Gary McKinnon, Earth Hour

Hello. Long time, no see. I hope you’re keeping well.

We’ll be back to the usual odd mixture of random musings soon. First, I’d like to catch up on your reaction to last week’s news: namely the story about this week’s ‘sing-in’ protest against Gary McKinnon’s planned extradition.

In what David called “a heavy handed response” from the US, Gary, who has Asperger’s syndrome, stands accused of hacking into US military websites and is now under threat of extradition – under the controversial 2003 Extradition Act, which allows US authorities to demand extradition without having to provide much by way of evidence – so that he can stand trial in the States.

He could face up to an incredible 70 years in jail there, labelled an ‘enemy combatant’, which sounds like a most severe wrap across the knuckles as punishment for looking for proof of alien life, as Gary maintains.

I’d like to know what you think. Some might argue that he did them a favour by exposing how lax their security was. (Default passwords at the Pentagon?!)

In the same vein, Earth Hour.

Did you vote, either way, with your light switch on Saturday? Do you think the results, due to be presented to the powers that be in Copenhagen at the end of the year, will make a blind bit of difference to world policy on climate change?

I hear that some thought it appropriate (funny? clever?) to deliberately use as much electricity as possible during that hour, dressing it up as a celebration of human achievement. To me it seems like a rather spiteful, childish and, above all, wasteful way to mock. Still, if you orchestrate a global election and ask people to vote for Earth (or not) in this way, surely that was always likely to happen. Besides, many don’t have light switches to flick – in anger or anything else.

So, as the Graham Nash song re-written for Gary’s case goes: ‘We can change the world, re-arrange the world, it’s dying to get better.’ Do you believe that we can?

Let’s hope the protesters in London for the G20 summit this week do.

Viva la Revolución…

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

73 thoughts on “Gary McKinnon, Earth Hour”

  1. Earth Hour

    Yes, I liked the idea, when we have power cuts, actually quite frequent where we are for some reason (once in the middle of a F.A. cup semi final, would you believe?), I like the way you have to make other forms of entertainment you just can’t stick the kettle on or watch TV, write e-mails etc., even something like going up the stairs require a bit of thought, I still switched the light on even though the power is off, I just took it for granted as it was dark and I needed light.

    My teenage stepson felt his life had come to an end because his Playstation did not work, eventually he sat down with us and we talked as a family, how novel an idea is that! Other issues aside.

    Gary McKinnon

    I hope sense prevails. Apart from the absurdity of the situation and the real possibility that Gary could be imprisoned, someone with disabilities who is capable of causing so much panic in military circles actually makes me smirk and the reaction I think is one of extreme embarrassment on their part.

  2. Hello again, FEd. 🙂

    As I wrote in another message, yes, I believe that we can always do something to change the world around us and I’m sure a lot of people think the same.

    I know I’m not saying anything new, but what we need is to be united and to ask these changes all together. To do it we should stop thinking to ourselves only and come back to a real communication with the other people.

    “Less TV and more words”, as I read on a wall in my city, or if we want to say so… Viva la Revolucion!

    As for last week’s news, I consider the U.S. behaviour very incorrect, exaggerated and unrealistic. The person we are talking about is clearly not a criminal. His actions have been moved by curiosity, maybe a sick curiosity, but nothing more than this. The law needs to be flexible to be applied to reality, moreover if we are talking about someone with Asperger’s syndrome.

    Anyway, for me extradition is a mad request, not only from the human point of view, but also from the political one.

  3. I had some friends over at Saturday, celebrating my birthday. So we turned of the lights and the music at half past eight, and sat there with candles playing trivial pursuit. We all agreed on that we should make an earth weekend, week, a month or even a year.

  4. I’m sorry to say that I found Earth Day pointless because of what you pointed out: not everyone has a light switch to vote with. I hope it will make a difference, but I don’t expect it will. As for those who used up more electricity in protest, I think they’re pathetic.

    I hope Gary McKinnon is not extradited. The US government should stop bullying the world and be glad that he wasn’t a real terrorist. He did them a favour!

    The UK government should not allow the trial to be held in the US because everyone now knows about their record of human rights abuses.

  5. I sure hope that we can change. Obama was elected on a promise of change. People are lusting after change in a big way.

    In that vein, I did switch the lights off during that hour on Saturday. It was hard to do, as I am a teacher and I need to do grades, which are due, and other things. But it was worth it in the end. I’m trying to think long-range these days, and this was one way to put that to practice.

    1. I read an encouraging article earlier today about how government agencies and schools in the States are embracing solar power. Thought you might be interested in the link.

    2. Thanks, F’Ed, for this link. In my area there are a lot of very old school buildings that are in dire need of updating. My classroom is in a building that was built in 1913, and not only is its heating system decades out of date, but the windows are in serious need of replacement. And as I heard from our tech people, our computers strain the electrical system.

      At least in this part of the country, this is all too common. Schools actually waste good money because of conditions like these, and it’s because they cannot afford to refurbish the facilities. Among newer schools or schools in more affluent districts that can refurbish an older building, green is a trend. But in urban districts with inefficient old buildings, green is a pipe dream.

  6. Everything except maybe the fridge is turned off in our home every night. Katrina plays an active role in renewable energy alternatives for the UK, working within one of the UK’s main national parks, she and colleagues actually persuaded members to oppose the national grid from placing giant pylons through the park which would power the new and existing nuclear sites. In a recent meeting with power companies involved, she told them the only way forward with this would be to place the cables beneath the sea. I am very proud of her.

    As for Gary McKinnon, I have always thought we have a bit of an unhealthy relationship with the US, as you said it’s their own fault if they cannot protect their own security. They should give him a job. If someone came to me and said, “I know all your bank details and here’s how I know”, I would thank them.

    The British government wants to stop meowing and start roaring, tell the US authorities to swivel.


  7. There’s a small article about this in today’s Daily Star.

    Does this mean 70 years in Guantanamo Bay with other enemy combatants? 😮

    They’ve already made their point and scared the sh!t out of the guy in the process, so hopefully the UK Government will intervene and stop the extradition before it’s too late to save him.

    How old is Gary McKinnon anyway?

    1. …so if he only does half his sentence for good behaviour, he will be 78 when he gets home. Unbelievable!!!

      My point is murderers and rapists get treated more leniently than this guy.

    2. Indeed.

      If you embarrass the rich and powerful, you get it with both barrels. Take someone’s life and it’s not such a big deal.

  8. Hmm, I had better not say what I truly think of the hacker story for I would probably be banned, I will just say he shouldn’t have done it and he will get what is coming (though I do agree 70 years is miles too much).

    Would everyone be so amused if it was their website or email he hacked into?

    As for the Earth Hour, well personally I see it as another pointless exercise, as if me turning off my low energy bulb is going to make a difference anyway, besides I need to be able to see where I’m going.

    Though I would not/did not deliberately switch on extra lights just for the sake of it I do not see those that did as spiteful or childish, they have just as much right to counter protest and if that is the way they thought was best then so be it, it is still a free country even if it doesn’t always feel like one.

    Supermarkets, office blocks and other such places often leave ALL their lights on even when they are closed, surely we should be looking at reducing this sort of waste before the powers that be start targeting the ordinary ‘man on the street’.

    Anyway enough hares set running, hope everyone is well. 🙂

    1. I won’t ban you, Veronica. You can trust me. 🙂

      Seriously, I appreciate you taking the time to visit, first and foremost, and will always welcome your honesty.

      I couldn’t agree more with your comment on the wastefulness of supermarkets and office blocks. Windows closed, blinds drawn, lights and air conditioning and monitors left on constantly… Very careless.

      Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a counter-protest, and there was always something inevitable about this one; I just don’t understand why anyone would want to deliberately use more than they need just to try and prove a point. (To whom? Themselves? That said, the same goes for everyone who turned off their lights, of course.)

      I do understand that some people simply don’t care quite as much as I do when it comes to certain issues, however, which is fair enough.

    2. Thanks, Veronica – at last, a fellow traveller who sees that hacking into military computers is more serious than simply thumbing one’s nose at Big Bad America.

      Yes, I am worried about the lack of security my tax dollars are buying (I’m American). Yes, I agree that, IF Asperger’s is a Rain Man-type condition, Gary doesn’t belong in a prison, and need not be whisked away to the U.S. But, comments from Gary I’ve found online seem to indicate that he knew what he was doing and was pleased to be mucking with a government whose actions he found distasteful, so I do wonder about that.

      I don’t want Gary to be punished any more than is appropriate, but I worry more about the well-being of the people who stood to suffer from his actions than I do about him. Hating George Bush doesn’t give you license to muck with our hardware.

      Cheers to Earth Hour – whether ineffective or not, THAT’S a way to make a statement without messing with others, and small steps can lead to big ones.

    3. Asperger’s isn’t always a Rain-Man condition. It can be but isn’t always. In some ways it can be easier to understand it in the more severe form that Dustin Hoffman portrayed in that film because it’s so obvious there is a different thought process going on there.

      Chances are if all Gary said he was doing was looking for proof of aliens existing then that was the scope of his thought. The broader picture that what he was actually doing was hacking into the US defense system, which, if he was caught the US Government might have get a tad miffed about wouldn’t have been a consideration. There is a big difference between hacking in looking for wee green men and doing so maliciously.

      I think the US Government should be thanking Gary McKinnon. And that Gordon Brown should grow a pair and refuse to extradite him.

  9. Off Topic,

    With the release of the latest ‘Guitar Hero, Metallica’ the NY Daily News has printed who they think are the top 10 guitarist, and then has a poll asking for our top player.

    Right now Hendrix leads with 37% and DG is trailing at 2%.

    Here is the link.

    Thought I would pass it on FEd, have a great week…

    JohnP from Chicago

  10. 1) I don’t know what Gary McKinnon’s objective was to hack into the Pentagon. Hacking, in general, is a bit of a dodgy thing to be doing to anything, ESPECIALLY the Pentagon. Did he NOT realize he was at the Pentagon’s site? What was he TRULY looking for at this site? I have tons of questions, but think that the 70 years jail sentencing IS a bit much.

    2) I did participate in Earth Hour. My feelings about making any sort of stand or statement to powers that be will remain unchanged. That being, unless there is an election year, whereby an official is looking for votes, this information will probably be used – to a lesser effect – as a minor sidenote than the resounding exclamation point it should be allowed to be. We are, in a large part, pawns to our elected officials and unless we can create a massive groundswell of support (which I believe it near impossible because of the overriding amount of apathy out there) there might not be much of a chance of any changes occurring. This, however, doesn’t stop my steadfast persistence in attempting to make a difference.

    I do believe that a revolt is needed if the powers that be are to listen.

    Have at thee!

  11. Hey FEd!

    Hope you had a nice time away from blog land. Just got back from California, myself. Good to have you back.

    In regards to the Gary McKinnon situation, I would have to really investigate the story to understand what happened and come to a conclusion. But, these things happen often and it kind of gets you concerned about the actual nature of the security that the people in Washington speak of. If we are giving you money to keep us “safe” and an average Joe can hack into your system, then what the hell are you doing with that money?

    In regards to Earth Hour, I personally don’t follow any of that stuff and thus did not partake in it. While I am all for doing your part to create a sustainable living environment, these “save the Earth” schemes are a waste of time. As George Carlin once said, “Save The Planet? We can’t even take care of ourselves.”

    Just look at all the human rights abuses, warfare, and other social problems we face within a society and then ask yourself, “are we really capable of “saving the planet?””

    Just my two cents.

    By The Way, I have a new email address, does this mean I will have to re-register for the chats?

    1. It won’t, but you used to be a one-eyed red thing with a water fountain on your head. If you want to tie all your previous comments together and have just one unique image alongside each of your comments, you’ll need to go to and connect both old and new addresses to an image of your choosing.

  12. OK, as it relates to Mr. McKinnon this is one of the rare times that I have to disagree with David and his cohorts. What Gary was actually looking for is irrelevant. After 9/11 our government is and forever will be very, very, sensitive about military and/or federal agency websites being hacked for ANY reason and as such they will deliver a heavy handed response.

    Also the fact that it apparently was easy to do is irrelevant (although I agree it is probably helpful to know that there needs to be an effort to strengthen security). If McKinnon was truly looking for alien life proof then this whole incident is unfortunate but I’m afraid he is going to be made a legal example of.

    And remember 70 years is probably the maximum that doesn’t mean he will serve that time. Hopefully reason will prevail and if convicted he will receive an appropriate length of time for his transgression.

    Thank you very much indeed, good night to you.

  13. Hello gang,

    Belgian TV channel ‘Canvas’ is covering Dark Side of the Moon in the ‘Classic Albums’ series on Thursday, 23:40.

    Details – in Dutch – here.

    Off skiing soon. 🙂

    Best regards,

  14. Welcome back, FEd. I hope you had a swell time on holiday or some other fun while you were gone.

    Sadly, I totally forgot about the Earth Hour. I would have participated too.

  15. – Earth Hour.

    Not much energy was saved on Saturday night while people and cities switched off lights (about 1% in France, I think) and I don’t think it will make any difference to what world leaders decide.

    So, I think it was more about a symbolic way to raise global awareness of how much energy we are wasting, and it’s fine with me, as I think that every positive action that reaches some people and make them ‘think’ is valid. For example, it gave me the opportunity to have an interesting and constructive discussion with my pupils about the impact (or not) of such actions. Believe me, they had interesting ideas.

    – Gary McKinnon.

    I won’t comment on Gary McKinnon’s case because I’m feeling incompetent to pass a judgment. I don’t know all the aspects of the problem/situation, I need more serious and reliable information.

    That gives me the opportunity to point out that I think that people in general (well, I’m not speaking of people here on the blog) are often very quick to pass judgment on anyone or anything without even knowing what they are talking about. It’s great to have opinions, but, IMHO, they have to be based on serious and valid information/knowledge, they don’t have to be just provocations or ‘arguments just to argue’.

    Not sure what I said makes sense. Sorry for my approximative English.


    1. It makes perfect sense, but of course I have to say that I hope posing such questions here can be of interest to some. If it’s of enough interest to make somebody want to find out more, then that’s great.

      I do like snappy reactions. I enjoy the emotion in your honesty, whether you agree with me on a certain point or not. I feel that first impressions and initial thoughts are intriguing and helpful in stirring up debate, but of course you are right to say that everyone seems to have an opinion about absolutely everything these days with not necessarily much solid, factual information to support them. Still, it’s all good if it makes the brain clunk and beep, no?

      For example, how much of the reaction to Gary’s extradition is due to hostile feelings towards, as Rob put it, “Big Bad America”?

      As always, I appreciate the point.

      As for Earth Hour, I’d love to hear the ideas of your pupils…

    2. For example, how much of the reaction to Gary’s extradition is due to hostile feelings towards, as Rob put it, “Big Bad America”?

      This is really an interesting queston.

      There is no doubt that many people had this kind of thoughts and I have to admit that I am one of them.

      Mainly, I don’t like the way the U.S. have always had to impose their rules to the rest of the world, I don’t like their imperialism and many other things.

      That said, I have no hostile feeling towards American people; I’m sure that there are all kinds of people there, exactly as there are in every European country.

      But Gary’s case is something more than this. I repeat what I said in the other comment: law have to be flexible. He was looking for aliens, he was not spying for any other reason than this and he has Asperger’s.

    3. I like the sound of “it’s all good if it makes the brain clunk and beep” :)) – and I agree.

      As for Earth Hour, I’d love to hear the ideas of your pupils…

      I just wanted to express that young people are not blasé, disillusioned or cynical like most adults, they believe they can make a difference and they can ‘rebuild’ the world. So, it’s refreshing to listen to their views, even if they are very simple, naive and utopian ideas.

      They were not interested in switching off the lights and wouldn’t like to stop playing their PlayStations.

      But some of their suggestions:

      – Use ‘Facebook’ and their own blogs to increase their ‘friends’ awareness about the environmental issue and to share ideas.
      – Use the official school blog to get information of actions suggested by teachers or other school stuff.
      – Create a school newspaper including green tips.
      – Ask the school minister to create an ‘environment subject’ in school.
      – Go to school by foot or by bicycle, don’t use your parents’car.
      – Ask to plant trees around the school buildings everywhere in France.
      – Use the army to clean up dirty or polluted areas.
      – Instead of putting people in jail, use them to work for the environment.
      – Allow young people to be involved in environmental issues and to take part in decisions about their local community (in town council, for ex.).
      – Ask for more laws to fight the extinction of species, especially laws to prevent people from killing animals just for money.
      – Don’t buy ‘exotic’ animals to turn them into pets.
      – Eat less meat.
      – etc, etc…

      Oh, in the discussion, they also denounced the stupidity of the Pope claiming that condoms could increase AIDS problems…

      Go, youth!

    4. Oh and I forgot, they also had the idea (and were very enthusiastic about it) to move to another planet… 8|

    5. Oh, in the discussion, they also denounced the stupidity of the Pope claiming that condoms could increase AIDS problems…

      In Italy we say that children are the voice of truth. 😉

    6. I don’t think it will make any difference to what world leaders decide.

      Yes, this is a huge problem that often our “leaders” are only interested in their own agendas and not in actually representing the will of those that put them in power. A perfect example of this is just before the Iraq invasion in 2003 when over 1 million people demonstrated in London about their opposition to the invasion and wanted to say “Not In My Name”.

      Tony Bliar (it’s not a typo FEd) responded by saying (I am paraphrasing, but fairly accurately) that it was useless for those people to demonstrate because such demonstrations were not going to change government policy. In this flippant way the voices of over 1 million (some say 2 million) people were dismissed as irrelevant. And a few months later they had the temerity to start what they called the “Big Conversation” so that politicians could travel around listening to the voice of the people… not much was heard about it after the initial PR event.

    7. Tony Bliar (it’s not a typo FEd)

      :)) Like it. I’ve got the T-shirt.

      I like ‘Blatcher’, too.

  16. I find it fascinating that we are discussing if a person should face up to the crime he allegedly committed. Last I know, hacking into someone else’s property is an illegal activity, no different that bringing in a tape recorder to a concert and then selling off the recordings. If Gary intentionally was trying to hack into any computer system that didn’t belong to him, he should face the consequences. Instead it appears like people are making him a martyr and that we should feel sorry for him.

    What if he breached David’s personal bank account? Or if he hijacked this website? Would we just sit back and say, “O, it’s OK. We know you didn’t mean it. And thank you so much for the inconvenience.”

    Some have said here they want more info. Apparently he is accused of hacking into 97 US military and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002. Kinda see a pattern here that leads me to believe it was not a mistake.

    As for the punishment, as you say FEd, he could be sentenced up to 70 years. UP TO. It doesn’t say he will be. In fact he could end up walking away with just a slap on the wrist.

    Gary should face the music instead of having people sing about him.



    1. Fair point. Thank you, Andrew.

      70 years – albeit only potentially – is a very long stretch, though, don’t you think? I’ll have to read up on what murderers and rapists get by way of a prison term in the States, because sentences of that length are certainly not meted out in the UK even for crimes of far greater severity than computer hacking.

      Maybe that’s a failing of the British justice system, I don’t know.

    2. Well in the US you have to differentiate between Local, State and Federal laws. Some states may have a death penalty, some only life in prison as the maximum.

      When you talk about murderers and rapists, there is a lot of discussion going on right now regarding Charles Manson and the folks that followed him. All of them were originally sentenced to death but then when the Supreme Court overruled the death penalty in the early 70s, their sentences were commuted to life in prison. Even so, they were up for parole a number of times and have been denied parole every time. One of the family members is basically on her death bed now and can’t even walk, yet even so she is still denied parole.

      From a Federal level, remember the guy who blew up the building in Oklahoma, Timothy McVeigh. His action killed 168 people including a number of children and injured over 850 people. He was convicted and put to death.

      Do I think 70 years is bit much? All depends on the circumstances of what happened. If someone breached the security systems and set off something that resulted in death, I think the punishment should be a bit harsher. But in Gary’s case and due to his affliction, I really doubt they will be throwing the maximum at him. Sure it is possible but I really, really doubt it unless it is proven that he had a serious intent in undermining the systems and was working on some kind of terrorist plot. If that is proven true – he should face some consequences.



    3. It really is a captivating debate (and the death penalty is something I’d love to discuss some other time, if anyone would care to join me).

      It got me thinking about one of Britain’s most controversial cases, that of Ronnie Biggs, whose gang, in 1963, stole a large sum of money from a mail train. Sentenced to 30 years in prison, he escaped after serving just over a year, fled the country, lived as a fugitive for three decades (interestingly, the British government couldn’t force his extradition) and finally gave himself up in 2001. He’s now nearly 80, in very poor health and likely to be released sometime this year on compassionate grounds.

      There have been fresh calls for his release each time his condition has taken a turn for the worst. An interesting piece arguing against it can be found here.

      Now, I’m no Daily Mail reader, but here’s another topic for another time: who really cares what the Prime Minister’s wife is wearing, if a celebrity chef has puffy eyes, or if a much-maligned singer/songwriter has worn the same dress twice? Good God, I can’t believe the space taken up in the column on the right, in the Mail of all places, but that’s a rant for another day. Blimey…

    4. FEd, the death penalty is pointless. Well at least how it is administered here in the US. As such, it should be done away with. It costs more to put someone to death than it does to just have them sit in prison, and that alone is enough to do away with it without having to go into the sticky moral arguments.

      Thank you very much indeed, good night to you.

    5. FEd,

      I read the article on Biggs. Based on what I read, I don’t think it was a victimless crime. First off he stole money that didn’t belong to him – so someone suffered. And, apparently he also clobbered the train conductor with an iron bar.

      So he commits a crime, goes on the lamb for extended period, finally turns himself in and after serving a few years in prison he’s looking for a release. Kinda goes against the saying of crime doesn’t pay.

      I certainly don’t agree with glorifying a criminal either. It is just so twisted but then that goes back to the story of Robin Hood. Effectively he was a criminal too.

      Certainly an interesting topic and discussing the death penalty in the overall mix would also create an interesting twist.

      The question is why should we show compassion for Biggs when it seems he didn’t have any in his earlier days. Sometimes a tooth for a tooth is the right answer.



    6. The Death Penalty will be an interesting topic for sure… the editorial content of the Daily Mail less so!

  17. 1. Gary :

    I have heard a lot about this story. I would be interested to know what training in Asperger’s syndrome the US authorities have had. I think punishments should be appropriate to the person, he has definitely done something wrong but has anyone established if he understood this fully? People with Asperger’s tend to look only at small details as opposed to the larger one so maybe (I don’t know) he just didn’t think or understand the implications.

    Everyone is different, a label doesn’t top you breaking the law. I don’t feel that allowances should be made for people with Asperger’s such as myself I feel that we have to take accountability for our actions, and be treated like anyone else, but perhaps if he is to be found unaware of the implications (looking through ed psych reports etc., not just on hear say) that another punishment would be better.

    People with Asperger’s can be horrid but maybe the US could employ him to keep their systems secure, I am aware that he left some cheeky messages to the US but as far as I can tell no malware or viruses or such was installed no damage done (although I am unsure how it was intercepted).

    I also think everything happens for a reason.

    2. I didn’t know about Earth Hour until after it happened.

  18. I suppose what I’m trying to say is how would they treat someone who didn’t have Asperger’s?

  19. If Gary only tapped into the executive managers at AIG and their greedy accounts, then sent them to everyone in the the world who needed funds. He’d be a true hero.

    I’m not really sure what happened recently but will keep listening as to how this develops.

    Welcome back Fed!

  20. I wrote from work about Earth Hour, above. Now I’m writing as an American about Gary McKinnon.

    I have always been extremely fearful of the “W”-era legislation that gave our government extraordinary new powers to imprison and torture. At the time these laws were being enacted, anyone who opposed them were called “Un-American.” I would say that it’s un-American to imprison and torture people without proof, just because we claim they are our enemy. It perverts the basis of our democracy, notably the “inconvenient” idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. That it’s done under the cloak of “national security” is even worse. If any of us can be aggressively detained or arrested, imprisoned and tortured, at the hands of people who have carte blanche to do so, then we are not secure. Some of us conveniently fail to understand that our enemies are not always some mysterious “other party.” Sometimes the enemy is us. Just because evil is wrapped in an American flag, doesn’t make it any less evil.

    Gary McKinnon confirms the worst of my fears. It is not as though he shot up hundreds of innocent people at a shopping center. They are calling him an “enemy combatant” in order to bring him here and essentially do whatever they want to him. Half a decade ago when these laws were enacted, I was right to oppose them. The proof is in the pudding. This is legislated abuse of power, and it must be stopped. And I promise to do anything I can do to stop it.

    1. This is a perfect example of the “hating Bush makes everything OK” line of thought I referred to in an earlier post. While prison and extradition don’t appear to be warranted in this case, let’s not pretend the US government has trumped up charges against Gary – his actions are public record; the only question is what to do about it.

      As for the larger point about “extraordinary powers to imprison and torture,” the public record also shows that current controversial cases of detainment, imprisonment and torture don’t involve just “any of us,” they involve people picked up (for right or wrong) during the course of battle. While it’s legitimate to debate actions taken against Guantanamo inmates, it’s not legitimate to pretend that Bush-SS-Stormtroopers are scooping Michael Moore followers off of the streets.

      Dissent in the streets of America has never been louder or prouder – dislike what you will, but the reports of America’s Nazification have been greatly exaggerated.

  21. I think it’s disgraceful!

    It shouldn’t matter that he has Asperger’s, he wasn’t a terrorist and he should stand trial in Britain.

  22. No offense, but I can finally agree with one of your blog posts, Andrew. 😛

    Science is always proving that many criminals have legitimate mental disorders which may cause them to commit such crimes, but this fact should never allow them to escape the laws of the land. They are mentally flawed and should be supervised in order to protect the public.

    I’m hopeful that justice will be suitable for Gary’s actions, and that his circumstances will be considered in a fair and logical manner.

    Green tip: Turn the lights out and share a bath with someone… 😉

    1. No offense, but I can finally agree with one of your blog posts, Andrew.


      That’s funny. Thanks for the chuckle.


  23. The English Justice System was never that great. Ask the innocent people that got released during the 80s and 90s.

  24. How ignorant can the US government be to treat someone with autism/Asperger’s syndrome in such an unfair way? It’s disgusting.

    The people of Hartlepool hung a monkey for being a French spy during the Napoleonic wars, I thought we had moved on.

    My daughter suffers with Aspergers, it’s a nightmare for us all.


  25. Which side were you on in the movie “WarGames”?

    I was on the side of the hacker. 8)

  26. Hello

    I am from Portugal and I am addicted to David Gilmour’s music, voice and guitar. Here we have a popular quote about Oporto wine that says: “Quanto mais velho melhor” (as older, the better is). So David for me will always be the best.

    Here the Justice system is just like that: you’re poor, go to jail; if you are rich, nothing happens.

  27. I wrote some marvellous and incisive comment yesterday and seem to have failed to send i … never mind you’ll have to put up with this hurried nonsense instead.

    Earth Hour passed me by. It strikes me as a flawed idea. It would be an impressive gesture if universally applied, but otherwise indecipherable. The idea that leaving lights on is a vote for Global warming, or anything else come to that, seems a nonsense.

    Also, what are we actually “voting” for ? Electricity and light is a good thing, isn’t it?

    I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to hear there’s a problem. I want to hear if anyone has a solution… that’s the part I’m sceptical about and I haven’t heard a tenable one yet. So come on activists, give us an idea to vote FOR instead of suggesting we sit in the dark and get depressed.

  28. Gary McKinnon. A fair amount of sense on both sides of the debate – and indeed on the problem of having the debate at all (Michele).

    It’s an interesting case that raises a lot of questions. Who has jurisdiction over the Web? Where is such an offence committed ? Is Asperger’s a basis for a “diminished responsibility” defence? When is a punishment, or deterrent, disproportionate to the crime? Do we wish to set limits on the extradition arrangements? Is it our place to call into question the fairness and ability to reach a reasonable verdict of another democratic (and friendly) country’s legal system?

    My instinct is to say that hacking is an offence where intent and actual harm can be reasonably assessed by the activity once inside the system. What information was accessed? It seems there was no malicious damage.

    I think The Pentagon should seek to learn from the hacker to help build stronger systems against the real terrorists. One would hope that a well placed word in the right ear would calm the whole thing down, but political interventions in the judicial process are not normally to be encouraged.

    Perhaps a spell of community service sweeping up those underground bunkers where the remnants of UFOs are kept would be an appropriate sentence in this case.

  29. “If you play you pay”. He broke the law and needs to be punished.

    I think a lot of people here would have a different opinion of what should happened to him if he had hacked into a different Country. It is very popular at this time to bash the United States.

    It is really sad to me because the United States does a lot of good for a lot of people. No one talks about that any more. Only the bad gets eveyone’s tongue wagging. We are not perfect but we are good people.

    I don’t care what Country he did this to he should be punished. That is what is wrong with the world today. Everyone is looking for a way out of being accountable for their actions.

    Didn’t eveyone’s Mother teach them if you do wrong you get punished!

    Have a singing or whatever and give the money to a charity. Now that makes more sense to me.

    Thanks for the time FEd.

    Barbara P

  30. After reading more on Gary McKinnon I am changing my views somewhat. I should have read more before making a judgement, my mistake.

    To begin with I thought he was a child or teenager playing in his bedroom or study. I’m not sure why I assumed that but I did.

    His Asperger’s was only diagnosed during his trial and he held down a job as a systems administrator to boot. I’m not sure how much of an excuse Asperger’s Syndrome is going to be for him now.

    My source of information: Wikipedia.

    I know I should not believe everything I read and I am taking a large pinch of salt , something I should have done before my first post.

  31. I’m very sorry to hear the news about the protests in London. A man has died and many people have been arrested. It has happened again.

    Now most TV and newspapers will tell the world that all those people on the streets were vandals and violent, that they were there only to fight with the police and destroy things, just as it happened after the Italian G8 in 2001.

    They won’t tell us the truth and the real message of the protests will be partially obscured and distorted again. That’s something I find very sad.

  32. I being an American thinks my country’s Secret Service and FBI are fools who thrive on going overboard with trying to prosecute and persecute people with Asperger’s Syndrome who make innocent mistakes! I too have Asperger’s (was diagnosed with Autism at age 3 and then rediagnosed ten years ago with Asperger’s) and feel Gary McKinnon’s pain as I went through a similar ordeal in ’04.

    What went down with me was I sent a few less than flattering emails to US Senators Clinton and Kerry saying “I hope you choke in election” and “you’re going to drown” (figures of speech for lose) after then Presidential hopeful Kerry trashed the military (my dad was in the Army, oldest brother and grandfather in the Navy, older sister in the Air Force). At the time I dealt with death of my grandmother, my mom (may she RIP) was ill and my grandfather got cancer. Day after I flew back to my native Mass in June ’04, those SS/FBI clowns went to my sister’s house in SC with a warrant for my arrest for my email outbursts and my dad (thank God he was in the US Army and retired in 2003 after 30 plus years of service, including tours of duty in Korea during Vietnam) explained to the Feds that I wasn’t a threat (anyone knows me that I am a kind, loving, smart, funny person).

    To “put out the fire” I was in, I had to go to the FBI office in Boston (then SC in September, 2004) and tell them the whole story and apologized for my end and was let off with a stern warning. I stayed away from politics since that incident.

    Go Gary!

    1. See – Terrance didn’t have to serve 70 years in prison. He got a slap on the wrist.



  33. Gary McKinnon admitted computer misuse seven years ago without a lawyer in 2002 but has always denied damage.

    The U.K High Tech police said they had examined his computers and as there was no damage he was looking at six months community service.

    America indicted him in 2002 and offered him a plea bargain of a few years, as there were no guarantees he refused and the U.S said they would “prosecute him to the Max” if he did not got to the U.S voluntarily and that one state “wanted to see him fry”.

    Gary McKinnon is a UFO nut has not been able to hold down jobs for more than a few months or keep relationships but Aspergics often relate more to computers than to people. He has been diagnosed by the very top Professors in their field and most adults with Asperger’s have been undiagnosed as only in the late 1990s was it really understood.

    After 9/11 Gary was upset and believed that 9/11 was an inside job. The following year (not immediately fter 9/11) he left notes on NASA and military computers saying their security was crap. They had no passwords and no firewalls and he could not understand how that could be, and he could not understand why they weren’t taking heed of his notes he left and why they weren’t tightening their security. He told them he would continue to disrupt by leaving notes until they listened about how bad their security was.

    No one has ever been extradited for computer misuse and for the U.S to wait 3 years before requesting extradition is wrong.

  34. I can relate to what Gary is going through. Gary is into UFOs like I’m into music and rock music history. All people with Autism/Asperger’s are gifted in certain areas (computers, train schedules, vacuum cleaners, sports, music).

    I being an American am honest when I say that my government can be insane and go overboard with its perverted forces like the CIA/FBI and Secret Service (all are pieces of sh*t in my view).

    I relate more to my CD and LP collection than I do people at times. I have a total of maybe four close friends (all back in Mass) and two friends in Florida and I had ZERO in South Crapolina (Redneck Central). I worked in a record store and when I was enjoying working would be forced to give up the job each time due to a family emergency (all pertaining to my forth older sister in South Carolina who has a love-hate relationship with me).

  35. Gary…

    Well I did a few searches on the subject and while I have read enough Noam Chomsky to tend to agree with some of his political stances, there seems something a bit fishy with his story to be honest.

    I read this article where it states that he was only diagnosed half way through his trial, which strikes me as more than a little opportunistic.

    In the petition link he claims that he was able to see the evidence of UFOs that he was searching for on some of the places he hacked… but when asked if he has the photos he says he didn’t download them. The reason he gave for not downloading them seem pretty dubious. Personally I am left wondering whether his claims to be looking for such evidence are not just a story he has made up that he thinks will gain him public sympathy.

    Regarding the potential prison sentence of 70 years, there is this article that says the following:

    “He faces anywhere from six months to six-and-a-half years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, depending on how much damage he caused, if any, and whether or not he accepts responsibility. Through a quirk of the metric system, this becomes 60 years, 70 years, 80 years and a life sentence in the British press.”

    Earth Hour…

    I forgot about it, but had no need to remember it as I am currently living without electricity at the moment and reading by candle light… (using a friend’s computer to post this). Long story.

  36. Just sent this e-mail to Department of Justice, USA.

    Dear Sir,

    I write, as a concerned parent of a child suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, about the ongoing case of the above named.

    The lack of understanding of this condition and the behaviour of its sufferers is beyond belief in this day and age.

    Can you please tell me the purpose of pursuing this ridiculous extradition of a man suffering from a mental illness? He has an obsessive compulsive disorder regarding UFOs. I am quite lucky in that my son’s OCD manifests itself in the field of toy soldiers and I can control some of his behaviour.

    Might I suggest that the knowledge that Gary has gained in being able to hack into the NASA main frame computer is used, by whichever organisation is responsible, to tighten up the security of the system and not to pursue this pointless extradition? Many a poacher has turned out to be a great gamekeeper!

    Perhaps your own PR people could turn this into a positive situation from your point of view, by inviting Gary and his family to NASA and showing him around the facility, with the emphasis on the damage that can be done when taking the actions that he took.

    Of course you could ignore all of the requests that you receive and continue using a sledgehammer to crack a nut!

    Yours faithfully

    Mr. Lindsay Suddick

    Hope it might have some effect on a ridiculous situation.

  37. I just wanted to add that in spite of what I think may or may not be an opportunistic defense by Gary (as someone else said, I have not read enough of the case to judge it properly), I most definitely agree that he should not be sent off to America, even though the previous demonically possessed administration are no longer in power. Carting someone off to a foreign land without having to offer any evidence of the person’s guilt is caveman mentality that every right thinking citizen ought to oppose. If the American prosecutors claim “National Security” or something similar for not offering such evidence, that is their problem, not the defendants.

    But if he is guilty, and the evidence is provided, then he has to pay the price for the laws he has broken. Most legal systems these days take mental illness into consideration when passing judgement, including America.

  38. I realize that many don’t bother with older posts once new ones are put up but I wonder what the thoughts would be regarding this situation.

    Deportation from the U.S. to Germany allegedly for war crimes committed over 60 years ago. Should German courts have an opportunity to bring this man to trial? Is it cruel to force an old, ailing man to defend himself for acts that happened so long ago?

    I have my opinions and they are no different than what I stated here earlier. Just curious if people feel the same way about this bloke as they do about Gary.



  39. I thought I would add this BBC news article here.

    Einstein and Newton may have had Asperger’s Syndrome…

  40. Well, according to this article, they deported the alleged war crimes criminal from the U.S. to Germany. The U.S. legal system did not fail in this one although I realize some may think it cruel to deport a person who is in failing health.

    I guess Gary is still fighting his extradition.



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