Department of Justice building in Washington, DC in 2009. Photo by Pete Eimon.
You can always tell when a developing story isn't quite serving the Silicon Valley agenda -- the tech press herd hides, and you can't find them in Google or see them covering the topic even by going to their sites and blogs. Lefties complain about the New York Times not covering every hearing and development in the Bradley Manning case, but I'll tell you who else doesn't: all those tech sites that golf-clap for hackers or openly incite them. Why?
If you search for stories about Swartz and the DOJ today, you will find last week's story about Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings writing a letter demanding answers about what they charge is overzealous prosecution. There's plenty of tech press coverage about that -- it was instant because from Issa's lips to their ears.
But now that the congressman from Silicon Valley has gotten his way, and the DOJ has said they will in fact give the House Oversight Committee a hearing briefing, only Boston.com, i.e. the mainstream liberal press has noted it, and Amazon.
Amazon, to whose servers, I might add, Swartz sent some of the files he "liberated" in his PACER projects (and I wonder what else); Amazon, about which Swartz tried a FOIA and sought advice from privacy guru Chris Soghian.
Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said yesterday the Justice Department had pledged to give the panel’s members a closed briefing on the case against Swartz.
Yet not a single tech blog anywhere is complaining about this *closed* briefing (a briefing is less than a hearing). Nobody but me is complaining that it is closed (on Twitter). Why can't we have an open briefing about the open source movement's pride and joy opening up and liberating files for the people?
Briefings have to be closed if there is some classified material or witness that has to be protected (Benghazi). Is this because the case does relate to Bradley Manning?
I thought I'd ask Adrian Lamo, the hacker who chatted with Manning and then turned over his chats to the FBI because he was concerned at the harm that could be caused to people over careless revelations. This allegedly reformed hacker, himself targeted by law-enforcement for his hacking, is universally loathed by his fellow hackers as a "snitch". I'm willing to credit him with a patriotic deed, or if not quite that, at least a deed that showed some care and concern about the sources in the cables and files who would be harmed -- and were harmed.
Lamo replied:Adrian Lamo @6
@catfitz I couldn't begin to speculate at this juncture. I have nothing to do /w DOJ. They do their own thing. It is what it is.
Mkay. I have a feeling that he could speculate a lot more than he has, even if we are to take his claim of no more cooperation with the government (or maybe he is pedantically making a distinction between the FBI and DOJ).
I'm out of ideas about who to ask about this. I doubt David House would talk to me although I could try. I've always wondered, too, why it was that if Lamo had the chat with Manning in May 2010, and then told the FBI (I'm not sure when), then...why were the feds unable to stop Cablegate from being published in November 2010? I may not have understood everything about this timeline. I asked Lamo and got no answer (yet).
I don't have time to play lobbyist and start calling these congressional offices. The briefing isn't scheduled yet. Watch this space. But these "tech liberation" groups should be demanding that this hearing be open. Obviously they think that if their insider tech buddy Darrell Issa gets to be in the meeting, and their other chums representing Silicon Valley interests, then that's enough, it doesn't have to be open to the rest of us feebs and choads.
Maybe the DOJ can make them sign NDAs like the big guys do in Silicon Valley and talk about how this is necessary for "innovation". Open source=closed society, I've always said.
What is there possibly to hide about a dead man's case? Formally, it was dismissed due to death. So what's up?
I don't see any hard evidence (yet) that there is a Manning connection, but given everything I've put together about this from the indictment and the statements of MIT IT personnel to the New York Times, and the comments by a former MIT IT manager on Empty Wheel, unlike Lamo, I *am* going to speculate.
If it's not about Manning, then perhaps it's about "sensitive" information that would reveal how the DOJ operates. Hmm. GPS tracking of Swartz's phone? (Marcy Wheeler of Empty Wheel asked that question). Informants that have cooperated with them to show more than we've seen about this case? Perhaps more indication of the intent? I've put together what we know about the MIT side of the story, as we still wait for Prof. Abelson's report. It might be prudent, since Abelson said his report would be ready in a few weeks, to wait to have the DOJ briefing so that the congress people have something in hand to ask hard questions about. But maybe nobody really wants to do that. It was a stunt to show that the congress people "cared," and they'd probably like it to be over soon so they can return to topics they've done just sooo well with like US Direct Assistance in Afghanistan, Ensuring Transparency and Accountability.