Secret Service Interviewed Aaron Swartz's Friends About Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

from the because-that-must-be-evil,-right? dept

For a while it has been stated, without direct evidence, that part of the reason why the feds were so focused on Aaron Swartz was because of the now infamous Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, which Aaron Swartz had posted online years ago (there is some question as to whether Aaron wrote the whole thing himself, or co-authored it with others…). The feds seemed to take that as some sort of proof that Swartz was downloading JSTOR articles to release them for free online, though one would hope they had a lot more evidence than a random internet rant from many years ago. Either way, as part of Kevin Poulsen’s FOIA request for the Secret Service files on Aaron Swartz — files that are being fought over in court — the first 100 pages have been released, with another 14,400 or so to go.

There really isn’t that much interesting in the documents, as they mostly focus on items seized via search warrants. However, there are two interesting tidbits, both highlighted by Poulsen in his article. The first is more evidence that the feds really did think that the Open Access Manifesto was a key bit of evidence in the case. The documents (towards the very end) include very heavily redacted passages from interviews done by the Secret Service and Cambridge police of at least two individuals, and in both cases there are questions asked (and answered) about the manifesto. In one, a woman notes that Swartz had started a Google Group called Guerilla Open Access. For what it’s worth, this Google Group used to exist over here, but disappeared a long time ago. Another interview involves a male friend of Swartz, who was asked about the manifesto and said he read it and became interested in the ideas in it, though he never spoke to Swartz about whether or not Swartz actually wrote it. The friend did tell the Secret Service that “They believe that the open access movement is a human rights issue.”

Of course, it’s hard to see how the open access movement isn’t a human rights issue in many ways, though that doesn’t automatically mean that everyone supports copying and releasing all works.

The other interesting thing in the document concerns when the search warrant was finally executed for Swartz’s apartment. As had been noted earlier, for reasons that still are murky, the search warrant wasn’t executed until about a month after Swartz was arrested, and many people have questioned the timing on that. The report notes that Swartz himself seemed reasonably annoyed that his home was searched and items seized a month after the whole thing happened.

Swartz was home at the time the search was executed. While the search was conducted, Swartz made statements to the effect of, what took you so long, and why didn’t you do this earlier?

The report also mentions that the agents saw Swartz walk out to the street and then “sprint away,” later catching up to him at his office at Harvard. There’s really not that much detail here, but interesting to see that the feds really did seem so focused on the manifesto. I’m sure there will be other interesting findings if the other documents are released — and not completely redacted. It really does seem bizarre to have so many redactions, given that the case is now completely over.

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Comments on “Secret Service Interviewed Aaron Swartz's Friends About Guerilla Open Access Manifesto”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Lots of redundancy in those docs

The feds could save a lot of space and paper, and get a lot more work done if they weren’t retyping the same evidence and offence list 500 times.

Maybe there’s a method to their madness. The more redundant paperwork they bury defense lawyers in, the more likely the defense is to miss something useful.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

People knowing stuff is a threat.
This is the entire thing boiled down.

Educating people about facts is a crime, and needs to be punished.
We live in the most technologically advanced version of the Dark Ages ever.

Our connections with people monitored, recorded, linked.
Our media bowing to the government, afraid they might get left out of the good crumbs they feed out.
So many citizens willing to give up all of their rights to be “safe”.

This is the Dark Ages, they are the Inquisition.

History repeating itself, over and over.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: We are going through an anti-intellectualist trend.

Historically, when they continue for long they spell the downfall of a society. If we’re lucky the US will become a has-been empire like Rome, and will see US culture get diluted by European.

If we’re unlucky, we could become the cheap labor of China or Saudi Arabia.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: We are going through an anti-intellectualist trend.

Uh, Uriel-238,

US culture is based on European culture because most US people are originally European. The original dominant culture was English and Northern European, mostly Protestant dissidents escaping persecution back home, followed by African slaves and other emigrants escaping poverty or repression in their various countries. This is why white people still hold the balance of power, though the others are starting to catch up.

As the minority groups increase in number, you may see dilution but it’ll most likely become more Spanish than English, so it’ll still be European. With that in mind, what in the world are you talking about?

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: We are going through an anti-intellectualist trend.

US culture is based on European culture because most US people are originally European.

That may well be true, but US culture is vastly different to European cultures now. Also, “Europe” is a political and geographical invention and isn’t anywhere close to a single culture so at best the US is a mish-mash of several European cultures – Hell, the bits of the US I’ve seen suggest even its culture isn’t as homogenous as all that whatever the origin.

Sadly, most of Europe seems to be (re?)importing the worse parts of US culture if anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just to make it come full circle. Secret Services will get a lot of noise in their rooses and it will result in some errors. Has anyone speculated about the possibility of information sharing from NSA about the past of Swartz? It would make sense that the government agencies would despice his opinions and it would be reasonable to assume that the information is spread through agencies…

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