Former FBI agent slams defence tactics in McKinnon case
Suggests hacker should have taken his medicine
Updated A former FBI legal officer who handled controversial plea bargaining negotiations with Gary McKinnon has attacked the tactics adopted by the hacker’s defence team.
Ed Gibson, who moved from his role as the FBI’s assistant legal to work as Microsoft’s chief security advisor in the UK back in 2005, said that if the self-confessed hacker had accepted voluntary extradition when he offered it back in 2003 then he would have “been out of jail four years ago” instead of facing extradition now.
Gibson described frequently-quoted defence fears that McKinnon might face up to 60 years in jail if extradited to the US for breaking into military systems as “nonsense”. In off-the-cuff remarks to an audience during a conference session at RSA Europe in London on Tuesday, Gibson half-jokingly suggested that might sue McKinnon’s lawyer Karen Todner for human rights breaches, presumably because he feels that her defence tactics had unnecessarily prolonged McKinnon’s suffering.
Around 30 people were in the audience for a presentation on The Balance of Browser Security and Settings during which Gibson made his remarks, which came as a surprise from a normally scrupulously diplomatic senior executive who has declined to speak about his role in the case in the past.
Gibson asked for a show of hands on those who thought McKinnon ought to be spared extradition. An audience member who raised his hand responded to Gibson’s invitation to explain himself by saying that McKinnon ought to be tried in the UK because he suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome.
Gibson engaged the fellow in debate, pointing out that UK authorities had declined to try McKinnon in the UK. He controversially reckons that long-running defence team efforts to avoid a US extradition are little better than an attempt to “escape justice”.
Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mum, gave us a robust reaction to Gibson's comments. "Ed Gibson is the same man that said to Gary's legal team that they'd prosecute Gary to max and state wanted to see him fry."
She explained the possible 60 years sentence claim. "Plea bargain cld not be guaranteed. Max sentence is 10 yrs per count times seven, but 60 years is max. Can Ed Gibson instruct Judges in sentencing? No!"
"Gary was vulnerable & admitted computer misuse without having a lawyer, big mistake," she added.
The Home Office last week agreed to place a hold on extradition proceedings against McKinnon in order to review new medical data. Having exhausted legal appeals that went all the way up to the House of Lords last year and featured judicial reviews of the handling of the case by the Home Office and UK prosecutors this year, McKinnon's best hope of avoiding extradition currently rests on this review. ®
@ Roger Pearce
STFU. This is no place for some 'voice of the silent majority' BNP crap.
I do not think Gary should be extradited (so much so that I wrote to the President), the alleged crime was committed here, he should be tried here. And let's not go buggering about with anti-terrorism legislation either, the man is clearly not a terrorist, he's a nerd.
Re the 'he should know what is right and what is wrong' argument, I don't think it's as simple as you're making out. He wanted access to information, he didn't have to hurt anyone or sabotage anything to get that information, just type in a password. He then got said information, and has still not attacked or damaged a person in any way. I can see why he wouldn't think that what he has done is wrong.
But now he's being extradited under terrorism legislation to a country that has a completely different legal system and where the punishments can be fundamentally at odds with our own social morality and legal norms: We should not be extraditing to a country that practices capital punishment. I also believe that he will not receive a fair trial in the US, as national, governmental and institutional pride is at stake, which is another reason he should be tried here in the UK.
@ Mighty Spang
"ok so he's got asbergers. but he's intelligent. did he not know that breaking into other people's computer systems was a crime?"
You could liken it to walking down a street at night - some shop windows are left clear so you can still look at the goods. Others have shutters to hide the goods completely, and some have shutters with holes so you can still see the goods.
Although what Gary did was seemingly "wrong", all he did was look through the open holes in the shutters.
"to let him off sets an awful precident. there are plenty of people saying that a lot of criminality is to do genes and upbringing."
That's like saying someone with tourettes should be prosecuted for profanity, a catholic priest should be done for offending muslims, or a blind person should be done for falling down an "obviously open" manhole. It could be genes, upbringing, or sheer bad luck that put them in that situation, without any hint of malice in their actions.
@AC re: "Aspergers *can* be quite debilitating" etc... Wed 21st Oct 2009 22:20 GMT
I am very sorry you have suffered, I know its a common problem for Aspergers but hopefully this will help. (I know some (more than a few in fact) in the technology industry are Aspergers, because they are very much attracted to that kind of detailed complex work and can be very good at it). So unfortunately its a common problem for people in this industry. When you say "suffer constant anxiety" - That isn't directly caused by Aspergers, that is caused by the actions of some other people against you and your resulting own perception of how you fit into society *based on* their actions against you. You need to learn some people will accept you and some won't no matter how hard you try to conform to what they expect. But some will accept you - please remember that. Also even the most well intentioned non-Asperger people don't understand Aspergers at all, and their attempts to understand usually totally fail, but that doesn't stop some accepting you as you are.
Also often Aspergers idealised view of the world can prevent them seeing and believing a minority of society relentlessly seek to influence, lie and manipulate others for their own gain, so not everything that everyone tells us can be taken at face value. Don't judge people by what they say, judge them by how they treat others (spotting empathy is the key) and if they wouldn't like to be treated how they repeatedly treat others, that's a sure fire warning sign to avoid that person. There are a lot of people in this world, so you have a lot to choose from to find friends.
When you say, "chances of a "normal" way of life" - Define "normal" ... there is no normal, life is what we *choose* to make of our time on this planet to make us happy. Normal isn't fitting into a pattern of behavior which others choose to define for us. No one has the right to attempt to manipulate us into conforming to their expectations. Life is what we choose. Its our life, not theirs.
It greatly saddens me how so many Aspergers with such potential are through their experiences and interactions with others, been bullied into a pattern of behavior where they are made to feel bad about being an Asperger. Its an all too common problem, but you can learn to see beyond it. (This bloody legal case isn't helping, as its running down Aspergers the whole time. I've grown to utterly hate this manipulative case where both sides are vying for position).
One interesting thing for Aspergers is when they realize there are some people in this world who try all their lives to stand out in a crowd. These people are relentlessly driven to stand out. Yet Aspergers however think and feel different, so they have always had, what some other people spend a life time trying to achieve. That may just sound interesting now, but take that to heart. The more you think about that the more you realize you can finally relax and be you. After all being different isn't wrong and being different is easy, eccentric is easy, its attempting to conform that is the difficult part of the act, but its such a huge relief when you suddenly realize, you no longer have to conform. Its your life, not anyone else's to choose for you how you should conform. There is no normal and anyone who says differently, is attempting to define their expectations of what they expect people to conform to. They also need to learn there is no normal. No pattern to conform to. Life is how we *choose* to live.
So stop trying to conform and just *learn* to be happy and *learn* to become finally at peace with just being you. You can learn to have confidence and self esteem by just being you. I emphasize learn, because it literally is a process of having to learn how some people will accept us and others will never accept us, no matter how hard we try to make them happy. So there is no point in trying to win the acceptance of the ones who won't accept us no matter what we do. But there are billions of people in this world and so everyone has millions of people to choose from to find the ones who will be happy to know us and accept us and can in time become friends. Also as an Asperger you can learn to see patterns in the world others walk on past and never see. That can be fascinating to share these insights with some people who are interested in discussing and sharing their observations, as we all attempt to refine our understanding of the world around us. Not every is interested, but thats life, they are interested in other things. But it helps to find a few friends who are interested in the stuff we are all interested in.
So don't let anyone dishearten you by talking down to you for being different. The ones who attempt to talk down to you have something to gain from talking down to you. (By suppressing any difference they find in people, that in turn wins them the center of attention and they try to make people feel difference is so wrong, when in fact its their attention craving insecure abuse of others that is wrong. But their relentless need for attention is also their Achilles heel). After all they wouldn't like to be talked down to, so they have no right to talk down to others. So don't let anyone dishearten you. Just ignore them, don't bother arguing with them, just ignore them as its an attention seekers worse fear. (Same tactic works against the minority of people who seek power over others. When they are ignored they haven't got power). There are many good people in this world, just a few bad apples to avoid, but unfortunately the bad ones fight to get in our faces all the time.
I sincerely hope this helps. I know its a problem for people in this industry. Its not easy to learn self esteem. It takes time, but you can learn it and learn to be happy being you. Aspergers is an advantage. For example we all have to specialize in our chosen careers and Aspergers have an advantage in this regard so they can learn to be good at their work. Thats a very good thing that many will respect in life (not just work).
Anyway, it looks like this case still has a lot more media coverage and manipulative legal chess moves to endure. (P.s. sorry TheReg for this long post, but I felt this was very important to say in reply).