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January 25, 2013

Aaron Swartz, Financial Fraud and the Justice Department

Many people have been asking about the Justice Department’s priorities in the wake of the suicide of computer whiz and political activist Aaron Swartz. As has been widely reported, the Justice Department was pressing charges that carried several decades of prison time against Swartz. He was caught hacking M.I.T.’s computer system in an apparent effort to make large amounts of academic research freely available to the public.

“The Justice Department’s determination to commit substantial time and resources to prosecuting Swartz presents a striking contrast to its see-no-evil attitude when it comes to financial fraud by the Wall Street banks. People should recognize that this is not just a rhetorical point. It is clear that the Justice Department opted to not pursue the sort of investigations that could have landed many high-level people at places like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup behind bars.

“First, it is important to acknowledge that stupidity, not fraud, was probably the largest factor driving the housing bubble. In the years when the bubble was peaking, 2002-2006, I met many people with no obvious stake in lying who would tell me stories of how housing was always a great investment. The same was true when the stock market was selling at twice its historic valuations in the late 1990s.”

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Read full Huffington Post article here

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