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The Courts Government Security News

UK Judge Grants Extradition Review To Cracker Gary McKinnon 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the speedy-legal-system dept.
JobsEnding writes with this quote from IBTimes: "A British court ruled on Friday that a man who hacked into US military computers will be given permission for a judicial review against his extradition to the United States. Hacker Gary McKinnon, 42, who had been diagnosed recently with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, has admitted hacking into the military computers. His lawyers had said McKinnon was at risk of suicide if he were extradited." We discussed the granting of McKinnon's extradition in 2006 when it was first granted, as well as a profile of the man more recently.
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UK Judge Grants Extradition Review To Cracker Gary McKinnon

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  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:12AM (#26585599) Homepage Journal
    I suppose we're all at risk of "suicide", if we piss off the wrong people ....
    • Case in point, Mike Connell.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Another issue is - where was the crime committed?

      Isn't that the case of the legal authorities where the crime was committed?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:59AM (#26586925)

        "where was the crime committed"

        That is a very interesting question, as it opens up one hell of a can of worms when applied to any work done virtually. If someone is in one country and commits a crime in another country, then where should they be tried and which laws applied?.

        If its decided that the country the crime is committed in, is the place they should be tried, then that means national boarders are meaningless from a legal perspective, as the virtual world then extends people from one country into other country. So what next, does that mean then that people can be tried for saying things considered illegal in another country, like for example, criticizing a foreign government online?

        If however a person committing a crime should be tried in their own country, using their own laws, then it prevents the need to open such a big can of worms. As crimes committed are then still within national boarders. It then means each country needs new laws that protect other countries from virtual harm. That seems a much more sane idea, as it protects against the most extreme regimes in some countries, dictating laws to all other countries, by extending their laws virtually into each country.

        The problem here is the law has not caught up fast enough with the way technology has changed and so a lack of law prevents the person being tried in their own country, as that country has no law that has been broken. If it did have such a law, then damages would simply pass on to parties in another country, who the crime was against, but most importantly the crime and punishment stays within national boarders, which is very important, given how extreme some countries and their regimes are.

        • I try to use non-technical analogies to explore my thoughts about acting in one country to cause damage in another. Consider someone in country 'A' mails a bomb to country 'B' where it detonates and causes damage whilst killing several people. Should country 'A' allow the citizen to be extradited to country 'B'.

          I think usually yes, and that most people would agree particularly if A and B are both western nations as in the McKinnon case.

          But what about if the crime is 'virtual' and causes comprable damage? I

        • by lawpoop (604919)
          Those are all interesting issues, but I have a hunched they've been mostly hashed out in the extradition treaties that nations sign, and the ensuing court cases.
        • by WeeBit (961530)
          Plus it does not help the guy very much with the UK and United States in bed together.
  • by mazarin5 (309432) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:13AM (#26585611) Journal

    "UK Judge Grants Extradition Review To Caucasian Gary McKinnon" would be a less offensive headline.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:17AM (#26585629) Homepage Journal

    Also known as the Geek Defense. Hope it works as well for you as it did for Hans ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. There are all sorts of things aspies are alleged not to be able to "understand", and yet I - as a non-aspie - also don't "understand" much of the law. And, by not understanding, I mean that I recognise that much of the law was written for the benefit of power brokers, not the common man. I know that the law is often an ass, but I do understand that "break law => get punished". An aspie also understands this simple logic, and if he finds the underlying motivations unfair, or does not quite recogni

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:02AM (#26585845) Journal

        The problem here IMHO is they are looking to drop the hammer on this guy NOT for what he did, but for the fact that he made all their security look like the POS that it is. I mean, lets be serious here folks, if a guy looking for ALIENS on DIALUP can blow through your security like crap through a goose, then you don't really HAVE any security, now do you? I mean damn! The guy used the old freaking default passwords to gain entry! Hell that is one of the first big NO NOs in security is to leave all that default password crap on the machines. Where the hell did they get their security guys from, Remington College? Maybe they should have taken the truck driving course instead, huh?.

        How about instead of wasting all this money on courts and trials for the nutball we talk the UK into banning his ass from the net for a couple of years(I bet they'd be happy to do it just to make this go away and quit wasting the courts time) and instead we use that money for something more important, namely finding out WTF are default passwords doing on a government network in the first place? If their security is THAT damned piss poor then they got a HELL of a lot worse than some nutball looking for little green men to worry about. What if he would have been a REAL bad guy, intent on stealing as much information or causing as much damage as possible? It sounds to me like the US gov needs to have a serious security audit and make sure there isn't a SINGLE machine on their networks that are using that default password bullshit. IMHO that would do a lot more to secure our computers from the enemy than dropping the hammer on some UFO guy.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:18AM (#26585907)
          Your POINTS are GOOD enough that YOU DON'T have to CAPITALIZE random WORDS.
        • "The problem here IMHO is they are looking to drop the hammer on this guy NOT for what he did, but for the fact that he made all their security look like the POS that it is."

          And that's the crux of the matter, put very succinctly.

          "Where the hell did they get their security guys from, Remington College?"

          Redmond College (MS), maybe?...look for evidence of ballistic chairs?
          (I thoroughly despise the 'fixed that for ya' meme-not my place to spin-doctor any but my own words.)

          • by Mathinker (909784)

            User rts008: the automatic Slashdot meme enforcement AI bot indicates that your post should have looked like

            "The problem here IMHO is they are looking to drop the hammer on this guy NOT for what he did, but for the fact that he made all their security look like the POS that it is."

            And that's the crux of the matter, put very succinctly.

            "Where the hell did they get their security guys from, Redmond College?"

            There, fixed that for you.

            There, fixed that for you.

            Note: repeated offenses against

        • I wonder if the IT guys who use default passwords are the same IT guys who can't figure out how to set up an email account for the president...
        • by arkhan_jg (618674)

          McKinnon is trying to be tried in the UK, where he'd face 2-3 years in prison. He's already admitted he broke into the computers looking for alien evidence.

          If he's successfully extradited to the US, he faces 70 years in jail. This case also show the unfairness of the extradition system between the UK and US. The UK changed its system so that people accused of serious offences could be extradited without any need to show the evidence against the accused to a British court, to speed up the process. The US was

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:03AM (#26586079)

        the aspie "I am stubborn and if I don't find something acceptable to me then I choose to ignore it" defence harms those whose mental illness genuinely prevents them from being in control of themselves. The end result is that more people are denied suitable rehabilitative care.

        Gee, that's insightful and all... not.

        His appeal has NOTHING to do with why he did what he did, it has to do with the US prosecutor literally threatening to have him "turned over to New Jersey authorities to see him fry" if he didn't accept a plea bargain. The UK judicial system has chosen to not read that as a threat, so far. McKinnon's appeal is based on the US carrying out that threat on a person with aspergers, who is much less capable of fending for himself in such a hostile environment, as being literally a violation of human rights. And the problem is not US law per se, it is UK law permitting the extradition to another country which has threatened to punish him in a way that would be illegal in the UK.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          They should pull a Norway and refuse to hand him over to the USA because our prisons don't meet their minimum standards. The USA is reinstituting slavery in the form of privatized prisons. The only bright spot is that with the current recession and impending depression, some states are starting to release nonviolent "criminals" early without even parole, because they don't have money for the parole system either. This guy, however, wouldn't be one of them. They're going to schedule him for FMITA prison if t

        • It would be a violation of anyone's rights, no just a man with Asperger's syndrome. Hey, all government is a violation of human rights.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:58AM (#26586375) Journal

        1. Well, as an aspie myself, I seriously don't understand his defense. Asperger's Syndrome is basically like being colour blind, except in this case we aren't wired to even notice (much less decode) body language. I can tell if somebody screams or laughs, but everything else doesn't even exist for me. And far as I can tell mom can't even tell if you screamed at her or not, and is constantly taking wrong guesses there.

        So offending people face to face or commiting social faux pas is a lot easier, because where someone else would take a hint, you don't even have a hint. E.g., I've had stuff like being told "dude, why didn't you stop it with that terminally bored face in the meeting? Didn't you see the way the boss was looking at you?" And I was thinking he looks at me because he likes me or something.

        It's also very easy to conclude stuff like "everyone else is stupid" when you lack the hints that she's just making conversation and trying to sound interesting (or so I'm told,) or he's lying to you and hoping _you_ are stupid enough to believe him. (I find that if you dig deep enough in why someone insists on something illogical, you'll actually find a hidden motive rather than complete idiocy.)

        On the other hand, being an aspie is all about logic, so anyone who blames it for not understanding "break law => get punished" is talking out the arse.

        And you _can_ learn to function pretty normally in society by using logic, an I mean in a lot more detail than "break law => get punished". I've read a lot about psychology and anthropology, for example, just to know what I'm supposed to do or not to do, in the absence of ad-hoc hints to change the course.

        2. _However_, Asperger's Syndrome has a very high probability of co-morbidity with something else, like OCD, OCPD, ADHD and going all the way to sociopathy.

        And it seems to me like the _real_ problem of both this guy and Hans (the other with the aspie defense) is actually sociopathy. Both seem to be self-centered arseholes, and both seem to think that the law is some kind of game, among other symptoms.

        I don't think we let people free just because they're sociopaths. In fact, most of the population in prisons scores over 20, a normal person scores 2-3, and 30 is the limit for outright psychopathy. That lack of empathy for their fellow man and society is usually what gets half of them into prison. (And the other half into upper management.)

        But at any rate, that's a completely different mental disorder. And blaming it on Asperger's Syndrome does a disservice to everyone.

        • With all that inability to detect social cues, just how well do you think you would do in a supermax prison?

          THAT is what the entire defense is about -- the cruelty of extraditing a UK citizen to the US to face punishment he would never face in his home country for committing a crime in his home country. It isn't like he fled the US, and is hiding out in the UK. He went UFO searching on some US computers via the internet and now the US wants to extradite for it.

          Think of it this way. If, from the comfort o

          • by Moraelin (679338)

            Sorry to break it to you, but very few people do that great in a prison. It's supposed to be a punishment and deterrent, ya know?

            So, yes, I probably wouldn't do well at all in a prison. Guess what? So I don't break the law.

            It's unfortunate if that's his problem, but I don't think any condition should be a blanket ticket to break any laws without punishment.

            Or in other words, thank you very much, but I'll reserve my compassion for victims, not for some guy who figured out he can ignore the law.

            • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:18PM (#26591685)

              So, yes, I probably wouldn't do well at all in a prison. Guess what? So I don't break the law.

              I'll bet you a hundred dollars you've violated the laws of other countries, should you be extradited to them for trial and incarceration?
              Why not? Why is Mckinnon any more special than you?

              I don't think any condition should be a blanket ticket to break any laws without punishment.

              Why do you keep saying that? You are lying by assumption. I've already told you that Mckinnon is NOT using aspergers as a defense against punishment. He has confessed to the crime and has made absolutely no defense against being prosecuted for it in his home country. Quit making shit up don Quixote.

        • by arkhan_jg (618674)

          All very valid points - but do his self-admitted offences deserve 70 years in jail, or even 'see him fry' in New Jersey? As opposed to the 2-3 years he faces if convicted in a British Court?

          The law is about justice, not just punishment. I don't think his offences justify a death sentence, either one threatend by the US government, or from his own hand in fear of what they've threatened him with.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          And it seems to me like the _real_ problem of both this guy and Hans (the other with the aspie defense) is actually sociopathy. Both seem to be self-centered arseholes, and both seem to think that the law is some kind of game, among other symptoms.

          So some guy who went broke into a government computer to look for UFOs is the same as a guy who murdered his wife, and a psychopath besides. A fine example of logic, that.

          And for the record, I'm sending you the social message "you've just said something unbelieva

    • I think all of us should leave our hugboxes for a few minutes and read this

      http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Aspierations [encycloped...matica.com]

      Yes it's mean spirited but it's also satire. And like most satire it contains a kernel of truth. Ok, it doesn't have an entry specifically for this situation. I'll just knock one up

      Real life: Governments keep secrets

      Aspieration : ... and they will therefore be totally understanding (and not try ship you to a hellish prison for decades) if you hack into their computers to find those secrets

  • Hacker vs Cracker (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GF678 (1453005) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:41AM (#26585741)

    UK Judge Grants Extradition Review To Cracker Gary McKinnon
    Just because some geeks feel the term "hacker" has been misused in society doesn't mean a thing. The world recognizes malicious entry into a system as hacking, whether we want to accept this or not.

    Society defines the language, not a small subset who doesn't understand how a language is able to change.

  • by poity (465672) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:54AM (#26585797)

    Looks like MI6 doesn't want to lose one of their best guys.

  • Considering he has Asperger's syndrome I doubt much social engineering was involved here. The problem is the code.

    You can't blame a child for playing with a gun. You can blame the parent for leaving it around. Autism don't necessarily know whats right and wrong.
    So....Quit hiring cheap programmers and actually pay for someone who can write something secure. People with

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Considering he has Asperger's syndrome I doubt much social engineering was involved here.

      More like persistence I think.

    • I have a feeling that the true server in question IS secure. Default passwords? Smells like honey to me. They're just looking to make an example of him, and by dragging this case out and keeping it in the headlines, it's having the very same "discouraging effect" they'd get from imprisoning him.

      • by AndyMC17 (1460719)

        I have a feeling that the true server in question IS secure. Default passwords? Smells like honey to me.

        I agree, it seems a little too convenient that he got in using the default passwords. They probably kept that system running as bait specifically to get people to try to break in.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      he knew exactly which servers to target, so he knows who they belong to. any sane person would know it's a bad idea. this isn't a gun left laying out for a child to find, this is an adult knowingly picking the lock on the gun safe then pointing it at people.
    • No one is blaming anyone with autism. We're talking about "Asperger's Syndrome." Autism is a real disorder.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by murdocj (543661)

      He is NOT a child. He certainly understands that the consequence of breaking the law is to go to prison. Just because he didn't care about the consequences isn't a defence.

      The whole issue of "bad security" is a red herring. A number of years back, a friend of mine used to leave his keys in his car and his car unlocked in case a friend of his needed to borrow it. One cold winter night a guy stole his car, held up a store, and then wrapped the car around a telephone pole. Guess what? It was still a crim

      • by Sabriel (134364)

        The whole issue of "bad security" is a red herring. [...] There's no requirement that you make your car hard to steal before stealing it becomes a crime.

        On the other hand, if you work for the military and regularly leave a briefcase full of classified information in your unlocked car, your ass should be held to account too.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        He is NOT a child. He certainly understands that the consequence of breaking the law is to go to prison. Just because he didn't care about the consequences isn't a defence.

        The question isn't whether he broke the law or not; he did. The question isn't whether he should be punished or not either; he should. No, the question is: should he be extradited to the USA, where he will be punished with a complete disproportionate jail sentence because the crime he did brought into light the negligence of a government

  • Why would they even consider not extraditing him? If I knew that I would get extended prison time for a felony, I too would be considering suicide.
    • "Why would they even consider not extraditing him?"

      Because the UK doesn't trust the US legal system?
      The USA is a country that locks up people indefinitely in a third country when it's not sure that its own citizens would accept this kind of regime on their own soil, sometimes taking prisoners to other countries with poor human rights records for interrogation using methods that many of its partners refer to as "torture" (why don't these prisoners get interrogated in the USA? I am sure there is a good reason

      • by jimicus (737525)

        The UK didn't have a problem with "special renditions" (oh what a nasty euphemism - why can't we call it what it really is, "government sponsored kidnapping"?) taking place on our own damn soil.

        Frankly, if Teflon Tony and his Team of Toadying Something Nasty That Begins with a "T" were still Prime Minister I have no doubt that McKinnon would be in the US right now.

        • I'm with you there buddy. But I don't think voting Tory would make much difference. Maggie wasn't exactly cool in her relationship with the USA. And she didn't have a problem with human rights abuses, she determinedly supported General Pinochet even after the rest of the world turned their back on a man who thought state torture and throwing people out of aircraft was perfectly acceptable behaviour.

          David "heir to Blair" Cameron will probably be more of the same. Rather depressing really. Or maybe it's just

  • Specially asymmetrical.
  • Has anyone else noticed that the offbeat story tags have started disappearing after a while, at least on some stories? Makes me think one of the editors is tampering.

    Shouldn't be long until "whitey" and "cracka" disappear from the tags list, then.

    • by rts008 (812749)

      "Shouldn't be long until "whitey" and "cracka" disappear from the tags list, then."

      And none too soon, IMHO!

      Racism, prejudice, and bigotry are sooo last millennium. Should have been done away with long ago if we were truly the 'intelligent species' we claimed to be.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Racism, prejudice, and bigotry are sooo last millennium. Should have been done away with long ago if we were truly the 'intelligent species' we claimed to be.

        Sure. It'll happen just as soon as we kill all those god-damned _________s.

      • I hate to point this out, but you forgot to misspell "intelligence".

        BTW, the most impressive contribution the Internet made to spelling was that everyone all of a sudden could spell "anonymous" (mainly because most admins didn't tell people that "ftp" would have worked as well). Sadly we stopped using direct FTP logins before more interesting words could be introduced like "miscellaneous".

        Did I win the record for most offtopic post? :-)

    • by dglp (1287230)
      What, Britain has its own rural Deep South? Is that the people with red tailcoats and hounds?
  • How can you use that as a defense for extradition or anything for that matter?

    • by maxume (22995)

      Just claim that the country requesting extradition won't treat it in the same way as the legal system in the country that is being asked to grant the extradition.

      This is different than using it successfully...

  • Why extradition? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why extradite him?

    If what he did was illegal in the UK, then you could just try him there - in fact, given that he's a UK citizen, you should.

    And if what he did was not illegal in the UK, then what basis is there for even so much as arresting him - much less extradition?

    Seriously, does anyone believe that this is about anything other than the USA wanting to exact revenge on a guy that humiliated them, rather than giving someone a fair and unbiased trial?

    • by jjohnson (62583)

      Why would the U.S. care about getting revenge on him? The nation wasn't humiliated--certainly not the people with the power to get him extradited.

      I mean, does the idea of getting revenge for humiliation really make sense, considering the costs? And doesn't going through a legal circus just increase the apparent humiliation?

  • by JerryQ (923802)
    I trust that the USA would let its citizens exhaust the legal system before handing them over to another country for trial. That is what he is doing in the UK. J
  • US government spys on US citizens..... and the digital leakage problems....

    Isn't this the guy looking for UFO knowledge evidence?

    Hmmm, maybe he found weapons of mass destruction?

  • Or would "subject" be a more appropriate term?
    This kind of thing would not happen in other European countries. Extraditing your own people to another country when they've not been convicted of any crime? That's ludicrous.
    This is also an example of Bliar's disgusting submission to Bush's corrupt administration. The extradition agreement is entirely lopsided, the US doesn't have to extradite its own citizens based on a UK judge's whim. If it was at all possible, war criminals such as Kissinger would be at ris

  • The real issue is that McKinnon is being extradited without the US being required to provide prima facie evidence [statewatch.org], a situation that isn't reciprocated. I guess it's because we're not a real country anaways :)
  • One of the hallmarks of many Aspies is a sense of justice. Whether true or not, he sought to bring information that was potentially important to the world out in the open--- legal or not. Once upon a time, it was illegal to allow blacks in "white" washrooms. But people broke the law (despite protests from whites and uncle toms) in order to win equal rights. Some of yesterday's wackos are today's heroes.

    Similar battles for justice continue to this day. McKinnon felt he was doing the right thing. But at t
  • I have little sympathy for Gary McKinnon. That doesn't make the actions of the courts right ot just, mind you.

    He's "into computers" and intelligent enough to exploit vulnerabilities in others' systems to gain unauthorised access. He should therefore have been paying attention to the US (and UK's) "war on terror" and the absurd, heavy-handed measures that they've brought in in the name of security.

    What on earth did he think he was doing? Why did he think that he wouldn't get caught and made an example of?

  • As the sensitivity of tests increases, I fear we will end up in a situation where everyone is diagnosed with some disorder or other. There is no longer "average"...

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal

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