Lisa Rein, who ran Manning’s Twitter account, implies that dead Internet/freedom of information activist Aaron Swartz would want it that way.
One might think that my voice would be welcomed at Aaron Swartz Day given all that the late Internet/freedom of information activist and I share in common. For starters, we were both indicted under the same controversial federal law, the CFAA, by the same Boston U.S. Attorney’s Office and indeed under the tenure of the same notorious U.S. Attorney, Carmen Ortiz.
Both of us have been persecuted for doing the moral thing; Aaron for trying to make taxpayer-funded research available to the general public and me for stopping the torture of an innocent child (see here for Aarons biopic, “The Internet’s Own Boy” on YouTube and see here for Lee Camp’s coverage of my case or here for Red State’s, depending on your news persuasion).
We’ve both been featured by Rolling Stone for our work, see here for Aaron’s story and here for mine (although I must note that the dozen or so pages of factual corrections I submitted to Rolling Stone have yet to be made). We were both even assigned the same trial judge, though years apart. Further, both of us refused to take a plea deal because neither of us did anything wrong and both of us spent our lifes’ savings on lawyers, who had little impact.
In fact, no one who will actually be heard at Aaron Swartz Day can talk firsthand about this remarkable experience I share with Aaron. And indeed, with Carmen Ortiz thankfully no longer serving as Boston’s U.S. Attorney, no one in the future will ever come as close as I have to the trials and tribulations that pushed him to suicide.
So, why won’t my voice be heard on Aaron Swartz Day, during an event that is supposed to document Aaron’s life and experiences as well as to celebrate the free access to information for which he fought so tenaciously? It’s not because I didn’t ask to be included. Rather, it’s due to the umbrage it seems the day’s main organizer, Lisa Rein, takes to hacking and the unilateral decision she made to exclude my story. You see, the message below was sent to Rein by my wife:
This is odd to me because Rein is also Chelsea Manning’s archivist and ran one of Manning’s Twitter accounts for years. While she is obviously no fan of Anonymous, that didn’t stop her from inviting Barrett Brown and Gabriella Coleman to mark the occasion either:
Further, the comment above is simply ridiculous revisionist history. It would be difficult if not impossible to propagandize even one degree of separation between Aaron and “anything having to do with Anonymous,” let alone two, as Rein indicates. It’s so comical that here’s Steven Colbert detailing the connection between Anonymous and WikiLeaks, with which both Aaron and Manning were associated:
“You may not know that Wikileaks is protected by a global hacker nerd brigade known as Anonymous, whose commitment to openness and free exchange of information is right there in the name.” – Stephen Colbert
First, as a student of the George Carlin School of the English Language, I find the way Rein calls Aaron Swartz Day “my event” quite illuminating. I believe that if Aaron Swartz Day truly does belong to anyone, other than to the public, then that would be to Aaron himself and his family.
Additionally, Rein’s notion that I’ve “done nothing to further Aaron’s legacy” is patently ludicrous. I went on a 100-day hunger strike in prison protesting the kind of political prosecution that claimed Aaron’s life. I’ve also written dozens of articles across HuffPost and other outlets, keeping Aaron’s story spreading on both sides of the aisle. For a list of other ways I’ve furthered Aaron’s legacy, please see FreeMartyG.com.
Indeed, my work ended over a year of solitary confinement for a mentally ill man at MCC New York, exposed corrupt politicians, including some of those at the DOJ who targeted Swartz, and helps wage the war against the for-profit torture of American children. In short, as Aaron did, I’ve made a lot more of an actual impact for actual people by taking actual risks than Lisa Rein ever has. That’s because, as Rein has previously told my wife, unlike Aaron, she prefers to play a supporting role, i.e. not take any risks herself. Rather, it seems, she’ll play armchair quarterback and criticize as well as belittle those who do. Now that indeed is some distinctly unAaron-like behavior.
Further, by denying me a platform, Rein is also helping to perpetuate the kind of bullying that was endured by Swartz. Indeed, Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann owe Rein quite a bit of thanks for keeping my case quiet, blocking fundraising efforts, demoralizing myself and wife, etc. What a way to celebrate Aaron’s legacy, huh? By suppressing and discouraging the next person in his shoes. Somehow, I don’t think Aaron would approve.
In fact, the comment above is so obviously wrong that when considered with its accompanying apparent reference to the movie Mean Girls below, it seems that Rein was trying to be hurtful to my wife… who has been reaching out to her fruitlessly for a long time because her spouse has been held without bail by Carmen Ortiz on CFAA charges for 20 months now.
That’s a special kind of heartless and it’s found all over Rein’s various messages to my wife.
Though I never met Aaron personally, based on his work and what others consistently say about him, I believe in reality it’s Rein’s behavior that he wouldn’t want “anything to do with.”
For the record too, I believe that if he had ever come to know about the suffering of Justina Pelletier and the thousands of other American children like her, Aaron would have courageously tried to stop it because he had a big heart, a strong moral compass, and the bravery to take personal risks to defy injustice; all of which Rein seems to lack.
I’ll let the rest of Rein’s messages speak for themselves below, and since I won’t be heard there, let me wish everyone a Happy Aaron Swartz Day. My thanks to all the people and media organizations who have helped get my message out.
Martin Gottesfeld #71225
Unit BS1, Bed 6
26 Long Pond Road
Plymouth, MA 02360
P.S. from Marty’s wife: Jason Leopold told me he was working on a story about Marty but stopped responding after Marty was placed in solitary. I never heard from him again despite repeated inquiries.
Chelsea Manning did not return a request for comment.