On the one hand, President Obama’s Justice Department charged Aaron Swartz with 13 felonies possibly resulting in over 30 years in prison for downloading articles (many of which were in the public domain). On the other, his head of the Justice Department’s criminal enforcement division, Lanny Breuer, publicly stated that one of the things he considers when deciding whether to go after financial corporations is how much harm the charges will do to the corporation or the individuals responsible. In his own words,
We are frequently on the receiving end of presentations from defense counsel, CEOs, and economists who argue that the collateral consequences of an indictment would be devastating for their client…In reaching every charging decision, we must take into account the effect of an indictment on innocent employees and shareholders…
Yes, they’re concerned about the “devastating consequences” on the accused person when he’s the head of a financial company, especially because of what might happen to the “shareholders” if he’s charged, but they couldn’t care less about the “devastating consequences” of charging a 26-year-old free Internet pioneer with 13 felonies and 30 years in prison.
The Republicans (and Libertarians) get a lot of flack for being corporate-friendly. Yet President Obama is clearly just as deeply in the pockets of the major American corporations.