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Hacking and Punishment

Born in Glascow, Scotland, Gary McKinnon has been declared by the United States Government to be the most prolific, most dangerous hacker of all time. The U.S. wants McKinnon here in the States to face a possible life sentence and $1.75 million dollar fine for what they say was a massive attack on the military’s computer systems between 2001 and 2002. But when one looks at all of the evidence of what actually occurred, a conclusion could also be reached that it’s Mr. McKinnon who should be charging the U.S. government for exposing glaring and major security holes in a flawed data storing system.

From his small apartment on the outskirts of London, on Hillfield Avenue in an area called Crouch End, McKinnon used his home PC and a dial up connection and started poking around various U.S. Government web sites seeking information about aliens and whether or not the U.S. was concealing evidence of contact or technology gleaned from any such encounters.

What he found he claims were testimonials by senior government officials of technology being used by the U.S. government and in particular, the military, that was gained in encounters with extra terrestrial life. Believing he had hit the mother lode, McKinnon says that he found so many glaring security holes in the military’s computer apparatus that he went down to the local computer shop and purchased software that would allow him to scan more quickly through the various data bases. Searching for the Holy Grail as it were of all UFO believers, McKinnon, from his home remember, on a regular PC, with a DIAL UP CONNECTION, and a piece of readily available software, hacked 97 computers out of the 73,000 that he scanned. 97 U.S. military computers!

Perusing through all of these top secret documents, McKinnon could not believe that it was so easy to hack the Pentagon that he began to leave desktop notes on the computers he did access to warn of the glaring security holes. That was his biggest mistake and one that has cost him six years of worry that he was going to Gitmo, because the U.S. did not quite enjoy being embarrassed in public like that, and demanded that McKinnon be extradited to face charges of illegally accessing computer systems. Told by U.S. prosecutors to come quietly and he’d receive leniency, as in 20 to life leniency, McKinnon chose instead to fight the extradition in U.K. courts.

So the U.S. prosecutors turned up the heat by telling McKinnon they were going to make sure he became the boyfriend of some good old boy from the backwoods of West Virginia. Not really wishing to acquiesce to years of homosexual rape, McKinnon took his case all the way to Britain’s highest court, The House Of Lords. And just lost. The only chance he has left to avoid being Bubba’s girlfriend is an appeal to the European Court On Human Rights, who would have to agree that McKinnon was not a terrorist, and that the threats of rape by U.S. prosecutors amounted to a threat of bodily harm if extradited. It should also be noted that many U.K. citizens are angry at the extradition ruling by the High Court due to England’s law which says that U.K. citizens can not be extradited due to political reasons, and that is clearly the case here.

But during this entire affair, of which almost no one here in America was aware of, the glaring questions that have not been asked would seem to a reasonable person to far overshadow the piddly little hacking complaint against McKinnon. Is the U.S. government, in particular NASA, the Pentagon, all of the military branches, and the NSA, CIA, and FBI going to sit there and tell us that a man who went to Highgate Wood School, and had no real knowledge of computer networks other than what he taught himself, hacked into the most secure defense related military computer systems in the entire world? That the safeguards that should have been in place weren’t? And if that’s the case, why are they trying to prosecute this man who showed them where the security flaws were, when they should have quietly let the story die and thanked the poor sap for helping fix things? It couldn’t be because this run amok government likes to ‘fry’ people could it? That’s what prosecutors told McKinnon. He was going to fry.

Now hold on one damned minute. If this little nobody, who was playing around and accidentally discovered these glaring security flaws could do it with a home PC and a dial up connection, does that not beg the question of who else has been wandering around our defense system computers, like oh, maybe the Chinese, the Russians, the Canadians, the government of Belarus, the Jamaicans, and anyone else with the mind to do so? Who has been fired over this, and which military personnel have been demoted or thrown in the brig for this egregious lapse? Oh. No one. Not a single person. But they want to throw the book at some poor sucker who wasn’t out to do any harm, who has been declared by the U.S. to be ‘the world’s most dangerous hacker’, and who just wishes that the alien life he was looking for would come and rescue his dumb ass before the Americans turn him into a victim of lifelong rape.

Does the U.S. government not have enough real terror suspects to track down and prosecute? Isn’t there supposed to be some guy in a cave with a dialysis machine who needs killing? And aren’t there hackers with much more sophisticated talents and machinery than Gary McKinnon? This is starting to look like a real life X Files case, straight out of Mulder and Scully land. Some little guy snoops around and finds something he’s not supposed to, and the government sends out the Men In Black to get him and lock him away where he can’t tell anyone what he found. Millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on both sides of the Atlantic to catch a mouse, a scapegoat for the miltary’s shortcomings, while the killer lions roam free to wreak havoc at will, both in real time and in cyber space.

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