« How will social conservatives react when medical marijuana meets parental rights? | Main | Channeling Justice Brennan, new Ohio Supreme Court Justice dissents from order setting execution date »

January 26, 2013

Anonymous hacks USSC website to avenge Aaron Swartz's suicide

Anon hack of USSCAs reported in this new AP article, "Anonymous says it hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide." Here is more on this intriguing (and somewhat misguided) bit of internet protest:

The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was taken over early Saturday and replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago "a line was crossed."  The hackers say they've infiltrated several government computer systems and copied secret information that they now threaten to make public.

Family and friends of Swartz, who helped create Reddit and RSS, say he killed himself after he was hounded by federal prosecutors.  Officials say he helped post millions of court documents for free online and that he illegally downloaded millions of academic articles from an online clearinghouse.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment Saturday.

And thanks to How Appealing, I found here a fascinating statement purporting to explain the role and goal of this form of "hackivism." Here is one of many notable excerpts:

Last year the Federal Bureau of Investigation revelled in porcine glee at its successful infiltration of certain elements of Anonymous. This infiltration was achieved through the use of the *same tactics which lead to Aaron Swartz' death. It would not have been possible were it not for the power of federal prosecutors to thoroughly destroy the lives of any hacktivists they apprehend through the very real threat of highly disproportionate sentencing.

As a result of the FBI's infiltration and entrapment tactics, several more of our brethren now face similar disproportionate persecution, the balance of their lives hanging on the severely skewed scales of a broken justice system.

We have felt within our hearts a burning rage in reaction to these events, but we have not allowed ourselves to be drawn into a foolish and premature response. We have bidden our time, operating in the shadows, adapting our tactics and honing our abilities. We have allowed the FBI and its masters in government -- both the puppet and the shadow government that controls it -- to believe they had struck a crippling blow to our infrastructure, that they had demoralized us, paralyzed us with paranoia and fear. We have held our tongue and waited.

With Aaron's death we can wait no longer. The time has come to show the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates the true meaning of infiltration. The time has come to give this system a taste of its own medicine. The time has come for them to feel the helplessness and fear that comes with being forced into a game where the odds are stacked against them.

This website was chosen due to the symbolic nature of its purpose -- the federal sentencing guidelines which enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial, by a jury of their peers -- the federal sentencing guidelines which are in clear violation of the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments.  This website was also chosen due to the nature of its visitors.  It is far from the only government asset we control, and we have exercised such control for quite some time...

I think the US Justice Department's website or maybe the websites of various local US Attorneys' offices would have been a more fitting target for these hackers, especially since the federal sentencing guidelines are now advisory.  (Notably, this Reuters article wrongly describes the US Sentencing Commission as part of the Justice Department.  In fact, as the above AP article gets right, the USSC is an independent commission in the judicial branch.)

I suppose I should just be grateful that Anonymous et al. have not gone after my blog.  But perhaps Bill Otis should be on high alert.

UPDATE:  And here is a video on YouTube from the hackers articulating the sentiments in the statement along with accompanying images.  And Josh Blackman adds some commentary here.

January 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2017c364901d3970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Anonymous hacks USSC website to avenge Aaron Swartz's suicide:

Comments

The statement is just vintage criminal thinking: We alone will decide what laws are wrong. We alone will decide what the punishment will be. We alone will decide upon whom it will be visited.

This is vigilantism, pure and simple.

And it's amazing that Doug would say, "I think the US Justice Department's website or maybe the websites of various local US Attorneys' offices would have been a more fitting target for these hackers..."

There IS no "fitting target" for criminal activity. If these cyberhoodlums have a gripe against the government, they have the right to pursue it in the same way the rest of us do -- through, as the Founders said, a petition for a redress of grievances. They have no right whatever to annoint themselves as a separate, anonymous, unaccountable judge, jury and executioner.

I must also add a note about how arrogant and juvenile their tone is. They're sure a bunch of tough guys when acting from behind the cybercurtain. Let's see how tough they're going to be as federal defendants, which is where they're headed.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 26, 2013 12:31:32 PM

While the Commission's Sentencing Guidelines do suggest unjust sentences in many cases, in the Swartz case, the Guidelines suggested (in the event of a conviction, which I am not assuming would have eventuated) a sentence of no more than six months' imprisonment, with probation included in the range. For this reason (and not because the Guidelines are "merely advisory") I don't think the Commission's website was a particularly astutely chosen target for Anonymous's campaign.

I listened to their message all the way through, and it is clear that Anonymous understands their electronic vandalism as a form of civil disobedience (deliberate lawbreaking to convey a moral condemnation of laws perceived to be unjust, and to pressure the system to change those laws). In a subset of civil disobedience cases, the law being broken is itself the unjust law being protested, but that is not always the case, and is not the case here. In a further subset of those cases, the civil disobedient perceives that law not only to be unjust but also as unconstitutional, and intends to pursue a "test-case" challenge when (or if) arrested. Except in those few cases, however, it is hardly insightful to brand civil disobedience as "criminal," Bill; that is part of its nature. At the same time, it is also quite often a valuable part (albeit on the fringe) of our democratic system of change, as we know from many, many examples throughout U.S. history. Read (or re-read) Bickel's Morality of Consent for a conservative perspective essentially concurring with this view of civil disobedience; or any of Hugo Adam Bedeau's work on the subject for a liberal legal philosopher's understanding of civil disobedience as a special case of law-breaking.

Posted by: Peter G | Jan 26, 2013 2:48:05 PM

Would you be voicing the same sentiments, Bill, about Sam Adams and all the persons involved in the Boston Tea Party if you were around 240 years ago? Interesting that you reference the Founders in your comment, because some of them engaged (while cloaked in costumes) in criminal activity in order to protest what they saw as unfair laws duly promulgated by King George.

You have every right to express contempt and disdain for both the means and goals of these hackers. But they likely believe they are acting in the tradition of the Founders, and your comments do not provide an obvious means to distinguish them from those involved in the Boston Tea Party 12 score years ago.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 26, 2013 2:52:25 PM

Come on, Bill. While I do not condone hacking or other illegal activity, the statement that the "power of federal prosecutors to thoroughly destroy the lives of any hacktivists they apprehend through the very real threat of highly disproportionate sentencing" is an accurate description of what happens to persons accused of federal crimes, not just hacking, no matter how non-violent the crime. One just needs to look at the sentences facing those who distribute marijuana to confirm this. Doug is correct that in many, if not most instances, it is DOJ and Congress who have been the drivers of greater severity in the sentencing guidelines year after year.

Without absolving the sentencing guidelines, the real culprits are the mandatory minimum sentences passed by Congress coupled with the substantial assistance scheme. Plead and agree to whatever statement of facts the Government presents and face 5, 7 or 10 years, or even less. Go to trial on the same facts and if you lose, face 10, 20, or life without parole for the same offense for which the prosecutor believed that a 5-year sentence was just.

Judges who fail to exercise discretion and leniency where warranted and those who punish defendants more harshly if they exercise their constitutional rights to go trial are not helping either.

Posted by: Carmen Hernandez | Jan 26, 2013 3:07:24 PM

Did anyone see the Reuters article on this story?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/26/net-us-usa-hackers-justice-idUSBRE90P0H120130126

The report called it "the U.S. Justice Department's Sentencing Commission."

Reuters gets the award for Truth in Reporting.

Posted by: anon | Jan 26, 2013 3:46:12 PM

i'm with the others bill. Our govt has been acting for decades as if their shit didn't stink like everyone elses. Long past time they were called on it.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 26, 2013 3:52:09 PM

What bugs me about the whole affair is the stinky classism behind it. The reality is that this guy was associated with the Ivy League, Harvard, Stanford. How dare, HOW DARE THEY. Where if this were some poor dude the chatting class would be gleefully announcing his comeuppance.

I'll give Bill credit for at least being consistent on that score. Frankly, Swartz is not special, he didn't do anything special, and he offed himself like hundreds of others do every day. I guess people think the movement needs a martyr but it says a lot about the true impulse behind it that they choose this guy to parade before what they hope are the adoring crowds.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 26, 2013 4:11:43 PM

Doug --

Sam Adams and the other Framers were subjects of the Crown. Surely you can tell the difference between the avenues of redress open to subjects of the King and those open to citizens of the quite democratic (and largely Democratic) United States.

And consider this as well: Are those who oppose our law as merely the superstucture of capitalist oppression to be lauded for the armed robbery of banks? (Think Symbionese Liberation Army). Are they just like the Founders, too?

Right.

I said this bunch of cyberhoodlums have anointed themselves "as a separate, anonymous, unaccountable judge, jury and executioner," deciding for themselves, without accountability or responsibility, what laws are to be flouted and by what means. What part of that characterization do you disagree with, and for what reasons?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 26, 2013 8:03:44 PM

Bill said:

"The statement is just vintage criminal thinking: We alone will decide what laws are wrong. We alone will decide what the punishment will be. We alone will decide upon whom it will be visited.

This is vigilantism, pure and simple."

I guess the only permitted vigilantism is by the government (heads bowed please) and their armed thugs the DOJ, DHS, DEA, FBI and tntc.

He further explains:

"they have the right to pursue it in the same way the rest of us do -- through, as the Founders said, a petition for a redress of grievances. They have no right whatever to annoint themselves as a separate, anonymous, unaccountable judge, jury and executioner."

No, the government has annointed itself as anonymous, unaccountable judge, jury and executioner. Redress of grievances is impossible in our current two party system. The government has so many laws, we are all selective felons. It is no longer a government of the people but of separate class warfare where "we" decide who is good and who is evil.

Too many bad laws meant to get Al Capone for tax evasion now entrap everybody.

Posted by: albeed | Jan 26, 2013 8:13:17 PM

Doug --

Three other questions:

If vigilantism is taking the law into your own hands, why isn't this hacking episode vigilantism?

Do you approve of vigilantism?

If the KKK hacked the webpage of DOJ's Civil Rights Division to protest the "harsh" sentence of its Imperial Klud, would you similarly admire it for acting in the spirit of Sam Adams?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 26, 2013 8:23:25 PM

I wonder what crimes the hackers could be charged with or what their sentences might be?

FWIW I do agree with their basic message.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Jan 26, 2013 8:39:11 PM

"[T]he federal sentencing guidelines . . . are in clear violation of the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments." Well, at least SOMEONE is reading my work.

Posted by: Michael J.Z. Mannheimer | Jan 26, 2013 9:28:44 PM

Prof. Mannheimer --

I don't know that you'd really want these guys anywhere near your work. Sooner or later, you too will say something wrong (in their view), and they'll cook your website, too.

Once you decide to be your own law, as they have, there's no very visible place to stop.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 26, 2013 9:40:01 PM

What about the sheriffs across the country who are vowing they will not enforce the federal gun legislation?

Posted by: beth | Jan 26, 2013 10:00:23 PM

Bill states:
"And consider this as well: Are those who oppose our law as merely the superstucture of capitalist oppression to be lauded for the armed robbery of banks? (Think Symbionese Liberation Army). Are they just like the Founders, too?"

How about:
And consider this as well: Are those who oppose our law as merely the superstucture of capitalist oppression to be lauded for disguising themselves as Mohawk warriors, boarding ships at anchor and dumping chests of tea in the ocean? (Think the Boston Tea Party). Are they just like the Founders, too? As a matter of fact, Bill, they are.

Posted by: ? | Jan 26, 2013 10:18:53 PM

Biil: I take it that you disagree with the observation that one man's freedom fighter can be another man's terrorist.

Posted by: ? | Jan 26, 2013 10:26:53 PM

? --

You need to read prior comments to avoid repeating them.

beth --

Some local law enforcement, see, e.g., the SFPD, ALREADY routinely refuse to enforce federal criminal law, to wit, the CSA.

Have I ever complained about it? No. Why not? Because it's not up to the locals to enforce federal law. It's up to the feds. Whether the locals choose to be cooperative or not is up to them, and is not something the feds can dictate, see Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997).

If, by contrast, you know of a case holding that the feds cannot legally criminalize hacking the Sentencing Commission's webpage, please let me know about it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 26, 2013 10:36:54 PM

I couldn't help but smile at Doug's warning, in the body post, that Bill should be worried about Anonymous, or that the FBI or US Atty websites would be better targets. I think it obvious that the reference to Bill is a joke, and the other a good point: why would this group go after an advisory body that doesn't even set the statutory penalties, rather than the website of the agencies that prosecuted this fellow?

This has nothing to do with the merits of the case. Cut Doug some slack! I liked the post.

Posted by: Subethis | Jan 26, 2013 11:12:01 PM

Subethis --

I know it was a joke. Doug and I are adversary-pals; he needles me, I needle him.

On the merits, these guys are no Sam Adams. My guess is that, as Daniel perceives, they're a bunch of Ivy League or Stanford rich boys with their heads up a dark and warm place.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 27, 2013 12:01:54 AM

It would be vigilantism if the prosecution, the DOJ, the Sentencing Commission had moral legitimacy, even if one disagrees with some of their policies.

They do not have moral legitimacy. All they have is Army Airborne. All their validation is at the point of a gun. This violent validation justifies all forms of retaliation.

The Sentencing Commission has the greatest legitimacy of the lot. It lowered crime by 40%, the greatest achievement of the lawyer profession, also showing its potential. Then the lawyer hierarchy reversed this achievement. Why? Resulting lawyer unemployment.

They do precious little to protect us. They failed to prevent multiple catastrophes within their responsibility. They are corrupt rent seekers, on a vicious witch hunt for the productive male, a competitor for moral authority.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 27, 2013 10:34:33 AM

Lets try a thought experiment.

Suppose a defendant is convicted of grisly crimes like rape and murder. The U.S. Supreme Court reverses, in a close 5-4 vote. The basis of the reversal is that defendant's double-jeopardy rights were violated through an earlier mistrial -- even though all acknowledge that defendant is factually guilty. A variety of victims'-rights and feminist groups criticize the decision as failing to protect past and future victims.

Suppose that some of the protesters then deface the Supreme Court website, saying that they have embarrassing info on the justices who'd voted to reverse.

Is that morally and legally permissible civil disobedience? Or is it just thuggery?

Posted by: Thought | Jan 27, 2013 12:00:45 PM

Forgive me I am from another country. What means "feminist running dog"? Is this special type K-9 animal for police? In my country we have only Doberman Pincer for police.

Posted by: Yaroslawitz | Jan 27, 2013 2:34:34 PM

Feminist running dog? That is all the male lawyers in the USA. Feminism is not even a real ideology. It is a masking ideology, like a Trojan Horse for bigger government and the plunder of tax payer money.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 27, 2013 11:30:42 PM

Yaroslawitz, you are hilarious! Thanks!

Posted by: ABE | Jan 28, 2013 12:54:30 AM

Great comment thread all, and I just chime in to respond to some of Bill's questions directed toward me, principally to pick up the key theme that for some federal defendants --- particularly those facing conviction for severe mandatory minimum sentencing provisions --- the difference between the Crown and DOJ, for practical purposes, is not all that great. Like the colonists subject to the discretionary whim of the Crown's agents for the application and enforcement of laws that serve the Crown and not the colonists, so to are some federal defendants subject to the discretionary whim of DOJ's agents concerning whether, when and how certain very broad federal criminal laws are to be employed and applied. Certainly some of my clients (such as Weldon Angelos) could readily complain that their fate was sealed principally by the hidden, unreviewable discretionary charging and bargaining choices made by a federal prosecutor acting essentially as an "unaccountable judge, jury and executioner" thank to the broad laws that DOJ advocates Congress to enact and then administers as it sees fit.

Please understand, Bill, that I do not mean to personally assert that conditions are comparable to 1773 nor that these hacking vigilatees --- or terrorists or lawbreakers or gadflys or freedom fighters (call them what you want, I do not see how the semantics matter) --- are modern day tea partiers. But I can understand how THEY believe they are acting in the tradition of Sam Adams and John Brown and MLK and so many others we now praise in history books who have broken laws they consider unjust in part to bring attention to their cause. The fact that you or I or others might readily distinguish the legitimacy and virtues of the laws being assailed does not itself readily help THEM understand why their tactic are misguided. After all, there were no shortage of folks who were quick to Sam Adams and John Brown and MLK and so many others we now praise in history books that the laws they broke were legitimate and virtuous.

That all said, I agree that the elitism in this particular protest is notable --- though this is true for all cyber attacks in a world in which only the relatively rich have easy and ready access to the internet. But, again importantly, I suspect the same could and should be said of the folks involved in the Boston Tea Party: I would guess that it was only the relatively rich who had easy and ready access to teas in the colonies. (I see complaints about tea taxes circa 1773 as similar to complaints about soda taxes circa 2013.)

In any event, I love the engagement and debate that non-violent form of lawbreaking has engendered. That is why I am covering this story, not because I generally approve of vigilantism or seek to encourage either means or goals for these hackers. But, especially given you comments, I also have come to reflect on what might have been my reaction to the Boston Tea Party had I been as lucky, fat and happy in my life in the Ohio territories in 1773 as I am now in the state of Ohio in 2013.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 28, 2013 9:14:31 AM

I think the Feds act like they are somewhat God like... I think the Feds basically handle themselves like thugs, federal thugs...They threaten or else we give you this....The sentences that even drug offenders get is unrealistic...10, 20, 30 and 3 strikes and you get life...Nobody should get a life sentence for drugs...Exception of coarse is the: ie: Winnebago with 2500 lbs of cocaine in it..But the head people are the ones that need it, not the poor addicts driving it..

Then on top of a sentence that is 2-5 times what most state offenders SERVE, is the supervised release...Once in the federal system, its very difficult to get out of it, its pretty much a life of misery with the Federal thugs..At our expense...The feds take the Parental approach, we are smarter and have more resoures, we can do anything...

Yes they can, just look at the budget we don't have and the debt....A 10 yr old kid can figure out he cannot spend what he doesn't have...But most feds are under the assumption that any amount of money spent is justified, if there are Federal laws that have been broken...The guidelines continue to get harsher, even for drugs.. I noticed they included a 2 level increase for running a drug house.. If you make, sell, distribute drugs thats just part of it... The drug war and czars continue..
Remember good old ex Judge Jack Camp, our favorite example of a Federal thug..
Gave harsh sentences, but skated out of felony charges with cocaine and a loaded handgun in the front set of his car, with a hooker....He presided over cases while he was on drugs and the federal investigative team indciated no harm was done... Really... How was 3553 served in this case, oh I forgot the USA e i e i O handled the case, so it ok...
Know anyone on this site that was a USA e i e i O and has a slanted view....

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jan 28, 2013 10:28:31 AM

Cheers to Anonymous!!

This is a justified act of revolution against our bloated, unwieldy federal government.

The government is supposed to be by, of, and for the people. That is not what today's federal government is. As exemplified by many federal prosecutors, the federal government is comprised of people who view themselves as princely members of the ruling class, who think they know better than what they view as the serfdom over which they exercise dominion.

Anyone who has practiced a substantial amount of federal criminal law has encountered a boorish federal prosecutor seeking to attain his/her desired end by threatening to apply barbaric federal criminal penalties against decent people accused of non-violent federal crimes.

Posted by: Scarlett Rose | Jan 28, 2013 11:23:13 AM

Also -- I bet these guys have some folks inside government helping them. I love that!!

Posted by: Scarlett Rose | Jan 28, 2013 11:26:18 AM

Doug --

There's one question you passed by, and I remain interested in your thoughts.

If the KKK hacked the webpage of DOJ's Civil Rights Division to protest the "harsh" sentence given its Imperial Klud, would you similarly admire it for acting in the spirit of Sam Adams?

P.S. I must disagree that you are luck, fat and happy. You are lucky, muscular in the midsection and happy.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 28, 2013 2:01:35 PM

This was so good Doug B.

"Please understand, Bill, that I do not mean to personally assert that conditions are comparable to 1773 nor that these hacking vigilatees --- or terrorists or lawbreakers or gadflys or freedom fighters (call them what you want, I do not see how the semantics matter) --- are modern day tea partiers. But I can understand how THEY believe they are acting in the tradition of Sam Adams and John Brown and MLK and so many others we now praise in history books who have broken laws they consider unjust in part to bring attention to their cause. The fact that you or I or others might readily distinguish the legitimacy and virtues of the laws being assailed does not itself readily help THEM understand why their tactic are misguided. After all, there were no shortage of folks who were quick to Sam Adams and John Brown and MLK and so many others we now praise in history books that the laws they broke were legitimate and virtuous."

Sad thing is that it's a given.

The winner's actions are alwasy holy! good and upsstanding. While the loser is alwasy slime, criminal, underhanded and evil.

as for this bill!

"There's one question you passed by, and I remain interested in your thoughts.

If the KKK hacked the webpage of DOJ's Civil Rights Division to protest the "harsh" sentence given its Imperial Klud, would you similarly admire it for acting in the spirit of Sam Adams?"

I would say YES!

i've said that before. it's retarded that a black man can go on tv dressed like his ancestors and nobody says a word. But let some great grand grandson of the afore mentioned KKK grand leader and all hell is gonna break!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 28, 2013 2:24:17 PM

You ask, Bill: "If the KKK hacked the webpage of DOJ's Civil Rights Division to protest the 'harsh' sentence given its Imperial Klud, would you similarly admire it for acting in the spirit of Sam Adams?" In so asking, you again fail to understand my comments in this thread.

I have never said (or even really suggested) that I "admire" these hackers for acting in the spirit of Sam Adams, rather I wrote that "they likely believe they are acting in the tradition of the Founders" and that I "understand how THEY believe they are acting in the tradition of Sam Adams." So, for clarity of the record, I have never personally expressed admiration for these hackers' means or goals. (I did suggest they selected the wrong target, as I likely would have also said if, say, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) were to hack the USSC in order to protest the repeated prosecution of Steven Walter Cooke (details here: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/August/12-crm-1069.html)

It is interesting to wonder whether it is possible that members of the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood "likely believe they are acting in the tradition of the Founders." Is that what you mean to suggest with your question, namely that groups like the KKK and ABT can --- or should --- seek to lay claim to being within the American tradition of protest via lawbreaking? Relatedly, I wonder if you think someone like Eric Rudolph, whose many violent crimes were in purported protest of gay rights and abortion laws, likely believed he was acting in the spirit of Sam Adams.

On a personally level, I have strong desire to distinguish morally and practically between non-violent and violent lawbreaking/advocacy in this arena (just as I seek to do in my views on public safety and crime/sentencing/drug policy). Of course, as you know well, the line between violence and non-violence is not always easy to draw. But non-violent lawbreaking as a form of protest concerning the criminalization (or over-sentencing) of non-violent behavior seems to me different in kind than any violent lawbreaking either as a form of protest or as the source of the basis for protests.

I hope this responds sufficiently to your (peculiar and repeated) question.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 28, 2013 6:50:04 PM

Doug --

I don't know (and I doubt you know either) whether the KKK, the ABT, Eric Rudolph, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, Lynne Stewart or anyone else "thought" they were acting in the spirit of Sam Adams or other Founders. For the reasons set forth infra, I don't care either.

(I would note that the KKK's hacking of a DOJ webpage would be nonviolent, and Ms. Stewart's mere passing information for the Blind Sheik was also non-violent).

Either (1) people get to decide for themselves what laws they're going to follow or (2) they don't. When they choose (1) it's almost always simply out of greed, malevolence, self-importance or ill-temper, although of course they want to dress it up as just an act of Founder-inspired patriotism. The human capacity to justify whatever you want to do as the Expression of Some Extremely Noble Idea is almost limitless, as I found out after spending years listening to one pack of lies after the next as defendants tried to explain to the court, before sentencing, whatever juvenile, thuggish and/or pocket-lining stunt they pulled.

What (1) amounts to is vigilantism. One can use other words for it, but that's what it is. You take the law into your own hands.

What (2) amounts to is acceptance of the rule of law. This requires adulthood, restraint, enough modesty to believe that the majority might have it right and you have it wrong, the additional restraint to understand that, even if you ARE right, the majority calls the shots in a democratic society and you can't, for example, empty out Mr. Capitalist's money into your own pocket by the (highly non-violent) act of hacking into his bank account. Instead, the social contract -- you know, that thing that enables us to live by-and-large in peace and safety -- requires us to bide our time and seek change by lawful means, which, in this amazingly tolerant society, abound.

Timothy McVeigh thought he was "doing the right thing," remember? Waging a war against an oppressive government, so he said.

I don't care what he thinks or thought. Obey the law anyway. He didn't, and wound up exactly where he deserved -- the phony defense put on by his lawyer, and the wails of the many anti-DP activists on this site -- notwithstanding.

Modesty about one's own percipient ability, maturity, and forebearance are hard things to come by, but the rule of law in a democratic society cannot survive without them.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 28, 2013 9:50:25 PM

loved this bill. Hit it right on the head!

"Either (1) people get to decide for themselves what laws they're going to follow or (2) they don't. When they choose (1) it's almost always simply out of greed, malevolence, self-importance or ill-temper, although of course they want to dress it up as just an act of Founder-inspired patriotism. The human capacity to justify whatever you want to do as the Expression of Some Extremely Noble Idea is almost limitless, as I found out after spending years listening to one pack of lies after the next as defendants tried to explain to the court, before sentencing, whatever juvenile, thuggish and/or pocket-lining stunt they pulled."

The problem is we have spent the last 60 years watching the fucktards who run and control our govt and society DO IT ALL.

So now we are taking that same page they used and now use it on them!

For some reason! They don't seem to like it. Go figure!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 29, 2013 1:08:08 AM

Can they please hack into Pacer and provide all federal pleadings to us for free?

Posted by: OldFart | Jan 29, 2013 8:41:48 PM

This is extremely interesting! The government has rattled the dog cage that holds anonymous! We can only guess what will happen when they accidentally open it up!

Posted by: Dustin Blevins | Feb 4, 2013 7:25:04 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB