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Hacker Gary McKinnon Interviewed 350

G0rAk writes "The BBC World Service has a half hour audio interview with British hacker Gary McKinnon. As recently reported on/. and BBC News, Gary was arrested and freed on bail pending extradition proceedings to the U.S. There, he faces charges of gaining unauthorised access and causing criminal damage to military computers in his search for evidence of UFO coverups and anti-gravity technology of extra-terrestrial origin. In a very candid interview, Gary re-affirms that he had no malicious intent, was amazed at the ease with which he penetrated the networks, explains in detail what evidence of UFO coverups he saw, describes a personal journey through hell as he became obsessed with the project and how very scared he is that he could be facing up to seventy years in a Virginian jail. A bit of a nut, perhaps. But a fascinating listen that helps a lot in making that judgment. The Interview can be listened to with RealPlayer from 11:32 GMT (06:32 EST) on Saturday until the same time next week."
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Hacker Gary McKinnon Interviewed

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  • Thank you Gary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigwavejas ( 678602 ) * on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:52PM (#13151120) Journal
    This has scapegoat written all over it and has a striking resemblance to the Kevin Mitnick detention. I find it questionable the government claims he caused 900k USD in damages. How can that be? System cleaning, turning on security (which should have been on already)? Their ineptness lead to this breach of "security", if anything they should thank Gary for pointing out their shortcomings... Better him than a terrorist.
  • Once again... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rel4x ( 783238 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:52PM (#13151121)
    ...Reminding us that you don't necessarily have to be stupid to be more than a little crazy...
  • Hack this format (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Free_Trial_Thinking ( 818686 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:56PM (#13151144)
    How about someone hack this real player (tm) interview and put it into MP3 for us?

    I'll do it if someone sends me instructions. I think this BBC encourages remixing, and format changing stuff, right?


    A concerned /. community member in MD, US
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:00PM (#13151160) Homepage
    We are talking about government property. They will not judge him based on his "intent". They will judge him based on what he DID. The military will treat every civilian like a possible spy. Even if the door is wide open, you do no walk into a military base. Same goes for their network.
  • Re:He's in for it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mahou ( 873114 ) <made_up_address_@ h o t m a i l.com> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:02PM (#13151174) Journal
    not really, any UFO documents could just be a bunch of fake stuff to distract hackers so they don't actually find anything important. seriously why would you have UFO files connected to a network (assuming you would have any digital data in the first place rather than just paper and ink) unless as misinformation?
  • How funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:06PM (#13151198)
    So, where is the unfunny/insensitive/tasteless mod when you need it?
  • by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:07PM (#13151204) Homepage
    Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. If you know you're not supposed to sneak around a company or agency's property, then why do you think it's ok to break into their computers? In most parts of the world, just walking into someone's house and looking around without the owner's permission would get you beaten or killed by the owner. It's common courtesy and most of these "hackers" seem to lack any of it.

    As for the "horror" of his extradition, don't blame uncle sam. The British government is big enough to tell our government to piss off if it felt such a thing weren't warranted. The main reason that we don't do such a thing to our citizens is that most countries that would want our people sent over to them wouldn't give them a fair trial, and that's not inherently because they're American. A Chinese is probably no more like to get a fair trial in Mugabe's Zimbabwe than an American. Foreign governments know that if our people attack them, that our law enforcement will arrest them and prosecute them, even if the country is hostile. The feds threatened to arrest the Americans who defaced Chinese websites after the PLA-Air Force brough our AWAC down early in Bush's first term. Few governments, China's especially, would do that to their own people.

    Every so often I get some dumbass at my university trying to get me to teach them those "mad skillz" of h@x0ring that apparently all CS majors have. My interest was always in programming, not in things like that. They even have the gall to look at me like I'm the asshole, when I tell them that I've never bothered to learn such things, that I feel that what they want to do is morally wrong and that they should learn to actually respect others' privacy and property. The same people would probably wonder what the hell is wrong with someone who asked them to teach them how to use a jimmy to open up some frat boy's car so they could screw around in his mustang. IMO, there's really no difference.
  • by Nikkos ( 544004 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:07PM (#13151206)
    I don't care if he found a picture of ET doing shots with Paris Hilton. He hacked into a computer system and started fucking around. I don't care if he's a scapegoat - he still broke the law.

  • Extradition (Score:2, Insightful)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:08PM (#13151212)
    Is it true that inmates of US jails are regularly subjected to homosexual attack without protection from the authorities, as the accused seems to believe? It seems to be a common theme here on /.

    If so, I would hope that an English judge would block extradition on the basis of the failure of the US to subscribe to the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

    Of course, in the UK prison system you have the right to inhabit overcrowded cells, be locked up with racist murderers to see if you get killed, and eventually commit suicide. But that's OK because it is protecting our rights and we are the good guys.

    Yes, I am getting a bit tedious about this. But I am really annoyed that the UK courts so far have failed to perceive that this case is bovine excrement of the CMA variety. You exposed the weakness of our security! Shoot the messenger!

  • by fakeid ( 242403 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:09PM (#13151214)
    At one point in the interview, this guy talks about some of the things he saw, in regards to UFO activity. He claims he was able to view a "large image" over "graphical remote control", but he didn't have any proof because it was "too large to download". Uhm, if it's being displayed on your screen, that's taking the same amount of time to download I would guess; even if he was seeing a scaled image, he could still do a screenshot, right? I think he's both a bit crazy and/or a liar...

    I will agree that $900,000 of damage seems a bit of out line, however.
  • by derEikopf ( 624124 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:13PM (#13151240)
    The guy jumped the ticket barriers, ran from the police, and then tried to board the train. Do you think the police should just say, "oh well..."? Was this guy completely out of his fucking mind? Of course he was going to be gunned down.

    Are you completely indifferent that more than 50 people died because the police didn't stop any suspicious looking people?
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:14PM (#13151247)
    The BBC World Service has a half hour audio interview with British hacker Gary McKinnon. As recently reported on/. and BBC News, Gary was arrested and freed on bail pending extradition proceedings to the U.S.. There, he faces charges of gaining unauthorised access and causing criminal damage to military computers in his search for evidence of UFO coverups and anti-gravity technology of extra-terrestrial origin.

    Doesn't this make him:

    + A cracker - not a hacker.
    + Insane.
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:15PM (#13151251)
    Let's just point it out: he's a script kiddie. He basically didn't do anything that 6 month experience using the internet and an interest in UFOs wouldn't teach him.

    He got into a bloody cemetary ffs! He only got in because the military personnel there were too stupid to change the default password. He used his own email address for god's sake!

    a 70 year penalty for something a script kiddie can do is more than harsh: it's outrageous.
  • by Mr.Progressive ( 812475 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:23PM (#13151304)
    ...but they shot him.

    they shot him for jumping a ticket barrier and evading police. you can't seriously be suggesting he deserved to die for what he did.
  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:32PM (#13151357) Journal
    These are not normal times.

    Beware, or this may become the "normal times".
  • guys waving guns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truckaxle ( 883149 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:36PM (#13151380) Homepage
    Yes, but the people chasing him were in plain clothes and he was coming from a bad part of town. I do not know all the details, but if a couple of guys in plain clothes came running after me waving a gun I just might just choose the flight decision path of the the flight or fight if statement - especially if I had a bar bill outstanding.

    With that said tho the mulsim's are focusing on this event eventhough it was a mistake and complete ignore the 80 some civilians that islamic extremist kill with intent this weekend in Eygpt.
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by itistoday ( 602304 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:39PM (#13151398) Homepage
    The problem with that argument is that what he "did" was browse file systems, change a desktop picture, and attempt to persuade system admins to secure their systems by leaving notes on the desktop. How is 70 years in prison a justifiable sentence for these actions?
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:45PM (#13151441) Homepage
    they shot him for jumping a ticket barrier and evading police. you can't seriously be suggesting he deserved to die for what he did.

    No, but the people on the train station didn't deserve being blown to bits either, had he been a terrorist. There was more than enough reason to believe he was one, and even if he couldn't be aware of his house being under surveilance, making a mad dash into the train station after being halted by the police (civilian, but I assumed they showed ID when they did) was incredibly stupid, giving the recent events. The only thing surprising to me is that he was allowed to run, and didn't get gunned down before entering the station. Presumably they lacked a clear shot and feared hitting civilians. That's the only reason he got as far as he got.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:46PM (#13151452)
    And yet the Watergate reporters were hailed as American heros. How many 'laws' do you think they would have to break today to get a story?

    If you assert that the ends never justify the means when the law must be broken then consider the shooting last week of an unarmed and innocent man in London who was 'resonably suspected' of being a suicide bomber. The cop that pulled the trigger (5 times at contact range) made a bad one and will live with it for life, its a mess. However his reasonable suspicion led him to break the law as British police are not authorised to shoot to kill by policy. He may get left with the can.

    It's easy to lable anybody a 'nutter' when deconstructing their reasoning following a chain of evidence. Especially post factum with the luxury of hindsight and time. What the kid discovered was probably bollocks. Military culture is renouned for grandious fantastical terminology.
    What he probably saw the most of were payroll and accounts. However, if he had turned up a plot by the saucer men (under the guidence of the Illuminati and the Black Pope) to take over the planet you would be calling him a hero right now.
    Not that that is going to happen, but the point is that the law is not a fixed obstacle to reasonable man whos intent is the greater good. It is his intent that excuses him, as for hacker kiddy here and as for the poor fool who shot an innocent man trying to make the world a better place. The law is not a piece of stone, which is why judges exist, and why you are not one.

  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:52PM (#13151493) Homepage Journal
    I just read the transcript, it is a very sad story. The guy got hooked on doing things he shouldn't have been doing, fucked up his personal life - stopped working, broke up with his GF. I think this thing really became a game to him. Like the online multi-player games, this consumed him. He got so bad though, got really sloppy, needed more and more excitement. Used a remote tool to manipulate desktops to leave messages. It is almost as if he wanted to be found. The guy is into self-destructing behaviour. I think this is a very sad story because he got what he wanted.
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:53PM (#13151501)
    + A cracker - not a hacker.

    You've lost that fight; time to move on to one you have a chance of winning. Language use changes, and hacker has changed to mean cracker, as well as programmer or other similar geeky type. For that matter, the former is *all* it means to the public. Carry on calling people hackers if you wish, but most people will get entirely the impression.
  • by Ichimusai ( 565511 ) <ichi@ichimusai.org> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:00PM (#13151533) Homepage
    I can certainly understand why it happened. I can think myself into the policemens situation. Someone is running, he is wearing a coat that may conceal explosives, you yell at him to stop, he runs away, he jumps the gate to the metro station, down the stairs and you are following. He then makes the fatal mistake of boarding the train just after the terror attacks that have happened. There is pretty much only one thing to do and that is to take him out before he explodes the train. I can also understand the person running. Imagine that you are walking in London, you grew up in the harsh streets of a larger Brazilian town, you know everything about surviving in the streets. Suddenly three people dressed as ordinary men yell something and starts coming towards you looking very threatening. One pulls a fire arm, big and black in his hand. Instinct and panic takes over and you turn around, the only thing in your mind is to get away from these guys, whoever they are. They are yelling something but you can't make it out clearly. There are no uniforms, just three guys coming at you - one with a gun in his hand. You runs towards the nearby metro station, jumps the gates, down the escalators and as you try to get on a train which is just about to leave you half stumble, falls you feel the pain and hear the bang when the first bullet is unloaded into your body, it then goes black. I don't really blame the policemen, they were trying to do their job and I think they were doing it. I find the whole thing to be a tragedy of gigantig proportions and I feel for the poor guys family. I hope things like this will never have to happen to any one again. But I know that people are only people, mistakes will happen and in certain situations there is nothing you could do. Had I been the guy I would probably been startled but I would not have done what he did. Had I been the police I would have been hesitant to fire, and therefore perhaps it is a good thing I am not a police officer because I don't think I would have the guts to do his job. A tragic accident.
  • by HellYeahAutomaton ( 815542 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:08PM (#13151579)

    The joy of hacking is in discovery, whether or not you are an asshole is neither here nor there. I think you really just don't "get it". There is a complete rush in obtaining "forbidden knowledge" that has been a core value in human history. There are multibillion dollar industries in place that are profiteering for just that reason. Check your inbox if you need proof: Need to be a better lover? How bout hidden transdimensional communication device secrets?

    You may have smoked a bit of the ivory in the tower at your university, but you lack the
    understanding of discovery of science and explanation. This guy wanted answers; Dumb dumbs left weak passwords, which is essentially a weak form of security which is approximate to:
    Open door == open invitation

    You are putting on elitist airs by saying that
    you've never bothered to learn "such things", as if they were beneath you, but if you would pick up an issue of Midnight Engineering, or 2600 now and again and stop waving around your Golden Rule morals you could still potentially save yourself from a really dull life. CS should have
    taught you to learn how to learn and how to learn by experimentation. Every industry has a Wild West type period, until some dullards wave around their morals, and start imposing silly rules and regulations.

    The fact of the matter is that you are equivocating to his act as if it were like breaking into someone's car is way off (although it is mildly amusing to liken the military to a frat boy). This guy wasn't trying to damage, nor harm the information that he was trying to view. A lot of people have become completely paranoid about security since 9/11, and the fact of the matter is that people like you need to get your heads out of your asses to know the difference between what an exploratory prank is, as opposed to a crime of malicious intent.

    Now, if you believe that covering up UFOs are a matter of national security (and this would in fact be a treasonous crime) that any knowledge he may have come across would be true or dangerous if leaked (and worthy of even 2 years jailtime), he has in fact proven that UFOs exist, and I for one, welcome our new grey skinned overlords (as soon as our outsourcing Indian overlords are done with us unless they are pointing those vaporizing ray beams at us).

  • by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@@@spamgoeshere...calum...org> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:19PM (#13151641) Homepage
    oggenc, oggenc you vile MP3 fiends. :)
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:19PM (#13151644)
    He wasn't gunned down while running into the Tube station, he was pinned to the ground then shot in the head while immobilised.

    And yes, 50-odd innocent people lost their lives on the 7th of July; well, another one just lost his. The former does not make the latter any less serious.
  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:27PM (#13151695) Homepage
    > The guy jumped the ticket barriers, ran from the police, and then tried to board the train.

    He had a full day or monthly pass. The guy was confronted by 3 plain clothes guys weilding automitic guns! AKA not looking like police.

    Why wasnt he stopped when he left the house but only when he tried to board the bus? Seems like the cops wanted to have an excuse to shoot him just incase he fled.

    >didn't stop any suspicious looking people?

    You mean not white wearing backpacks?

  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by warkda rrior ( 23694 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:56PM (#13151882) Homepage
    The problem with that argument is that what he "did" was browse file systems [...]
    I think this qualifies as unauthorized access to classified information. Similar to how I would not like anyone to read my credit card numbers off my system, even if they find a way in.
  • by MrBandersnatch ( 544818 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @06:11PM (#13151973)
    Stockwell (where the guy was executed) is the kind of place that if 3 dodgy looking blokes with guns try to stop you, you WOULD run!! The combination of fear and not having English as ones mother tongue is far enough to explain this mans actions.

    THe IRA bombings didnt scare me. The Al-Qaeda bombings didnt scare me. The Metropolitan Police with a shoot-to-kill policy...THAT scares me shitless!
  • by mdielmann ( 514750 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @06:28PM (#13152076) Homepage Journal
    It's nice to see that you would raise the penalty for resisting arrest to death, and that the need for a trial should be waived in those circumstances. Hopefully one day the police don't decide you're 'resisting arrest' and take action.

    Just about every tyranny in history began with the words "for the good of the people and the security of our nation".
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by munpfazy ( 694689 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @06:43PM (#13152146)
    >Please don't take offense at me if I voice my inability
    >to believe the word of someone who breaks into military
    >computers to look for evidence of UFOs.

    Breaking into a government computer to look for evidence for UFO's is a perfectly rational decision. If you believe that there's a conspiracy to hide information and that there's no legitimate way to obtain that information, going after it in this way makes perfect sense. (Allowing yourself to be caught doing it is pretty dumb, but he readily admits to having been dumb on that count.)

    While he may be wrong, that doesn't make him insane or unreliable.

    The fact that he claims not to have found the evidence he wanted - outside of a photograph of a weird looking aircraft and the phrase "non-terrestrial personnel" in a document - makes him seem all the more reliable. He's not a crackpot falling over himself to misenterpret or invent data.

    He's just a guy who went too far following a reasonable (if wrong) idea, and the care with which he described what he did observe is admirable. If all the UFO nutters were as precise as him, there'd be a lot fewer UFO nutters out there.

    >"I see people breaking into these comptuers all the time."
    >Was that before or after you were pulled into the mothership
    >and shown the proof that we never landed on the moon?


    That's exactly the sort of thing he didn't say.
    (I was expecting to hear something similar myself.)
  • "In most parts of the world, just walking into someone's house and looking around without the owner's permission would get you beaten or killed by the owner. It's common courtesy and most of these "hackers" seem to lack any of it."

    I'm not sure that it true that simple trespass is met with automatic violence in most parts of the world. In many places there are strong social customs that treat trespassers as a guest unless there is evidence that the trespasser has bad intent.

    In english commonlaw there is a clear distiction between criminial and civil trespass. Basicly, you have to break in for trespass to be a crime. If you walk in the front door and then leave, it is rude, but not a crime. Also, under English common law the property owner can ask the trespasser to leave, but they are not allowed to force them off the property. The police must be called if the trespasser refuses to leave. Of course, if the trespasser threatens the owner the minimal amount of force to defend yourself is allowed.

    As far as I can tell, while most people don't want strangers bounding into their living room, only the USA has the "old west" shoot 'em first and ask questions later mentality.

  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asscroft ( 610290 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @07:30PM (#13152368)
    Karl Rove reveals the identity of a US SPY during a time of war and he'll likely get a promotion. This guy hacks in to look at some pictures of weather balloons and they're ready to brand him a cyber terrorist. FTS.
  • Re:Thank you Gary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2005 @08:04PM (#13152559)
    I've no problems with letting you see my credit card numbers. As long as you do not actually _use_ them.

    I generally do not show them around (since I do not know how trustworthy most people are). However, if somebody informs me he saw me numbers because i left the card lying around, but he didn't use them to buy something, it is very unlikely I find it ethically correct to beat up this person.

    Even not to deter other people not to go looking at credit cards.
  • Deterrent? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @08:43PM (#13152751) Homepage Journal
    I agree that this is meant to be a deterrent against people acting against the perceived national security interests, however I have to wonder what its general effect would be.

    This sort of sentence is not going to deterr the Chinese or N. Korean governments. It won't deterr Al Qaeda operatives. And these guys could theoretically leapfrog off systems in the US. And if he could enter this easily, then what of the North Koreans or the Chinese? What of militants/terrorists with hostile intentions (Islamic or not)?

    I am a firm believer that there should be a two-tier punishment for these sort of incidents. I reasonably lenient punnishment for the actual tresspass and then a very severe punishment if the tresspassor can be linked to a terrorist group or foreign government.

    The fact is that if national security were the priority, these systems would not have been so easily compromised.
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:21AM (#13154113) Journal
    Are you completely indifferent that more than 50 people died because the police didn't stop any suspicious looking people?

    I'm not. I think it's awful.

    Now I have to ask you...

    1) Are you completely indifferent that our own goverments are using these terrorists against us to implement draconian surveillance such random bag searches, and gunning down our own people?

    2) Are you completely indifferent to the fact that you're averaging between 20-50 civilian deaths in Iraq EACH MONTH since the US went in? So all of a sudden we have an incident in Britain and it's okay to gun people down because they're behaving suspiciously.

    Get some perspective, and stop using violence to justify more violence before we decend into hell. Do you really want where you live to become a police state, a war zone, or worse?
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday July 25, 2005 @05:24AM (#13154630) Journal
    I don't have it all wrong.

    The moment you make a life worth nothing, all life is worth nothing.

    The moment you make violating a person's rights acceptable, it will be abused.

    Occassionally stopping a handful of suicide bombers isn't worth throwing away your freedom. Just as it's not worth banning all cars isn't an acceptable way to bring down the number killed on the road each year.

    It's not the terrorists fault if we change how we live due to their dirty tactics. They absolutely do win, and the problem is that too few people understand or care about that.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman