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back to article Judges probe minister's role in McKinnon extradition saga

The long-running case of Gary McKinnon returns to court on Friday. The Royal Courts of Justice will review government ministers' handling of the extradition case rather than considering whether or not McKinnon ought to face trial in the US, in spite of his well-publicised medical problems. McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's …

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Black Helicopters

Off the shelf hacking tools?

..which isle in PC World are those in then?

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I think

its in the "Operating Systems" section, and once installed is called "telnet".

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I don't know about PC World, but here's some wiki reading for you

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_of_speech

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_off-the-shelf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nmap

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nessus_%28software%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metasploit_Project

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OWASP_Mantra_Security_Framework

...

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Coat

You called?

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Anonymous Coward

Actually

He used a program called "RemotelyAnywhere" which is still a going concern.

From their website:

"Fast, secure system administration FROM ANYWHERE. RemotelyAnywhere 10 offers industry leading security and performance for remote administration. Join the thousands of companies that trust RemotelyAnywhere for ensuring total access to the systems they manage. "

Funnily enough they don't mention hacking NASA as one of their use cases.

Not that what GMcK did should really be called hacking.

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@James 139

Think the Telnet answer is the best one. Gave all our security guys a big laugh.

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Facepalm

Easy enough to find back then

Big blue-ish box marked as Windows XP operating system,

the 'hack' would of not been posibble without it.

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FAIL

The "damages" will include all the time & cost in securing their systems. You know, like they should have done in the first place before McKinnon went near their systems.

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They've had over 20 years

Just ask Clifford Stoll, it's quite depressing really.

McKinnon did the equivalent of walking into a house with an unlocked door, saying "Hello? Any aliens here?" and then leaving.

What he did was wrong but the response is disproportionate. If he could do it, so could you, I or someone else with actual malicious intent.

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Alert

Indeed

Had a private consultant found out how vulnerable their systems were, they would've been paid a small (or large) fortune. In reality he should be getting a pay cheque from them :)

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Go

Well...

the US govt has to blame someone for their failure!

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You, I or the Iranian intelligence services

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Re: someone to blame

Substitute "a high-ranking person" for "US govt" and I think we have the only explanation that makes sense.

From a pure security viewpoint, McKinnon allowed the US to learn *without penalty* that their systems were wide open. However, those lax practices were somebody's fault and presumably that person's career progression stopped at that point. To judge from the subsequent brouhaha, either that person wasn't busted down to private, or they have friends still in high places. Either way, the whole business smacks of petty revenge.

And *that* should be a concern to the *current* administration. Somebody somewhere is using the system to pursue a personal vendetta rather than whatever their job is.

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Precisely,

The only damage McKinnon did was to embarrass somebody

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@Ken Hagan

>>"From a pure security viewpoint, McKinnon allowed the US to learn *without penalty* that their systems were wide open. However, those lax practices were somebody's fault and presumably that person's career progression stopped at that point. To judge from the subsequent brouhaha, either that person wasn't busted down to private, or they have friends still in high places. Either way, the whole business smacks of petty revenge."

I think there's certainly an element of that.

On the other hand, if they actually did *nothing at all*, that could be taken as a green light for other people with less benign intentions to wander round with a defence that they were 'innocently testing security' if they were found out before they actually did real damage, but who, if finding weakneses while not being detected, could pass on details of any vulnerabilities to someone else who would misuse them.

There is a point at which walking along a street trying car door handles should attract *some* kind of response, even if not necessarily a big response.

People shouldn't leave their cars unlocked, but neither should people play with cars they know aren't theirs.

I guess a lot of the problem might stem from the US authorities backing themselves into a corner with early statements.

If they'd left enough wiggle room at the start to make a UK trial, or at least a US one with a guaranteed low maximum sentence not look like a climbdown, they might have been able to get the whole thing finished with ages ago.

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@David Wilson

David. We certainly haven't agreed in the past, but this posting is complete sense. All he needed was a minimal sentence of some sort and his computers confiscated. It's all been blown out of all proportion. The US went in too hard, too fast. UK politicians couldn't kiss arse fast enough and between them, they backed themselves into a corner. Anything less than a harsh and disproportionate sentence would then do.

Perhaps it's time for a politician, say David Cameron, to show he's different and actually do this. After all, the USA have ignored treaties etc. when it suits them. Extraditing IRA suspects is a perfect case in point. So, why doesn't he start getting some real respect in this country by refusing this extradition request, repealing the law and putting something more sensible in it's place. Maybe, from this small start, he could move onto doing the same in other areas.

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I doubt Cameron could really just tear up the treaty, and even if in the highly unlikely event that he could somehow negotiate a replacement one, it's hard to see that any realistic replacement not obviously engineered in order to save him would be much use to McKinnon.

Given the /claimed/ damage caused, thresholds for seriousness of crime would have to be much higher, and given what he's already admitted doing, levels of necessary evidence would also need to be much higher.

I'd hope that at the very least there are private conversations going on about people being careful in future cases not to hype them up too much, but in this case, I'm not sure what (other than a medical way out to save face) would be likely to work.

Though even there, even assuming some will to keep him here, I suppose a lot comes down not merely to finding an easy way out for this case, but not doing anything to give an easy way out for others - if one 'hacker' can seemingly 'get away' with something on the basis of Aspergers and/or a fear of going to prison, that might send a signal to others that people don't want to be sent.

Also, trying to take a US point of view for a second, they have treaties with lots of countries, some of whom might be generally rather less co-operative than we are (and even we have had this case running for a *long* time).

If they acquiesce with what might appear like someone escaping extradition for a fairly minor reason, I'd think that at the very least, they'd be wondering what kinds of excuses a less-friendly friendly country might come up with even in the case of someone more important.

They might be reluctant to let this one go for wider reasons, even if some (or even many) of them might secretly wish the whole thing would go away.

If what might save McKinnon might also seem to make potential important future cases harder, he might just be out of luck.

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Anonymous Coward

But these terrorists are threat to our very lives..........

......oh.

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FAIL

Call me whatever the heck you like and downvote me however many times you like; but if we can't extradite the extremist cleric that we want to get rid of, and the other country wants him, but we can't stop the extradition of McKinnon for entering systems which the US didn't secure properly and they're trying to land him with the bill for what they should have done in the first place, then something is drastically wrong with this country.

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Thumb Up

OK Michelle,

I'll call you "Correct", "Asute", and other similar terms.

As to what's wrong with this country? Answer - politicians!

Third or fourth rate individuals with monstrous egos but little comprehension of reality. They're pretty much the same the whole world over.

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The usual reason why convicted terrorists, mad Mullahs and the like can't be sent packing as they should be is that is a risk they will be tortured or judicially killed if returned to their country of origin.

The USA, as we all know, would never condone torture or judicial execution. Oh, wait....

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Pint

OK Michelle,

"Third or fourth rate individuals with monstrous egos but little comprehension of reality. They're pretty much the same the whole world over."

That pretty much covers most of the members of the US Congress, and most of the high ranking bureaucrats in the US government... and the various state legislatures and officials as well... Big on EGO, not so big on comprehension or compassion.

Guess it has to be a beer since El Reg won't give me a wine glass...

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@LateNightLarry

As has been said many times before.........the desire to be a politician (CEO, etc.etc.), should ban you forever from being one. People who desire these positions are after them simply for money and power (mostly, with an odd exception). Would you want people like that doing these jobs?

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Wrong issue

To me the issue isn't whether he'll kill himself in the USA, but why the hell we are even considering extradition to a country that condones torture. The one-sided "agreement" we have with the bully across the pond is ludicrous.

I wouldn't mind betting that a greater than average percentage of Reg readers have some degree of autism. Maybe some even classifiable as Asperger's. It's a degree of obsessionalism that makes us achieve what the general populous can't.

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Coat

From what I've read in the press...

...and from Reg. commentards, it would appear that the US/UK extradition treaty is unbalanced. The UK government asked Sir Scott Baker to look into this and other extradition related stuff. Here is his report.

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/operational-policing/extradition-review?view=Binary

Part 7 discusses the UK/US treaty. It's an interesting read, discussing the history of the treaty, which, apparently, was biased in the UK's favour before 2004.

Here's his conclusion, which flies in the face of received Reg. readers' wisdom.

"Conclusion on Treaty Imbalance

The United States and the United Kingdom have similar but different legal systems. In the United States the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ensures that arrest may only lawfully take place if the probable cause test is satisfied; in the United Kingdom the test is reasonable suspicion. In each case it is necessary to demonstrate to a judge an objective basis for the arrest. There is no practical difference between the two tests and the 2003 Treaty does not operate in an unbalanced manner. Nor is there any basis to conclude that extradition from the United Kingdom to the US operates unfairly or oppressively. For these reasons we have concluded that there is no basis for seeking to renegotiate the 2003 Treaty. "

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FAIL

of course, the treaty was only introduced to allow fast track extradition of terrorist suspects...

So, on that basis, I'd say it is certainly being used in an unbalanced way.

So far, how many people can you name who were extradited under it who were terrorist suspects?

Answers on the back of a postage stamp please...

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FAIL

different kinds of imbalance

If the UK were able to extradite a US citizen from the US for a crime committed when he was in the US in respect of a minor computer offence here, it could be argued from a very narrow understanding of "balance" that the extradition treaty is balanced.

But that is only because we would normally consider as "imbalanced" the idea of dragging anyone to a different continent for prosecution over a minor offence, which should be prosecuted where the person was when the offence was committed, and dragging the legal procedings expensively over extradition on for a decade or more.

That's the normal understanding of "imbalanced" in the sense of it being insane and disproportionate, because the suffering caused by the inappropriate legal extradition process is disproportionate to the alleged offence.

"Imbalanced" to a lawyer clearly means something quite different, but they are arguing from a clearly insane and unbalanced perspective.

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Mushroom

PyLETS

Interesting that you should highlight this sort of 'imbalance'. Being that they're American, I assume they haven't actually read their constitution and the bit about 'cruel and unusual punishments'. Funny, as the last decade could very reasonably be applied to the extradition process and he hasn't even been found guilty yet!! Not that there's anything in question about that!! He's effectively admitted the crime and the Americans wouldn't permit a not guilty result even if he hadn't.

As other people on here have said; this is simply about revenge. He made NASA, the American government and America in general look completely stupid for not implementing the most basic security. No greater crime exists in America than making an important person (or persons) look stupid and worst of all, humiliating America the Great!!

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@Symon

Is that why the US has steadfastly failed to return murderers for the last 30 or 40 years?

Claiming that despite scores of dead and maimed innocent men, women and children, these perps were "noble freedom fighters struggling heroically against an evil occupying power".

I refer of course, to the numerous provos who've decamped to the Home of the Brave, safe in the knowledge that their Beaks are in thrall to the misty-eyed Sons of Erin - or at least those whose great-great-great grandpappy was...

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Stop

Imbalance

"In the United States... arrest may only lawfully take place if the probable cause test is satisfied; in the United Kingdom the test is reasonable suspicion"

Baker can say that's not imbalance but others say it is and his view is just a convenient whitewash. Also the grounds for arrest are not necessarily the same grounds for extradition.

Are "probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion" exactly the same? Should anyone simply take Baker's word for it that they are?

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Treaty is not balanced.

Regardless of what some UK government lawyer says, the treaty allows for the extradition of UK citizens to the US where the alleged offence occured in the UK and without the requirement of producing prima facie evidence - and there being no reciprocal right !

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Probable Cause (as legally defined in the US) and Reasonable Suspicion (as legally defined in the UK and US) are not the same; Reasonable Suspicion is a much weaker test: with Reasonable Suspicion you need only have some explanation of why something is probably amiss (for example, someone in a dark ally looking like they are trying to hide something), whereas with Probable Cause you actually need proof that something is amiss (for example you saw that they are trying to hide a baggy of white stuff).

Given that, it appears that, legally at least, the treaty IS actually one sided: since it is easier to get arrested in the UK it is easier to get extradited from the UK. However, once they get extradited from the UK to the US the Probable Cause part takes over, so it is also easier to get exonerated. This implies that, while there will be more extraditions to the US, there will be more convictions, as a percentage, amongst those extradited to the UK.

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@AC

>>"Of course, the treaty was *only* introduced to allow fast track extradition of terrorist suspects"

>>"...So, on that basis, I'd say it is certainly being used in an unbalanced way.

>>"So far, how many people can you name who were extradited under it who were terrorist suspects?"

Even if your first statement is taken as true, your logic is nonsense.

If someone told you they upgraded their mobile phone 'because they wanted/needed one with a better camera' and you later found out that they actually spent far more time using their new phone for voice calls and text messaging than they did taking pictures with it, would you call them a liar, or would you think that would be a pretty retarded thing to do?

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Black Helicopters

fast track extradition...

Answers on the head of a pin, in 12 point Times New Roman...won't need more than on pin.

I hear that black chopper circling overhead now....

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@David Wilson

A mobile phone is specifically *intended* for use making voice calls and texting, so your analogy falls at the first hurdle. Please look up the term "false analogy" and try to learn from the experience. It's your logic - proceeding from a specious and false analogy - which is nonsense.

If a law is being used for a purpose other than it was specifically *intended* for, then it is bad law, or being misused, in this case by a foreign power.

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>>"A mobile phone is specifically *intended* for use making voice calls and texting, so your analogy falls at the first hurdle. Please look up the term "false analogy" and try to learn from the experience. It's your logic - proceeding from a specious and false analogy - which is nonsense."

The current extradition treaty, like the one it replaced, deals with all extraditable crimes, of which terrorism is simply one, and historically not a very common one.

That suggests that the treaty as a whole is *intended* to deal with all extraditable crimes.

Even if the main claimed or actual *reason* for having a new treaty actually had been to change some aspect of the old one regarding terrorism, that in no way suggests that the new treaty as a whole is primarily *about* terrorism, any more than the new phone should be expected to be primarily used as a camera just because the main claimed or actual reason for an upgrade was to get a better camera.

It would be quote frankly retarded to claim that if one agreement, or law, or treaty, (or object) is replaced with another one, ostensibly to change some aspect of it, that that aspect must necessarily be the most-used or sole *intended* aspect of the new version, or that finding out that it was being used for the whole range of things it could be used for made the usage 'wrong'.

>>"If a law is being used for a purpose other than it was specifically *intended* for, then it is bad law, or being misused, in this case by a foreign power."

If you have any evidence that the new treaty as a whole was only *intended* to be used in terrorist cases, please provide that evidence, if you can, and also explain exactly how you think non-terrorist cases were supposed to be handled.

If you want to complain about the new treaty with respect to this case, please also say how you think the McKinnon case would have been meaningfully different under the old treaty.

There doesn't seem to be a lack of basic evidence, given that he was traced and seems to have admitted basically what he did, even if there are disputes over how serious the effects were and what his intentions were, so the treaty changes regarding necessary levels of evidence don't necessarily seem massively relevant to this case, even if they might be a real concern in other cases.

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"The UK government asked Sir Scott Baker to look into this".

I can only imagine the conversation that took place in Whitehall.

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FAIL

Bend over

The ministers role in this whole shameful affair is to cover his ears and eyes and bend over.

I don't see the point in voting anymore, as almost all of the MPs (and therefore ministers later) are self-serving, gutless liars. There's an odd one amongst them who has my respect. Tony Benn. Never agreed with a word he said, but at least he generally stuck to his principles. Also, Alan Clark. He could never tell a lie, even when in his best interests. 'Did you bed both the judges wife and daughter'. Absolutely. End of media interest. What's the point of pursuing someone who freely admits everything he does!!

All our politicians are in the pay (directly or indirectly) of big business, which naturally means they do anything the US says, as they generally have the biggest business!! I wish plague and pestilence on them all.

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Big Brother

Why...

call yourself "Mad Mike"?

One of the most rational comments I've ever read.

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Alien

Maybe he actually found what he was looking for...

....and that's why they want him in custody so badly. I suppose if they can't extradite him, they'll just get our mob to do a "David Kelly" on him.

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Unhappy

Better be careful where he goes

Has anyone told him? Stay away from woods, copses and any group of more than 10 trees. Should be fairly easy to spot though. The government would have to get the same bent pathologist to do the autopsy.

The David Kelly affair is a shameful stain on the UK and how it has never been persued more by the papers, I don't know. Presumably, they were paid or threatended to let it go. Another case of getting your revenge in. Kelly made the government look like a bunch of liars, creating false evidence to try and justify their actions. So, either it was revenge, or he knew something even more explosive. A shocking thought. What could be worse than wholesale corruption and dishonesty at the top of government.

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Devil

"D" Notice.

Read the title that is all

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

No one has confirmed Gary has ArseWipers disease because there is no test to confirm this. In addition the stalling techniques are a means to escape accountability for his illegal hacking - which he admitted too long before claiming ArseWipers disease.

I hope when he gets to the U.S. and goes to trial they add on 5 years additional prison time for his unscrupulous delaying tricks and insults to those who actually suffer from Ausbergers disease. His Mum needs some head therapy because she is a big part of this scam.

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@AC

Mmmmm....where to start.

Adding additional time for using his rights and the legal system to the full extent? Sounds like anyone accused should automatically say yes, I did it. Otherwise, according to you, anyone who pleads not guilty and is found guilty has committed delaying tactics etc.

He has never denied accountability and has never refused to stand trial. He's simply asked for the trial to take place in this country. So, he has never attempted to escape accountability as you claim.

Finally, it's ASPERGERS syndome, not Ausbergers disease. Really, people who can't even spell it or know if it's a disease or a syndrome should not comment.

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>>"Adding additional time for using his rights and the legal system to the full extent? Sounds like anyone accused should automatically say yes, I did it. Otherwise, according to you, anyone who pleads not guilty and is found guilty has committed delaying tactics etc"

That really seems a matter of degree - in the UK, sentencing is typically lower for people who put in an early guilty plea, for understandable reasons.

The thing that (at least from the outside) seems disturbing regarding the USA is the seemingly huge disparity in some cases between outcomes for plea bargains vs. potential outcomes or likely outcomes if going to trial and being convicted, which, whatever the upsides might be, does have definite downsides.

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Alien

This all started under Tony Blair and New Labour. I thought that Brown would sort it out as part of his "I am not not Tony" new broom. Then the Tories took over with the help if the Lib Dems. Finally, i thought, now someone can tell the Americans to bugger off. Wishful thinking :(

This whole case is so fantastic that I have great difficulty coming up with a logical explanation for the behaviour of British politicians. Just about everyone I know agrees that all that McKinnon needed was a rap on the knuckles and his computers confiscated.

I cannot believe that the UK will allow the deportation of one of its citizens for a fairly trivial crime with a sentence many times higher than could be exacted here. This is regardless of the fact that there is no real reciprocity. Being a little more cynical than I used to be I now do not find it so surprising that our politicians will allow the destruction of the life of one of the little people for no particular reason other than kissing the arse of Uncle Sam.

It all makes me wonder if maybe they are really all lizard people.

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Anonymous Coward

Does he really think he'll stay in the UK?

If so he must be getting good drugs for his "illness"...

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