Secret Service Claims It’s Still Investigating Now-Deceased Aaron Swartz

After Aaron Swartz died, Jason Leopold FOIAed Secret Service, since that’s the agency that was investigating Swartz when he died.

Curiously, contrary to the FBI — which at least claims to have treated Swartz as they would any other deceased person and turned over all but two pages of his PACER investigation file — Secret Service denied Leopold’s FOIA.

“Disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,” they said.

Or, to translate from FOIA-speak, the investigation into Aaron Swartz, who died weeks and weeks ago, is an active investigation.

Most interesting came when USSS’s FOIA officer claimed there was nothing segregable from this “open case.”

We were then transferred to Latita Payne, the Secret Service’s FOIA disclosure officer, who explained to Truthout, “we did a search of our offices [for responsive records] and they responded that it’s an open case.”

Payne said there weren’t any segregable portions of records on Swartz that the Secret Service could release.

Secret Service doesn’t want to turn over Swartz’ file — any of it — because any little bit of it might reveal its investigation into … something. Someone. Presumably not Swartz, since he’s dead.

Now, since USSS first responded to Leopold, they seem to have decided that this answer — the claim they can’t release any files on an investigation into a deceased person — isn’t going to fly, so they’re going to reconsider that answer.

We’ll see how forthcoming that response is.

One other detail. Notice how FBI released its response to Swartz FOIA just long enough before this response so distracted people might think the FBI file is all there is (as if a huge indictment would leave no tracks)? Nice timing.

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9 replies
  1. beowulf says:

    “Or, to translate from FOIA-speak, the investigation into Aaron Swartz, who died weeks and weeks ago, is an active investigation.”

    Or it could be Aaron is already teaching teenagers via Ouija board how to laser copy $5 bills, surely that would explain the Secret Service’s concern.

    I kid, I kid. Secret Service jurisdiction extends to computer fraud so I imagine an open case means they think Aaron had a co-conspirator in something… probably unrelated to Boston since the US Attorney would have indicted long ago if there was an accomplice.

  2. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    @emptywheel: And yet there is on-going denial that the USG has any interest in Assange and Wikileaks (see video below with US Diplomat speaking on Aus TV). And, Australian politicans have abandoned Assange maintaining he needs to go to Sweden TO BE QUESTIONED and the UK says it is legally bound to extradite Assange to Sweden.

    Yet in other cases Sweden has both questioned an individual (murder charge) remotely, and more amazingly, flown an entire court to a foreign country to hear testimony. And the UK has in the past refused to extradite a pedophile, not to mention Pinochet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLQjXtDTses

    It sure would be nice if the US media would grow some… and stand up to the Whitehouse bullying (yourself excuded of course… especially on growing some…)

  3. pdaly says:

    Maybe the Secret Service doesn’t want to reveal what Aaron Swartz’s lawyer revealed in the Motion to Suppress
    https://www.emptywheel.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/gov.uscourts.mad_.137971.59.0.pdf

    that MIT turned over evidence to the Secret Service– private electronic communications of Swartz protected by the 4th Amendment, etc. And that MIT’s personnel (IT department?, lawyers?, security?) were acting as agents of law enforcement once the Secret Service took over the investigation on the morning of January 4, 2011.

    I like this line from that pdf linked to above:
    “MIT could not voluntarily disclose the information without violating the SCA [Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA), part of the Electonic Communications Privacy Act]. Under §2703, the government could not lawfully request or obtain access to the content of electronic communications in the absence of a warrant issued in accordance with the Rules of Criminal Procedure. 18 U.S.C. §2703(a).”

    Also this line:

    “Once the ACER [netbook computer] was located on the morning of January 4, 2011, MIT’s problem with JSTOR could have been ended by disconnecting that computer from the MIT network. Instead, it elected to intercept communications, not to protect the MIT system, but to gather information for law enforcement purposes, such as the motive and intent…”

  4. h pinchen says:

    I think as was murdered. He would have been under TOTAL Surveillance. His landline phone would have been used as a microphone and cell used for same and to track. SS would have installed cctv in his apt. His death would have been filmed.

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