British Super-geek loses extradition appeal – the truth is out there ….. somewhere

Gary McKinnon, the bumbling UK hacker, has lost his appeal against being extradited to the US to stand trial. McKinnon stands accused of hacking into dozens of US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense computers during February 2001 and March 2002. It is also alleged that he infiltrated 16 NASA computers. He is reputed to have caused 700, 000 dollars worth of damage and modified and deleted files at a US Naval Air Station making around 300 computers inoperable. Crucially, the timing of McKinnon's hacking coincided with the furore and heightened sense of vulnerability in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The U.S alleges that his objective was to access classified information, and his motive, "intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion".

McKinnon, however, considers himself no havoc-wreaker – just a bumbling computer nerd. His main objective, he claims, was to access information he believed the U.S military and NASA had on UFOs. In short, he wanted to discover if there was, as he believed there to be, a UFO cover-up/conspiracy type thing (you get the idea) and expose it. So his efforts could justifiably be labelled as ‘humanitarian’ right? Well clearly the British court, or the U.S. military don’t think so.

McKinnon certainly believes the truth is out there – or rather IN there, there being the US military’s computer systems. He says, "I believe that there are spacecraft, or there have been craft, flying around that the public doesn't know about." McKinnon believes the US recovered an anti-gravity propulsion system from an alien spacecraft and reversed engineered it for their own use.

While lawyers acting for McKinnon argued that he may be sent to Guantanamo if extradited, US officials have assured the British government that he will not be made subject of 'Military Order Number 1' meaning that he could be detained indefinitely under the President's orders. McKinnon feared he would suffice prejudice if tried in the US, stating that if he was forced to stand trial in Virginia he was "[a]lready hung and quartered".

Above and beyond the legal (and moral) questions at issue here, is the worrying ‘hackability’ of the US military’s computer systems. Once McKinnon discovered they were running Windows, he was in there like a shot. But, it wouldn’t have happened if they’d been running Vista, right?!

Anyway, his supporters argue that instead of prosecuting him, the US government should thank him for bringing to light the massive security vulnerabilities in their computer systems. They might have a point. The matter has now been passed to Home Secretary John Read for a final decision. God help McKinnon, then!

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