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  (Source: Wired's Threat Level)
Hacker cites human rights concerns over possible military treatment, unfair plea bargain

UK Hacker Gary McKinnon is set for extradition to the United States, after a last-resort appellate committee at the UK’s House of Lords denied his attempts to appeal Wednesday. He is now taking his case to the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

McKinnon is wanted in the United States for allegedly hacking into Pentagon and military computers between 2001 and 2002, where it is claimed he was searching for evidence of a UFO cover-up by the U.S. government. As a byproduct of his escapades, U.S. authorities accuse McKinnon of tampering with military log files – some of which were used to assess the battle readiness of U.S. Navy ships – and deleting critical information which, in one case, knocked more than 2000 U.S. Army computers offline in Washington, DC.

In one case, McKinnon even left authorities a calling card in the form of a note, which read:

“US foreign policy is akin to government-sponsored terrorism these days ... It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year ... I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels...”

The Law Lords’ opinion of USA v. McKinnon notes that McKinnon “admitted responsibility” to his crimes with UK authorities after his arrest in 2002, and evidence mounting against him across the pond indicates that he has little chance of walking away with a not-guilty plea in the United States. To that end, U.S. authorities offered McKinnon a plea deal: if McKinnon plead guilty and came to the United States willingly, he’d endure a lenient, 6-12 month sentence at a minimum security prison in the U.S., followed by repatriation to the UK and most likely supervised or paroled release.

McKinnon has repeatedly turned down this offer, however, and instead spent the last six years fighting the U.S. government’s extradition request. The sentence he now faces is decidedly more severe: at least 8-10 years in a medium- or high-security U.S. prison, and have little opportunity for parole or repatriation to the UK.

In his defense, McKinnon said the U.S. plea-bargaining process – a technique foreign to UK courts – was a violation of his human rights: the only way to seek punishment in his own country, he argued, was to give in to the U.S. plea-bargain and surrender willingly – a process that would have him automatically admitting guilt and, according to his supporters, opting out of a fair trial.

McKinnon’s defense has also expressed fears of special-category, Guantanamo-style military treatment, should he be extradited to the United States.

His supporters note that the Law Lords’ opinion, agreed on unanimously by the court, was written by ex-Intelligence Services Commissioner Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Haywood, automatically slanting his opinion in favor a cultural “partnership” mentality with the U.S.

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By boogle on 8/1/2008 1:05:28 PM , Rating: 0
Am I the only one at least slightly concerned that some guy using freely available software hacked into the Pentagon and supposedly caused all of this havoc?

So rather than plug the hole, and pretend nothing ever happened - the US government presses charges and makes it a big deal and ensures every (potentially) enemy nation knows that the Pentagon can be hacked easily and freely with software you can download off the net.

Plus if he was Chinese it would just be a minor diplomatic incident with him getting off scott free. 'You hacked our system!', 'No we didn't', 'yes you did', 'no we didn't'.

Of course if it makes you feel better, lock him up for life, etc. etc. But please, at least secure your system...

RE: Concerned
By MADAOO7 on 8/1/2008 1:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
You stole the words out of my mouth. The real story here is that our government isn't doing a good enough job protecting our defense network. Last week, we had pilots in a Minot Air Force Base, fall asleep with nukes in their cargo bay.

In August last year a B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads and flown from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base in the southern state of Louisiana.

And in August 2006, four Air Force fusing devices for ballistic missile nuclear warheads were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan!

These are the real stories!

RE: Concerned
By PWNettle on 8/1/2008 3:28:52 PM , Rating: 1
I would imagine they've plugged whatever hole the dude used.

What I think is sad is that he wasn't extradicted immediately. Our supposed good allies holding up a blatantly guilty terrorist-like extra for years is pretty pathetic.

RE: Concerned
By foolsgambit11 on 8/1/2008 4:28:45 PM , Rating: 3
It's true, the military has gotten much better on the whole anti-hacking front in the last few years. They have a whole program they initiated a couple of years ago to educate every user of a DOD computer how to spot potential threats to DOD networks. Of course, there's only so much you can expect from a guy who can barely use PowerPoint, but it's a start. Their Information Security guys have also gotten better - but it's tough to control every access point in a system that sprawls across the entire world.

But the fact is that the government will probably never be able to move as fast as the enemy can in this field. It's all about mitigating risk, not eliminating it.

I'm also willing to bet that the 2000 computers knocked offline by this guy were NIPRNET terminals (that is, hooked up to the unclassified network that is connected to the internet). But I have no evidence to back that up. I just figure they'd say they were classified computers if they were, in order to maximize the severity of the crime.

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