Feeds

back to article Former FBI agent slams defence tactics in McKinnon case

A former FBI legal officer who handled controversial plea bargaining negotiations with Gary McKinnon has attacked the tactics adopted by the hacker’s defence team. Ed Gibson, who moved from his role as the FBI’s assistant legal to work as Microsoft’s chief security advisor in the UK back in 2005, said that if the self-confessed …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

The problem is...

the American legal system is extremely vindictive. It is quite easy to see a sentence of 60 years being imposed.

Let's all keep in mind that America has 2 million prisoners, about a quarter of the world's total. It has 5% of the world's population.

America should be re-nicknamed "the land of the unfree".

0
0
Bronze badge

We decline to try wingnuts

When someone is clearly labouring under a medical or mental condition that alters the perception of correct and legal behaviour, i.e. within an obsession or whatever, we don't take the person to court. That's why McKinnon hasn't been trie dhere.

Also, it's a bit of a victimless crime, isn't it? Nothing bad happened, except red faces.

0
0

enough reasons

Theres enough reasons for anyone to want to avoid the extradition

Humanitarian grounds:

* aspergers syndrome

* deplorable safety environment in US prisons (yes I've listened to accounts of people being sexually abused in US prisons)

Justice

* punished for the costs of securing systems that needed securing anyway

Politics

* stupid (unfair) and asymetric extradition arrangements with USA

As there any way justice will be served more by his extradition than by avoiding it?

I'd say he was fleeing injustice not justice

0
0
Bronze badge

Just a minute...

Is it me, or is the whole point of this is that the decision not to prosecute over here and hand him over to the Leftpondians was taken *before* the medical evidence of his Asperger's came to light, therefore creating the legal pathway to appeal that decision?

So Mr Ex-FBI is saying that due legal process doesn't matter, only the first decision matters regardless of further evidence. Either this is what Law Enforcement actually is or I can safely disregard this man as ignorant.

0
0
Boffin

Question

Calling all genuinely knowledgeable legal types out there:

It's frequently pointed out that the UK / US extradition system is biased heavily in favour of American requests, due to the lower level of proof necessary. My question is this:

Would the old level of required evidence have been necessary to extradite McKinnon to the US?

I ask because, had I been asked by this FBI fellow why he should not be extradited, my argument would have rested on the flaws inherent in an unbalanced system. I just wonder if that is correct.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Small observation

"Suggests hacker should have taken his medicine" i take it by that phrase you refer to doing time as apposed to actual medication of which there is none suitable for his needs.

Beyond that nothing he has said is legaly bindable and indeed had they made and officialy given some garantees along the lines of a term that he mentioned back in 2003 then I'm sure we would not be reading about the case today.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Four years? not 1 year probation?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/01/09/pentagon_hacker_analyzer_pleads_guilty/

"Ehud Tenebaum, the Israeli hacker famous as "The Analyzer," has pleaded guilty in Israel to the 1998 attacks on unclassified US Defence Department systems that once touched off alarms at the highest levels of government....In an appearance late last month before the Magistrate's Court in Kfar Sava, a suburb east of Tel Aviv, the 21-year-old hacker admitted to cracking US and Israeli computers, and plead guilty to conspiracy, wrongful infiltration of computerized material, disruption of computer use and destroying evidence."

Tenebaum got 1 years probation and an $18000 fine.

Yet when it comes to the UK, instead of dealing with this in a magistrates court, like other similar crimes, an extradition treaty INTENTED FOR SERIOUS CRIMES was misused. Why? Apparently because it fitted the US political agenda at the time which was screaming 'cyberterrorist'.

So now he can't get a proper trial, because FBI agents believe the 'plea-bargain' for that crime is 4 years? And because the Home Secretary won't do his part and protect brits against foreign countries abuse of treaties.

0
0

American Justice

'Plead Guilty and cooperate and we'll be nice to you'.

Tough if you're innocent......

Interesting that a former agent of the US Government feels that he's free to comment on an individual who hasnt even come to trial yet. Dont Americans do 'sub judice'?

I hope the Redtops crucify him........

0
0
Flame

Dry yer eyes

Bloody Yanks. Just cos you got opened up by a UK weirdo doesn't mean to say you can stamp your feet until he ends up in one of your overcrowded hell holes. Infact, you'd be right screwed if he was a terrorist operative.

0
0

Just wait until May..

I thought that his best chance of avoiding extradition was simply to string things out until May. The conservatives have gone on record as saying that the current extradition arrangement with the US is asymmetric and unfair (and is of course even more lop-sided than it could be until the US legislators get off their backsides and bother to ratify it!). The lack of ratification from the US would be a good excuse to rescind the current "you are not allowed to argue against our case" rules.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I just hope our friends

in the war on terror can reciprocate and return the convicted IRA terrorists they are harbouring - oh and maybe they should have stopped their citizens raising money to blow up that policemans girlfriend last week.

0
0

Two faced....

Somehow I doubt Mr. Gibson is all for allowing his fellow countrymen to be extradicted to a foreign country to face trial for an offence actually committed on US soil.

0
0
FAIL

Ed Gibson is not exactly an uninterested party is he?

First of all he fails in his task of getting Gary McKinnon into the US courts for a show-trial as the worlds worst hacker. (Worst can be taken either way -- either he made a lot of trouble for them, or he was crap at it.)

Now he's a *security* representative for the company that sold the US government the crap operating system with those awful default settings that allowed Gary McKinnon into their systems in the first place.

Gary McKinnon should have been tried in the same year as the offence was discovered, which was *before* the stupidly biased extradition treaty even existed, and he should have been tried in a UK court. He would definitely have finished his community service by now.

Why is it that none of the people responsible for security on those supposedly secure defence computers has ever been indicted for negligence? Or have they been but it's a secret? Like the method they used to come up with a monetary figure for the damage Gary McKinnon's hacking is supposed to have caused? Which strangely seems to include the cost of securing those systems properly. Money which should have been spent *before* he walked into them.

Go home Ed. Your disinformation tactics are not wanted here.

0
0
Boffin

I'm utterly sick of Asperger’s being dragged through the dirt in this case...

If I hear one more press release from both sides in this case, say "suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome." they will be suffering from a broken nose if I ever have the misfortune of meeting them.

Asperger people can very often be above average intelligence, (sometimes with a lot of effort, considerably above average intelligence), its just they are often very idealistic in their world view and so they can fail to see what a twisted corrupt world they really live in. That idealized world view trips them up and makes them pray for people who wish to exploit them, until they finally learn to see the manipulators tactics.

But its most definitely not a debilitating Syndrome as its being portrayed as, in a twisted attempt to gain sympathy.

I've noticed some people (usually some of the cluster B) Non-Aspergers go to great lengths in putting down Aspergers because the thought they may have a competitive advantage is unthinkable to some people, who are extremely hostile (and extremely vocal) to the idea any group have an advantage but the simple fact is Asperger's intense study of their subject gives them an advantage over time. (Their intense studying improves Hebbian Learning and so also provides them with a wider more complex structural view of the world (in their area of study). Put simply over time they end up building a more complex view of part of the world ... in their chosen field of study, but then we all have to specialize in a chosen field, because that is the nature of work and life. None of us can be good at everything). (However being different and thinking differently isn't a crime, its only a crime around HPD's who are so obsessed with attention that they seek to loudly put down anyone different, which gives them two wins, as they become the center of attention and they belittle anyone else who risks taking attention from them).

As for "hacker should have taken his medicine" ... If they ever try to medicate Aspergers in an attempt to wipe them out, then all they will do, is end up wiping out their own country economically, because it won't be able to compete in a world market against countries that encourage Aspergers. Its as simple as that. The world needs more Aspergers not less.

0
0

Fuck the US "Justice System"

The man didn't harm anyone and, in fact, brought to light the pathetic incompetence showm by IT securiry.

So, some jumped-up prick of a policeman thinks the guy should be butfucked for 4 years?

Seems people in the US police* are as malicious and petty-minded as the ones we have here.

*I don't care what he calls himself, he's an ex police man

0
0
Anonymous Coward

What's McKinnon worried about?

After all, US of A is where you can see someone "with an IQ of a child get executed by the state", according to The Simpsons....

Oh, never mind. I get it now.

0
0

If the UK courts have declined to prosecute

Surely there isn't sufficient evidence of a crime?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

There, there, diddums...

Sulking, Mr Gibson, because the Fourth Reich doesn't get it's own way every time?

High time the UK stood up on its hind legs and ceased its vassal status with the Americans altogether.

0
0
djs

Precedent

In the mid 1980s, when the KGB employed a bunch of coke addled German script kiddies to search American military networks for information, and got caught, the US authorities didn't seek extradition. Hell, when told about the activities by some hippie astronomer who'd stumbled across the scheme, they didn't even bother securing their computers.

If activities conducted by proxies working on behalf of the KGB didn't warrant an extradition, why should some some geek with a UFO obsession suddenly be in need of such expensive justice?

0
0

It's what you would expect

From someone involved with prosecuting the case, anything less would result in a loss of face. Gary caught the yanks with their pants down, the issue is not what he did but the fact that he exposed the poor security and caused embarrassment.

0
0
Bronze badge
Jobs Horns

Four years? not 1 year probation?

As it was 1998, I guess Mr. Tenebaum accidentally got into the (obviously) Windows-ME systems purely by switching his PC on...So, stick him on probbo until the service pack came out, natch.

Was he released on a Tuesday, by any chance...?

0
0
Silver badge
Megaphone

Yeah, and by the way....

...this guy's not actually been tried and convicted of anything yet has he?

It's all speculation at this point as to what he may or may not get.

0
0
Thumb Down

Pffft

"I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels."

Man up, McKinnon - UFOs and Aspergers, my arse-ium. Payback's a bitch.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Asperger's

Don't most geeks have some level of Asperger's

0
0
Terminator

What Christopher Rogers said above...

Aspergers or not, they'd be really fucked if he was a proper terrorist. Bollock the people who didnt secure their kit.

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

responces...

@ AC (1550)

By your account, Ehud Tenebaum pled out, this results in a much lower sentence, and is fairly normal in the US justice system. McKinnon refused to plead out, a stiffer sentance is perfectly normal as well.

Also to correct your math, that would be two years for the crime. It is presently 2009, so if he "would have been out 4 years ago" that would have been 2005. 2003 (date offered) to 2005 (when he would have been release) is 2 years..

@ Conor Turron (1613)

He accessed machines in the US which he was not authorized to. The crime therefor occered in the US. his location is irrelevent. If I where to launch a rocket containing nerve gas into downtown london from the US, I still commited a crime in the UK, my location when I pushed "launch" is irrellevent.

@ Sam Liddicott (1528)

I have now heard numerous psycologests state that aspergers syndrome does not affect the ability to differentiate right from wrong. If this is the case it is not a defense, otherwise aspergers suffers are a danger to socety and needs to be institutionalized.

No, punished for accesses a machine which he was not authorized to. In other news you dont get to rummage around your neighbor's home because they left their door unlocked.

If you think the treaty is unfair, maybe you(r government) shouldn't have signed it? So you think the UK should just sign things and not abide by them... how uncivalized.

@ Dave Harvey (1612)

I beleave it has been addressed before the the US has indeed signed and ratified said treaty now.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

He really does continue to disrupt at the highest levels.

By most arguments I've read in the comments, it would be ok.. err legal, for me to hack UK govt comptuers since I'm not in the UK.

0
0
WTF?

@ AC re: aspergers

"But its most definitely not a debilitating Syndrome as its being portrayed as"

Aspergers *can* be quite debilitating - I suspect I have it too (scored well over 180/200 on one of the best known online tests), and suffer constant anxiety, ranging from "permanently on edge" to full blown panic attacks that last for (typically) several days. I've asked my GP about getting an adult diagnosis, only to get a reply of "I don't know much about it". Gee, thanks - perhaps a referral to someone who does might be in order...

The inability to "function" socially is an added factor that can limit the chances of a "normal" way of life. The sad thing is, as we're "high functioning" and can be quite smart (as you acknowledge) it can frustrate the crap out of you - you know you're not like everyone else, would like to be, but know deep down you never can or will be. It feels to me like i'm in a bubble that's closing in - I can look out at the outside world, but know I can't take participate in any that makes sense to me.

To put this into perspective, I last went to a pub just to drink over 20 years ago, and going to a supermarket on my own can feel like a white knuckle ride. I can't shop for christmas presents (i've tried in the past, but ended up wandering around for about 4 hours in a turbulent daze until my wife rang me and told me to give up)

This all tends to lead to depression, which for me can be severe to the point where i've gone from a "normal" state of anxiety (for me) but within 36 hours i'd deteriorated to such a level that if my wife hadn't been between me and a knife I would have jammed it into my own throat.

There is also a common "displacement" of mind and body - your body is secondary to your mind, so things like personal hygiene suffers (or doesn't exist).

It's called a spectrum disorder for a reason - it ranges from mild symptoms with perhaps a hint of OCD (that may not cause any real issues for them) to something that really is far more debilitating than you might at first realise.

Aspergers by its very nature means the sufferer doesn't want to talk about it or be social, bottles up the depression and negative feelings, and will try to get out of a situation where perhaps an occupational health nurse or your GP asks questions by giving the answers you think they want to hear or simply saying you're fine - it's the quickest way to get out of that situation.

Outwardly i've seemed ok to the outside world over the last few weeks, but I was very close to suicide again two weeks ago. I confided in one of the few people I trust just how bad I was, and got a referral to a nurse. I had to ask them specifically to read the words I wrote in aspie forums (printed them out and took them in) rather than going by what I say, as I knew they'd get the wrong idea about my real state of mind.

Back to the tech angle - computers can help aspies communicate, as it's a "remote" way of keeping and touch and can be done in their own time the way they want to do it.

WTF? icon, because aspies just don't understand how the world ticks for everyone else.

0
0

Dont Americans do 'sub judice'?

Nope....

We like to pre-trial people in the media. But then I think we don't do injunctions taken out in secret by people whose identities are secret against people who cannot be named like the example last week that was pulled on the Guardian. (I can't say for sure --- read the breakdown of the injunction and you'd see why -- its only that it breached a fundamental rule of Parlimentary privelege that this came to light at all)

0
0

slippery slope... and classism.

ok so he's got asbergers. but he's intelligent. did he not know that breaking into other people's computer systems was a crime?

to let him off sets an awful precident. there are plenty of people saying that a lot of criminality is to do genes and upbringing.

so if we let mckinnon off we should let of loads and loads of lower class people because they "couldnt help it too". but that won't happen. mckinnon is not somebody we'd see on police camera action so we can feel happy about letting off a mentally ill offender.

don't get me wrong, i dont think he should extradited, he commited the crime here, should be tried here. nothing else

but this "awwwww he's got a mental disability" will open a whole can of fail on society if followed through.

0
0
FAIL

@Martin Usher

But then I think we don't do injunctions taken out in secret by people whose identities are secret against people who cannot be named like the example last week that was pulled on the Guardian.

So you have never heard of NAtional security letters then?

The ones where the librarians and the like were not allowed to reveal the letters arrival or contents.

0
0
Flame

I wonder how many...

... of their computers are currently getting hacked by people more competent and less reachable/vulnerable than Gary McKinnon?

It seem unlikely that they've spent any time fixing the *real* problem, nor the people who caused it, from the effort they're making to "shoot the messenger". Which is what this is, if you come right down to it.

0
0
Megaphone

Torture

i thought that we didn't have to extradite to any country that tortured people.

0
2
Anonymous Coward

@Oninoshiko

"He accessed machines in the US which he was not authorized to. The crime therefor occered in the US. his location is irrelevent. If I where to launch a rocket containing nerve gas into downtown london from the US, I still commited a crime in the UK, my location when I pushed "launch" is irrellevent."

Alternatively:

In the UK he accessed machines which he was not authorized to. The crime therefore occurred in the UK. The location of the targeted computers is irrelevant. If I where to launch a rocket containing nerve gas into downtown London from the US, I still committed a crime in the US, the location of the rocket's destination is irrelevant.

Both versions make perfect sense, it is hardly as black and white as you make out...

0
0
Silver badge

Reciprocal Agreements

Whether he qualifies for extradition under the treaty rules or not, he shoujld not be extradited until the US fully ratifies the treaty, which I understand they have not yet done.

Note to future UK governments: when drafting laws on international agreements, make sure they do not come into effect until fully ratified by all the other parties to the agreement. I suspect we wouldn't be in this mess had this been done in this case.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Aspergers

The defence argument seems to be that McKinnon is not fit to stand trial because he suffers from Aspergers. Some people are also suggesting that he can't tell right from wrong because of his aspergers. Somebody who can't tell right from wrong should surely be under constant supervision. However it appears that the people who are so concerned about him are allowing him to lead a normal life.

So which is it people. Do you believe he can't tell right from wrong or do you believe he should lead a normal life? The former would preclude the latter.

0
0

@Martin Usher

What we can take from that case is that there was an injunction granted on bad grounds, which was then revoked when this was pointed out. Not bad law but a good legal system. The US just has a bad legal system.

Trial by media. Police that think because they are prosecuting someone they must be guilty (And this is a vew entrenched in scocioty, where as we know it the UK it is just some police)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Ship him over there

As longs as the yanks are willing to send all the evidence they have withheld from 'friendly fire' incidents and are willing to send those responsible for said incidents over here for trial. While you're at it, can you send back all the IRA terrorists you are keeping out of prison so we can have some justice for their victims?

Americans don't know the meaning of justice, they think it is something that you can only have if you can afford high price lawyers who will twist the law so that it is unrecognisable from the original intent, but it gets the result they were after. Everyone else can go to hell.

0
0

In politically correct America

... there are hierarchies of rights. A white British man is at the bottom of that hierarchy. Notice how all the villains in Hollywood films are never members of PC-favoured groups, and are often Brits?

US justice is entirely political. The idea that a foreigner would get much justice hardly needs consideration. These remarks were merely made to try to get him to surrender, and are deeply cynical.

We need to stop extraditing Brits to the USA.

0
0
g e
Silver badge

Was Gibson on commission?

Sounds like a sulky salesman who's not got his big commission cheque yet cos the sales contract's still not yet signed off with the client.

0
1
Boffin

@AC re: "Aspergers *can* be quite debilitating" etc... Wed 21st Oct 2009 22:20 GMT

I am very sorry you have suffered, I know its a common problem for Aspergers but hopefully this will help. (I know some (more than a few in fact) in the technology industry are Aspergers, because they are very much attracted to that kind of detailed complex work and can be very good at it). So unfortunately its a common problem for people in this industry. When you say "suffer constant anxiety" - That isn't directly caused by Aspergers, that is caused by the actions of some other people against you and your resulting own perception of how you fit into society *based on* their actions against you. You need to learn some people will accept you and some won't no matter how hard you try to conform to what they expect. But some will accept you - please remember that. Also even the most well intentioned non-Asperger people don't understand Aspergers at all, and their attempts to understand usually totally fail, but that doesn't stop some accepting you as you are.

Also often Aspergers idealised view of the world can prevent them seeing and believing a minority of society relentlessly seek to influence, lie and manipulate others for their own gain, so not everything that everyone tells us can be taken at face value. Don't judge people by what they say, judge them by how they treat others (spotting empathy is the key) and if they wouldn't like to be treated how they repeatedly treat others, that's a sure fire warning sign to avoid that person. There are a lot of people in this world, so you have a lot to choose from to find friends.

When you say, "chances of a "normal" way of life" - Define "normal" ... there is no normal, life is what we *choose* to make of our time on this planet to make us happy. Normal isn't fitting into a pattern of behavior which others choose to define for us. No one has the right to attempt to manipulate us into conforming to their expectations. Life is what we choose. Its our life, not theirs.

It greatly saddens me how so many Aspergers with such potential are through their experiences and interactions with others, been bullied into a pattern of behavior where they are made to feel bad about being an Asperger. Its an all too common problem, but you can learn to see beyond it. (This bloody legal case isn't helping, as its running down Aspergers the whole time. I've grown to utterly hate this manipulative case where both sides are vying for position).

One interesting thing for Aspergers is when they realize there are some people in this world who try all their lives to stand out in a crowd. These people are relentlessly driven to stand out. Yet Aspergers however think and feel different, so they have always had, what some other people spend a life time trying to achieve. That may just sound interesting now, but take that to heart. The more you think about that the more you realize you can finally relax and be you. After all being different isn't wrong and being different is easy, eccentric is easy, its attempting to conform that is the difficult part of the act, but its such a huge relief when you suddenly realize, you no longer have to conform. Its your life, not anyone else's to choose for you how you should conform. There is no normal and anyone who says differently, is attempting to define their expectations of what they expect people to conform to. They also need to learn there is no normal. No pattern to conform to. Life is how we *choose* to live.

So stop trying to conform and just *learn* to be happy and *learn* to become finally at peace with just being you. You can learn to have confidence and self esteem by just being you. I emphasize learn, because it literally is a process of having to learn how some people will accept us and others will never accept us, no matter how hard we try to make them happy. So there is no point in trying to win the acceptance of the ones who won't accept us no matter what we do. But there are billions of people in this world and so everyone has millions of people to choose from to find the ones who will be happy to know us and accept us and can in time become friends. Also as an Asperger you can learn to see patterns in the world others walk on past and never see. That can be fascinating to share these insights with some people who are interested in discussing and sharing their observations, as we all attempt to refine our understanding of the world around us. Not every is interested, but thats life, they are interested in other things. But it helps to find a few friends who are interested in the stuff we are all interested in.

So don't let anyone dishearten you by talking down to you for being different. The ones who attempt to talk down to you have something to gain from talking down to you. (By suppressing any difference they find in people, that in turn wins them the center of attention and they try to make people feel difference is so wrong, when in fact its their attention craving insecure abuse of others that is wrong. But their relentless need for attention is also their Achilles heel). After all they wouldn't like to be talked down to, so they have no right to talk down to others. So don't let anyone dishearten you. Just ignore them, don't bother arguing with them, just ignore them as its an attention seekers worse fear. (Same tactic works against the minority of people who seek power over others. When they are ignored they haven't got power). There are many good people in this world, just a few bad apples to avoid, but unfortunately the bad ones fight to get in our faces all the time.

I sincerely hope this helps. I know its a problem for people in this industry. Its not easy to learn self esteem. It takes time, but you can learn it and learn to be happy being you. Aspergers is an advantage. For example we all have to specialize in our chosen careers and Aspergers have an advantage in this regard so they can learn to be good at their work. Thats a very good thing that many will respect in life (not just work).

Anyway, it looks like this case still has a lot more media coverage and manipulative legal chess moves to endure. (P.s. sorry TheReg for this long post, but I felt this was very important to say in reply).

0
0
Big Brother

@ Mighty Spang

"ok so he's got asbergers. but he's intelligent. did he not know that breaking into other people's computer systems was a crime?"

You could liken it to walking down a street at night - some shop windows are left clear so you can still look at the goods. Others have shutters to hide the goods completely, and some have shutters with holes so you can still see the goods.

Although what Gary did was seemingly "wrong", all he did was look through the open holes in the shutters.

"to let him off sets an awful precident. there are plenty of people saying that a lot of criminality is to do genes and upbringing."

That's like saying someone with tourettes should be prosecuted for profanity, a catholic priest should be done for offending muslims, or a blind person should be done for falling down an "obviously open" manhole. It could be genes, upbringing, or sheer bad luck that put them in that situation, without any hint of malice in their actions.

0
0
Coat

@ Roger Pearce

STFU. This is no place for some 'voice of the silent majority' BNP crap.

I do not think Gary should be extradited (so much so that I wrote to the President), the alleged crime was committed here, he should be tried here. And let's not go buggering about with anti-terrorism legislation either, the man is clearly not a terrorist, he's a nerd.

Re the 'he should know what is right and what is wrong' argument, I don't think it's as simple as you're making out. He wanted access to information, he didn't have to hurt anyone or sabotage anything to get that information, just type in a password. He then got said information, and has still not attacked or damaged a person in any way. I can see why he wouldn't think that what he has done is wrong.

But now he's being extradited under terrorism legislation to a country that has a completely different legal system and where the punishments can be fundamentally at odds with our own social morality and legal norms: We should not be extraditing to a country that practices capital punishment. I also believe that he will not receive a fair trial in the US, as national, governmental and institutional pride is at stake, which is another reason he should be tried here in the UK.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.