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Alleged British Hacker Fears Guantanamo 661

Posted by Zonk
from the rational-response dept.
Magnifico writes "The BBC is reporting that Gary McKinnon, a British man accused of breaking into the U.S. government computer networks, could end up at Guantanamo Bay. His lawyer is fighting his extradition to the United States arguing, 'The US Government wants to extract some kind of species of administrative revenge because he exposed their security systems as weak and helpless as they were.'"
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Alleged British Hacker Fears Guantanamo

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  • by FinestLittleSpace (719663) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:12AM (#15121166)
    And am not exactly a fan of the Us Government, but you've got to be a bit of an idiot to 'test weaknesses'/hack the Us government's property. they're not gonna take it lying down are they?
    • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:21AM (#15121247) Homepage Journal
      This sounds like a defense attorney hyping up any possible cause to get extradition denied. There was only an "unsigned and anonymous note" (allegedly) from the US embassy stating that he might be subject the executive order under which Guantanamo Bay operates, there's no substantive reason to believe that he'd actually go there.
    • No, it's probably not the best idea. But it's no reason to make him disappear to a shady psuedo-legal prison in Cuba, is it? Since when did we engage in running gulags? Gitmo (and all the other secret prisons around the world that we run, because there's pretty good evidence for that too.)
    • by elliotCarte (703667) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:32AM (#15121381)
      And am not exactly a fan of the Us Government, but you've got to be a bit of an idiot to 'test weaknesses'/hack the Us government's property. they're not gonna take it lying down are they?

      I agree with parent completely. I mean, whether or not you agree with the US's tendencies to be (overly) vengeful, you're still an idiot to ignore those tendencies when deciding whether or not to 'piss them off', no? This holds true for other governments, terrorists, etc. as well. Like the US or not you're still an idiot to intentionally piss them off. Now, don't tell me the guy didn't think this would upset those responsible for the US gov. networks that he allegedly hacked. Please! What did he expect?

      If you poke a grizly bear in the ribs with a stick is it a fair response for the bear to tear your head off? No, that's not fitting to the offense at all, but if you know the bear will react that way and you poke the bear in the ribs anyway... that's just stupid. The US enjoys power driven at least in part by fear. If they overlook offenses against them that fear goes away. Do you think the US is going to send that message and give up that power? No, they like being feared and the power that goes with it.
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @12:18PM (#15122458)

        No, that's not fitting to the offense at all, but if you know the bear will react that way and you poke the bear in the ribs anyway... that's just stupid. The US enjoys power driven at least in part by fear. If they overlook offenses against them that fear goes away. Do you think the US is going to send that message and give up that power? No, they like being feared and the power that goes with it.

        So the important question is, "what should the UK do?" Right now the UK is standing between the bear and the man. Knowing that the Bear might kill the man, and being responsible for his welfare as one of their citizens should they give him to the US? I think they absolutely should not. Until the US adopts reasonable human rights laws in compliance with international agreements why risk handing him over? Just convict him in the UK. If the US wants any extraditions to go forward in the future when there is any doubt about US laws and behaviors then they can fix the bloody problem. Why encourage a country to act like an rabid animal? The UK should seriously consider whether or not they should hand him over. If they do, it should be with guarantees that he will be treated in accord with accepted international humans rights agreements as monitored by an independent third party.

  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@NOsPam.spamgoeshere.calum.org> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:12AM (#15121173) Homepage
    Seems like if you're shipped there, you're automatically guilty, and if you're automatically guilty, you have to stay there until you stop being guilty. Is this one of those cases using the new extradition system, whereby the US doesn't have to show any evidence to the UK - it just has to say "Hand him over", and he gets sent?
    Still, just label him a terrorist, even though he claims he's nothing more than a script kiddie, and then people aren't allowed to say no.
  • by the_humeister (922869) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:13AM (#15121175)
    At an earlier hearing his lawyers suggested his actions were not malicious - he had been trying to expose lax computer security and access what he believed was withheld information about UFOs.
    Did he find any?
  • by gamer4Life (803857) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:13AM (#15121182)
    That's more than most of the prisoners at Guantanamo get.
    • Uhm... If you actually read the article, you'd have notice that they have not given a guarantee of a federal trial. Thus he could be sent to Guantanamo without one.
  • His lawyer is fighting his extradition to the United States arguing, 'The US Government wants to extract some kind of species of administrative revenge because he exposed their security systems as weak and helpless as they were.
    This sounds seriously like blaming the victim.
    • This sounds seriously like blaming the victim.

      Except in here, the "victim" is the most powerful state in the worl, with the worst information security in the world. Did you recall that a few days ago an airport had to be shut down because they didn't patch their WINDOWS systems correctly and got infected?

      Or how about the FBI not having enough e-mail accounts? I could compare this hacker incident with a spy or thief entering a fortress thru the backdoor by simply turning the knob.

      Helpless Joe Users running w
    • This sounds seriously like blaming the victim.

      Which is perfectly fine in English law, to a certain degree.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:15AM (#15121196)
    After reading the article, I think he's more likely to end up at Area 51.
    • Unless they link him to Al Kayduh and his Band of Jihadies, I think all Mr. McKinnon has to worry about is a fair trial where the jury decides he's a loon and sends him away to the Place with the Padded Rooms.
  • by October_30th (531777) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:16AM (#15121204) Homepage Journal
    he had been trying to expose lax computer security and access what he believed was withheld information about UFOs.

    Uh... OK. He should plead insanity.

  • This guy was a hacker, not some Jihadist killing people or flying planes into buildings. Throw him in a regular prison and move on.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • RTFA. The U.S. wants to try him in Federal Court. His lawyer is arguing that the U.S. might send him to Gitmo.

      Basically, this is simply a sleazy lawyer red herring.

      Apparently you bought into it.
  • Extradition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:21AM (#15121259)

    Us Brits consider the idea of being extradited to the USA's rape prisons, Gitmo or no Gitmo, to be about on a level as you Yanks regard being extradited to an Iranian prison.

    Isn't there something about "cruel and unusual punishment" in your constitution? And the sad thing is that this story is likely to get you guys making rape jokes instead of realising how shitty your country has become. You were once a great nation and you are throwing it all away.

    And no, I have no sympathy for this stupid script kiddy kook. But, as Dostoyevsky once wrote, "the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons".

  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:23AM (#15121281)
    You commit a crime, you get punished. He may end up in a US prison (which seems common-sense, since f I commited a fairly major crime in the UK, I'd expect to be in prison there, not here) , but I have my doubts they would send him to Guantanamo, especially since the US did not hint at it.... This revenge stuff is bs. True, he exposed a lot of vunlerability, but if they don't punish him hard, many more will try thinking they can get away with a slap on the wrist. This is just politics warped in the opposite direction. There have been times when people against the Patriot act and other Bush decisions have seemed as bad if not more obnoxious and ignorant then some of the hard-core Bush followers. I don't mean to troll, but it sounds like this article is written by someone wrapped up in the anti-Bush attitude. Balance is hard to find. It's much easier to just choose a side and let them give you a bias then to continue to think on your own, joining a side momentarily when you agree.
  • Slashdot wrote about that guy before. http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/08/13 7 249&tid=172 [slashdot.org] Read this comment by FunWithHeadlines (644929): http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=152037&cid= 12757667 [slashdot.org] Apperantly this "great hacker" used available win32 tools to scan for unpatched windows boxes.

    "It is alleged that he used software available on the internet to scan tens of thousands of computers on US military networks from his home PC, looking for machines that might be exposed due to flaw

  • I guess he should have thought about where he would end up before he decided to hack into these systems.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:29AM (#15121352)
    ...And according to Gonzalez, Rush, and the folks at Fox News, Gitmo is Club Med with anchor fence.

    I have been to London, where I enjoyed the five or six minutes of sunshine each morning before rolling right into the remaining daylight hours of grey skies, grey ground, and grey air, begging and hoping for merciful sunset so you could see some color from the electric lights.

    Shouldn't he be grateful?
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:30AM (#15121366) Journal
    U.S Gov: "We want to extradite this guy and try him for hacking our computers."

    Sleazy Lawyer: "They have a grudge against my client and want to hold him indefinately."

    USG: "We want to try him for the crimes he committed."

    SL: "They want to put him Gitmo forever without a trail!"

    USG: "Johnnie Cochran called. He wants his defense stragety back."
  • Disproportionate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by golodh (893453) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:36AM (#15121430)
    I think that he has reason to believe that he would not face justice but the equivalent of gang-justice if he were extradited.

    Guantanamo Bay was called into being to exploit a juridical loophole in order to hold people without accusation, without legal representation, and without trial for as long as the authorities need to either build a case against them or to clear them. The reason this was done was to get at people considered to be the equivalent of enemy combatants but without a state that you could hold responsible, without a "home front" which would moderate their actions, and which on balance were considered potentially far too dangerous to let walk around free. In other words: for real terrorists who threaten real lives. Not for teens who make a hobby of breaking into poorly protected computers.

    What we see now is that laws are stretched a bit to mark anyone from overseas who breaks into a defense computer as a "terrorist" and hence eligible for "terrorist" treatment. Which includes e.g. a lack of legal representation and a 20 year prison sentence (if he's lucky) or a 60 year one if he's unlucky. Which in this case is of course totally out of proportion.

    What worries me most is the cries of "he commited a crime and thence should not whine about the time". Nice copy, but more than a bit barbaric when you come to think of it. Punishment should be proportionate to the offense, and people's rights (e.g. to legal counsel and reasonable sentences) should not be set aside simply because the administration currently in power happens to feel like it.

    If we seriously consider 20 years of prison as just punishment for the electronic equivalent of breaking and entering on federal property, then why not adopt "Islamic" laws such as cutting of hands for petty theft and stoning for adultery? Those laws were made in and for a medieval society. Don't tell me that the US of A is becoming the appropriate setting for that kind of law.

    • by DrCode (95839)
      then why not adopt "Islamic" laws such as cutting of hands for petty theft and stoning for adultery?


      We seemed to have adopted the methods of our former adversary (ship "enemies of the state" off to the gulag), so what you're suggesting doesn't sound all that implausible.

  • Faith? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tinkerghost (944862) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:42AM (#15121472) Homepage
    Does it bother anyone else that the US said:
    Mark Summers, representing the US government, said there was no precedent to suggest the US would breach its promises, and the court should take on "faith" the undertaking.
    but I don't see anywhere where they 'promise' to try him in federal court - they have given him 'assurances' but no 'guarantee'. Sorry, as soon as somebody says "take my word for it but I won't write it down", you know damb well they have no intention of keeping their precious word.
  • by mhollis (727905) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:55AM (#15121609) Journal

    At Guantanamo, the prisoners don't have any rights to a trial or access to the American Justice system -- until the US Supreme Court decides that it is not Constitutional for the Executive branch to accuse, convict and execute the sentence on a person with no trial. I figure he'd be there for about 20 years with no trial until this Supreme Court wakes up.

    What he ought to fear is an overseas detention compound [washingtonpost.com] as this is where one British releasee suffered torture, not at Gitmo.

    While I agree this is a ploy by his lawyer to try this case in the Court of Public Opinion (at least in England where Guantanamo is not very popular), the US apparently doesn't torture prisoners there. They torture them elsewhere because Guantanamo is under too much public scrutiny

  • by dougman (908) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:59AM (#15121654)
    FTA:

    "The US said Mr McKinnon had assurances he would be tried in a federal court."

    "But defence lawyers said his human rights could be breached if he was sent to the US."

    And the reason for their thinking: "Defence lawyer Edmund Lawson said the US Embassy in London had provided an 'unsigned and anonymous' diplomatic note and said Mr McKinnon was still 'vulnerable' to such an order."

    Given the fact that this guy is a national security threat, he should be lucky to get tried in court and NOT be going straight to Guantanamo. What he thinks he did is irrelevant. How does he know someone wasn't piggybacking on him? How do we know that he didn't give information to anyone else? I agree that Guantanamo might be a bit extreme if the guy had hacked in and defaced the IRS site or a state information portal. But the second you get into military (TFA says he hacked into Naval weapon station Earle) all bets are off. If he were to get off easy the message will be sent to our enemy: "Hack all you want and if you're caught just claim you were showing vulnerabilities and looking for UFO information".

    His lawyers would do well to just try to get in writing that he'll get a court trial - they're not going to stop him from being sent to the US.

    • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:29AM (#15121979)
      he should be lucky to get tried in court and NOT be going straight to Guantanamo.

      "Lucky?" Funny... I thought that fundamental human rights were supposed to be accorded to all humans, not just the ones who aren't suspected of being a national security threat... I know it doesn't work that way anymore, but does that mean we should talk about it like somebody shouldn't be tried before being punished? Cause I still think that a fair trial is an ideal worth shooting for...

      If he were to get off easy the message will be sent to our enemy...

      So, screw whether he's actually guilty, we will punish him severely to make an example of him to our enemies. Or wait, maybe we should just punish people who were actually proven guilty in court, and punish them by law, according to the severity of their crime, rather than to make them an example? You know, treat them like actual human beings instead of messages to the rest of the world about our superiority.

  • by fortinbras47 (457756) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @11:38AM (#15122059)
    There is absolutely no chance McKinnon will end up in Guantanamo.

    (1) He is not a member of Al Qaeda.
    (2) He has never been a member of Al Qaeda.
    (3) He has not provided material support to Al Qaeda.
    (4) He was not captured on a battlefield.
    (5) He has not committed an act of war against the United States.
    (**6**) HE IS NOT AN ILLEGAL COMBATANT (an individual who has engaged in acts of war against the United States and violated the laws of war).

    To be held in Guantanamo, an individual MUST be an illegal combatant (violated the laws of war). There is no chance McKinnon falls under this category.

    Furthermore, the US government has explicitly stipulated that he will be tried under civilian courts.

    McKinnon's lawyers are simply doing their job and advancing any claim against extradition they can think of, but the argument is completely invalid.

    • by Cederic (9623) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @12:00PM (#15122280) Journal

      (1)There is no proof most people in Guantanamo are members of Al Qaeda.
      (2)There is no proof most people in Guantanamo were ever members of Al Qaeda
      (3)There is no proof most people in Guantanamo provided material support to Al Qaeda
      (4)There is proof that most people in Guantanamo were not captured on a battlefield
      (5)There is no proof most people in Guantanamo committed acts of war against the US
      (6)The term 'illegal combatant' is illegitimate. People are either soldiers, or civilians. A civilian attempting to harm or kill people is breaking the law and should be tried by a civilian court.

      To be held in Guantanamo, an individual MUST be declared an illegal combatant.

      Please, try looking at Guantanamo Bay from an objective perspective.

      I will agree entirely with your final statement - his lawyers are attempting to keep him out of the US, by any legal means necessary, and scare stories about Guantanamo are one of those means. And the argument is entirely invalid, albeit only because British citizens in Guantanamo get out again pretty sharpish on account of UK Government pressure - the US would rather stick this guy in jail for a few years.

  • by mattwarden (699984) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @02:22PM (#15123670) Homepage

    Alleged British hacker? This is outrageous. No person should be punished until they have been proven to be British beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • by HighOrbit (631451) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @03:38PM (#15124562)
    This guy is blowing smoke. If the USA thought he was the kind of guy that they put in GTMO, do you really think they would extradite him through the British court system? The fact that the the US Justice Department is pursuing this in British courts is a pretty good indication that this is a Judicial proceeding, not a covert intelligence operation. We extradite people through judical proceedings everyday. I'm not aware of a single case where a judicial extradition has resulted in the prisoner going to GTMO.

    If the US & UK goverments had decided this guy was going to GTMO, he would not be in the custody of the police and he would not be in court.

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