posted on Sep, 14 2008 @ 01:10 AM
"My cynical side believes that those 'pesky hackers' are treated just like any bug infestation, the odd one or two or even a handful is not much of
an issue until the place becomes overrun. It is then that you can call in the exterminators and make a big fuss about the problem, of course it never
addresses that the usual problem with an infestation is someone has not been keeping their place tidy. You leave scraps around for rats to find and in
a short time you will have many, many more rats sniffing around for the goodies."
With such lax security, the US authorities are lucky that McKinnon only had peaceful intentions in mind, Bevan noted.
"Gary is a self-confessed stoner and perpetrated the 'biggest military hack of all time' whilst completely wasted. This is clearly a sign of how
lax the security of these systems was. If Gary had been clear minded and deliberate about what he wanted to achieve and was a malicious person rather
than the pacifist he is - where exactly would we be now?"
Fast-track extradition is a one-way street
The US Congress has not ratified the fast-track extradition treaty between the UK and the US. UK prosecutors would need to present a compelling case
before a US court before securing an extradition, whereas US authorities, as in the McKinnon case, have far fewer hurdles to clear.
"If it was an American hacker who had breached our computers - would we be fighting for extradition? I doubt it. In fact, we would most likely have
to issue a public apology for our lapse in security and the media would be up-in-arms about how weak our defences are."
He added that the human factor is often ignored in the debate over McKinnon's fate, which is split between the 'burn him' camp and the 'deal with
him here or let him go' lobby.
"People seem to forget that Gary is not just a meme or a 'hacker' - he is a real person. This guy has been waiting for six and a half years
already. Now the chances are that if it had been dealt with over here he would have long served his time and be free to carry on his life.
"Due to political wranglings, all we are going to see is more time lumped on top of what has already been spent waiting in the wings and as many
expect that time could be way in excess of the sentences for murder here."
According to papers submitted to his failed House of Lords appeal, McKinnon was offered a plea bargaining deal featuring a sentence of between three
and four years in jail, if he cooperated with the US authorities and dropped his opposition to extradition against eight to ten years behind bars in a
high-security prison after a US trial. Lawyers acting for McKinnon said that this deal might not be binding, and expressed concerns that McKinnon
might be prosecuted by a US military rather than civilian court.
McKinnon (AKA Solo) has always admitted that he broke into US government computer systems but denies causing any damage. Bevan said McKinnon has not
had enough credit in admitting responsibility for his misdeeds.
"Under UK law we are supposed to be more lenient on criminals who admit their crimes and accept the consequences. In this case, the effect appears to
be the opposite - plead guilty then wait for the consequences. In the meantime have your charges upgraded as new laws are introduced and applied
Supporters of McKinnon argue that the prosecution may yet blow up in their faces by placing the security shortcomings of US government systems under
the microscope, especially if the case goes to trial. Sysadmins may be faced with awkward questions about why their systems were so easy to
infiltrate. Even if such questions fail to arise at trial, they might spark unwelcome Congressional scrutiny.
Stars and prison stripes
Bevan said McKinnon can expect to be treated harshly by a US court, especially if (as expected) he is tried in Virginia.
"Virginia is not exactly the most friendly state to foreigners and somehow I do not think that someone who 'attacked the United States