Rep. Issa Promises Investigation Into Aaron Swartz Case (Techdirt)
Thursday January 17th, 2013
The backlash following Aaron Swartz's suicide has continued as Rep. Darrell Issa is now promising an investigation into the DOJ's handling of the case, according to statements he gave to the Huffington Post:
Praising Swartz’s work toward “open government and free access to the people,” Issa told HuffPost that the government's case against Swartz is problematic enough to warrant further investigation. Issa then specifically called out how prosecutors could go too far in pressuring innocent people to plead guilty:
“I’m not condoning his hacking, but he’s certainly someone who worked very hard,” Issa said. “Had he been a journalist and taken that same material that he gained from MIT, he would have been praised for it. It would have been like the Pentagon Papers.”
“I’ll make a risky statement here: Overprosecution is a tool often used to get people to plead guilty rather than risk sentencing,” Issa said. “It is a tool of question. If someone is genuinely guilty of something and you bring them up on charges, that’s fine. But throw the book at them and find all kinds of charges and cobble them together so that they’ll plea to a 'lesser included' is a technique that I think can sometimes be inappropriately used.” Issa, of course, has been a long time critic of the DOJ under President Obama, so it's likely that some will just brush this off as an opportunity to go on a partisan attack. However, it appears this attack may be growing bipartisan support. We've already mentioned Rep. Zoe Lofgren's plans to propose legislation to limit what the DOJ can do in these kinds of cases, and others on both sides of the aisle have started expressing concerns about prosecutorial overreach by Carmen Ortiz.