The following is an editorial. An editorial is: “An article, typically short, expressing an opinion or point of view. Often, but by no means always, written by a member of the publication’s staff.”
Sometimes, however, I feel a need to write an article about what I find.
My most recent Midnight In Chicago article was about Gary McKinnon.
He is still in the news.
I daresay that if you are on the autism spectrum, or interact in autism forums, or are part of the autism community, he is ALWAYS in the news. People discuss him often and at length. I can’t remember a time in recent history when one person on the autism spectrum was the subject of so much debate.
In one of two articles I have chosen to quote from today, we read:
Let’s stop for a moment and think about the gravity of the charge.
What would have happened if there was an actual terrorist threat or threat of war, and the US government was unable to adequately respond to that threat due to some systems being shut down? Whether by accident or by design, Gary McKinnon would have put the entire United States at risk. What if hundreds of people had died? Thousands? Millions?
But you know, the “Free Gary Campaign” has made this all about McKinnon‘s plight and seems to have thumbed their noses at the US government.
In all fairness, the quote I have given you above is only an excision from a much larger quote which reads:
But looking purely at what McKnnon is supposed to have said himself ….
Whence comes this knowledge on Gary McKinnon‘s part?
Are we to believe that he — one person with Asperger’s Syndrome who has been painted by his supporters as too mentally fragile to withstand the US justice system — knows more about the workings of the US government’s computer system than the entire US government? That would take a huge intellect and mental capacity for McKinnon to make that assessment.
If McKinnon is possessed with this much knowledge and intellectual and mental ability, it stands to reason that he must have known that what he was doing was illegal, as the US government alleges. Or perhaps McKinnon only knew more than the US government about computers, and nothing about US law. And perhaps McKinnon has no common sense either. Maybe McKinnon has no ability to reason that just because someone leaves the door to their house open doesn’t mean you can walk in if you’re an uninvited stranger.
My personal opinion (which I have cobbled together from the media I have read on this matter) is that McKinnon only wants to enter the US through “windows” of his own choosing, uninvited, when HE determines, and not be extradited there against his will.
Let’s think for a minute what this means ….
It wasn’t as though McKinnon sat down at his computer in February of 2001 and stayed there, hacking away, until March of 2002. It wasn’t as though this was a one time incident in other words.
My reasoning is this: It is very doubtful that McKinnon could eat, perform bathroom functions, and stay away for a whole year as he hacked into the US government computers.
Ergo, MORE THAN ONCE, McKinnon could have decided not to hack, but instead, he hacked at least twice. Many more times than that, in fact, if the charges are accurate. Quite methodical and persistent was he in this (alleged) hacking, and if it is true, this means that he endangered the welfare of the US government and the citizens of the United States of America on more than one occasion, if the government’s assertions are valid.
Now, if McKinnon had done no harm, as he opined, then there would be no need to worry about an extradition, a trial, or a conviction, but despite the fact that he has supposedly done no harm, there seems to have been a campaign running for nearly a decade to “free” him from possible extradition, trial, and conviction.
This seems to me a complete waste of time and resources to me. If he has done no harm, then McKinnon has nothing to worry about. He should just go about his life as normal and not worry about what the US government might do.
And really, it turned out to be a REAL waste of time after all. Supporters of McKinnon had been making the specious argument that the US Justice system was harsh and unfair, but it turns out that it was determined by a review panel –in the UK. no less — that:
However, now it appears there is a new problem ….
The human rights charity recognised her efforts in battling for her son and against the Extradition Act; critics argue the law is one-sided.
In short, it is embarrassing enough for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome to argue that he knows more than the United States government about the dangers posed by his admitted hacking, and it is embarrassing enough for supporters of Gary McKinnon to argue that McKinnon should be excused from being charged and prosecuted in the US because his AS prevented him from stopping himself from hacking, and it is embarrassing enough that supporters of Gary McKinnon argue that McKinnon would be mercilessly flogged under the US justice system when it was almost common knowledge among almost everyone — and reaffirmed in review — that there was never any danger to McKinnon because the US and UK justice systems are similar, but it is even more embarrassing that McKinnon’s mother is eligible to receive an award for a cause that, in essence, never existed while someone more deserving might be denied their own reward as a result.
Would Sharp be considered for a human rights award if there had been a terrorist act or act of war and the US government would have been unable to react due to McKinnon’s hacking? What if hundreds, thousands, millions of people had died? Would Sharp be considered for a human rights award for fighting the extradition of this admitted hacker who presumes to know more than the US government about its computer systems?
There may be other people who are more worthy to receive this award, and it would be a shame if they should be prevented from receiving it because some admitted hacker’s supporters was able to whip up a smoke and mirrors campaign to defend someone who already admitted to an alleged crime, this person being someone who intellectually believes he knows more about the operations of US government computers than the US government, but being painted as too mentally fragile to endure the punishment for his alleged crimes.
My estimation of McKinnon would be elevated if he faced the justice due him as openly as he admits his hacking. Until that time, the “reward” for McKinnon should be a fair trial, and the “award” for his mother should not be given.
Thomas D. Taylor
MIDNIGHT IN CHICAGO