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Obama Won't Intervene Over British Hacker McKinnon 268

Posted by timothy
from the unclenched-fist-dressed-in-velvet dept.
CWmike writes "President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he can't intervene in the long-running case of a British hacker charged with breaking into US military computers. Gary McKinnon's case came up during discussions with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington. The UK Home Office is reviewing whether McKinnon's medical condition is grounds to block his extradition to the US, which was approved in 2006. McKinnon has yet to stand trial in the US, where he was indicted by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2002 for hacking into 97 military and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. Obama said during a press conference with Cameron that by tradition US presidents do not get involved in extraditions or prosecutions. 'I trust that this will get resolved in a way that underscores the seriousness of the issue, but also underscores the fact that we work together and we can find an appropriate solution,' Obama said."
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Obama Won't Intervene Over British Hacker McKinnon

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  • Asperger's (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:41PM (#32981270)

    Citing Asperger's as a medical condition to prevent extradition is silly. Being socially deficient doesn't make you incapable of determining right and wrong, if in fact he really has the condition at all considering the ridiculous amount of self-diagnosis out there. Genuine Asperger's is a form of autism and deeply impacts your life. The guy left a threat on one of the computers promising future hacks--he knew what he was doing.

    This is starting to sound like another "Free Mitnick" movement, where people support a guy who legitimately deserves legal punishment just to make themselves feel compassionate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Being socially deficient doesn't make you incapable of determining right and wrong,

      Exactly. If he had robbed a bank no one would be rallying to his cause. He is accused of a crime and should stand trial for it.
      • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sortia (1191847) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:54PM (#32981494)
        I do not think anybody id disputing that? It's the inflated costs of the damage to obtain the extradition order that is the issue.
      • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Insightful)

        by stagg (1606187) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:56PM (#32981538)

        Being socially deficient doesn't make you incapable of determining right and wrong,

        ...that's reserved for lawyers and elected politicians.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356)

          ...that's reserved for lawyers and elected politicians.

          and, it would appear, for the Slashot modder who can't resist giving the most predictable of cheap shots a boost-up to +4, Insightful.

      • Re:Asperger's (Score:5, Insightful)

        by harryjohnston (1118069) <harry.maurice.johnston@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:56PM (#32981542) Homepage

        Of course he should stand trial. In the UK.

        • by Lifyre (960576)

          For crimes commited if not in a different country (yay internet blurring boundries) but upon a different country? I can certainly see why there is a debate about this.

          I personally am a fan of trying people where the victims are.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SydShamino (547793)

            So if you post a picture of Mohammad then you should be extradited and tried in Saudi Arabia, because that's where the victims of your crime* are?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              If you posted pictures of Mohammed on a website or forum that falls inside the jurisdiction of a Saudi court, then I see no reason why they should not be able to apply for extradition and prosecute the case. You are conveniently forgetting that a crime occurred within the jurisdiction of the US courts here - the servers in question were on US soil, and thus they have grounds for jurisdiction.
            • by LWATCDR (28044)

              So If I stand in Ireland and shoot someone across the boarder in Northern Ireland I should be tried in Ireland?
              I mean I was never in the UK after all?
              But wait I didn't commit any crime in Ireland at all so why even be arrested.
              Yes it is an extreme case but you could do the same thing with Telephone and or wire fraud.

              Simple truth is this guy is going to get a slap on the wrist and maybe some time in a low security country club prison.
              Odds are he will get timed served and be sent back with probation.

          • That's a very slippery slope you are on. If there is a legal differential, there is a societal differential. If the difference did not exist, the laws would be in harmony. Which would imply that extradition would not be needed.

            Extreme examples abound -- countries that refuse to extradite criminals that would be executed, because execution is deemed morally wrong in one jurisdiction, and morally right in another.

            Now, in this case, breaking into a computer is considered wrong in both jurisdictions. Why extradite? The only reason to is to apply a different punishment. It will either be more, or less, severe. But, understand, it will be different and not in accord with the original countries societal norms.

            Since the defendant is a member of the original country, and, by extension a member of its society, he should be tried in accordance with its societal norms.

            It interests me that this is exactly what he requested.

            It is morally wrong for the leaders of his society to permit this extradition. In doing so, they show themselves to be either weak or dismissive of the democracy that elected them. The last time I checked, the UK was a democracy, and under its own rule.

            The defendant did not commit the crimes in the US, and didn't physically flee US jurisdiction. If this had occurred, I would be supportive of his extradition.

            Only the most extreme sentences can overturn the right to be held accountable to ones society. These are generally (in my society) those which will also refugee status to be granted. Simple theft, breaking and entering, or computer crime come nowhere near this bar.

            Allowing this extradition means that the UK government is abdicating its sovereignty. The people of the UK should push to bring down this government, as it is no longer following the rule of UK law and society.

        • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:56PM (#32982338)

          Of course he should stand trial. In the UK.

          Crimes are usually prosecuted where the body falls - and not where the shot was fired.

          That would allow the criminal to choose a safe venue from which to commit his crimes by remote control.

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Crimes are usually prosecuted where the body falls - and not where the shot was fired.

            That would allow the criminal to choose a safe venue from which to commit his crimes by remote control.

            So if I sit on US soil and blow up your boat in international waters by remote control, the US can't prosecute me for breaking federal laws?

            But if someone in the US puts up a picture of two ladies kissing on a Saudi Arabian web site, they should be extradited with the possibility of being stoned to death?

      • Re:Asperger's (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:12PM (#32981754) Journal

        To quote myself from when this discussion came up earlier:

        For the sake of argument, let's say that we all agree that the crime occurred on US soil (and even that is by no means a unanimous opinion). The UK will only allow the extradition of they believe that he will receive a fair trial and (if found guilty) a reasonable punishment for the crimes he has been accused of.

        This is a man with some psychological problems who appears to have made a very very stupid decision by breaking in to some poorly secured US government computers. There was little actual harm done. The consensus seems to be that in the UK he would receive a slap on the wrist, maybe some psychiatric treatment, perhaps some limitations on his future access to computers. At the time he faced a maximum of six months in a UK prison.

        The US are calling him a terrorist, and lining him up for the distinct possibility of several decades, maybe even life, in a federal prison.

        Do you believe he would get off lightly if extradited to the US, or do you think he would be made an example of? If the former, why? If the latter, do you think it is still fair to extradite him?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Paracelcus (151056)

          1. "The US are calling him a terrorist"
                  The US calls everybody a "terrorist"

          2. "Do you believe he would get off lightly if extradited to the US"
                "The US is world famous for unreasonable draconian sentencing!

          3. "or do you think he would be made an example of?"
                A show trial in a US federal will be as fair as any Medieval Auto de fé and just as much of a spectacle.

      • >>>If he had robbed a bank no one would be rallying to his cause.

        But it's not a crime to rob a bank if the front door was left unlocked..... and you didn't actually rob anything, but just left a note saying "Hi. I was here." You could be charged with trespassing maybe but that's about it. And even then you could claim you thought the bank was open for business.

    • Re:Asperger's (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:51PM (#32981442)

      You're mixing it up. Free Mitnick was about the 3 years of no due process. It didn't matter if he was guilty or not at that point--the law states that a lack of due process means you go free. The gov't didn't do that, but should have, hence the outcry of support.

    • where people support a guy who legitimately deserves legal punishment just to make themselves feel compassionate.

      Which would be more democratic and which would be more moral? Letting him go with lesson learned or legal ramifications.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        How about letting the courts in the country where the crime may committed hold the trial? No extradition required.

        • Was it committed in the UK? Hacking into US Hardware could be analogized to breaking into house in the US.

          NOT extraditing him would probably set a bad precedent - leaving every country open to cyber attacks if any crimes committed against another nation are not covered in extradition treaties.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Nadaka (224565)

            You break into a house in the US and you are in the US.

            You host pirated movies in Sweden and you can ignore DMCA requests.

            Look at it this way...

            I sure as hell don't want to get extradited to Saudi Arabia and be executed for premarital sex when the act is only a misdemeanor in Mississippi where it was actually committed.

            Extradition, in this case, most certainly does represent a very bad precedent.

            • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Informative)

              by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:54PM (#32982318) Journal

              Than you don't understand how Extradition really works.

              There is a reason there are Extradition treaties. Murder may be illegal in many countries but we generally still extradite them back to where the crime was committed to properly serve justice at a sentence deemed appropriate by those affected. (We'll also make note that there is no extradition treaty to Saudi Arabia, because their laws vary so much).

              The ambiguity falls on where this crime was comitted, the individual was not in the States, but the information he was accessing was. The victims of the crimes are in the States and thats why it should be held there. (As there is no victim in Pre-marital Sex, it wouldn't make sense to extradite someone to the middle east either).

              Not serving Extradition will only serve to sever the ties between the two nations.

    • Re:Asperger's (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:53PM (#32981466) Homepage Journal

      This is starting to sound like another "Free Mitnick" movement, where people support a guy who legitimately deserves legal punishment just to make themselves feel compassionate.

      I don't think there's much argument over whether the guy should be punished. The argument is over how severely he should be punished, given that he 1) didn't cause any damage, 2) wasn't acting out of malice, and 3) was at least accomplish what he did in large part due to the incompetence of those who are, in theory, supposed to be competent in protecting themselves from such attacks.

      What people are worried about is that he is going to have the book thrown at him not because of the merits of what his actions deserve, but because he caused a national embarrassment and those who prosecuted him want to use him as an example, a deterrence to others.

      Plus, there's a legitimate question of jurisdiction. If I commit a crime at point A against someone at point B that is thousands of miles away, who gets to decide what the punishment is? The legal system at point A, where the crime was actually being committed, or the legal system at point B, where the target or victim of the crime is located? When dealing with the U.S., there's a general impression that it's always in the U.S. regardless of who did what where, and to be honest, there's a pretty good foundation for that impression. Cases like this don't help.

      In this sense, I do not blame the British people for not wanting American "justice" slamming down on one of their own citizens. If I were British, I'd be fighting tooth and nail against this extradition, too. Not so much because I care for this particular individual, but because I wouldn't want to be extradited because I supposedly committed a crime in some other country from the comfort of the living room of my suburban castle thousands of miles away.

      • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Informative)

        by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:05PM (#32981668) Homepage

        Plus, there's a legitimate question of jurisdiction. If I commit a crime at point A against someone at point B that is thousands of miles away, who gets to decide what the punishment is? The legal system at point A, where the crime was actually being committed, or the legal system at point B, where the target or victim of the crime is located? When dealing with the U.S., there's a general impression that it's always in the U.S. regardless of who did what where, and to be honest, there's a pretty good foundation for that impression. Cases like this don't help.

        Indeed, it's interesting that this is posted on the same day as the the Senate unanimously decides to prohibit libel tourism [slashdot.org]. The idea there was presumably that if you do something in one country, you act under that country's legal jurisdiction. Extradition would make sense if he could only be prosecuted in the US, however what he did is an offense under the UK's Computer Misuse Act and he could be appropriately punished under UK law. The only reason to demand an extradition was to inflict a much harsher punishment than the UK courts would be likely to hand down (probably less than the maximum five years).

        • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Zantac69 (1331461) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:32PM (#32982028) Journal

          Indeed, it's interesting that this is posted on the same day as the the Senate unanimously decides to prohibit libel tourism. The idea there was presumably that if you do something in one country, you act under that country's legal jurisdiction. Extradition would make sense if he could only be prosecuted in the US, however what he did is an offense under the UK's Computer Misuse Act and he could be appropriately punished under UK law. The only reason to demand an extradition was to inflict a much harsher punishment than the UK courts would be likely to hand down (probably less than the maximum five years).

          Apples and turnips.

          The idea under the libel tourism bit is to protect free speech in the America. This is a hacking case. The hacking activity is a crime in both places - and the crime itself took place in both palces. Computer Misuse was violated in UK. Hacking was committed inside the UK, but the target was in US jurisdiction.

          From my POV, he should be prosecuted in UK under the terms of Computer Misuse Act and be appropriately punished (if found guilty) under UK law. Also, he should be he should be tried under US law for his crimes committed in US jurisdiction.

          The dollar figure is BS - its not like he did damage to the hardware, programs, or data. But he did hack the system...and should be punished.

          And regarding the Asperger's crap - that is not an excuse.

          • Re:Asperger's (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @04:18PM (#32982618)

            The dollar figure is BS - its not like he did damage to the hardware, programs, or data. But he did hack the system...and should be punished.

            Not for the people who are involved. If your systems get "browsed through" would you not be combing through just to make sure the guy didn't decide to do something malicious instead? Or do you trust the hacker that just cracked your SSH password that all he did was "look around"?

            The numerical amount may be high, but that could encompass a lot of costs in having to hire forensic investigators to check out each and every system (since breaking into one can also lead to breaking into others). So you've got the cost of downtime for everyone using the systems (because you want to freeze the system for investigation), the cost of the investigation itself, plus the cost of incidentals (e.g., changing passwords, etc).

            No sane admin treats a system that was "just looked over" as untouched - they all treat it as someone intentionally put something on the machine, and until proven otherwise, the machine is untrustworthy.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Mitreya (579078)
              The numerical amount may be high, but that could encompass a lot of costs in having to hire forensic investigators to check out each and every system (since breaking into one can also lead to breaking into others). So you've got the cost of downtime for everyone using the systems (because you want to freeze the system for investigation), the cost of the investigation itself, plus the cost of incidentals (e.g., changing passwords, etc).

              I bet a lot of the "incidentals" included in the cost did include re-se

            • Re:Asperger's (Score:4, Insightful)

              by dissy (172727) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:34PM (#32984244)

              Not for the people who are involved. If your systems get "browsed through" would you not be combing through just to make sure the guy didn't decide to do something malicious instead? Or do you trust the hacker that just cracked your SSH password that all he did was "look around"?

              Well maybe if that had any bearing on reality...

              As the case happens to be, not a single of those systems had a password. He just hit enter at that prompt.

              So no, I fully believe that if you refuse to set a password on your computer when its painfully obvious to anyone passwords exist and can be used, then no you won't give a rats ass when someone else accesses that data.

              In this case, the people whos JOB it was, assigned by our government, who were tasked with securing these systems from the public, are the ones that need to be in prison on death row for treason charges.

              The system operators refusing to put passwords on it are the ones that provided the window of opportunity for true terrorists to take advantage of their stupidity and cause massive harm to our country.
              These assholes got paid to make sure this didn't happen, and clearly are incompetent as they don't know what a password is.
              It is besides the fact that no actual terrorist attack happened, but they sure as fuck held the door open for them so deserve punished for all the potential crimes that are a direct result of their actions.

              Deal with the real problem first, and set a password. If someone actually broke in through a password, we might be a little more sympathetic.

              And before anyone says "But it shouldn't be MY fault if someone breaks in my house cuz I didn't lock my door..." sure, maybe, unless you accepted the job of securing that house from terrorists and accepted a fat paycheck to do so, AND lied to the public claiming you are doing a great job securing that house.
              Then yes, yes it is your fault, and yes you should be held accountable.

              If hitting enter on a password prompt is a crime, then the person not setting that password committed it, as they are the only person who could do anything about it. Not the person hitting enter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shimbo (100005)

        If I were British, I'd be fighting tooth and nail against this extradition, too. Not so much because I care for this particular individual, but because I wouldn't want to be extradited because I supposedly committed a crime in some other country from the comfort of the living room of my suburban castle thousands of miles away.

        Also the low burden of proof that the US authorities need to provide is an issue. It's made a bit of a nonsense of the 'fast track' extradition process: after several years, and appeals to the House of Lords, the case is still ongoing. Would it have been so burdensome for the US to have laid an outline case before a magistrate in the first place?

      • by Pulzar (81031)

        3) was at least accomplish what he did in large part due to the incompetence of those who are, in theory, supposed to be competent in protecting themselves from such attacks

        This is completely irrelevant. If I shoot somebody because their bodyguard is incompetent, I shouldn't receive any less of a punishment for the crime.

        • by Ciggy (692030)

          Is it completely irrelevant?

          If you shoot somebody because their bodyguard was incompetent and didn't ensure that his protectee was properly protected, then I'm sure that relatives of the shootee would have grounds to sue him for at least breach of contract, or perhaps they might go as far as considering that the bodyguard aided and abetted you by turning a blind eye, stepping out of the line of fire, etc?

          If what he did was accomplished in large part due to the actions of those who were supposed to ensure th

      • by pz (113803)

        Plus, there's a legitimate question of jurisdiction. If I commit a crime at point A against someone at point B that is thousands of miles away, who gets to decide what the punishment is? The legal system at point A, where the crime was actually being committed, or the legal system at point B, where the target or victim of the crime is located?

        I am not a lawyer (otherwise I probably would already know the answer to this): if, in the United States, a person in State A, standing very close to the border with State B, fires a gun, the bullet from which kills someone standing across the border in State B, who has jurisdiction?

        It seems like that sort of question would have been already answered, even if questions of crimes committed remotely through the Internet have not been fully thrashed out.

      • by westlake (615356)

        The argument is over how severely he should be punished, given that he 1) didn't cause any damage, 2) wasn't acting out of malice, and 3) was at least accomplish what he did in large part due to the incompetence of those who are, in theory, supposed to be competent in protecting themselves from such attacks.

        Imagine that a hacker makes his way into your system.

        How much money and how many man-hours will it take to investigate and repair the breach?

        Will you give a rat's ass about his motives?

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Imagine that a hacker makes his way into your system.

          My system has better security than US military seems to have, but let's ignore that for the sake of argument.

          How much money and how many man-hours will it take to investigate and repair the breach?

          Who cares? I'm doing that work because I left my computer wide open to attack. If I can't simply restore a backup... though.

          And in any case, this is not anyone's system. This is something's system. All these "imagine someone broke into your home/system/whatev

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        1) didn't cause any damage,

        Wish people would stop this fallacy! The second he broke in, damage was done. As a result of his break in, lots and lots of man hours are now required to detect, document, re-install, document, fix, document, validate, document. And that's not counting related systems which must now also be validated to determine their trustworthiness. No ifs, ands, or buts, damage absolutely was done.

        2) wasn't acting out of malice,

        Might have a bearing on punishing. Has no bearing on prosecution unless there exists extenuating circumstances which may oth

      • by IICV (652597)

        What people are worried about is that he is going to have the book thrown at him not because of the merits of what his actions deserve, but because he caused a national embarrassment and those who prosecuted him want to use him as an example, a deterrence to others.

        And then they wonder why we don't have enough "cyberwarriors" [slashdot.org] to properly secure our networks.

      • Might != Right (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:13PM (#32983304) Journal

        You know, the whole "victims are to blame if they didn't make the crime impossible" meme is starting to rub me the wrong way.

        No doubt, some people should have secured their computers better. But, no, that doesn't automatically give anyone right to do something just because they can.

        There are millions of homes out there that just about anyone who isn't a quadriplegic _can_ break in. If nothing else, an axe takes care of most doors and a simple brick can defeat most windows. Talk about gaping security holes when securing one's home, eh? We should start excusing the criminals because the homeowners didn't make their house as secure as a bunker, eh? Well, no, it doesn't work that way.

        There are millions of bycicles out there that one can steal quite easily for a quick joyride. Most of the older locks can be "bumped" by a 10 year old. But no, we don't excuse someone just because the bike wasn't impossible to steal.

        Etc.

        In no other domain do we think, "well, the victim failed to make the crime impossible, so the criminal has a good excuse there." Being able to do something isn't and never was an automatic right to do it.

        So, really, exactly why should #3 even be a factor at all when it comes to computers? Just because to some nerds the harm _they_ can do should be legal, while harm done to them (e.g., bullying in school) should be a hanging offence? Do some people have delusions of being royalty, or what?

    • Disagree. The "right" and "wrong" here though is so muddied in this situation. He left notes for the admins pointing out the holes. His "wrong" is indeed in the vein of social behavior and not moral behavior, in my opinion. If it was his moral behavior then why would he have left the notes?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You're missing the point - Asperger's doesn't justify his crime, but it may make him unfit to stand trial, particularly if he is removed from his home and taken to a foreign nation he sees as hostile.

    • Re:Asperger's (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:00PM (#32981600)

      Citing Asperger's as a medical condition to prevent extradition is silly. Being socially deficient doesn't make you incapable of determining right and wrong, if in fact he really has the condition at all considering the ridiculous amount of self-diagnosis out there. Genuine Asperger's is a form of autism and deeply impacts your life.

      As someone who works very closely with children diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, I can tell you that some of them are very incapable of determining right from wrong. Some of them are extremely violent, and will threaten to stab or kill the other children (these are kids in kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2). They don't understand why it is not acceptable to say and do these things.

      I'm not saying that McKinnon should get away with what he did, because he shouldn't. But saying that his illness should not be taken into account is absurd and inhumane.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jedi Alec (258881)

        As someone who was diagnosed by a professional(several in fact), I can confirm that as a kid I did not have a single clue regarding right or wrong except where it pertained to getting caught. Quite frankly it took till my early 20's before I really developed a moral code of my own.

      • Mad Parent Up! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lifyre (960576)

        My mother is in a very similar situation as you, she teaches children with aspergers and autism. I grew around children of all ages 5-19 that had these issues. Some of them were much worse than others but many of them definitely didn't understand right and wrong, at least not in the way you and I do.

        I don't know much about the merit's of this case but if what I understand is that he wasn't malicious and actually tried to help the admins out by leaving them notes on how to fix things then this is certainly

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      It does not appear that this guy is insane. He's just a moron. He should be tried, and if found guilty, the court should take his stupidity and intent into consideration when sentencing. Because he was an idiot rather than a spy or saboteur, he will likely get a light sentence.

    • Citing Asperger's as a medical condition to prevent extradition is silly.

      Well, then, it would be very appropriate in a exceedingly silly extradition request, don't you think?

  • US wants to lock him up for pointing out our blank password mess.

    This seem to be about making him a political prisoner!

    • by canajin56 (660655) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:06PM (#32981680)
      Yes, assuming the government is lying, you are totally correct. If you believe McKinnon, he deleted no files, he did nothing harmful at all, and only accessed computers with no passwords protecting them. The government maintains that he download classified documents, that the machines were protected, and that he also download the computers' password files to facilitate further break-ins. He himself admits to leaving a note saying that he will continue to disrupt their networks at the highest level if they do not admit 9/11 was an inside job. He also claims that the reason the government is making up all of these "facts" to prosecute him with is that they are afraid it will get out that the army and airforce have advanced free-energy reactors and anti-gravity fields that they reverse engineered from crashed UFOs. So, to silence him they want to have him shipped to Guantanimo Bay and executed. He says he found clear evidence of UFO encounters (256 MB photos from the ISS clearly showing UFOs), and NASA documents detailing the reverse engineering of free energy reactors, but he was so excited and stoned that he forgot to save them to his computer.
    • The dude humiliated the US Government by highlighting their criminally slipshod security practices.
      Obviously, the proper reward for such civic-minded behavior is to lock him in a cage with killers and rapists.
  • They still can't find enough skilled applicants for their "Cyberwarrior" squad!
    • by Rijnzael (1294596)
      Finding blank passwords doesn't exactly qualify one as 'skilled'. Though it doesn't really qualify him as a threat, either. I hope if he is extradited that he'll be returned to the UK to serve out a relatively light sentence, preferably something akin to probation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tobiah (308208)

        Identifying blank passwords as a problem makes him a lot more qualified than the people the feds have been hiring!

  • by ceraphis (1611217) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:47PM (#32981372)
    Asperger's, you never cease to amaze me. Somehow used as a sign of genius amongst hackers while at the same time being reason you should have charges dropped.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ebuck (585470)

      Asperger's, you never cease to amaze me. Somehow used as a sign of genius amongst hackers while at the same time being reason you should have charges dropped.

      That's the genius of it!

  • Then why (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:47PM (#32981380)
    is the US Government trying to force the British Prime Minister to intervene in the Scottish courts over Meghrabi? US politicians seem to be doing their best to make Cameron feel that anti-British sentiment is alive and kicking. I quite realise that we actually are a declining little country of no great importance to the US except as a kicking boy, but they should be aware that Etonians are trained to hide their real feelings - and exact revenge at a time that suits them.
    • Re:Then why (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rijnzael (1294596) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @02:55PM (#32981516)
      Because people pursue things which hold interest to them.

      Scenario 1: Obama shows leniency; McKinnon admits guilt and Obama pardons him. That shows weakness and would be ample fodder for his detractors.

      Secnario 2: Obama gets up in arms about it and pursues extradition. It makes him look anti-British.

      It's on the UK to fight extradition using whatever weapons are at their disposal, be it political capital or UK procedures of extradition. McKinnon's case couldn't really be more inconsequential to high-up US authorities.
      • by H0p313ss (811249)

        McKinnon's case couldn't really be more inconsequential to high-up US authorities.

        Sadly it would seem pretty inconsequential to British authorities also. They seem to have no interest at all in fighting this extradition.

    • is the US Government trying to force the British Prime Minister to intervene in the Scottish courts over Meghrabi?

      Because Meghrabi is the person who an international court found to be responsible for a plane bombing that killed 189 Americans (and 270 human beings in total)? And Meghrabi was recently released on erroneous health problems and living like a national hero in Libya?

      On the other hand, McKinnon's guilty of social hacking and getting access to some NASA machines he shouldn't have had access to? And also maybe guilty of being a certifiable nutjob?

      Can you spot the difference? And understand why one

      • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:15PM (#32981794)
        You really do not understand, do you? You say

        And Meghrabi was recently released on erroneous health problems

        . I do hope that you realise that you are libelling a number of Scottish doctors, as you have no evidence for that statement - many cancers do have unexpected periods of remission. Meghrabi was convicted under Scottish law - not by an International Court - and was also released under Scottish law - which, by the way, Cameron cannot legally interfere with, as it is separate from the English legal system.

        You may not like Scottish law. I personally consider aspects of US Law, like your constant reference to an 18th century document to deal with 21st century issues, to be laughable. But if someone is tried, convicted and dealt with under sovereign Scottish law, US politicians have no business whatever interfering. The McKinnon case, similarly, is one of someone who should have been dealt with under English law - but the US interfered.

        However, my basic point is that pissing off a new Prime Minister is likely to be counterproductive in the long term. Your failure to understand this seems to be shared by a large number of your countrymen.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by eldavojohn (898314) *

          I do hope that you realise that you are libelling a number of Scottish doctors, as you have no evidence for that statement - many cancers do have unexpected periods of remission.

          I can't help it if the doctors don't understand long tail statistics or if they can't understand giving percent confidences on time spans. They gave this man three months to live over one year ago. If you are saying it's libelous for me to call them out on an error on their part then I guess I don't mind being called libelous.

          Meghrabi was convicted under Scottish law - not by an International Court

          The court itself was in the Netherlands [wikipedia.org]. How is that not an international court?!

          - and was also released under Scottish law - which, by the way, Cameron cannot legally interfere with, as it is separate from the English legal system.

          What on Earth are you talking about? Scotland is part of the UK. David Cameron is the UK Prime Min

          • by Knackered (311164) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @04:28PM (#32982766)

            The court itself was in the Netherlands [wikipedia.org]. How is that not an international court?!

            The trial was held under Scottish law. That was part of the compromise that led to him being handed over in the first place. The physical location of the court, in this instance, is irrelevant.

            - and was also released under Scottish law - which, by the way, Cameron cannot legally interfere with, as it is separate from the English legal system.

            What on Earth are you talking about? Scotland is part of the UK. David Cameron is the UK Prime Minister. And you're telling me he has no grounds to interfere? I must seriously be missing something here.

            You are missing something. Scotland has a separate legal system from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The continuance of the legal system was one of the conditions of the Act of Union in 1707. As the UK PM, David Cameron cannot directly interfere with decisions of the Scottish courts. He can't interfere by proposing Scottish laws either, since that power is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Since this is criminal law, the new Supreme Court of the UK does not have jurisdiction either.

        • I personally consider aspects of US Law, like your constant reference to an 18th century document to deal with 21st century issues, to be laughable.

          That "18th century document" is the only thing giving the United States federal government any legal standing whatsoever. Without it they have plenty of practical power but no legitimacy. Ergo, it has significant bearing on every aspect of U.S. law. Its age is irrelevant.

          Government is force. That is its sole purpose. It is quite possibly the most dangerous thing there is in modern society, more insidius than organized crime, more deadly than terrorism, and potentially more disruptive than a full-scale forei

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blair1q (305137)

      Meghrabi killed hundreds of people, and the Scottish government fucked up his punishment. That's worthy of the President's attention.

      This dope hacked into some computers and nobody got killed. It's not worthy of the President's time to dick around in the legal filigree on this. At the point where it's no longer mechanistic and it seems the British government is fucking with America over the case, then it may be necessary to make a formal request from the White House to straighten it out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HBI (604924)

      Oh don't believe Obama or his minions, there's no anti-Brit sentiment. Any idiot over here could tell you that. And our current occupant in the White House is one of the biggest.

    • Because Obama hates the British. Americans in general like the British. Supposedly, Obama holds a grudge against the British because his Kenyan grandfather was abused by the British after the Mau Mau uprising. I am not sure I believe that, but Obama has definitely shown that he has an antipathy towards the British (returning the Winston Churchill bust--not so much the returning as the timing, inapropriate courtesy gifts to the PM and the Queen).
    • by john82 (68332)

      Then again, it was a UK court (albeit in Scotland) which freed Meghrabi on the basis of what now appears to be a faulty medical diagnosis. So much for only having months to live.

      You should also know that there is considerable speculation in the US of pleas on his behalf by British Petroleum as part of some deal with Libya to benefit BP. Whether that is true or not, BP is not particularly popular in the US right now after the little mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      indeed dont forget there is an arm of the tory party that blame roosvelt and the US for the loss of the colonies.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @03:14PM (#32981772) Homepage Journal

    Interesting that this becomes all about McKinnon. What about the fact that he uncovered the fact that the military is running an alternate space program completely "off the books" and has hundreds of troops serving "off-planet"? Maybe one of the reasons NASA is being cut back is because the real activity is happening by the military, using their "black" budget.

    People with Asperger's are not known for their ability to dissemble and come up with fanciful stories. In fact, one quality that comes up time and time again in descriptions of Asperger's sufferers is that they are unable to tell the "little white lies" that most of us tell every day in order to socialize. When meeting someone, someone with Asperger's is liable to say "You're fat!" or "You're ugly" when meeting someone, well, fat or ugly.

    McKinnon found evidence of what might be a military base in outer space, but everyone wants to focus on this little legal ping-pong between the US and the UK.

    Excuse me now, I have to get back to Above Top Secret.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @04:04PM (#32982446)

    To the White House for a beer.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:16PM (#32983344)
    Ombama recognizes a Constitutional limit to his authority? This isn't April 1st, timothy.
    • by nschubach (922175)

      I'm trying to figure this out too. How does Obama have any say in what happens to this guy?

  • One view (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @05:43PM (#32983672)
    (tags for the benefit of the Americans)

    [sarcasm] Of course, this has NOTHING to do with making the US military etc. look like a bunch of idiots when it comes to cyber security.
    To make up for their embarrassment they wouldn't DREAM of taking it out on some dodgy hacker that made them look like n00bs. [sarcasm = off]
    The US authorities are stamping their collective feet like self-entitled 3rd graders, trying desperately to deflect any criticism of their woeful security practices.

    This whole affair may have something to do with a one-sided extradition treaty with the UK that meant that USA could just about say "we want that person to be extradited", with no prima facie case & the UK had little say in the matter.
    However the same did not apply with the UK wanting US citizens extradited to the UK.Can we say "one law for the Americans & another for the rest of the world?
    Naturally, this law was enacted under the stewardship of the well-known Bush poodle called Blair. Surprising, huh?

  • Reciprocality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dugeen (1224138) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @05:04AM (#32987412) Journal
    If the terms of the Bush-Blair extradition treaty were reciprocal, US posters would be up in arms, and rightly so, because it would allow US citizens to be deported to the UK for trial on the unsupported word of British law enforcement authorities.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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