Gary McKinnon update

As you know, David has been one of many to speak out against Gary McKinnon’s planned extradition to the US to stand trial for computer hacking charges, agreeing to produce a new recording of the Graham Nash protest song, ‘Chicago’.

If extradited, Gary could face a prison stretch of up to 70 years in a high-security penitentiary, which seems a very harsh punishment for looking for evidence of alien life and is hardly appropriate for someone with an autistic condition.

Gary was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in August 2008. His late diagnosis meant that his form of autism was not considered in previous legal hearings.

If this campaign, which asks that the decision to extradite be over-turned and culminates next month in a judicial review, fails, he could be sent to the US to stand trial immediately.

Gary’s supporters want to make sure that Gary isn’t extradited and that any further legal proceedings – and a prison sentence, if need be – be served in the UK, where a conviction under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

UK readers, you can e-mail your MP to ask for his or her support and let the Prime Minister know your feelings by signing this petition.

It takes barely a minute to show your support, it’s a thoroughly professional (Number 10) appeal which asks only for a name and address. As of now, there are more than three thousand signatories. Please tell your friends and family about it.

The chatroom is open until 17:00 (UK), so come and talk about this, Monday’s Crisis gig (some photographs of Polly’s from the concert can be found here, by the way), or anything else that takes your fancy. Registration is a doddle.

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'.

98 thoughts on “Gary McKinnon update”

  1. “You must be a British citizen or resident to sign the petition. Please enter your name only; signatures containing other text may be removed by the petitions team.”

    Unfortunately, not only me is banned from signing.

    Sadly…

    1. I thought that the goal of any petition was to collect as many signatures as possible.

      Maybe they fear some foreign hackers… 😉

  2. I missed the chatroom today by a matter of minutes. It’s a shame, because these days it’s been rare to have a day off when the chatroom is open. If anyone has missed me in the chatroom, please know that I’ve been missing you as well. It’s always a lot of fun in there.

    Re: Gary McKinnon. It saddens me that here in the US we are trying to send a man to a max-security prison for 70 years for computer hacking. As a teacher I am not allowed to punish my students if their behavior is caused by a disability (even if I were allowed to do so, it would be a really really bad idea). So, this man’s crime is a manifestation of Asperger’s (a disabling condition) and we want to effectively lock him away for the rest of his life. In a high-security prison, where he will have to survive among extremely violent career criminals. Where is the justice in this? And where is our humanity?

    McKinnon must have gotten very close to information that our government doesn’t want people to know about. Our government has always been restrictive about information regarding alien life. Makes me wonder what they’re trying to hide.

    1. Our government has always been restrictive about information regarding alien life. Makes me wonder what they’re trying to hide.

      Perhaps there is a shortage of aluminum foil for those little ‘anti-alien’ hats! :))

      Jan

  3. I’m sorry I can’t sign the petition.

    I found this website surfing the net.

    It seems interesting.

    1. It’s sad Alessandra that Canada isn’t even listed on your website reference. 🙁

  4. Is there also a petition to sign for those that think he should be extradited and face the music?

    It is a rare case when an innocent person is put in prison and the prison terms that are being quoted are maximums.

    My only recommendation is for you to read up on this before signing anything. Don’t just sign because David Gilmour and Sir Paul are supporting. Do the research and make up your own mind, don’t be one of those school children falling into the meat grinder. At least read the prior blog entry on this topic.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Fair point. I should hope that nobody would sign any petition without thinking the matter through first.

      Please, everyone, feel free to include suggested reading material. I found this piece interesting, written by a retired criminal investigator who now lectures on criminal justice.

    2. I think Andrew is right to remind us that American courts are not to be confused with some sort of banana republic show-trial.

      That said, I think that any American who does the maths can see that heavy sentencing does not have any significant deterrent effect (think death penalty and gun-crime for example… or maybe it is the damn guns killing people after all).

      I signed because it seems sensible to safeguard against (politically motivated) prosecutions when diagnosable medical conditions are a contributory factor.

      Computer hacking seems to me a relatively minor crime… the real crime would be whether more traditional crimes of criminal damage, theft, fraud etc. actually occurred, not simply that a bad example is set or there was potential for harm.

    3. I agree with Andrew. I wasn’t going to comment at all about this because I believe he should answer for what he has done wrong, but Andrew is right. Everyone should read up on this story and make up their own mind. Don’t just sign to be in agreement with David and Fed… Act on your own feelings of what you think is right.

      Thanks Fed for posting all comments for and against.

      Have a good weekend.
      Barbara P

    4. Thank you for adding your voice, Barbara.

      There are so many aspects to this debate, and the bottom line has to be that, if you know you are doing something wrong, you should face the consequences when caught out.

      I just don’t believe that the punishment (albeit the most extreme example) fits the crime, that sending someone with autism to the other side of the world to stand trial and face sentence is at all sensible, or that the UK should keep jumping whenever the USA clicks its mighty fingers.

      As Henry noted, it would be interesting to consider the reaction were ‘the boot on the other foot’ and Gary a US citizen charged with breaching British Intelligence (an oxymoron at times such as this, I feel).

  5. May Gary pay, just as anyone who hacks through government security would pay.

    I’ve followed this pretty much from the beginning of his arrest, and this Asperger’s sounds as if it’s some type of “barrister” ploy. Now, consider what the British government might do, if I were to KNOWLEDGEABLY hack into their secure points. Would they like a piece of me? I imagine so.

    70 years may sound like a very long time, but do you think the next guy will just hack into specific government sites? I imagine the thought of doing 70 years would make me think twice.

    May reality set in…

    1. What security would that be then? The default passwords? The person who should be ‘paying’ for this is the employee of the US government who left his country open to computer hacking. Gary McKinnon did the people of the US a huge favour.

      Seems to me that Gary is being used as a very convenient scape-goat for the people who should be taking responsibility. God forbid the US government should be embarrassed.

      May a bit of common sense set in…

    2. Now, consider what the British government might do if I were to KNOWLEDGEABLY hack into their secure points. Would they like a piece of me? I imagine so.

      To be fair, I’d imagine the British government would roll over and let you stay in the US if that’s what your government wanted demanded.

      This is very much part of the problem: it’s a one-sided extradition treaty and the feeling, certainly in the UK, against American use of ‘anti terrorism’ legislation to bully the world is very strong indeed.

      Also, should Gary be sent to the US, he would be regarded as a ‘fugitive from justice’ because he fought extradition and would probably be treated more harshly as a consequence, possibly subjected to solitary confinement. He does have Asperger’s syndrome.

    3. Don’t be. Unfortunately, other commitments prevented me from publishing your comments more swiftly, for which I apologise.

  6. We’ll gather a petition for the public for Gary’s cause and send it to whatever moron who can read in the public eye and git er done.

    Send it to Fed X. :v

  7. I’m very sorry I cannot sign the petition because my nationality is not UK.

    I share my thoughts and my hope with all of you.

    Have a nice week end!

    diana

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

    THAT is the statement Gary made and is documented in this link which is from the Parliament detailing the case.

    Doesn’t seem like he is looking for UFO info. Instead he is looking to disrupt and damage systems that did not belong to him. The document states the damage he did including erasing of files and information. He was illegally accessing servers and information.

    Debate me on the statement he made above. Believe what you want to believe but how can you state that his actions were innocent? And based on what did happen on 9/11, how can any American, let alone human, not take this as a threat?

    He was diagnosed with Asperger’s many years after his actions. He has it now, doesn’t mean he had it then.

    The document also states that if he didn’t fight the extradition his potential sentence would be lighter than if he fought it. In addition, much of his sentence could have been served out in the UK.

    I question how many of the celebrities who are supporting Gary have actually sat down and met with him and actually know him. Or have they just jumped on the bandwagon as part of an anti-American political rally?

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. I’ve never said that his actions were innocent, and I happen to agree that many of his supporters probably have gladly hopped on an anti-American government bandwagon, so strong is feeling against the way the US bullies the world and, frankly, has bullied the world for decades. This is yet another case of David challenging Goliath.

      The UK is the only country – of the 119 that has an extradition agreement with the US – that will hand over its own citizens without stacks of evidence having to be provided first. Yes, this is a British problem. It is also a human rights violation.

      Don’t forget that Gary was heading to Guantánamo Bay. Plenty of human rights violations there (which the UK government has been complicit in, I stress to add). It’s no wonder that people want to spare him from that place.

      Gary wants to fight to change this one-sided extradition treaty, which, for many, is a good enough reason to support him.

      Americans ought to feel threatened by his hacking; their unforgivably lax national security could have cost them dearly had their systems been breached by someone looking to cause serious damage, not just embarrassment.

      As for messages left by Gary on military servers, such as the one you have quoted, he’s not likely to say anything less, is he? He also pointed out that their security was rubbish.

      And don’t forget that many people, including Gary, have long questioned what really happened on 9/11, suspecting an inside job.

    2. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s many years after his actions. He has it now, doesn’t mean he had it then.

      Actually, a diagnosis of Asperger’s does mean he’s had it all his life. He had it when he did the hacking, he has it now, it’s a lifelong pervasive developmental disorder.

    3. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s many years after his actions. He has it now, doesn’t mean he had it then.

      Lorraine beat me to the punchline.

      I wanted to say that Asperger’s, like all forms of autism, is not something you catch. It is something that you have at birth. If Gary McKinnon is autistic, then he has always been so.

    4. 9/11 an inside job? Oh please. People that think this are the people in my opinion that only want to believe the worse about Americans and hurt America more. 9/11 was not an inside job.

      If you come to America in the legal sense we welcome you with open arms. We are a very generous Nation. Maybe it looks like we are bullies trying to keep our country free and safe. If that is what it takes then we should all be bullies.

      It is odd to me that so many want to talk about how bad we are.

      I am not trying to sing the praises of America, I think our record stands for itself. It just gets me railed up when someone voices they think 9/11 was an inside job. I guess it is more convenient to blame it on us and not admit other people are responsible.

      As for Gary, if he is truly sick, when he comes to America and goes to jail here, he will get the medical care he needs. Even though he hacked into our computers and “embarrassed us” as some have stated.

      I wish more was published of what good we do here and not just the bad. If this had happened to another country people may take a different opinion. It is just very popular to bash America.

      I think this is just a cause that makes some people feel better to take the side of anyone instead of the “American Bullies”.

      Thanks for the post Fed.

      Barbara P

    5. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s many years after his actions. He has it now, doesn’t mean he had it then.

      Many many people are unaware of this disorder. We all need more education on what it does to people.

      I am doing more reading about this situation before I can even think of how I feel about this, but it seems like one solution is for the ‘offended’ parties to hire Gary to show how he got past their securities so they can learn how to make them stronger. This has happened in other situations, rather than what feels like a very severe punishment for this ‘impaired’ person.

      Jan

    6. FEd,

      Apologies if you thought I implied that you thought his actions were innocent. What I admire about you is that even though I know where you stand on this issue you have the ability to let people speak their mind even if the expression differs from yours. You are able to view both sides of a story and agree to disagree. I know that my views many times oppose the general consensus here and although that may put off others you always maintain an even keel. You’re a good man.

      Having said that, I will disagree with you on your statement of “if the boot was on the other foot.” I think the U.S. would extradite a citizen to the U.K. for similar charges no matter what afflictions one may have. The exception would be if that person also committed a crime in the states and was serving time for that already.

      Remember that the U.S. just extradited someone to Germany for alleged WWII war crimes. He was elderly with significant heart issues and they still shipped him out. The guy barely survived the Transatlantic flight.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    7. And don’t forget that many people, including Gary, have long questioned what really happened on 9/11, suspecting an inside job.

      Inside job or not, all I’ll tell you is that was one of the scariest things I ever lived through. No, I was not in the buildings or anywhere near Downtown NY. But I did witness the tower crashing down to the earth. I saw the smouldering ashes for days afterwards.

      I was suppose to fly out to Washington D.C. that morning but the tragedy happened long before my scheduled flight. So I never made it to the airport. Instead, I was up on a mountain on the New Jersey side watching it unfold before me.

      One person I know perished in the towers. Two others at our company also died months later from injuries related to the event.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    8. Inside job or not, all I’ll tell you is that was one of the scariest things I ever lived through.

      Agreed.

      I’m entertained by a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person. I can understand people’s cynicism and need to unearth more, because there is more than just a slight suggestion of controlled explosions and the atrocities did give Bush the excuse he needed to finish Daddy’s dealings with Saddam, which has caused immense death and destruction whilst making a lot of rich people richer. I can understand some of the hostility towards the US – both its government and culture. I can understand US citizens feeling hard done by, as though they didn’t receive the world’s most sincere sympathies after the attacks. I can partially understand, perhaps, why that was.

      But I watched the documentary 9/11: The Falling Man for the first time last night and all that should really matter is that people went to work that fateful day and never came home. And some had to make the terrifying, sickening, no-win choice of falling more than 1,000 feet to a certain death or being consumed by flames and smoke.

      Trying to imagine their panicked reasoning, I don’t think I’ve felt more sympathy for anyone in my life, and to talk of conspiracies, at least with those harrowing images so fresh in my mind, does seem very insensitive.

  9. 🙁 Wish I could sign Fed. The only good thing about the USA right now is we have a new president.

    I hope the best to Gary.

    I wonder if there is anything that us Americans can do?

  10. Hi folks,

    saw a few snippets of David’s gig for Crisis. Looked like fun! Would have preferred David doing the ‘No Way’ vocals, but it was a joy to see the man on stage again.

    I see Crosby, Stills and Nash are on the billing for Glasto this year as well as Amadou and Mariam. Surely David must be attending? At least as a fan? Would love to bump into him in his wellies, LOL. :))

    Have a good weekend everyone!

    Ripper

  11. It’s cases like this that make me want to get into politics. Maybe… just maybe, one day.

    Simon Johnstone (MP Carmarthenshire). Sounds good, doesnt it?

    Happy Days!

  12. Seems odd to me that poor old Captain Hook (Abu Hamza) is still languishing in a British prison and hasn’t been handed over to good old Uncle Sam. Even after proving that he incited hatred and attempted to persuade any half wit that if they blew us all to shit they would be blessed with a bounty of virgins and everlasting paradise. This guy is as guilty as sin ever was! And that’s why he is currently serving a lengthy prison term in this country, yet there are politicians and Human Rights people falling over backwards to stop his extradition to the USA to face similar charges.

    Are there any political figures fighting Gary’s corner? If not, why not? Besides what have the US government got to hide that deserves a 70 year term in a maximum security prison? And surely his profile would become more prolific and would persuade more people to attempt to Hack the governments of the western world.

    The truth is out there somewhere, as we all found out in the UK over the past few weeks.

  13. What a coincidence!

    I was just listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast and it not only features the legendary Mali guitarist, Vieux Farka Toure, but it also includes an early ‘solo’ version of the aforementioned ‘Chicago’ from the upcoming Crosby, Stills and Nash album, Demos.

    If you want to skip to the relevant part then scrub to 29:32. The albums can be listened to on the NPR website.

  14. Ciao David, sono uno studente italiano di 22 anni.

    Vorrei ringraziare te, Nick, Richard e Roger per avermi dato la possibilità di ascoltare una musica speciale come la vostra. Posso dire di essere cresciuto con la vostra musica, anche se sono giovane, ed oggi la vostra musica è l’unica che ascolto… la mattina mi da la carica, mentre studio mi rilassa, la sera mi culla… ma mi emoziono talmente tanto, ad ogni canzone, da sentire un nodo alla gola e non posso fare a meno di piangere. Piango per ore… penso soltanto ad una cosa… non ho mai visto un vostro concerto dal vivo. La mia colpa è essere troppo giovane. La mia colpa è non riuscire a darmi pace per non aver mai potuto vedervi. Soffro ogni volta che ascolto la vostra musica, l’unica vera Musica. I pink floyd, al completo, siete il mio solo idolo.

    Scusami David, ma ti odio. Non mi hai fatto vivere. La speranza di un vostro ultimo concerto, per me il primo e l’unico, è svanita per colpa tua.

    1. Ciao Stefano, capisco che per te sarà impossibile vedere un concerto dei Pink Floyd, ma David ha dato gran parte della sua vita per il gruppo ed ora è giusto che continui a diffondere buona musica così come sta facendo. Ogni cosa ha il suo tempo,cerca se puoi di ascoltare la musica dei Pink Floyd concentrandoti sulle belle emozioni che riesce a darti magari senza odiare nessuno.

      Soprattutto goditi la loro musica perchè quella ci sarà sempre.

      Un’ abbraccio.

      Bye, Hydrea

  15. Maybe everyone who would like to see Gary extradited and doesn’t believe in his Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis should read this interview.

    Asperger’s or not, do you think it’s healthy and normal behaviour to spend all your day in front of a computer and forget your own life? 8|

    1. One aspect of autism (a cluster of developmental disorders that includes Asperger’s) is obsessive behavior. Where other people are interested in many different things, some people with autism become obsessive about one particular thing. Some, but not all. The object of their obsession is the one thing that makes them feel comfortable, as nothing else feels quite right to them.

      I worked with a guy many years ago who had Asperger’s. He was constantly making lists. In his room were hundreds of pieces of paper with all manner of lists: lists of TV show characters, lists of bands from the ’80s, lists of stores, lists of food items, lists of anything you can imagine. This is how he spent his free time.

      What is healthy and normal changes when you have autism.

    2. You are right, everything changes.

      I never known well anyone who has Asperger’s syndrome, but I have a close friend who’s seriously obsessive. She has lots of behaviours (repeated actions, persecutory thoughts…) which someone who never met an obsessive can not even imagine. It’s a very hard life. Others’ help and a sure environment are central for her.

      That’s why I think that, even if Gary was simply obsessive (because he surely was) and he hadn’t Asperger’s, we can’t judge his behaviour with the same parameters we uses for the so-called “normal people”.

  16. Please, everyone, feel free to include suggested reading material.

    I found this.

    I have no idea if it’s interesting because I have not been brave enough to read all these articles in English. :!

    1. How interesting. Prosecutors allege that he disabled the function of a warship.

      Now, if only a few more warships had been rendered inoperable, maybe attitudes toward the US government might not be quite so negative today. 😐

    2. I read there with much concern this sentence about the (new) UK-US Extradition Treaty:

      “Currently, U.S. prosecutors do not need to provide prima facie evidence of wrongdoing in a U.K. court to secure the extradition of a U.K. citizen to their country.”

      Unacceptable, I think.

      I found this a very interesting read.

  17. I’m American (sorry about that) so I can’t sign.

    I have researched this though because of your post and I’m horrified to find next to no coverage of this case in the US. One piece in PC World.

    So I wrote an essay and posted it on my blogs and then posted a link on my Twitter and then sent a link to the White House. I love the 21st Century, I hate the 21st Century, but that I can send a direct message to the White House boggles my mind.

    I doubt any good will come of it but I do hope things change. The charges against Mr McKinnon are simply unbelievable and should at the very least be drastically reduced, made more logical.

    But you know he embarrassed our military and our computer security people and that’s really why they’re after him.

    Hopefully my belief that someone in the White House has a brain and can spare him a moment will be justified, though it’s definitely the longest of long shots.

    Good luck to Mr McKinnon and his supporters. I wish my government would grow a brain sometimes.

  18. Had a chance to talk face to face to Peter Gubbins today, a guy out going door to door looking for votes to become Yeovil MP for Lib Dems. This was while I was enjoying a beer in the front garden.

    I asked if elected would he support the Gary McKinnon case. Of course he sat on the fence. Slightly for and slightly against but being neither when it boiled down to it.

    To quote him: “I think that if someone has done something to break the law they should be punished.” He didn’t even know what Asperger’s was. He even said that “if someone had a heart condition, I don’t see why they should be let off lightly.” Obviously he lives in his own little world.

    That is one candidate I will not be voting for.

  19. Napoleon had Asperger’s Syndrome. Too bad they didn’t know back then, it could’ve been a consolation to the Russians.

  20. I’m American (sorry about that) so I can’t sign. I wish my government would grow a brain sometimes.

    I’m sorry that you are American as well! Jill, that is pathetic IMHO. So easy to make comments like that on here but you ought to be embarrassed for tucking your tail like that.

    I haven’t made any comments on this situation b/c I just don’t know enough @ it. I certainly don’t want a mentally challenged person punished for making an honest mistake… I also don’t want some lunatic hacking into MY COUNTRY’s (and HELL NO, we aren’t anywhere near perfect, but what in the world is wrong with you?) defense computers.

    President Obama certainly has the backing to handle this and anything else that he wants to handle. Beat his door down with FACTS and I’ll support that with my life. I’ll support him with my life… I’ll support you, Jill, with my life as well.

    Blake in Nashville

  21. Did you hear about this?

    It seems also Obama’s campaign files were hacked.

    I think we should simply accept this evidence: there is no privacy in the cyberworld.

    It could be disturbing, but it’s the truth. Computers could be very useful, but they’ll never be completely safe. The work of a few people to create passwords and defence programs is nothing compared to the work of all the hackers around the world.

  22. I signed the petition, probably to have it removed from the list by the moderators of the list, but it does not remove my resolve to help in any way I can.

    I will check my sources and do what I can do to help Gary.

    Bruce

  23. And don’t forget that many people, including Gary, have long questioned what really happened on 9/11, suspecting an inside job.

    This view is a new one on me. I don’t know a soul here that shares that thought or has ever heard anything about this.

    How horrible, if that were true.

    It sounds like a view held by people who really have quite a ‘hate’ thing going for the U.S. I can’t imagine how devastated the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 would feel.

    Where does this come from?

    Jan

    1. It’s a very, very distressing suggestion, isn’t it?

      That said, it’s not a new idea. Fake terror attacks were apparently planned to garner support for a war with Cuba in the early ’60s. The same was said about Pearl Harbor (if the attack wasn’t fully choreographed by the US government, they say it was allowed to happen; sacrificing their own citizens and using the tragedy and widespread public outrage to gain support for entering WWII).

      The 9/11 attacks did make many Americans extremely supportive of unleashing a War on Terror, and the invasion of Iraq was planned long before 9/11…

  24. I have followed this story with interest for a long time now, not as closely perhaps as I could, but nevertheless I follow with interest. Working with computers, and computer security it is quite interesting to see what has happened.

    We can all speculate on what Gary’s motives were at the time, the fact is we just don’t know for sure.

    However we can make some sensible judgements.

    If the US government’s IT Security had been up to much, he wouldn’t have got in. Not without being noticed a hell of a lot quicker than he was. And it wouldn’t have taken an on-site tech watching what he was doing to finally get him caught.

    Gary tells us he was not alone in the system, and that other ‘hackers’ were in there, from many countries. Again, where is the US government’s IT security here?

    1. A scary thought. Keep it in mind when you read Howard’s point about nuclear warheads below.

  25. None of this excuses his actions, and a punishment is deserved, yes. Does his disability come into it? I suppose it has to, and maybe a more lenient sentence should be passed.

    70 years in a max security prison? That is a joke. Firstly 70 years is just a ridiculous amount of time, and why does he need to be in a max security prison? Someone else said, mixed in with career criminals? Rapists, murderers? That is just totally unjustified in my opinion. And that is he is extradited, again in my opinion, is totally unjustified.

    Now, you can say he caused x amount of thousands of dollars worth of damage – which is a load of shit. This brings me back to their IT, if it was setup correctly any ‘damage’ he is supposed to have caused, could have been completely fixed within hours. Their claims to the contrary seem to just be hyping up their charges against him, probably to draw more support from US citizens about this case.

    But it is very easy for me, or others, to take a side. What would we do to punish him? Do we all agree he needs to be punished?

    I would allow him to serve his sentence in the UK, low security prison, as for how many years, I don’t know. Maybe one year? Then when released some sort of restriction on his owning and using computer equipment for a longer period maybe 5 years.

    I would still give him a job though. 😉

  26. Hey Folks,

    Over the past 20 odd years or so I have noticed an alarming increase in the amount of people who have a problem distinguishing between right from wrong. They seem to no longer feel that there are consequences to actions. I call it the “me” generation and I’m not talking about criminals but a lot of us in our day to day lives. We see this everywhere.

    Looking at this story, I see a guy who willingly hacked into military computer systems exposing flaws in the US security system. He not only hacked in, but moved around within the system. This behaviour was wilful and his intent is clear… get in. What he should have done when he discovered the flaw was to stop there and notify the authorities. The US and other major corporations’ employs hackers to do just this sort of testing and I bet they would have hired him as well.

    He is not an idiot… and I don’t think that his form of autism has anything to do with what he did.

    I can fully understand the US government stance on this and if this guy hacked into the UK military would I be writing this comment? I doubt it. He would already be in jail.

    Now, I can hear the comments from some of you: Aww, you are just another right wing US lover. Not so. But I am sympathetic to incidents like this no matter what country is involved. Some things need to be secured and secured well. With the US having nuclear warheads, all incidents like Gary’s should be punished.

    It really bugs me about all this American Government bashing concerning this case. The US has no right to do this to Gary, blah blah blah. They have every right and it disturbs me that his supporters are not seeing the big picture here. What happens if the next person to hack in is not quite so friendly and benign?

    This all harks back to my opening observation of right verses wrong. Gary obviously can’t see the difference but what is more worrying in this case, neither do his supporters.

    Cheers, Howard

    1. I just don’t see this the way you do. What I see is an Autistic guy with an obsession. Yes, he did hack into the computer system and yes he did inform the US authorities that he had. Albeit by crude messages telling them their security was sh*t – he did tell them though.

      Given that only last week President Obama finally appointed a Cyber Security Tsar, I think it’s reasonable to assume that he thinks security is sh*t too. It’s good that he’s actually doing something about it rather than looking for scape-goats though.

      I don’t think Gary is “an idiot” either. Asperger’s has nothing to do with intellectual capacity and many (not all) who have it are very, very intelligent. It does have a lot to do with having very little ‘common sense’ though. The impaired imagination aspect of it leaves sufferers wide open to not spotting dangers. There is a naivety to it. The Asperger’s isn’t an excuse – it’s a reason.

      While I think the American government is being vindictive in its pursuit of this case I’m a lot more upset by the treatment Gary has received at the hands of the UK government. Who, at the moment, seem to be proving on a daily basis that they don’t know the difference between right and wrong, ‘right’ being what they can get away with, ‘wrong’ being the bit where you apologise a lot and offer to pay the money back.

    2. What happens if the next person to hack in is not quite so friendly and benign?

      For what I know, many other people around the world could be hacking right now with worse intentions.

      That’s exactly the point for me.

      If you give 70 years of prison to Gary, who didn’t hack, it seems, for any other reasons than looking for aliens, what would you give to those who hack for really dangerous reasons? Death penalty?

      I don’t believe any exemplary penalty given to him could really stop people who hack for bad reasons. Spies have always existed. Who spies in a full rational way or, maybe, for a precise purpose (not as Gary did) will always accept the risk, I think.

    3. Hey Lorraine,

      You are missing the major point here and that is the nuclear weapons angle of all this. It seems that the pessimism and dislike over the US and its policies is clouding the issue here. I have never been a fan of American foreign policy which tends to meddle in everyone’s business. I am a fan however of world peace and this hacking stuff scares the s**t out of me. I am sure Gary has the same attitude about the US that many in the world have. That is why they go out of their way to expose inadequacies in their system.

      Do you think the Russians, Chinese and other nuclear arms countries don’t have similar issues with their security. I bet they do. If Gary hacked into their networks do you think they would react any less than the US did? I don’t think so. He would probably be dead by now… at least the US will only put him in jail.

      Cheers, Howard

    4. Hi Howard,

      The hacking stuff scares the sh*t out of me too. What scares me is that it seemed relatively easy for someone with an obsession and a bit of knowledge to do it.

      There is no way he should have been able to hack into that system. It scares me that IF he had been a terrorist and not just a hacker perhaps none of us would be sitting here now.

      Gary’s objective seems to have been looking for aliens – not to expose inadequacies in the defence system.

      The one fact that doesn’t seem to be in dispute here is that security was very, very poor. I just happen to think that making Gary McKinnon the scape-goat for that is wrong.

      Lets hope the launch codes for the really big fireworks aren’t set to default.

      I’m sorry if you see this as me having a go at the US, Howard, as I said earlier if anything I’m a lot more p*ssed off at the UK government.

      As for what the Russians or Chinese would have done in the same circumstances, I don’t think the assumption that it would have been worse in any way excuses the UK government from letting a vulnerable man be treated this way.

    5. What happens if the next person to hack in is not quite so friendly and benign?

      Howard makes a fabulous point here, particularly from a legal perspective. Within the legal system, especially in the U.S., precedence is an important aspect for arguing for future punishments or dismissals. If you don’t pursue this one, what happens the next time?

      Also I really don’t think Gary was so friendly and benign. If he was, he would have just looked at stuff and not start deleting files as well. And based on what I have read, this whole Asperger’s argument seems more like just a ploy to gain sympathy. I don’t believe he has any affliction. Granted, I haven’t met him but then I think that most that are supporting him haven’t met him either.

      Anyone who knows anything about people who are into computers (i.e. programmers), know that they spend inordinate amounts of time in front of computers. They also beat to their own drum and keep hours that may be different than the norm. Kinda like musicians. Also, who do you think creates computer viruses. Some of the smartest people out there and they do it for recognition. Sometimes I feel there is a conspiracy with viruses and that they are developed by companies like Norton so that they can sell more anti-virus software.

      Gary needs to suck it up and take it like a man.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  27. You can’t say it’s not a balanced lobby, can you?

    There is some good advice in these messages. I think that Gary, could rely on more dynamic team, behind him other than a few nostalgic, famous players of the plank. Sorry for the word Nostalgic.

    Don’t know about this one. Seems to me a bit one sided? World police, ummmm.

  28. If Gary was looking for little green men, he found red white and blue ones who are pissed off.

    Surely, they should hire him so they can do a better job.

    My only regret is he didn’t find out who killed Kennedy in 63!

    We already know that, but we still need final closure.

    Good Luck Gary!

  29. I truly do not know how I should feel about this whole situation. I am an American, but honestly don’t understand enough about Gary’s autism.

    All I can say is I hope the right thing is done.

  30. I found another petition in the web – here.

    It’s addressed to the European Court of Human Rights – ECHR – and it seems there are no country restrictions to sign it, so who couldn’t sign the one in FEd’s post could maybe sign this.

    It’s dated 19 August 2008, a bit old, but I hope it’s still useful.

  31. I knew that Gilmour played on May 25 I am very happy to continue playing and hopefully soon a new album that fans crave.

    I’m from Ecuador (south America) and I am proud to say I love the music of David Gilmour and I’ve followed your trayuectoria since I was a child. 😀

    1. Bless you for asking, Alessandra.

      I just decided, at the last minute, to take a short break. Sorry for not informing you and for breaking up the discussion.

  32. Look at this. She was convicted in a country than is not as democratic as the U.S. and it looks like she will serve her term in the U.K. Is a term of life in prison for smuggling heroin a harsh term? It certainly sends a message.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Yes, it certainly sends a message, but do you think it will work to convince heroin smugglers, not to do it? I have some doubts about it.

      Exemplary punishment is not justice.

    2. Alessandra,

      Generally I agree with you, however some countries do punishments that are quite severe. These punishments may not prevent people from initially committing crime but they will prevent them from committing them ever again.

      When a country has a law that cuts off the pecker on a guy who raped a woman, you know that won’t happen again. Is that too harsh? Why don’t you ask the woman who got raped?

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    3. I understand what you mean, Andrew. I can perfectly imagine what the woman who got raped would answer and I’ve no problem with it.

      I’ve always believed revenge is a very human and natural reaction and probably, for myself, I could never forgive someone who did something so bad to me, to my family or friends.

      I don’t know if it’s the same in your country, but our TV news here is full of people who easily talk about forgiveness, while someone of their family has been killed. Maybe it’s just my limit, but that’s something I can’t understand. I always wonder if they really think what they say, since most of times those words seem to me nothing more than a socially-acceptable thing to say, something they’ve learned is the right thing to do.

      All I wanted to say is that justice and laws (even though made by human beings, too) should be something different from revenge and the punishment should be adequate to the crime committed.

      Life in prison will certainly prevent that woman from smuggling heroin again, but it won’t solve the problem of smuggling. If it was so, lots of crimes would have disappeared since a long time.

    4. Alessandra,

      It is quite incredible when you hear about someone who publicly states that they forgive someone for a terrible act that was committed to them or to someone close to them. It does happen here in the U.S.

      I do believe in forgiving people and I often try talking to others who may be holding a grudge against someone to let it go. But I also wonder what are the limits? How does someone just let it go when for example a loved one was murdered?

      Typically we all move on when a loved one has passed. But when they are taken from you it is a different circumstance. And sometimes it is not due to someone taking the life as in something that happens to take a life.

      Look at Eric Clapton with the loss of his son who fell from a window. Yes, he wrote Tears In Heaven and it became a way for him to deal with the grief, yet apparently he states that he will no longer perform that song because it is too emotional for him. I would think so.

      Finally, it also baffles me when someone is given the death sentence that the family who was effected can get a front-row seat to watch the sentence be carried out. Why would you want to be present for that?

      I do agree with you overall that unfortunately punishment does not solve the problem. But punishment is necessary, otherwise kids would always be taking cookies from the cookie jar.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  33. He didn’t do anything that isn’t being done daily by governments all around the world, including the U.S. His crime is not working for them and he could hack to his heart’s content.

    Personally, I’ve been harassed by a hacker before and I hope they kick his backside. Extradition does seem a bit harsh, though. Family visits would be out, of course. There might possibly be loved ones he might never see again. I think the U.S. should try him, sentence him (I would be very surprised if he gets the max), and give him back to Britain for serving time.

    Maybe he could serve part of his sentence as a tech instructor. 😀

  34. Is something going on here? Where are you Fed? Hope you and everyone are well folks.

    I just lost my job today. 🙁

    Not my fault, economic bullcrap reasons.

    Sigh!!

  35. Off topic:

    Mr. Phil Manzanera with Firebird project band starts today a short tour in Poland (4 nights in a row), I have a ticket for Friday’s show in Poznań, and I hope it will be something really special.

    It’s worth mentioning, that David with his band celebrated 26 anniversary of forming Solidarity trade union back in 2006. Today is the 20th anniversary of the first, after II World War, free (not fully, but…) election in Poland. Those elections lead to uprisings in other former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe in following months, which eventually ended with collapse of Berlin Wall.

    Also 20th anniversary of Tiananmen.

    1. Tomasz:

      Hope the concert is wonderful!

      It’s worth mentioning, that David with his band celebrated 26 anniversary of forming Solidarity trade union back in 2006.

      Where did that time go???

      Jan

    2. Concert was really fantastic.

      I never knew that Phil has so many fans in Poland. Of course he did not play in an arena-type of venue, but the jazz club was fully packed. He is really great musician, and I had an impression that he had great time in Poland again.

      I was also surprised that Leszek can play that fast.

  36. To Barbara, but also Jan, Jill, Tracy…

    We are still all thinking here about the crash of Air France flight 447 carrying 228 people (most of them being Brazilian and French) that vanished over the Atlantic Ocean. A tragedy.

    Our President Sarkozy asked for US satellite help to locate the crash site and immediately the US responded positively.

    Thank you, United States.

    Michèle

    1. Michèle:

      Thank you for that information. Something positive that we haven’t even heard about here.

      Some of us ‘ugly’ Americans do have kind thoughts of the rest of mankind. The ‘good stuff’ just isn’t newsworthy.

      (I have very fond memories of time spent in France and some French ancestry as well.) However, with any devastation like this crash many of us feel very sad to hear about it. My heart goes out to your country and all of the family and friends who have lost someone on flight 447.

      Best Regards,
      Jan

    2. Thanks Michèle, it is good to hear my country could help. This accident, another sad happening in this world. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all involved.

      In this day and time it is hard to believe that a plane could fall from the sky like this one, isn’t it? Events like that really make me stop and think we should live our lives to the fullest every day.

      Again, thanks for the positive comment. It is just sad it had to be about such a tragedy for your country.

      Barbara P

  37. Hey Fed,

    On a lighter note, will David send autographs to all of us on the blog and is a tour coming soon? 😉

    Cheers, Howard

  38. …I know… nothing for that right wing pillock. :))

    Cheers, Howard

  39. That said, it’s not a new idea. Fake terror attacks were apparently planned to garner support for a war with Cuba in the early ’60s. The same was said about Pearl Harbor (if the attack wasn’t fully choreographed by the US government, they say it was allowed to happen; sacrificing their own citizens and using the tragedy and widespread public outrage to gain support for entering WWII).

    I have never heard of any of this and have lived here all my life and not under a rock! The only conspiracies I have heard about were all the ones about who really killed Kennedy.

    Where do I find out about this? (Feeling a bit confused about this.) 8|

    Jan

    1. Google ‘Operation Northwoods’.

      The plans – to use fake Soviet planes to harass civil aircraft, to attack US ships, to hijack planes, and even stage the shooting down of a civil airliner full of college students – had the written approval of all Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, in March 1962.

      The terror campaign would be pinned on Cuban refugees and would make the American public favour an invasion of Cuba.

      The actual memo, entitled ‘Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba’, can be seen here. It makes shocking reading.

      I’m sure you’ll agree that the parallels between Bush’s War on Terror are striking, or at least appreciate why the idea of 9/11 being an inside job are not all that far-fetched to some cynical minds.

    2. First it is key to note that Operation Northwoods was never implemented. People can write up an assortment of ideas and just because it appears on paper it doesn’t mean it is real or that it happened. If everything written on paper had to be true there would be no Science Fiction novels.

      Further to draw an analogy between Operation Northwoods and 9/11 is preposterous. And to say that 9/11 was allowed to happen under the Bush administration is like saying that the U.K. government supported the IRA and their actions.

      I don’t deny that 9/11 was eventually the catalyst for the Iraq invasion but honestly even if 9/11 didn’t happen, I’m sure there still would have been a conflict in Iraq.

      It is bad enough that the world has to live in fear not knowing if a suicide bomber is boarding a bus in Israel, if while walking the streets of London a car bomb will go off, if while going about your daily train commute it will blow up or if while boarding a plane for a vacation a terrorist plot could unfold. Why do we need to speculate that the events of 9/11 were allowed to happen by the U.S. Government? It’s like saying the U.S. Government always wanted people to remove their shoes prior to boarding aircraft as well as only allow passengers to buy their water bottles after they pass through the security gates and 9/11 was the catalyst to implement those restrictions.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  40. off topic?

    for a non-conspiracy theory on what happened on 9/11 please click here. it makes a shocking view.

    basically it says that george walker bush is responsible for the death of over 3000 people in hard facts, images and testimony by architects and engineers.

    hey FE’d, hope all’s well @ DGHQ?

    andy.

    p.s. try and check out the movie “Network” from 1976 – very eye opening!

  41. As you’ll read over at Latest News shortly, a judicial review of the former Home Secretary’s handling of Gary’s case took place in London this week. With a new Home Secretary in Alan Johnson, the hope is that he may review the case, this time taking into consideration the fact that Gary has Asperger’s syndrome.

    A ruling is expected to be announced next week.

  42. Loucura!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8|

    Melhor músico do mundo!!! Salve David Gilmour!!!

    Abraços….. Eduardo.

  43. My late brother suffered from Asperger’s and whilst tough to live with sometimes, you always knew he wasn’t able to help a lot of his behaviour. His understanding of what was right and wrong was skewed to a degree.

    It took many years before he was diagnosed. Indeed many Asperger’s sufferers aren’t diagnosed until adulthood. Very little was understood about the condition when my brother was diagnosed in the mid eighties. A different outcome to his life may have prevailed had they known more about how to treat the condition. Hopefully, this will lead to a better understanding of this form of autism and the people who suffer from it.

    It’s ridiculous they’re still considering his extradition! Hopefully, common sense will prevail.

    One does wonder if the UK government would seek the extradition of a US citizen in such circumstances?

  44. When heard this on This Morning was bit taken aback by the law.

    America can have anyone extradited for breaking the law in their country and that Britain cannot interfere in the process… BUT Britain cannot do the same for an American. Well, who made them judge and jury?

    If their computer systems had been better then he would not have been able to hack in. In fact it did them a favour because it showed a weakness which they have plugged up. Rather than jail him they should thank him for showing a flaw before a terrorist hacked them.

    I will be signing if petition still open. Like fact David helps the under dog, makes him more admirable.

  45. Rarely do people scroll back to prior posts once a new one is up, but here is an interesting article.

    What do you think??

    Thanks.

    Andrew

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