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BBC Profiles Extradited Cracker Gary McKinnon 315

Posted by timothy
from the well-he-is-pale dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has published a very good profile of Gary McKinnon. It discusses his motives and methods as well as raising the question as to whether he is a malicious 'hacker' or whether he was simply obsessed with finding info about UFOs and should be praised for finding security faults in what should be extremely secure systems. This should provided stimulus for some interesting discussion on Slashdot especially between us Brits and our American friends following the confirmation of his extradition to the USA."
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BBC Profiles Extradited Cracker Gary McKinnon

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  • Should he be praised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scr3wFace (1200541) * on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:15AM (#24791323)
    There is a very big difference between finding security faults, and exploiting them!
    • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:28AM (#24791403) Homepage

      Governments and quite some companies disagree.

    • by aproposofwhat (1019098) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:32AM (#24791437)

      There is also a huge difference between the intent and the application of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US - AFAIK the US still hasn't ratified that treaty, so it's fine for US courts to extradite British citizens, but not vice-versa.

      The intent of the extradition treaty was to deal with serious organised crime and terrorism cases.

      McKinnon comes under neither heading, nor did the NatWest employees extradited for shenanigans over Enron.

      Britain should drop this treaty immediately, and refuse any extradition request other than for terrorist crimes.

      Please, America, take Abu Hamza and his friends, but a guy that has Aspergers, believes in UFOs?

      He's our eccentric, so if he's due a trial we'll do it here.

      • by FinchWorld (845331) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:52AM (#24791547) Homepage
        Britain should drop this treaty immediately, and refuse any extradition request other than for terrorist crimes.

        Even at that, they'd just mention he "hacked" military computers and that is terrorism. Nearly everything is these days.

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:59AM (#24791585)

          Everything is terrrrrism if it gives our governments an excuse for doing something that would otherwise be considered unthinkable.

          • by MindKata (957167) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:31AM (#24792877) Journal
            "an excuse for doing something"

            Not so much an excuse, its more like the way people in power need to think to maintain power. Unfortunately people who seek power over others, don't want people to stand against their point of view. Almost by definition, the ones in power (in every country) seek to have the power to dictate terms and control everyone they rule over. So any attempt to oppose their point of view, can be interpreted as wrong by them, but now they have this fear filled terror label under which they can label anything which could oppose their point of view and so can (and do) use it to stop any attempt to oppose their point of view.

            What I also find very disturbing about this case is how they are trying to use Aspergers as some kind of defense. I find it extremely insulting to Aspergers to be treated somehow inferior. Most Aspergers would leave most of the sheep like people in this world standing for their intelligence But the capacity to learn isn't the same as having learned something already. Also just because someone has the capacity to learn, doesn't mean they have used their ability to learn to the full. This hacker has shown he has not thought through the full implications of what he was said to be doing. He is very misguided to think he can just look around military computers to find UFO evidence or any evidence. However being an Asperger is not a defense. If anything it should undermine his defense. So his defense team are "clutching at straws" so to speak, to hope Aspergers can become a defense for failing to think something through.

            His defence team would do better to point out how this case is already decided in the press. The press seem to be helping to condemn him before he goes to trial, by constantly highlighting the apparent scale of what he is said to have done.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by tha_mink (518151)

              His defence team would do better to point out how this case is already decided in the press. The press seem to be helping to condemn him before he goes to trial, by constantly highlighting the apparent scale of what he is said to have done.

              Dude, he broke into military computer systems. He admits it. I don't see what his intention has to do with it. I don't care if he was looking for lolcats. He broke into military systems, nasa systems, and he completely admits it. What's the defense? He ought to face the consequences, if it's jail_time, so be it.

              • by WibbleOnMars (1129233) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:58AM (#24795923)

                Dude, you're missing the point -- the intention has everything to do with it.

                Legally, intention makes all the difference as to what you can be convicted of.

                In the UK we have charges of Murder and Manslaughter. One of the key differences is whether you intended to do it or not.

                Most other charges have similar levels of distinction: some that merely require proof that you did it; others that require proof of intent to secure a conviction.

                So whether he intended to do it is very relevant -- not necessarily to whether to convict him, but certainly what to convict him of.

                And my understanding is that the lesser charge, (ie the one without the requirement of intent, to which he freely admits) is not sufficient grounds for extradition, whereas the higher charge is. That's why it matters whether he meant to cause harm or not.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Ash Vince (602485)

                Dude, he broke into military computer systems. He admits it.

                Some of these systems had blank Admin passwords. If I did that where I work I would be sacked for incompetence.

                The real problem is that by exposing how lax the securit was he has caused the US government considerable embarrassment, for this they will make him rot in prison for a very long while.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon [wikipedia.org]

                Also, as a British citizen I do object to an extradition treaty that only works in one direction. Ideally we should refuse all future extraditions until the US agrees to the

        • by Tim C (15259) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:00AM (#24791595)

          If you read the linked-to article (the last one), you'll see this:

          The authorities have warned that without his co-operation and a guilty plea the case could be treated as terrorism and he could face a long jail sentence.

          They're already threatening to treat it as terrorism.

          • by supernova_hq (1014429) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:20AM (#24791993)
            So it's only terrorism if he says he didn't do it?...
            • by Tim C (15259) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:56AM (#24792207)

              Not exactly; as I understand it, they're saying that if he pleads guilty as part of a plea bargain they'll go easier on him. If he contests it, they'll throw the book at him.

              I've never understood that aspect of the US criminal justice system; it smacks somewhat of deliberate intimidation - "make it easy on yourself, confess - or else...".

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                I've never understood that aspect of the US criminal justice system; it smacks somewhat of deliberate intimidation

                Sounds to me like you've understood it exactly.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Actually, that's not really it at all.

                Plea bargaining is dangerous because it tends to generate what comes to be known as the 'trial penalty'- the extra time that the DA will ask for if you go to trial that he wouldn't ask for under a plea bargain.

                However, that's not to say that the trial penalty is intimidation. Rather, it's generally exactly the opposite- the DA is supposed to hit you for the full value of the law if he can. It's his job to prosecute you to the full extent of the law.

                But DAs and judges de

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Exactly. And this "terrorism" is precisely why the UK wanted to extradite know IRA terrorist from the US but the US refused to cooperate. The fact there was plenty of evidence these men had murdered innocent women and children with their bombing, the US kept them nice and safe from the UK mainland.

          • by somersault (912633) on Friday August 29, 2008 @06:40AM (#24792471) Homepage Journal

            Wow, they managed to murder innocent women and children, but no adult males? That's pretty impressive stuff.

            Perhaps the US just kept them to learn the secrets of their amazingly selective bombing techniques?

            Joking aside, I also find the whole US attitude to terrorism pretty hypocritical, considering they are known for having funded a few terrorist organisations when it suits their goals. They didn't give a toss about the IRA repeatedly bombing us, but they go and invade whole other countries as retribution for one single terrorist attack against them. Some crazy guy hacking a website is extradited to the US, but the murderers of innocent women, children and adult males are protected. That is truly sickening.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:59AM (#24791587)

        Especially terrorists should not be extradited to the US, because the US has a record of grave human rights violations against suspected terrorists and has been convicted of torturing prisoners.

        • by chrb (1083577) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:25AM (#24792035)
          It's very likely there'll be some fall out regarding the recent House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Human Rights Annual Report [parliament.uk]. To quote:

          "We conclude that, given the clear differences in definition, the UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the Government does not rely on such assurances in the future."

          This means that for terrorism crimes, it's very likely that extradition requests to the U.S. will have to be denied, since the U.S. carries out activities that the U.K. considers torture. And a "no-torture" guarantee is worthless, since the U.S. doesn't consider the acts as torture in the first place. At a minimum, expect this issue to be brought up in legal challenges to extradition.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by OSXCPA (805476)

          'Convicted' where? I agree the charges have been leveled, and I do not debate the veracity of the claims - there is quite enough evidence in the public domain to justify a trial, but so far, I have not heard of one actually taking place. Plus, how does one convict a country? Maybe indict the head of state for a trial in the Hague... wait a minute...

      • by phantomflanflinger (832614) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:03AM (#24791609) Homepage
        Dat McKinnon dude should be damn grateful he a cracker, cuz if he were a brother his ass'd be straight to Gitmo bay.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:11AM (#24791659)

        The treaty is contained in this act.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extradition_Act_2003

        The UK has handed over terorists, hackers and fraudsters, yet the US is yet to do the same, Even with known PIRA terrorists.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        What the US want is to scare everybody off regardless of possible intent or not.

        Today stupidity is criminal unless you are a president or vice president of the US.

        But the real problem is that true terrorists are keeping themselves under the radar and will strike unexpectedly.

        Just waiting for the next event...

      • by chrb (1083577)

        On 30 September 2006 the US Senate unanimously ratified the treaty.source [wikipedia.org]

        Of course, I would like to see the UK extradite a U.S. business man (Ian Norris, Morgan Crucible), or even an internet pirate (Hew Raymond Griffiths, DrinkOrDie). I imagine many people would claim such a thing to be unconstitutional - the alternative, that any crime committed in a globalised post-internet world can be prosecuted by any extradition treaty nation, regardless of the laws of the nation in which the defendant actually resi

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by OSXCPA (805476)

        In the interest of proposing a solution, would it not be better to try such individuals in the UK if the US and UK could agree on common definitions (legal defs that is) for crimes and some kind of sentencing guidelines? I'm not suggesting that our UK friends bring back the death penalty (although for some of those Enron execs, you know...) but there is a disparity between sentences meted out in both countries (say I after a cursory reading of the 'crime' sections of the the BBC and CNN). I think that such

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *

        I don't think the situation is fair either. But I also don't think the guy is necessarily harmless. Just because someone is a wack-job, tin-foil hat type doesn't mean he's harmless. Most U.S. presidential assassins were wack-job, tin-foil hat types too.

        He should have been prosecuted--it the UK.

    • by Tim C (15259) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:30AM (#24791759)

      There is also a very big difference between noticing the fault, stepping the hell away from the keyboard and thinking long and hard about how best to inform the relevant people (if at all in these ultra-paranoid, litigation-happy times), and exploiting the fault to poke around and see what information you can find.

      I in no way condone the extradition or the heavy-handed way in which the US authorities appear to be conducting things, but no, he should not be praised.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:19AM (#24791347) Journal

    He stole brains of the military, FBI staff and even of the President of the US? Over the interweb? By deleting files?

    Prosecutors say he altered and deleted files at a naval air station not long after the 11 September attacks in 2001, rendering critical systems inoperable.

    My,my. Isn't that something?

  • Witch burning (Score:2, Informative)

    by antivoid (751399)
    His extradition is typical of people trying to dispose of what they do not understand or feel threatened by similar to the witch burning of ages ago. I wouldn't call him out as having been "sloppy leaving clues" as this is typically what happens when you feel like you are justified in what you are doing. It's sad you should get guilted by friends to stop something you clearly enjoy and are good at because of silly society rules :/
  • BBC Confirms It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:22AM (#24791367)

    The UK, as a seperate entity from the US, no longer exists.

    If US laws can be enforced on British soil, but not vice-versa, then the UK is a defacto part of the US. But here's the clinching shit in your mouth: with no representation. What's the point of a government, if the laws they pass mean nothing?

    • Well, that's obviously way off base because I'm sure the extradition treaty goes both ways, but you should read "light of other days" by Clarke and Baxter. In it, the UK becomes the 51st (or maybe it was 52nd) state of the USA... after getting into a war with Scottland over water and having the royal family move to Australia. Implausible, but not so ridiculous as to be beyond imagination.

      I'd whole heartedly welcome the UK as our 51st state. You want in? :)
      • Re:BBC Confirms It (Score:5, Insightful)

        by meringuoid (568297) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:36AM (#24791465)
        Well, that's obviously way off base because I'm sure the extradition treaty goes both ways

        You would think so, wouldn't you? Apparently American citizens have something called 'rights', which means they cannot be extradited without the evidence against them being put before an American court. So Congress have not ratified the treaty. It only goes one way: we bend over, and get no reach-around.

        • by MRe_nl (306212) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:53AM (#24791555)

          Nobody intimidates the US government..

          Our TWO main powers are extradition, rendition and prohibition.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Nobody intimidates the US government.

            Our main power is extradition. Extradition and rendition..

            Our two main powers are extradition, rendition and prohibition..

            Our three main powers are extradition, rendition and prohibition.. and an almost fanatical loyalty to 'the flag'..

            Among our many powers are such diverse elements as extradition, rendition, prohibition and an almost fanatical loyalty to 'the flag' and bombing people who try to stop us... ...I'll come in again

          • by hcdejong (561314)

            And if you object, they'll come in again.

        • Maybe it's because you're worse off in the US than in the UK when it comes to prisons.
          The US just wants criminals to be punished as much as possible, and the UK punishments are just not hard enough.

        • by mike260 (224212)

          This appears to have been true at the time of the initial extradition request, but not any more [wikipedia.org]. Sucks to be him...

        • by chrb (1083577)
          Senate Unanimously Ratifies U.S., U.K. Extradition Treaty" [bloomberg.com]

          Am I missing something here? It appears that the treaty has been ratified, and U.S. citizens can be extradited to the U.K. for any crime without any evidence being presented in a U.S. court.

      • Re:BBC Confirms It (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:49AM (#24791533)

        because I'm sure the extradition treaty goes both ways

        This gets discussed [slashdot.org] every time this story comes up: no it doesn't go both ways. The UK has asked for the extradition of people from the US on charges of murder and have been refused. When it's the other way around, but is just some nutter that guessed the Pentagon's admin passwords were password or some stupidity, the Brit is passed straight over. Also the actual treaty itself is one-sided [slashdot.org]: the US doesn't have to provide proof to have someone extradited, but the UK does. The treaty is not constitutional in either country.

        I'd whole heartedly welcome the UK as our 51st state. You want in? :)

        Am assuming this is a rhetorical question. Anyway, I don't have anything the average American, it's just the UK and US governments actions make my blood boil, as a Slashdot reader I can see I'm not alone. :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Thiez (1281866)

          > The treaty is not constitutional in either country.

          Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the UK didn't have a constitution?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by DevonBorn (975502)
            As I understand it (I ought to know - I'm British - but you know how it is...) We do have a constitution it's just not a fancy all in one document like yours (if you're from the US/Canada/Australia etc...). Ours is all written down but it's spread all over the place and new bits have been added in different places from time to time since Magna Carta so it's a bit trickier to find stuff. You would probably have to read most of the Acts of Parliament to work out exactly what it says.
            Of course this could be
    • Re:BBC Confirms It (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:04AM (#24791617)

      It would be part of the US if laws could be enforced mutually. Being unilateral, it means nothing less than being a colony. When your laws trump local laws without the ones being overruled having any way to appeal, it fits quite neatly.

      Isn't that ironic?

  • A disgrace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iworm (132527) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:26AM (#24791389)

    Gary McKinnon was foolish. Yet he now faces up to 70 years in jail.

    What angers me even more than the absurd penalties threatened by the US courts? The supine, wimpering acquiesence of the UK governmnt who will extradite one of its own citizens without evidence being required, yet demands no such reciprocal agreement with the US.

    Mr McKinnon should burn his British passport and go away from the UK to some country which still cares for its citizens.

    • Re:A disgrace (Score:5, Informative)

      by langenaam (610135) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:34AM (#24791455)
      Hear, hear. I find it a disgrace that countries like UK and my own country (Netherlands) extradite their own citizens to a country with cowboy-law. The US will not extradite their own citizens; they have even promised to invade countries that hold american citizens (International Court of Justice).
      • Re:A disgrace (Score:5, Informative)

        by 0a100b (456593) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:32AM (#24792073)
        The US have not just promised to invade The Hague, they have turned it into a law: http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/08/aspa080302.htm [hrw.org]. I wonder what NATO would do if the US ever invaded the Netherlands.
    • by toQDuj (806112)

      your mentioning of the burning of passports has raised a question with me: can you become a citizen of no country at all?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by DaBookshah (1234170)
        You can, it's called "stateless". But then you are, essentially, completely screwed. It almost happened to someone I know. I gather you just have to "fall through the cracks" so to speak, and then you're not considered by ANY country to have any right to live there.
        • by toQDuj (806112)

          The most annoying bit will be the one where you can't earn any money, I presume...

    • UK should rather become a state of the US and should leave the EU for good. It seems to me that the UK takes '1984' as a guidebook for their plans.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hyades1 (1149581)

      McKinnon shouldn't bother moving to Canada...at least not for a few more months. Our Prime Minister has his nose so far up Bush's ass he knows what Bush is eating for breakfast.

      I think we need to hold an international "Throw Out The Fascists Day". It would be celebrated whenever some democratic country comes to its senses and votes the bastards out of office in favour of somebody who remembers what civil liberties are, and why they're more important than security.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 0a100b (456593)

      Germany doesn't extradite it's own citizens.

  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:58AM (#24791579) Homepage Journal

    ``or [...] should be praised for finding security faults in what should be extremely secure systems.''

    That one is really easy. Finding said security flaws is an accomplishment, but that isn't the issue here. The issue is what you do once you find them. You get praise for actions that lead to improved security (reporting them to the vendor, fixing them, reporting them to users, etc.). You get condemnation for exploiting them for selfish goals. Same as always: do something for the common good? Praise on you. Screw someone over for your own advantage? Damnation on you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by neuromanc3r (1119631)

      Same as always: do something for the common good? Praise on you. Screw someone over for your own advantage? Damnation on you.

      But neither of those categories applies to this case. Well, in his mind the first one probably does. And even though I obviously wouldn't agree with him, I fail to see how he screwed anyone over for his advantage

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        Well, I must admit that I know next to nothing about the case. But if, as you assert, he didn't do any harm, then I reckon his punishment, if any, shouldn't be very harsh.

  • by pipingguy (566974) * on Friday August 29, 2008 @03:58AM (#24791581) Homepage
    "It wasn't just an interest in little green men and flying saucers," said Mr McKinnon. "I believe that there are spacecraft, or there have been craft, flying around that the public doesn't know about." Mr McKinnon further explained that he believes the US military has reverse engineered an anti-gravity propulsion system from recovered alien spacecraft, and that this propulsion system is being kept a secret. In that sense, Mr McKinnon said he sees his own hacking as "humanitarian." He said he only wanted to find evidence of a UFO cover-up and expose it. He called the alleged anti-gravity propulsion system "extra-terrestrial technology we should have access to".

    With that type of excuse, one could get away with almost anything short of violently assaulting people in public, don't you think?
  • According to the referenced wikipedia article,

    NASA's documents consisted of printed news articles from the Slashdot website, but no other related documents.

    On a heavier note. I seem to remember when the New Zealand SIS (so secret that I only know about them because they had an office below my lawyers...tinted window, blinking lights, NZ SIS signage, you get the idea.) revealed their super secret documents on Ahmed Zaoui [wikipedia.org], they were largely comprised of newspaper clippings. Tinfiol hats on people, we are be

    • by digitig (1056110)

      or the replacement of us all with bots endlessly spouting memes.

      Shhh... nobody tell hum that the rollout is almost complete, and that his is the last real account left...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hanners1979 (959741)
      I propose either the deletion of /., or the replacement of us all with bots endlessly spouting memes.

      I'm a meme spouting bot, you insensitive clod!
  • by omuls are tasty (1321759) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:00AM (#24791593)

    From TFA:

    As for his quest to find evidence of a UFO cover-up, Mr McKinnon has said that he found some circumstantial evidence online to back his claims, including what he said are photos with what he speculated were alien spacecraft airbrushed out of the picture. He said the photos in question were too large to download to his own computer.

    So he somehow managed to SEE the photos (without any alien spacecraft on them, BTW), but wasn't able to download them? Am I the only one to whom this doesn't make sense?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kaell Meynn (1209080) *

      Yeah, this sounded like a lie to me. If he knows about computers enough he's doing contract work, and is able to hack into government computers (even if just using script-kiddie tools), he really should know that this is complete BS.

      The one thing he's been working for a huge part of his life to prove, that the US is hiding aliens, is sitting right there in front of him (in his deluded mind where a lack of the thing proves the thing somehow), and he doesn't even take a screen-shot?

      I call BS.

    • by gsslay (807818) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:49AM (#24792167)

      It makes complete sense.

      It's called perspective. He could see the pictures when they were far away because that makes them much smaller. But if they were downloaded onto his own computer they would be much closer, and therefore too big for it.

      I use this same principle to cache the entire internet on a USB key that I keep on the moon.

  • the whole story... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:01AM (#24791601)

    ...is something you don't have.

    1. Saying he was "just" obsessed with finding about UFOs is a thinly veiled attempt at making an unnecessary end justify the means. If you or your buddies have found a UFO, good for you, but information does not "want" to be anthropomorphised, and you can't just raid other people's stuff to satisfy your curiosity.

    2. It's unlikely anyway. I've mixed in UFO/remote viewing circles thanks to a few obsessive buddies, and while "the government's hiding something" seems to be standard rhetoric, the hobby is empty of people carefully planning cracking raids to get it. It would be counter-productive to make enemies of the people you want to be more open.

    The at-all-costs nutjob does not have the clarity of thought to do what McKinnon did, though congratulations for building the foundations for a failed insanity/naivete defence. Why don't you just give him blonde pigtails and a lollypop and tell him to say "oh wittle me, no Sir I had no idea that sweetie wasn't mine".

    3. It's probable that he did something that neither side want to put out in the open.

    4. But there's more than enough evidence for an extradition among merely what both sides agree happened.

    5. No, "hackers", finding breakable security and breaking it is not a pastime that justifies itself. When you're happy not reacting to my regularly cutting the windows and defeating the locks of you and your most vulnerable family member so I can leaving a note saying "I just wanted to see what you look like - and show you how easy it is so you can stop me from doing it again" then at least you'll be consistent.

    Everyone's personal security and privacy can be defeated eventually, including yours, and there's always someone smarter than you who can defeat it. If it hasn't happened to you already, it's not because you're an impenetrable leet haxor, it's because you're inconsequential. And if you ever become otherwise, good luck on that "Thanks for the help and implicit security advice! Look forward to more of your work" note you'll have to write to your intruder.

    • by iworm (132527) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:23AM (#24792009)

      "But there's more than enough evidence for an extradition..."

      How do you know? The US courts have presented none, and the UK government has demanded none. Yet off to the US he will be sent.

      One of the cornerstones of justice in developed countries has, until recently, been the concept of evidence being required, and to be presented in open court. However that concept seems to be falling out of fashion, to be replaced with a new idea of: "Fuck you. You're guilty. 'Cos we say so."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Archtech (159117)

        One of the cornerstones of justice in developed countries has, until recently, been the concept of evidence being required, and to be presented in open court. However that concept seems to be falling out of fashion, to be replaced with a new idea of: "Fuck you. You're guilty. 'Cos we say so."

        And, moreover (especially in the USA, where it was pioneered): "If you plead Not Guilty, thereby wasting our valuable time and annoying us, we will hit you with charges that ensure you spend several thousand years in prison". Thus getting a majority of accused persons to plea-bargain and submit to punishment and a criminal record, without ever taking the trouble to determine whether they are actually guilty or not.

        Then again, if you are rich (like OJ Simpson, for example) you can go to court with a reasonab

  • Blame Blair! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:08AM (#24791645)

    Unfortunately, our former PM, the worlds worst negotiator, Tony Blair went and signed a bilateral extradition treaty with the US (the one which removes the burden of providing any evidence before extraditing) When the US refused to sign their copy of the treaty he just let it ride.

    Thanks Tony, bang up job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by quacking duck (607555)

      It's like the old joke: (former) Australian PM John Howard has his head so far up GWB's ass, he can see Tony Blair's feet.

  • by Macka (9388) on Friday August 29, 2008 @04:35AM (#24791787)

    I think his best chance of defense rests on whether or not this claim is true...

    It says his hacking caused some $700,000 dollars damage to government systems.

    What's more, they allege that Mr McKinnon altered and deleted files at a US Naval Air Station not long after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and that the attack rendered critical systems inoperable.

    The US government also says Mr McKinnon once took down an entire network of 2,000 US Army computers. His goal, they claim, was to access classified information.

    Only he knows if this is fact or fiction. If true (and they can prove it) then he's sunk and deserves everything he gets. But if it's not true then the chances are the US Govt are trying to blame him for the (supposed) $700,000 cost of securing systems that should have been tighter than a duck's back-side in the first place.

    How much of this is truth, and how much is it a "cover your ass" exercise by the US Military to distract from their own incompetance?

    • It's too bad you weren't the judge for the Robert T. Morris case. Of course, he had a 'get out of jail free' card of his father being the head of the NSA. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Tappan_Morris,_Jr [wikipedia.org]. for more details.

    • Whatever else he did, he knowingly accessed restricted computers whilst America was in a state of war. For that alone he is at risk of going down.

      Nutjob he may be, probably is in fact, but a nutjob who chose the wrong time and place to take his paranoid delusions out for a stroll on the internet.

      So what if their systems have crap security? Does that mean he had a right to access them? Nope.

      Sure it was a hell of a wake up call for the US, that a crank could hack them so easily, but this does not excuse the c

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142)

        Whatever else he did, he knowingly accessed restricted computers whilst America was in a state of war.

              Against who, again?

              Oh yeah, yeah... war against a concept. Forgot. Tell me when you "win".

  • by zuki (845560) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:10AM (#24791947) Journal
    .... the 800-pound gorilla in the room. i.e.: the types of intrusions and attacks that seem to be committed on a daily basis by what appears to be government-sanctioned Chinese hacker groups.

    But in truth, I find it remarkable that the US government is not owning up to the fact that it also seems to be running what amounts to basically insecure systems on much of its IT infrastructure.

    This dude may have been a crackpot, but somehow these antics are only performed for the sake of overreaction, when the blame should also be squarely shared by those who administer these networks.

    As a US taxpayer, I find this last part infinitely scarier... especially because all of this saber-rattling is not likely to remedy the conditions that made it possible to do this in the first place. A recent security audit of US Gov networks gave them an 'F' if I remember (could be wrong)

    Z.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Don_dumb (927108)

      But in truth, I find it remarkable that the US government is not owning up to the fact that it also seems to be running what amounts to basically insecure systems on much of its IT infrastructure. This dude may have been a crackpot, but somehow these antics are only performed for the sake of overreaction, when the blame should also be squarely shared by those who administer these networks. As a US taxpayer, I find this last part infinitely scarier... especially because all of this saber-rattling is not likely to remedy the conditions that made it possible to do this in the first place. A recent security audit of US Gov networks gave them an 'F' if I remember (could be wrong) Z.

      You have essentially hit the nail on the head.
      Why admit to your own incredible flaws, when you can blame someone else?
      Why would the military admit that the security of their IT systems is embarrasingly weak, when they can blame the "super hacker" McKinnon.
      By making him sound more malicious and a super cracker, the military both escapes censure and makes it look like their security wasn't awful (because only a master cracker could have broken in).

  • How is accessing passwordless machines 'hacking'?

    "There were hackers from Denmark, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Thailand ... Every night [eweek.com]."

    'I'd instant-message them, using WordPad, with a bit of a political diatribe. You know, I'd leave a message on their desktop [rense.com] that read, 'Secret government is blah blah blah."'
  • he broke the law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j0nb0y (107699) <{jonboy300} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:43AM (#24792135) Homepage

    Should he have been prosecuted? Yes.

    Should he have been extradited? No.

    He should have been prosecuted in Britain. It's not like what he did *isn't* illegal there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From TFA:

      Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, was arrested in 2002 but never charged in the UK.

      which indicates that there wasn't enough evidence to sustain criminal charges (under UK law) against him.

      Since the supposed crime had already been investigated here, and no charges were brought, the correct response to the extradition request would have been a polite "Please fuck off".

  • by olclops (591840) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:02AM (#24792613)

    And one thing that never gets discussed is what he claims he found. Which is modest enough (despite all the hours he put into the search) to sound almost plausible, and weird enough to be interesting: two folders of identically titled satellite photos, one folder of which was titled "unretouched". And a spreadsheet of names and ranks titled "non-terrestrial officers."

    interview is long and the interviewer is an annoying UFO over-enthusiast, but Gary is actually pretty articulate and compelling. It's
    here [projectcamelot.org] if you're interested.

  • For the record (Score:3, Interesting)

    by g0bshiTe (596213) on Friday August 29, 2008 @09:49AM (#24794689)
    I'm American, and I disagree with him being extradited. I think he should have stayed in England where he would have gotten a fair trial.

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