You’ve seen the Tweets, now read the blog.
Following an interesting discussion with Jack Of Kent about Aspergers hacker Gary McKinnon on Twitter (described by one Tweeter as like Newsnight in haiku) I have a few brief points to make.
I’m totally opposed to extraditing Gary McKinnon to the US, where draconian punishment and prison conditions place their judicial system somewhere in the nastier part of the Middle Ages. Only last night, those of us who watched Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story saw how one juvenile prison faciity was essentially a money-making scam between the judge — sentencing teenagers who behaved like teenagers to the nightmare of being banged up for long periods — and the prison boss, who had lobbied for the old public facility to be demolished so he could replace it with his own privately-built one costing $8 million, for which he was paid $58 million out of the public purse.
The kids’ “crimes” included throwing a piece of meat at Mum’s boyfriend during a family row, and a fight with a friend in a Mall.
This is a system that also locks up a disproportionate number of black men.
But prisons in the US are big business.
No man or woman’s freedom should be bartered away at the whim of blind state power.
Who has determined that Gary McKinnon’s hacking into the government’s cyberspace is a criminal act? He wasn’t a terrorist. He was a bored web-savvy amateur who showed up the flaws in the system before someone actually dangerous found it. His curiosity concerning free energy and UFOs, ferchrissake, was satisfied because the US military and NASA’s inept security allowed him in. Governments do enough spying on us — they don’t like it up ’em. Isn’t it capitulating to overweening state authority to say his mischief was an actual crime? It’s out of all proportion in a civilised society.
In an interview straight out of Monty Python, one senior military officer at the Pentagon said: “He did very serious and deliberate damage to military and Nasa computers and left silly and anti-American messages.” So which is he being done for? Damage? (Under the terms of the 2003 Extradition Act, the US doesn’t have to produce contestable evidence.) Or the sort of two-fingers-to-authority that in the free West we once thought quite romantic?
The Wiki account says:
McKinnon has denied causing any damage, arguing that, in his quest for UFO-related material, he accessed open, unsecured machines with no passwords and no firewalls and that he left countless notes pointing out their many security failings. He adamantly disputes the damage and the financial loss claimed by the US as concocted in order to create a dollar amount justifying an extraditable offence. While it did not constitute evidence of destruction, he did admit leaving a threat on one computer:
“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.”
But did he continue to disrupt? Should you be extradited for bravado? Is it true what he said about government-sponsored terrorism? And should the “dollar amount” be a determining factor in extradition?
All the things that the Masters and Mistresses of the Universe do, with no possibility of redress for us, and yet here’s a man’s life about to be destroyed, effectively out of spite. Blair, Haliburton, the oil corps et al are enriched through behaviour that would be criminal if only they weren’t making the rules. Compare Gary’s video-gamer’s excitement with the Apache helicopter crew waggling their joysticks, who massacred a crowd in Iraq including two Reuters employees. Or the greed machines currently destroying the whole coast of Louisiana and beyond.
The Labour government rolled over and did the US neocon regime’s bidding over the Iraq War, colluded in rendition and torture, and then tried to deliver its own civilians to a foreign power.
We are encountering a massive juggernaut of authority with no morality backing it up. This is wrong. We should not be actively collaborating in our own oppression.
UPDATE: QC Geoffrey Robertson on Gary McKinnon and the US government’s restrospective malice: a test case for principles. He points out that Stieg Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo heroine, Lisbeth Salander, would be extradited for the same activity.
Anna’s food blog here: