Yesterday there was a bail hearing in New York City for Jeremy Hammond before Federal Judge Loretta Preska. Jeremy has been accused of participating in a computer hack against a government cyber-security contractor. The company, Strategic Forecasting or Stratfor as it is called in most reporting and certainly Twitter hashtags had its corporate information stolen via its Internet connections and made public.
Much of what was revealed in the corporate data dump is widescale domestic spying activity and systems that track Americans and others around the globe including tools for photo recognition and social media persona management in addition to other violations of Constitutional Rights and privacy. Keep in mind this is paid for with US tax dollars and used without knowledge or consent of the public in a vast and growing implementation of a Big Brother police state run without transparency of accountability to the public.
Stratfor are the victims of the alledged crime by Hammond and in a system that purports someone charged until proved guilty at a speedy trial, all we should have is the side suspected of perpetrating the crime and the victim who suffered somehow as a result.
Of course real life is a little more complicated than the court room dramas we Americans are used to watching on television and the idea of what is right or wron in terms of our actions needs to be judged in the context of many factors.
If I were to go out in the street and hit someone over the head it would be assault charged against me regardless of what their moral character and criminal record are. If they were in the process of committing a crime and I were to do the same thing in order to stop them it would become a question of what my act as a civilian had with regard to the crime that motivated me to act.
If they were stealing a pack of gum from a street vendor the extreame intervention would probably land me in jail as unjustified but if they were trying to kidnap a child its more likely my act would be seen as heroic and everyone would understand that hitting a stranger over the head, while not a job I was lawfully tasked to do, was justified by a moral code shared in civil society and an honorable ethic to protect innocent victims.
The bigger point here is that actions need to be framed in the context of the unique events that precipitate them and judged by the moral character of the players involved. Very little in the course of human events is black and white which is why we rely on a Judicial process to help sort through it to find where the gray areas are and to let an unbiased jury of our peers hear both sides and make a decision that is not purely empirical but includes the human elements that put a song in our heart or knot in our stomach when looking at a collection of facts.
It should be the deep hope of every citizen that those who are appointed to the bench bring with them the wisdom and experience to ensure, that in the absence of the trial process or in the term prior to trail that the our fate would weighed with all due consideration and err with the presumption of innocence and with regard for all the diverse factors involved.
Of course it is always easier to Monday moring quarterback or be a critic from the sidelines than to be the one who attaches your name and reputation to a decision, but in the case of Jeremy Hammond who has been jailed since March, the argument for denying him bail looked like little more than an ongoing process to warn any who seek to expose government secrets and police abuses that they will be treated as harshly as possible.
One of the arguments made against bail and accepted by the Judge is that Jeremy is a threat to the community. This was based solely on a presumtion he was part of the hack that revealed sensitive corporate information, which in fairness to the judge should be a consideration. However pedophiles charged with cyberstalking and seduction of victims via computer are routinely released prior to trial and allowed to continue computer use with monitoring.
As a caring adult it doesn't seem to me emotionally disturbed pedophiles who are chronic offenders, that may prefer the Internet to find victims are less of a threat to the community when they can quite easily indulge in their criminal activity by walking down any street or going to a school yard or playground. But they are released on bail routinely including continued computer use.
Yet any appeal to have Jeremy released with limited, tracked or banned computer use was denied and charge of being a threat to the community was upheld upheld. It was actually quite disturbing to hear and more so as a comparative measure of what risk the public should have to err on the side of presumed innocence for some, not all defendants.
Next was the issue of flight risk which the court deemed was high enough to be upheld as well. They ignored the fact that Jeremy's entire adult life and most of his legal problems stem from acting on what he considers to be moral ethics that include opposition to corporate exploitation and defense of the poor. While we might not agree with the methods of burning an Olympic flag to protest corporatism it cannot be viewd in the same light as a crime of theft that is driven by greed rather than moral purpose.
The prosecution argued and defense lamely ignored the basis for Jeremy's criminal actions as a collection of protests against exploitation. They also failed to consider the fact that the bail amount was met by the people who love Jeremy most risking their homes and very literally everything they own in guarentying his appearance in court.
It was argued that because part of the Stratfor hack included credit cards Jeremy could have a way to get funds to flee but it wasn't something that stoped bail for Bernie Madoff with his billions in known accounts and wh only knows how much stashed in hidden off shore or Swiss banks.
Another point omitted is that the Stratfor hack was orchestrated by the FBI with the now notorious Anonymous member Sabu who turned FBI informant and led the raid which looks to have been designed as a way to get at Julian Assange and Wikileaks who have also committed the unforgivable sin of including evidence of US war crimes among the documents leaked to the public.
The judge and what technically is called the defense, ignored the fact that stolen credit cards are cheap and easy to buy if you know your way around the dark side of the web. Certainly not something I could find but if Jeremy had material gains as an ambission he could have made a very nice living or occasional score doing so.
But in the case of Stratfor card data was dumped in a public pastebin that perhaps suggests the thief was more interested in conveying what it feels lie to have your privacy violated than to suggest the act was to gain material benefit.
My argument is not to condone dumping of private data which I am totally opposed to no matter the cause, but to highlight the events in the context of rational for denying bail and on that basis it is another fail.
In their ignorance all sides also argued and swallowed the use of Tor as a nefarious way to hide anonyminity and bought into the idea that even without a computer and with a monitoring device Jeremy could quick pop into an internet cafe and use his l33t h4x0r skills to quickly hide his identity, commit some cyber crime and vanish without a trace.
On some level anyone released on bail is a possible flight risk and the whole idea of bail is to find a balance so they are more likely to appear than not. It is a judgment call undoubtedly. But in this case the call was to prolong the incarceration of a young man who has devoted his entire life to fighting corporate exploitation and government abuses, for the general betterment of humanity and keep him from helping build his own defense and have a marginal presumption of innocence after eight months of incarceration.
My heart goes out to Jeremy who looked pale from many months without a glimse of sunlight on his ashen skin and to all who love him enough to put all their worldly holdings on the line to help him fight on his day in court.
My heart also aches for all those clueless souls who are going about their lives tuned into mainstream news without any clue our basic rights and freedom and justice are in peril by the very entities like Stratfor who run a covert police state where none of us is protected and all of us are suspects. Jeremy's fate is ours and don't just pray, speak up against injustice.