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The Courts United States

Hacker McKinnon To Be Extradited To US 571

Vainglorious Coward writes "When UK hacker and Asperger's sufferer Gray McKinnon lost the judicial review of his case it seemed likely that he would be extradited to the US to face charges of hacking almost a hundred systems causing $700,000 worth of damage. Today the UK home secretary rejected his last-ditch attempt to avoid extradition adding that 'his extradition to the United States must proceed forthwith.' McKinnon's relatives are expressing concerns for his health, with his lawyer going so far as to claim that extradition would make the 43-year-old's death 'virtually certain.'"
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Hacker McKinnon To Be Extradited To US

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  • Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:01PM (#30240422)

    ...and Asperger's sufferer...

    This has NOTHING to do with this issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:03PM (#30240434)

    I hope you are proud of yourselves.

    $700k of damages, my arse. They couldn't even secure their own networks against a UFO nut. FAIL. Sort out your own problems instead, like paying proper money to hire people who can secure networks, don't go looking to blame someone when the inevitable happens.

  • Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryjohnston ( 1118069 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:07PM (#30240462) Homepage

    The crime took place on British soil. Why is he being extradited?

    Or, if you want to take the view that the servers were on US soil, why have people posting to US servers been prosecuted in Britain for hate speech? You can't have it both ways.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:09PM (#30240486) Homepage Journal

    Losers believe that having Asperger's Syndrome excuses all forms of social retardation, attention whoring and shitty self-absorbed bullshit, while also allowing them to lay claim to its supposed symptom of "higher than average levels of intelligence".

    For these reasons, Aspers has greatly outstripped ADHD as the chic diagnosis of choice for pretty much every group of fucktards on the internet. It is no wonder then that all people with Assburgers are fugly.

    Posting Dramatica articles is usually lame, but they're spot-on with that. Here's [] another famous Assperger's fuckup.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:14PM (#30240528)

    If you don't live in the USA you hardly stand much a chance of getting fair trial if you are extradited. Firstly you need money for a private attorney if you want a real shot at a fair trial (public defenders are a joke most of the time; innocent people go to jail all the time - just look at he innocence project). And you are not allowed to work while you are awaiting trail in the USA further guaranteeing you getting screwed over. You are not familiar with the legal system - again another nail in the coffin of obtaining a fair trial. And consider that you don't know anyone to turn to for advice. And then you have to consider cultural factors - a jury in the USA is going to be less sympathetic to a foreigner.

    Of course in this case its even worse - what he did would be a lesser crime in the UK. Why someone should subject to a foreign countries laws while doing something that is not in that foreign county amazes me. We don't give foreigners the vote so why should they be subject to our laws when not in our country. Let him be subject to British laws and let the British system deal with him (ie for his hacking).

    He also has Asperger's Syndrome and this form of autism could really be a stress factor leading to suicude. A trial in a foreign country is no small deal. The whole thing stinks.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:15PM (#30240536) Journal

    If I was his defense attorney, it sure the hell would.

  • Re:UK citizen? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:19PM (#30240562)

    I have not read much on this case, from skimming his wikipedia page [] seems he is a UK citizen, right? Why would the UK extradite a citizen to the US? If it were the other way around I think an extradition would be very unlikely.

    I honestly don't understand why so many people think he shouldn't be extradited. The way most extradition treaties work is if you commit a crime in or against a country with which you have an extradition treaty, and if that crime is also a crime in your home country, then you are extradited. I think Britain has hacking laws, so this seems fairly clear cut. Why do so many people have a problem with extraditing him? Is it because you think hacking shouldn't be a crime, or what?

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:24PM (#30240608) Homepage

    I though there was a UN convention that prohibited extradition to countries that practice torture or won't give a person due process. Given the US recent track record on torture and the probability that he will be tried in a military court it should be fairly easy to get his extradition cancelled. But then again, the US and the UK are not all that much different and if closer together would probably become a single country. Maybe he should appeal to the EU court for the protection of Human Rights in Geneva and he probably will. This dude will be in prison for a very long time.

  • $700,000 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leathered ( 780018 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:29PM (#30240654)

    That figure is the alleged cost of upgrading the security of these systems after the attack, not the result of any 'damage' that he may have caused. I'm not in any way condoning what he has done and Asperger's is no excuse but the desktops that he accessed were often Internet facing with blank or weak administrator passwords, seems to me like there should be some sysadmins on trial with him for gross negligence.

    My analogy (no car sorry) would be that it's like a robbed bank having to spend $700,000 on a vault after realising that keeping the money in wooden boxes in the back yard is inadequate.

  • Re:UK citizen? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David Horn ( 772985 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:30PM (#30240662) Homepage

    People have an issue with this because if convicted in America he will face the rest of his life (however long or short it may be) languishing in a high security American prison. In the UK we do at least give the majority of our prisoners the chance of rehabilitation.

    The above comment disregarding the fact that a US jury is almost certainly likely to be biased against a foreigner; his inability to qualify for any capable legal aid; and an unfamiliarity with the US legal system seems to me an excellent reason to allow him to be tried at home. I imagine that they're also looking to try him under a terrorism-related charge, which is patently not what he set out to achieve.

    However, this is now boiling down to a deeper issue of a massive disparity between the number of people extradited from the UK to the USA and vice-versa. I daresay the bulk of this is due to the fact that we do in fact harbour more potential terrorists, but at least some part of it is due to a government that just rolls over and takes it up the arse.

  • by gzunk ( 242371 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:31PM (#30240674) Homepage Journal

    And I don't care if I lose karma over this, but that stinks to high heaven.

    Oh, and the United States NEVER extradites its citizens. Big Bully Rules OK.

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by harryjohnston ( 1118069 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:38PM (#30240718) Homepage

    He wasn't in the US when the offences took place, so why would he be considered subject to US law?

    Why hasn't he been prosecuted in Britain?

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:38PM (#30240724)

    The same reason America refused to extradite IRA members known to have blown up innocent children with their bombing campaigns?

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:39PM (#30240728)

    It's often the case that the most stringent standard is applied against the individual. So you can be prosecuted for being a breaking US federal law while being outside the USA and not a citizen of the USA and yet not have a say in what the law is in the USA. Then you get denied the benefit of the law in the USA - eg posting so called hate speech on the USA server while in the UK.

    If the basis of law is consent of the governed and one who is governed never has a chance to give their consent it makes the whole concept of the 'rule of law' a farce. (I think if you are being extradited ot the USA for a crime not committed in the USA you should be able to vote while awaiting trial and given all the rights of a citizen.)

    And of course if you are foreigner trying to visit the USA, then you can be treated like shit and deported. No right to work - crap all. So when the government wants to treat you like someone who belongs in the USA they can and when they want to treat you like an alien they can.

    You also have to ask by what right does country x have to prosecute person 'a' for an action taken in country y. The person was not in the jurisdiction of country x when the crime was committed.

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:41PM (#30240750)

    Moral of the story: Governments will prosecute what they think they can win when they think they can win where they think they can win. The US will probably seek to extradite UK citizens who screw up US servers and vice versa. This is partly due to the fact that jurisdiction in the digital age is an absolute bitch; maybe in 10 years the laws will have caught up to the late 90s.

    Prosecuting hate speech, however, is likely to be a British phenomenon, and they're likely to be very...british about it. I highly recommend a constitution with amendments protecting free speech in the future.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harryjohnston ( 1118069 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:43PM (#30240772) Homepage

    Why would it be inappropriate to prosecute him in Britain, where the crime actually took place?

  • Re:UK citizen? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:43PM (#30240780) Homepage
    +1 Informative. While the UK-US extradition treaty is somewhat biased in favour of the US, this is precisely why is being extradited. He's never denied commiting the crime, and frankly given what has been revealled about the incompetence of the US agencies involved I'm surprised that they still want all that dirty laundry aired in what will almost certainly be a media circus.

    The reason the waters are so muddy is because some of McKinnon's supporters have made Aspergers out to be something that it is not; a get out of jail free card of some kind. Contrary to what some of McKinnon's supporters might think, it does not in any way make it conceivable that McKinnon did not know right from wrong or understand the potential consequences of his actions. The only thing is does is mean that he has some legitimate medical and psychological requirements that the US must be able to meet before the extradition can proceed, and since those are pretty easy to meet then, barring intervention from the EU, it's a done deal.

    Personally, I think McKinnon's defense team royally screwed up. Once he had admitted his guilt and the Asperger's diagnosis was made, they should have used that to press for a trial in the UK, against UK laws and sentencing guidelines, with any sentence also being served in the UK. Both sides could have said that justice had been done, and McKinnon would have got off with a slap on the wrist and at worst a short sentence in a minimum security prison with time off for good behaviour, and quite possibly at the weekends as well. All this would have been over years ago, and he'd have probably made a small fortune out of selling his story to the tabloids and publishing an auto-biography by now.
  • by AKMask ( 843456 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:48PM (#30240812)
    That's crap. The stress doesn't 'cause' him to do that, he chooses to if thats what he wants to do. It's the same trick a 4 year old tries when they threaten to hold their breath till you give them what they want. He needs to grow up.
  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:48PM (#30240814)
    He didn't "break in to a highly sensitive military computer network". He leaned against the door and found it opened. If he actually got into any sensitive areas, then the ones that belong into court are the incompetent idiots who couldn't even keep an amateur with two much time on his hands out of their networks.
  • In your example, the actual crime would be launching the missile, which happened where? Britain. In the real case, the crime was sending malicious instructions to a computer, which happened where? Britain.

    In both cases, the appropriate action would be to prosecute in Britain. You know, where the crime took place.

    Have you ever made a comment on a web site that could offend a religious group? Better hope the server wasn't located in Ireland, because that's illegal there, and you could be extradited. Ever criticised the Chinese government? Better hope the server wasn't located in China. And so on.

    Basically, this sets a really, really bad precedent.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:51PM (#30240846) Homepage Journal
    Though I think the Asperger's defense is simply the latest fad for justifying bratty sociopathic behavior which was enabled and tolerated, I firmly believe that it is wrong to extradite him. He was looking for UFO's, for fuck's sake, and I don't see why the Brits couldn't just fine him up the wazoo and make him work for free while on house-arrest. They guy's a nut, but he's not dangerous.

    And to say that if he "sold the information then lives could have been lost" is alarmist bullshit. Even military with mandatory OPSEC briefings and security clearances wouldn't believe that garbage (now, if we were at full-scale war with China or Russia then it'd be a different story altogether -- and c'mon, even the ACTA is being obscured on the grounds of "national security"). It's clear that they guy never intended to give our sekrits to terr'rists. The pentagon's just pissy that some nutcase exposed a goatse-esque security hole and now we want to make an example of him. Our government is behaving like a bunch of vengeful, steroid-addled, UFC-watching goons. Extradition is overkill in this particular case.

    The aspie and the American government are in a cute little contest to see who can out-douche the other. I'm going to laugh if the aspie fights this and wins it.
  • Re:Good grief! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:56PM (#30240886)

    Have you ever met anyone on the autistic spectrum?

    I *lived* with someone with aspergers.

    It taught me that someone can be a total and utter CUNT without actually being malicious about it.

    NEVER AGAIN. Never a-fucking-gain would I want to live with someone with the aspergers affectation.

  • Re:UK citizen? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:01PM (#30240920)

    I honestly don't understand why so many people think he shouldn't be extradited. The way most extradition treaties work is if you commit a crime in or against a country with which you have an extradition treaty, and if that crime is also a crime in your home country, then you are extradited.

    In German law, there are the following requirements:
    1. It must be a crime according to German law. (Check)
    2. It must happened in the country that asks for extradition. (Check. The hacking would be assumed to happen where it took effect, that is in the USA).
    3. There must be a guarantee for a fair trial (Definitely not. He'll do time not for hacking, but for embarrassing the US military).
    4. No cruel or unusual punishment (50 years for hacking would be considered both cruel and unusual).
    5. No extradition if the extradition itself is worse than a reasonable punishment. (There is a strong argument for that)

    Looks like very good reasons to not extradite. Of course in the UK there is this "special relationship" between Tony Blair and George Bush which overrides everything else.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:05PM (#30240958) Journal

    It's still trespass. The weak password defense is irrelevant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:05PM (#30240960)

    So anybody can get out of a crime committed on foregin soil by threatening to commit suicide?

    What is wrong with you?

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harryjohnston ( 1118069 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:06PM (#30240972) Homepage

    The funny thing about jurisdiction is that traditionally it is based on where the crime took place. Nowadays it seems to be a matter of convenience.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@ g m> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:16PM (#30241046)

    It's not irrelevant when you're talking about the "huge damages", like the GP did. And the damages are particularly important since you wouldn't extradite someone otherwise.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aphrika ( 756248 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:39PM (#30241210)
    Actually, Asperger's potentially has everything to do with the issue, both in the fact that it broadly defines his initial actions, and that extradition may prove to be a step too far. Asperger's sufferers perceive and process the world around them differently from typical people.

    Before I go on, yes I have been diagnosed with Asperger's. Do I use it as some magnificent excuse for stuff I do? No. Does knowing I suffer from it help me understand why I do what I do? Yes.

    Now, apart from the fact that Asperger's is well known for affecting a person's social interaction skills, it can also have an effect in a person's approach to interests and hobbies. Highly specialised and focused interests are common, as well as pursuing those interests to a degree that most people would describe as obsessive. Another key aspect is that they often have no understanding as to how their actions would or could affect others. These might or might not be related to why he initially broke into computers and got into trouble as much as he did. Case in point; when Napster was big first time round, I noticed some people were hosting music on database servers with default admin passwords. I spent weeks obsessively finding these servers and contacting sysadmins to point this out to them. Not hacking, but it goes some way to show how far a single, small observation can turn into a mission for someone with Aspergers.

    Now sure, it's for a court to agree on the intentions of people who hack, but the flip side of Asperger's is the social interaction issues I mentioned earlier.

    I personally get highly stressed out in situations I'm not used to and have to plan trips and holidays meticulously so that I don't panic. I have to know exactly what's going on. In most cases I'm in control of a situation fully and it doesn't pose too many problems. However in the case of extradition - where you are essentially forced into a system that you have no control over - I can't imagine what this guy is going through. However Asperger's affects people in varying ways, that's just my perception of it.

    Now, finally, I don't think Asperger's should be used as a cop out or an excuse, but it is medically defined and can be diagnosed. And as with other mental issues - even things such as dyslexia - it's incredibly difficult for others to understand exactly what it is and dismiss it as the flavour of the month thing to have. I've been diagnosed for 14 years by the way.

    Ultimately though, you have to ask yourself; why are they carting this guy off to the other side of the planet to do something that could quite easily be done here and cause him a lot less stress in the process? I'm not against the guy being tried for crimes, but just as Asperger's people make an effort to fit in with the way the world works, it'd be nice if some understanding were shown towards the condition and the impact it can have in certain situations.

    I'd imagine that extradition would/should be one of those situations.
  • Fair Trial? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Stan92057 ( 737634 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:44PM (#30241242)
    How is he going to get a fair trial,he will not have a jury of his peers,they all live in the UK. Are we going to extradite them as well??
  • by zblack_eagle ( 971870 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:55PM (#30241308)

    Sorry, it's more like someone going into people's homes while they're out if they left a door unlocked. It's trespass, it's an invasion of privacy, but there are no grounds for claiming that the person caused massive damage just by entering or leaving a note on the table. And if it's a business, bank or government building, whoever was responsible for security should get in more trouble for the intrusion than the person who committed an act of trespass.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:59PM (#30241340)

    Ever heard of the Insanity defense? []
    Ever heard of Cruel and Unusual punishment - 50 years for hacking into a computer. (hint see the Eighth Amendment of the US constitution)

  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:20PM (#30241478)

    The crime took place on British soil. Why is he being extradited?

    Or, if you want to take the view that the servers were on US soil, why have people posting to US servers been prosecuted in Britain for hate speech? You can't have it both ways.

    Several reasons. First the actual break ins took place on US soil he simply accomplished this remotely. Also this is a Federal crime involving security. If it was for a 911 attacker that helped plan the attack the US would demand their return and not be happy to have them tried in Saudia Arabia. Yes I know this wasn't 911 but we are talking laws and not acts and the laws are largely the same. I know the family is now upset but I have to question if they were aware of his behavior and if they attempted to stop him? He may have been after UFO data but this is a serious security breach and if the US didn't pursue the case then it sets a president for the next time some one does it and they may not be just after UFO records. I also consider his claims of finding records but he couldn't save them suspect. If he's a hacker I have to believe he's aware of "print screen"? Macs are big on blocking screen grabs but generally the utility works with PCs and even if it was disabled I'm fairly sure he could have used another method. I think his claims were more for rationalizing his behavior than any real world shattering info he found. The UFO extremist have all claimed the government is trying to shut him up but I have yet to hear anything world shaking revealed.

    This seems to be a straightforward case of illegally breaking into government computers. His medical condition complicates the matter but it doesn't excuse the behavior. He was well aware of the fact he was breaking the law and compromising security. He only got scared when he faced jail time. I tend to think the family was aware of what he was doing but didn't concern themselves with it until he got caught. If he wasn't fully aware of what he was doing then the family should have taken responsibility. Demanding special treatment after the fact is questionable. If he isn't responsible for his actions then he shouldn't be living alone. If he's known not to hack into other computers and he isn't responsible mentally then take away his computer and/or internet connection. If the guy was a pyromaniac he doesn't have the God given right to own and use matches and gasoline.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Cowpat ( 788193 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:24PM (#30241506) Journal

    not the US punishment system, that's for sure. Last time there was a high profile extradition from the UK to the US (the Natwest 3) when they arrived, they weren't tried. They were released on obscene bail, required to stay in the Houston area, and had to find work to support themselves and their legal defence for OVER A YEAR, and eventually accepted a plea bargain because they couldn't support any attempt to actually fight the charges.

    Now, how is someone who is unemployable supposed to support themselves, their legal defence, and medical bills? I reckon that he'll have a breakdown within a week.

  • by lorenlal ( 164133 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:28PM (#30241540)

    ...see the Eighth Amendment of the US constitution

    What is this "Constitution?" And if it's so important, why does it have amendments?

    The PATRIOT Act, DMCA, the RIAA, and the courts.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:30PM (#30241552)

    Do you also choose not to 'believe' in gravity or the electrostatic force? Perhaps the whole world is run by the tooth fairy?

    I never know what to say when people just outright reject decades of scientific evidence. And if on Slashdot of all places people don't understand the scientific method or just flatly deny it then maybe humanity is in big doodoo.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:31PM (#30241556)

    Another key aspect is that they often have no understanding as to how their actions would or could affect others.

    I was with you until this. That's just nonsense. That may apply in social situations, where it's easy to say the wrong thing. It *is* hard to predict people and their reactions. If this were a case of a hacker finding a vulnerability, reporting it, and expecting kudos and thanks instead of prosecution, then you might have a point.

    But there's nothing about Asperger's Syndrome that prevents or inhibits your ability to understand that if you break the law for your own purposes, you may face consequences. He may have been driven to crimes doorstep by an Asperger's induced obsession, but broke the lock and let himself in knowing full well what consequences might ensue and that doing so was illegal.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cyberllama ( 113628 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:35PM (#30241584)

    Yes, it is.

    But here's the thing, they're not just saying he trespessed. Nobody denies that. They're saying he caused 700k worth of damage, and that part is just nonsense. It's like if broke into your house, fell asleep on your bed, and left in the morning. You might figure out I was there, realize you should probably put some locks on your doors and maybe get an alarm system.

    Yes, in that scenario, I certainly broke the law -- but you don't get to claim I caused 3000 dollars worth of damage because it cost you 3000 dollars to put a lock on the door and get a security system. You should have had those things anyways.

    Asperger's is not a defense -- but 700k worth of damage? Give me a break.

  • Re:UK citizen? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:50PM (#30241684)
    The problem isn't with extradition. The problem is that extradition never seems to be equal even when a treaty is in place. The US will never so much as name, nevermind send the pilots that killed British soldiers in a 'friendly fire incident' to the inquests of those killed to establish what happened. Extradition shouldn't be necessary between supposed civilised and developed nations because we should have confidence in our own legal systems, as should those seeking punishment for crimes.

    The problem people have with this is that it is an utter whitewash designed to lick firmly in the arse crack of the US government and president.
  • Re:Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:54PM (#30241706)

    This assumes that the crime took place in Britain: a laughable proposal. It is true that the person doing the deed was in Britain at the time, but the damages were done on US soil. As others have mentioned, if you were to stand just on one side of your country's border and shoot into a neighboring country, killing someone on the other side, the crime would be said to have taken place there. Same story here: the damage was done on US soil, therefore the crime took place in the US. That the criminal happened to be in a different nation at the time is irrelevant.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:55PM (#30241708)

    The irony of this whole legal question is that the whole reason why the USA was created to begin with was to establish individual freedoms within the context of a limited government (ie the USA wanted to establish liberty that the UK was unwilling to provide). In seeking unjust extradition in this case the USA now becomes the land of tyranny. Indeed this case makes a mockery of the spirit of the US constitution and everything the founding fathers stood for.

  • by McDutchie ( 151611 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:02PM (#30241750) Homepage

    Justice would mean him being tried in the UK, just like any other UK citizen. Now he is going to get 60 years in the for-profit American prison industry for guessing a few passwords. For an example of how people with Asperger's are treated there, see the Billy Cotrell case [].

    The US would sooner start a war than extradite one of their own to another country, even for war crimes []. One-sided extradition treaties give the US legal jurisdiction over Europe but not vice versa. We Europeans are pussies. We've truly let ourselves become satellite states of the Empire of the United States of America.

  • by Raisey-raison ( 850922 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:16PM (#30241828)

    I never understand how you can have extradition without financial support for the defendant - otherwise it's impossible to get a fair trial.

    As the previous poster pointed out, how is this guy supposed to support himself if he makes bail? How the heck is he supposed to pay for health insurance?

    If someone is already clinically depressed how are they going to survive in very hostile climate in a foreign country with absolutely no support system? What about if someone has a mortgage in their home country, how will they afford to keep on making payments? What about student loans and credit card debt?

    If we are going to take the concept of extradition + a fair trial seriously I suggest:

    1. Upon extradition you are given financial aid to pay for initial legal and cultural advice.

    2. A grant to pay for health insurance

    3. Help finding a job, housing etc with interim financial help.

    If at the end of it you are found NOT guilty then you are given compensation for losing your career, home, credit rating, friends in your home country (ie having your whole life permanently f***ed up) and the opportunity to keep your current job in the new country.

    Additionally if the UK is going to extradite mentally ill people then facilities have to be provided for proper mental health treatment and rehabilitation - not the current bs that is the US prison system. Also if this guy needs extra help because he is mentally ill then the US government should pay for friends and relatives to come and visit him on a regular basis.

    Also a guarantee should be given that the person being extradited will not be raped or beaten up in prison.

  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:33PM (#30241940)

    Don't know much about Central and South American prisons huh? Check out the third season of Prison Break for a "PG" fictionalization of them, there are a few documentaries floating around about them on channels like History and National Geographic.

    Even the worst US prison is better than being down there.

    And since this guy is going to a Federal Prison, it won't be too bad, minimum or medium security, probably one of the Federal Prison medical centers, like Rochester MN where he'll be treated by the staff of the Mayo Clinic on the Federal Government's dime.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @12:00AM (#30242386) Journal
    He seemed to use a 56k modem and a MS default password perl script.
    Seems the US gov likes to hand out MS based systems like candy on its bases and wonders why they are so wide open 24/7.
  • by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @02:45AM (#30243136)

    Greetings and Salutations...
    The Billy Cotrell case is another example of the excellent job that the U.S. Government does of ensuring that if their wards were not terrorists before going into custody, they certainly would be when released! That is probably the only really documented results of the hundreds if not thousands of folks being imprisoned at Gitmo. Hundreds and thousands of folks who now hate America and what it stands for with a passion.
    Is THIS what we want America to be in the world? I think not, and, I hope that the politicians in the Federal Government get their heads pulled out of the dark places they have them impacted in, and, realize that if they do not take the lead in changing this insane behavior, America will soon be the Rome of the 21st Century.
    As for the previous rants about Asperger's being nothing but an affectation and a false excuse for bad or illegal behavior...! That shows a Medieval level of knowledge and understanding of the mind's functioning that is truly disheartening to see on Slashdot. I would expect that sort of thing from Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck followers, but, I would hope that the people posting here were slightly more educated and intellectual. the diagnosis of Asperger's came from years of analysis of the spectrum of autism, and, perhaps more importantly, the increasing understanding that autism IS a spectrum ranging from slight effect, to severe withdrawal and physical problems. Anyone with the slightest skill at searching Google should be able to find any of a number of sites that provide forums for those involved to discuss the problem and their efforts to deal with it, either as a person WITH it, or a relative/friend. Before you spout nonsense that will live forever, perhaps it would be a good idea to spend an hour or so and research the topic to gain some understanding of the reality behind it.
    To get back to the original issue, Mr. McKinnon...perhaps it would be a good idea to read this lengthy article: examining his journey. There were three major points that jumped out at me in reading the article. First...he hardly "hacked" into anything. He ran a script to look for default or null passwords on common administrator accounts...and apparently found a LOT of them. Secondly, he talks about installing remote access software...which, if one looks at the site, is nothing more than a WINDOWS ONLY version of VNC. Finally, although there appears to be much handwaving and eyebrow-raising about these mysterious computers he hacked into, there is no actual proof mentioned that they were anything more than some workstation on a pointy-haired boss's desk, used for nothing more "secure" than keeping track of the number of pencils in inventory. While it is true enough that what he did was legally wrong, and ethically questionable, it is more akin to a starving man stealing a loaf of bread than it is the actual damage done to America by Aldrich Ames. For those of us not afflicted with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there is no real way to understand what a powerful push that can be to take an action without regard to the consequences. Think of it as super-gluing your urethra closed, then, drinking a couple of six packs of beer. The more I read about this, though, the more it seems that the truth of the matter is that Mr. McKinnon has simply embarrassed the U.S. Military in public, and that because of this he is going to be a very public scapegoat.
    A more apt course of action would be for the US to allow the British court system to slap his wrists, and forget about him. If security is so important to the U.S. Military, then, perhaps they should take the steps of either (a) switching over to a SLIGHTLY more secure OS than Windows (can you say Linux? I THOUGHT you co

  • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @03:23AM (#30243320)
    The US is requesting extradition under a treaty that the UK has signed but not the US. It's yet another example of Tony Blair being Bush's lapdog that we've been saddled with.

    If Obama really wanted to distance himself from bush's policies, he'd pardon McKinnon. This extradition is doing nothing but stirring up anti-American feelings in the UK whilst being ridiculed in the US.
  • by strikethree ( 811449 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @03:25AM (#30243332) Journal

    "He tried to quench that 'thirst' by breaking in to a highly sensitive military computer network directly or indirectly depended on by many people in harms way every day. Sounds a hell of a lot like it SHOULD fall under terrorism laws."

    Holy batcaves Batman. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Let's start with a definition of Terrorism:

    terrorism - The calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious.

    or, how about Terrorist:

    terrorist - a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells.

    Now, please explain exactly how what he did is in ANY way associated with terrorism. No really. Some morons are modding you up as interesting and you are not even close to the mark here.


  • Re:Good grief! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glarbl_blarbl ( 810253 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `lbralblbralg'> on Friday November 27, 2009 @04:23AM (#30243590) Homepage Journal

    The thing about Autism/Asperger's is that it's a spectrum of symptoms. Just like any other disorder (though I hesitate to call it a disorder, it's been mostly a blessing for me -- so "difference" would be more appropriate) not everyone who has it exhibits exactly the same symptoms.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the lack of non-verbal communication goes both ways: not only do people on the spectrum tend to miss non-verbal cues, but they also tend to have a bit of a flat affect. It's not intentional, but unfortunately people often take it for coldness. After repeated misunderstandings a lot of aspies just put up a wall.

    I invite the reader put yourself in our shoes for a moment. How would you feel if there were a channel of information that most everyone you meet knows is there, but you just can't catch. Wouldn't that make you anxious? And depressed if you couldn't gather up the courage to make new friends or tried and failed because of misunderstandings?

    People on the spectrum don't necessarily need extra help to get along. Maybe a little more direct verbal or written communication, and a little empathy. But that's something that all humans could use, if you ask me.

  • by teg ( 97890 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @04:23AM (#30243594) Homepage

    Unjust extradition? Since when? If he committed a crime against the people of another country. Why should he be immune from trial by jury just because he did it remotely

    In general, very few countries are willing to extradite their own citizens. Including the US. And, in fact, sending people to the US is worse than most other places as the constitution only applies to citizens. This is how the US have been able to detain and torture prisoners in Guantanamo, without verdict.

    The normal way to try him, would be in the UK - why aren't they doing that?

    Also, where was the crime committed? If I publish a critical article about e.g. China, should I be tried by Chinese laws? Norwegian laws? Or the US, if the servers happened to be there.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Plunky ( 929104 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @04:56AM (#30243730)

    What you do not seem to understand is that once the security of a system is compromised, _everything_ in that system is suspect. Forensics must be performed to attempt to determine what exactly happened, which information was compromised, what kind of backdoors or rootkits were placed, etc. Security auditors are not cheap. Wiping and rebaselining computers could result in loss of information that took lots of money to gather (scientists are not cheap either). Do this across enough systems and $700k is quite possible.

    I think you are right, but when your own network engineer comes to you and says eg

    'We have been running for years with all the root passwords set to "password" and available to log in from the internet. I can of course change them but I cannot tell if anybody has ever logged in there and planted anything'

    you need to do all that regardless and its because of your own stupidity. If some idiot from another country brings it to your attention by actually logging in and looking around, it doesn't mean he caused the expense in any way..

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:50AM (#30244256) Journal

    So anyone who might commit suicide, gets a "get out jail free" card from you. At what crime do you draw the line I wonder? If I killed you and then said "oh I am going to end it all" should I walk free?

    I don't think the world can work as you seem to want it to work. Oh and if he was going to kill himself over the stress, why hasn't he killed himself yet, over the stress?

  • by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@ g m> on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:13AM (#30244338)

    I've rarely seen the same straw man argument repeated so often. Nobody is saying what he did was legal, but rather that what he did was not serious enough to get extradited for. Trespassing without stealing or vandalising merits a slap on the wrist.

  • Re:Good grief! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sqldr ( 838964 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:16AM (#30244354)
    The among the $700000 damages being sought are the costs of making their system secure. If a burglar broke down your door, you would charge them for the door. If you didn't have a door in the first place, you shouldn't be charging to have one installed. As if this guy has $700000 anyway.. what does anybody stand to gain from this? a pat on the back and the incarceration of a disturbed individual?
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:19AM (#30244370)

    Oh that's ok then - as long as everyone else is doing it too it must be all right for us to!

    Sorry, that excuse doesn't work in the playground, it sure as shit shouldn't work now.

  • Re:UK citizen? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:48AM (#30244488)

    Yep, America is also threatening Britain that they will cease intelligence sharing with us if we use evidence of CIA torture against a British citizen in a British court also.

    There was a few years ago the case of a US A10 pilot who killed a British soldier and wounded 3 others, also blowing up 2 of our armoured vehicles in a friendly fire incident in Iraq. We did not want to put the pilot in trial but simply wanted to carry out an inquest to see why it happened and whether it was preventable. The US would not send the gun camera footage, they would not name the pilot or let us ask him questions about the incident. The gun camera footage was at least leaked in the end, but the US never to this day cooperated with the investigation.

    If the US wont even allow us justice when we've been fighting alongside them as allies and they screw up, then why the hell should we even consider extraditing a British citizen over something so relatively minor? They kill our troops, they torture our citizens, and they want us to extradite someone who connected to a bunch of their machines that had blank and default passwords?

    It really shows how little interest our government has in looking after our country when they support such a request.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982