fail to see how concentrating it into the hands of individuals will be an improvement. Eventually, one of them gets the upper hand and we have a king again.

              I'll spare you the ad-hominems against the majority of libertarians.

              • by Kohath (38547)

                When power is in the hands of individuals, it isn't concentrated.

                • by sjames (1099)

                  That makes no sense at all. Are you saying a king has no concentrated power?

                  • by Kohath (38547)

                    Not without his government, no.

                    And that has been my whole point all along: less government power, more individual autonomy.

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      Because powerful people never amass a private army and become the government, except all the ones that have throughout history, of course.

            • But, since a vast majority of socialists are basically fools who can be convinced of anything that confirms their personal prejudices

              All the proponents of various "-isms" have a tendency to do that. Libertarianism included.

              • Indeed. Proclaiming adherents of an opposing -ism are gullible fools indicates a considerable lack of self awareness on the part of the adherent to the more favored -ism.

                Socialism doesn't have all the answers, neither does capitalism or libertarianism. Reality is somewhere in the middle.

                As to Government, it wasn't dropped down from a UFO. It isn't some alien construct forced upon us. It, like any human creation, can be a force for good or for evil.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        Libertarian government

        To a lot of them such a thing is a contradiction.
        To the others - well the word is pretty meaningless when you've got the range full on anarchists to devoted royalists that want to see Koch or similar as King while pissing on Washington's grave. It's a bunch of people wrapped up in a flag to hide whatever they really are, which is often useful idiots to hard right Republicans.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I think you are making a logical leap in your post. The fact that the law is so complex that everybody could be charged and jail for something is definitively true and a major problem. Though I do not see how government involvment is related to any of it.

      Involvment and control are different things. The government needs (in my opinion) enough power to fix things, but not enough to screw things up. Associations and the government are the only entity somewhat interested in teh greater good. But associations ty

      • by Kohath (38547)

        The government needs (in my opinion) enough power to fix things, but not enough to screw things up.

        Enough power to "fix" things is always going to be a lot more than enough power to screw things up.

        There's always something that needs to be "fixed" when someone wants more power. He'll always tell you you can trust him too. Sometimes you can. You can't trust all of his successors.

        A better answer: fix it yourself.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Why bother? Obama's got an executive order for that!

        • *hands him/her a hammer*
          Practice what you preach, go to the east coast and rebuild it. By yourself. Without help.

          • by Kohath (38547)

            They should fix it themselves. It's one of the richest areas of the country. They need poor people in Michigan to pay for their repairs?

        • by sjames (1099)

          A better answer: fix it yourself.

          In other words, do your best to accumulate enough power to 'fix' things (while messing things up for everyone else) before someone else can gather enough power to 'fix' things for himself while messing it up for you?

          You said it yourself, "enough power to fix things is always going to be a lot more than enough power to screw things up" (emphasis mine).

          Now, look at where you are and compare to Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the board of Goldman Sacks and most of the current Washington bigwigs and ask yourself, wh

          • by Kohath (38547)

            You argument is an old one:

            No one can be trusted to fix anything for himself. Therefore we should give someone vast government power. Because giving someone vast government power somehow magically turns him into a saint. You couldn't trust him before. Now he has lots and lots of power over you. Now we can trust him. Nothing can possibly go wrong. We are wise. See how we care about fixing problems?

            • by sjames (1099)

              Now tell me why my objection to your scenario is all wrong. Something that doesn't involve a fantasy world where the less wealthy pool their resources to fight the wealthy madman but somehow the collective doesn't become a government.

              You're not solving the problem, you're proposing a dark age while we re-arrange the deck chairs.

              • by Kohath (38547)

                We must fight these mad wealthy bogeymen! That's why everyone needs to write me a $5000 check right now! No time to think about it! They'll eat you children and steal your reproductive organs if you wait one more second. Write a check before it's too late!

                Do these evil wealthy madmen have a particular skin color you don't like? Or are they part of one of the bad religions? Or is this particular prejudice based on something else?

                • by sjames (1099)

                  Or is this particular prejudice based on something else?

                  It's based on thousands of years of human history.

                  It's also based on the clear sense of entitlement some (certainly not all) of the wealthiest members of our society demonstrate repeatedly.

                  • by Kohath (38547)

                    And your cunning plan is to give a centralized government control of (more or less) everything. Because no wealthy person could ever find a way to exploit that.

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      It sure seems to beat your idea. At least central governments in democratic republics have some track record of actually working. Your plan has always devolved into a feudal system requiring a bloodbath to eliminate.

                      If there is going to be oppression and corruption, it's better if it is inefficient (and preferably incompetent).

      • by anagama (611277)

        The fact that the law is so complex that everybody could be charged and jail for something is definitively true and a major problem. Though I do not see how government involvment is related to any of it.

        I don't understand. Who makes the laws? It is the government. If the legal codebase is so large, vague, and complex, that every person commits a Federal felony every day, and the government made that law, how is the government not to blame?

        http://www.harveysilverglate.com/Books/ThreeFeloniesaDay.aspx [harveysilverglate.com]

        • I don't understand. Who makes the laws? It is the government. If the legal codebase is so large, vague, and complex, that every person commits a Federal felony every day, and the government made that law, how is the government not to blame?

          You, like the OP, are confusing the existence of government with corruption of government. It is a fatalistic view which surrenders our civilization to the worst actors. Government will never be perfect, but that doesn't mean it can't be good enough.

    • by Sique (173459)
      And the huge, intrusive, abusive government is a direct result of people actually wanting it that way. Democracy means that you get the government you deserve. If one can get elected on a "tough on crime" platform, and demanding stronger laws and harsher sentences secure votes, I don't see this as a problem of the government, but a problem of the people.
      • by Githaron (2462596)

        Democracy means that you get the government you deserve.

        Democracy means you get the government the majority deserves.

        FTFY. Don't claim to know how I vote based on how the majority votes.

        • by anagama (611277)

          Democracy means that you get the government you deserve.

          Democracy means you get the government the majority deserves.

          FTFY. Don't claim to know how I vote based on how the majority votes.

          You get as much democracy as you can afford, like justice.

          FTFY. Don't claim that it matters how you or anyone votes when all sides are owned, and not by the majority. I will agree that the majority are duped into thinking they have a voice though.

      • by Kohath (38547)

        Maybe some of us can learn something this time.

    • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:51PM (#42641439) Homepage Journal

      "Unfortunately most Slashdotters seem to support this government and want to make it even larger and more involved in everyone's daily lives."

      You must be reading a different Slashdot that I am. For instance, you should check out any post that has to do with gun control, s/w piracy or net neutrality.

      Also, Swartz's death is a sad story, but I'm a little irritated that so many people are using his suicide to further their own agendas, no matter how just they may be. He left no suicide note. The claims that he killed himself because of his legal woes will always remain conjecture. The guy suffered from depression, after all, and depression is a documented killer. Ten percent of people that suffer from it end up committing suicide.

      • by Kohath (38547)

        For instance, you should check out any post that has to do with gun control, s/w piracy or net neutrality.

        So creating a new neutrality police to harass and prosecute neutrality criminals is less intrusive government now?

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          We already have mechanisms in place to regulate public utilities. We don't need to invent any new "neutrality police". You are pushing the "but on the Internet fallacy" which basically claims something to be new just because it's being different in a slightly different way.

          It's usually used to abuse the patent system but it works in this context too.

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      "..are a direct result of the huge, intrusive, abusive government we have...'

      Oh, sweet jaysus! You sound like one of those believers in faux populist, Ron Paul (FYI, sonny, real populists aren't anti-worker and anti-union and forever submitted legislation in congress which is anti-worker --- read up on the greatest congressman populist to ever come out of Texas, the Honorable Wright Patman, now there was a real populist!!!!).

      Try AT&T's awesome influence, coupled with that there "regulatory captur
    • However, it must be wielded with - pardon the pun - discretion.

      It's NOT okay to have strict liability crimes without almost universal knowledge of the crime and likely punishment.

      It's NOT okay to use discretion to coerce plea agreements.

      In general, the discretion should be based on published, preferably well-known guidelines that all prosecutors in a given geography and who are prosecuting given types of crimes agree on. In other words, there shouldn't be "good luck" and "bad luck" for the defendant when c

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Interesting and well-thought-out. Have you read the Volokh write-up?

        I would argue that in this case it's not civil disobedience, since he was actively trying to avoid being caught. That's not the nature of civil disobedience. (One might argue that he was only avoiding being caught to be successful, and he would reveal himself upon releasing the documents, but that would be conjecture.)

        The Volokh piece talks about the accepted standard for punishment in this case, which is "special deterrence" -- since there

    • Actually most slashdotters are for a refocusing of the governments efforts. They've been left to the lobby groups and their own devices for too long. Regulation needs to be done but other regulations that have been put into place need to go. I'd go so far as to say peel back every law since Jan 1, 1998 and have done. Require any new criminal law to pass a 30% public vote in favor. The majority of the ridiculous laws have been passed or modified into ridiculousness since then.

    • by sjames (1099)

      You must be an anarchist then, because libertarians generally support the continued existence of the courts and prosecutors. Some support continued government police forces, others prefer hired goons.

  • Who hasn't? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @03:50PM (#42641435)

    I'm guessing every half-decent engineer working in computing has some of this in their past. It's part of the process of how someone becomes an engineer - exploring, testing limits, finding way to use things in ways they weren't intended to be used. I know I did, I know my coworkers did. I work in education, and we've caught a student there trying to hack our network. Give him another ten years, and he'll be the admin trying to keep out the next generation of engineers-to-be. I'm not even an engineer: I'm a lowly technician.

    • The problem now is that the law has sort of caught up with computing networks. In the Good Old Days, people did indeed hack into systems, piss off security and make long distance phone calls. But it was on a one off basis. It didn't rise to the level that people thought they needed legislation to protect themselves. There was little legal precedent to go after people with. Then the Feds decided that hacking into systems was a 'crime' and defined it in a nebulous, overbroad fashion. Well, they ALWAYS do

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the Bush-the-first Administration a friend and I "hacked" into a password-less guest account and over-wrote the login shell script with ftp. This made the low-privilage account a lot less low-privilage than the system administrators wanted. We let the administration know after the fact. They fixed the problem.

    By today's laws and possibly those of the time, we committed a felony under both state and federal law. Morally I knew it was probably criminal but common sense and the morals of the time would

  • I got in a ton of trouble for things. At least one, I finally figured out 20 years later what happened.

    The college I was at had terms of use. I read them. I followed them.

    One of the rules was that you must not access other student's accounts. So I didn't. But I was curious about a lot of stuff, and I did things like write something to check common dictionary words against passwords (this was before shadow passwords). And I wrote something that emulated, down to the effectively-slower bit rate, the behavior

  • In the early 1990s I was into Audix running on System 85s. I figured out that 800-##AUDIX and 800-AUDIX## were back end access to AT&T's entire Audix infrastructure. With the help of ToneLoc, myself and some like minded individuals were making short work of the ##AUDIX range. I was living at home with my parents at the time.

    After a week or two (it was not long at all), I was at the dinner table and my mom explained to me that she had a long conversation with AT&T corporate security. They explain

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:56AM (#42645131) Journal

    "In 2009, the 69-year-old owner, Russ Caswell, received a letter from the DOJ indicating the government was pursuing a civil forfeiture case against him with the intention of seizing his familyâ(TM)s motelâ"it was built in 1955 by Russâ(TM)s fatherâ"and the surrounding property. Ms. Ortizâ(TM)s office asserted that the motel had been the site of multiple crimes by its occupants over the years: 15 low-level drug offenses between 1994 and 2008 (out of an estimated 125,000 room rentals). Of those who stayed in the motel from 2001 to 2008, .05% were arrested for drug crimes on the property. Local and state officials in charge of those investigations never accused the Caswells of any wrongdoing."
    -- Carmen Ortizâ(TM)s Sordid Rap Sheet [whowhatwhy.com]
    By Christian Stork

    The article continues:

    "According to the sworn testimony of a DEA agent operating out of Boston, it was his job to comb through news stories for properties that might be subject to forfeiture. When he finds a likely candidate, he goes to the Registry of Deeds, determines the value of the property in question, and refers it to the U.S. attorney for seizure. It is DEA policy to reject anything with less than $50,000 equity." -- Carmen Ortizâ(TM)s Sordid Rap Sheet [whowhatwhy.com]
    By Christian Stork

    And, finally:

    "Mr. Salzman doesnâ(TM)t buy the message of deterrence. He asserts that just up the street, a Motel 6, Walmart and Home Depot all operate with similarâ"in many cases higherâ"rates of drug crimes on their properties, referencing numbers obtained from the Tewksbury Police Department. " ...

    "...But those corporations have extensive financial and legal resources, and would put up much more of a fight than a small business owned and operated by a single family. Before a public interest law firm took on his case, Mr. Caswell had already spent over $100,000 and was near bankruptcy."-- Carmen Ortizâ(TM)s Sordid Rap Sheet [whowhatwhy.com]
    By Christian Stork

    What imbecile appointed Carmen Ortiz as a prosecutor, anyway?

    • It's clear that the increasingly low standards seen throughout the US justice system have their origins in the normalisation of previously extraordinary Drug War practices.

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