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Profile Chris S
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Message 1295953 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 13:43:25 UTC

What are your thoughts?

The USA side

US authorities have described the Glasgow-born hacker's actions as the "biggest military computer hack of all time" and have demanded he face justice in America.

They insisted his hacking was "intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion".

The Americans said his actions caused $800,000 (£487,000) worth of damage to military computer systems.


The UK side

The home secretary told MPs there was no doubt Mr McKinnon was "seriously ill" and the extradition warrant against him should be withdrawn. Mrs May said the sole issue she had to consider was his human rights.

"He has Asperger's Syndrome, and suffers from depressive illness. The legal question before me is now whether the extent of that illness is sufficient to preclude extradition. "After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."

She said it was now for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, to decide whether he should face trial in the UK.


Gary

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Message 1295955 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 13:53:23 UTC - in response to Message 1295953.

While I do not believe he should be punished in the same way as any other hardened criminal should be in the same situation, I have to agree with the American lawyer when he said:

American lawyer, David Rivkin, a former White House adviser, said the decision was "laughable", adding "under that logic, anybody who claims some kind of physical or mental problem can commit crimes with impunity and get away with it".


Even those with mental illness who commit crime need to be made responsible (assuming a certain level of lucidity in their decision making) for their actions.

I don't know how I feel about extradition, but I do know that without some sort of punishment and/or counseling, a tiny slap on the wrists may not be enough to make him learn from his mistake.

60 years in a U.S. prison seems a bit excessive for someone hacking a U.S. military computer looking for proof of a hidden alien UFO cover-up. That $800,000 worth of damages also seems rather high and I'd like to know how they arrived at that number.

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Message 1295960 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 14:04:13 UTC

Personally, I always saw the US claims as totally laughable! As for punishment, I think he's been punished enough by going through this facade for a decade.

At last, a home secretary with some balls!
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Message 1295970 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 14:17:20 UTC - in response to Message 1295960.

Based upon your views you've expressed in the past about the U.S., it's unsurprising that you find its claims laughable. While I agree that living that life of mental illness is certainly a form of punishment I would never want, I cannot agree that he shouldn't be held accountable for his actions in some way, if even through counseling or being prevented from using a computer or the internet.

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Message 1295976 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 14:29:22 UTC

He should be held in a mental hospital then. Whos to say he wont try hacking another militarys computers? Maybe a UK army computer system.


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Message 1295977 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 14:31:08 UTC - in response to Message 1295970.

Based upon your views you've expressed in the past about the U.S., it's unsurprising that you find its claims laughable. While I agree that living that life of mental illness is certainly a form of punishment I would never want, I cannot agree that he shouldn't be held accountable for his actions in some way, if even through counseling or being prevented from using a computer or the internet.


You surprise me Oz. I think many here really ought to check up on a poster's post's before making comments like that.

The man is autisic & has suffered enough over the past 10 years. That should be that. As for counselling, I agree, but that's where it should end.
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Message 1295979 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 14:40:04 UTC - in response to Message 1295977.
Last modified: 16 Oct 2012, 14:47:15 UTC

You surprise me Oz. I think many here really ought to check up on a poster's post's before making comments like that.


I've been following the politics forum for many years now. Why else do you think I would have made that statement? I don't mean it as an attack, but I have only seen criticisms from you on many actions from the U.S. and the E.U. Perhaps I'm wrong about your opinions, but it would be easier to draw a different conclusion if I saw supportive comments too.

The man is autisic & has suffered enough over the past 10 years. That should be that. As for counselling, I agree, but that's where it should end.


Ok, so then what happens after he has completed his mandated counseling and a misfiring synapse tells him to look for something else on a private computer for which he does not have authorized access? Multiply that against every other mentally ill person who does the same (or claims mental instability as a motivation for breaking the law) and the large fees required to fix unauthorized access issues (even if each incident costs as little as $10,000), who pays for that? In some way or another we do. If it's through the government, then we pay for it in the form of taxes. If it's a private corporation, we pay for it through trickle-down expenses.

I can forgive a first incident, but a second incident should never happen.

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Message 1295985 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 22:36:49 UTC - in response to Message 1295960.

Personally, I always saw the US claims as totally laughable! As for punishment, I think he's been punished enough by going through this facade for a decade.

Let him argue in a US court that he is insane or had temporary insanity. If not, don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

What I find laughable is that just telling him he is going to be extradited with magically make him commit suicide. Hell, doesn't the UK watch potential suicide cases so they don't commit the act? Now explain that one!

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Message 1295989 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 23:05:11 UTC

IMO 10 years of house arrest is punishment enough.
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Message 1295991 - Posted: 16 Oct 2012, 23:07:51 UTC

I found a better write-up about the situation, and ArsTechnica even quotes the U.S Government's stance and attempts to show where the $700,000 in damages comes from:

Timothy B. Lee@ArsTechnica.com wrote:
McKinnon's alleged crime is described in a 2008 court decision:

Using his home computer the appellant, through the internet, identified US Government network computers with an open Microsoft Windows connection and from those extracted the identities of certain administrative accounts and associated passwords. Having gained access to those accounts he installed unauthorised remote access and administrative software called “remotely anywhere” that enabled him to access and alter data upon the American computers at any time and without detection by virtue of the programme masquerading as a Windows operating system. Once “remotely anywhere” was installed, he then installed software facilitating both further compromises to the computers and also the concealment of his own activities. Using this software he was able to scan over 73,000 US Government computers for other computers and networks susceptible to similar compromise.

McKinnon allegedly accessed 53 Army computers, 26 Navy computers, 16 NASA computers, and one computer each at the Department of Defense and the Air Force. McKinnon then allegedly deleted data that included:

"critical operating system files from nine computers, the deletion of which shut down the entire US Army’s Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours, significantly disrupting Governmental functions"
"2,455 user accounts on a US Army computer that controlled access to an Army computer network, causing these computers to reboot and become inoperable"
"logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle, one of which was used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships, deletion of these files rendering the Base’s entire network of over 300 computers inoperable."
The Pentagon claims McKinnon's actions cost the government $700,000.


Original article: UK halts extradition of accused hacker over suicide concerns

It seems the hacker purposefully deleted important files, which goes far beyond the scope of simply looking for evidence of a US Government cover-up conspiracy. This was malicious intent to cause harm to government computers and despite being autistic, seemed to show some lucidity in his decision to gain illegal entry to systems he was not authorized to access.

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Message 1296004 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 0:47:28 UTC

autism aside he was coherent enough to hack computers. that takes a specific skill set and is considered a major problem. If they've Identified him as a hacker then he needs to be kept away from any form of internet connection.
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Message 1296011 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 1:26:08 UTC - in response to Message 1295989.

IMO 10 years of house arrest is punishment enough.

What punishment? He could have waved his hearings, plead insanity and been back home free in less than a year. This is his choice.


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Message 1296050 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 4:15:51 UTC - in response to Message 1296004.

autism aside he was coherent enough to hack computers. that takes a specific skill set and is considered a major problem. If they've Identified him as a hacker then he needs to be kept away from any form of internet connection.

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Message 1296055 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 4:42:14 UTC - in response to Message 1296011.

IMO 10 years of house arrest is punishment enough.

What punishment? He could have waved his hearings, plead insanity and been back home free in less than a year. This is his choice.


So he suffered a greater punishment, 10 years of house arrest, what's the big deal?
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Message 1296058 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 4:59:35 UTC - in response to Message 1296011.

IMO 10 years of house arrest is punishment enough.

What punishment? He could have waved his hearings, plead insanity and been back home free in less than a year. This is his choice.


LOL. Do you think anyone outside of America believes that for a minute?

No one in their right mind would allow themselves to be extradited to America. People outside of America don't trust America and most of us certainly don't think that the American justice system is fair. That doesn't even take into account the trauma inflicted on an Aspergers person but taking them away from their home, their family, everything they know to stand trial in a strange hostile place.

I suggest people here read up a little about Aspergers and maybe they might understand why so many people in the UK think that America is being overbearing, bullyish and hysterical about this whole situation.
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Message 1296104 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 9:29:14 UTC

@ Betreger & ES99

Excellent posts.

@Oz

I've defended the States when it was deserved. I've defended the UK when it was deserved & past posts prove that.

What I do find laughable is the fact that an autisic person highlighted the "apparent" ease at which the mighty US Military was hacked & rather than get that secured ASAP, end up wasting 10 years & a lot of taxpayers money baying for blood.

Would'nt it have been a lot more sensible to approach the man explaining what he did wrong & could he assist in hardening the systems?

Many a black hat are now white hats working for the big security companies, so I can't see why this could'nt have been done.
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Message 1296107 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 9:45:52 UTC

Seeing as I started this thread, I suppose I had better comment. Although I hesitate to do so, because some are going to vehemently disagree with me, and I don't wish to make any enemies. I looked at the following to guide me upon my views.

USA Claims

McKinnon allegedly accessed 53 Army computers, 26 Navy computers, 16 NASA computers, and one computer each at the Department of Defense and the Air Force. McKinnon then allegedly deleted data that included:

"critical operating system files from nine computers, the deletion of which shut down the entire US Army’s Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours, significantly disrupting Governmental functions"

"2,455 user accounts on a US Army computer that controlled access to an Army computer network, causing these computers to reboot and become inoperable"

"logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle, one of which was used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships, deletion of these files rendering the Base’s entire network of over 300 computers inoperable."

The Pentagon claims McKinnon's actions cost the government $700,000.


Those hardly seem the actions of a harmless hacker trying find out about UFO cover ups.

UK Claims

Gary McKinnon, a UK national who was facing extradition for hacking into Pentagon and NASA computer systems a decade ago, will not be extradited to the United States to face trial. Theresa May, the UK home secretary, has decided to block McKinnon's extradition after medical experts declared that he was likely to kill himself if forced to endure life in an American prison.

May said that McKinnon has Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, and suffers from depression. "Mr. McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr. McKinnon's human rights," May said. Prosecutors in the UK will now have the option to bring charges against him under domestic laws.


Life imprisonment in a foreign country would seem not to be in his best interests.

My thoughts

If the claims made by the USA are true, and I have no reason to dispute them, then McKinnon was quite simply not an innocent misguided hacker who was looking for UFO evidence. What he is alleged to have done requires a very high level of expertise and technical knowhow over a considerable length of time. The charges are serious and he should have faced them.

However, I also have no doubt that it is genuinely true that he does have Aspergers Syndrome, and is to some extent mentally ill. So that side of the equation also needs to be taken into account. Spending a life sentence in a USA jail is not going to serve anyone's best interests, least of all his. But, and this is the big but ....

The message that has gone out to the world is that, if you successfully hack into government computers anywhere in the world and you get caught, you can get off if you claim oh, I was only looking for this, and it helps if you are also mentally ill. This just will not do.

What should have happened is that as a matter of principle he should have stood trial in the USA, with certain safeguards. He should have been convicted of his crime and given a nominal sentence of say 5 years. But the sentence should have been been suspended, and he should have been returned to the UK. It would then have been up to the UK authorities to have decided whether he should serve any or all of it in the UK, based upon humanitarian grounds.

That way justice would have seen to have been done, hacking would be confirmed as unacceptable, the USA would be happier than it is now, and the UK would have stood by its citizen. Instead what do we have, a god almighty balls up. I think America has every right to be cross quite frankly.

See, told you you wouldn't like it.


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Message 1296139 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 12:15:46 UTC - in response to Message 1296058.

No one in their right mind would allow themselves to be extradited to America. People outside of America don't trust America and most of us certainly don't think that the American justice system is fair. That doesn't even take into account the trauma inflicted on an Aspergers person but taking them away from their home, their family, everything they know to stand trial in a strange hostile place.


I suppose we would need to have a discussion on how we each define 'justice'. You can call me biased, but I believe that the American court system is the most just and fair compared to any other country. Comparatively, France and Germany openly ban their citizens from even denying the Holocost happened. Brazil and Italy have actually arrested Google executives because the search giant refuses to take down the controversial but legally protected anti-Muslim film that has outraged the Muslim community. I wouldn't call any of that justice.

I suggest people here read up a little about Aspergers and maybe they might understand why so many people in the UK think that America is being overbearing, bullyish and hysterical about this whole situation.


I'm quite aware of what Asperger's is. I know a few people who's kids/young adults have to deal with Autism daily, and I've spent some time with them (though that doesn't qualify me as an expert on the matter). Personally, I seriously doubt this guy has it. Even if the claim is true, I don't believe it to be just to allow someone to get away with hacking simply because they have issues.

Though I will reiterate that I don't necessarily think he must be extradited and tried in the U.S., but I would like to know exactly what the U.K. plans to do with him.

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Message 1296158 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 13:37:23 UTC - in response to Message 1296107.

Quite wrong on the last sentence. Excellent post. That would have been the sensible way to handle it, but who says those at the top are sensible!
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Message 1296314 - Posted: 17 Oct 2012, 19:40:17 UTC
Last modified: 17 Oct 2012, 19:57:23 UTC

Strange infliction is autism, and some of you will know that many sufferers
from autism tend also to poses immense intelligence hence capabilities in
certain fields where they apply an ability. With this chap in question
there is every chance that he did not actually realise the actual severity of the
crime he was committing. He is most probably totally incapable of being
responsible nor rational and through the nature of his ailment liable to be irresponsible
in most of what he does. He possess the ability of a computer scientist but
unfortunately though this is combined with the mental age of a 10 year old.
Sufferers of Asperger's Syndrome are totally incapable of facing up to what
they have done wrong and certainly incapable of standing up in any court.
The whole security breach here was totally miss-managed and most probably so
by all parties concerned....both sides of the pond. Security was breached here
by all and not just the appellant himself, remember, just by stating that your
military security has been breach is a breach of military security in itself.
Can't any military or government figures keep their gob's shut about anything
these days. As regards actions to take on such breaches....put your brains into
gear first, keep gobs shut until such time as it becomes evident that you will
secure a prosecution. Then decide on how best to use the successful prosecution
to dissuade others from trying to commit the same crime. One thing for sure,
don't tell the world your system was breached......hackers will see this
breakdown as a challenge to find even more potential holes in your system....
....and why? because you've told them you have holes in your system.
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