Gary McKinnon and Freedom 97

On 10 May I blogged:

Poor Gary McKinnon provides an important test. The Tories and Lib Dems have said they would halt his extradition under Blair’s vassal state one way extradition treaty with the USA. New Labour apparently remain determined to extradite him – and that means Miliband and Johnson in particular. That should be food for thought for anyone considering New Labour leaders touted as more acceptable to the Lib Dems,

I am delighted today that Teresa May has called in the McKinnon case for consideration – something New Labour refused to do. It does appear that Conservatives and Lib Dems are going to keep their promises and stop the McKinnon extradition.

This is great news. Even better news is that page 14 of the full coalition agreement promises to change Blair’s vassal state extradition treaty in the UK. It is well understood that this was a grossly unbalanced treaty, allowing for extradition of UK citizens to the US, but not of US citizens to the UK. It is less often mentioned that the treaty, enshrined into UK law by Order in Council, debars the UK courts from any consideration of the evidence or merits of the case. The only power the courts have is to check the correct form of the extradition request.

This treaty is the perfect embodiment of Blair’s policy; total subservience to the United States and the abdication of any idea of natural justice. Those commenters on this blog who refuse to accept that this government is an improvement on the hateful New Labour crowd, increasingly sound like nuts.

In presenting the coalition agreement today, Nick Clegg started by talking passionately about freedom in the UK. That is a word New Labour almost never mentioned, except in the context of abroad. And when they spoke of freedom abroad, it was code for we are about to invade you and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

97 thoughts on “Gary McKinnon and Freedom

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  • rogh

    Change of government both sides of the pond and an utterly futile and potentially embarrassing trial can be quietly dropped – maybe.

    It will be interesting to see if the extraditors find themselves hoist by their own petard.

    Personally I was rather looking forward to the Pentagon’s security experts being made to look stupid. Any trial of McKinnon has wonderful potential for comedy and ridicule and shame – which his lawyers would probably make full use of.

    Extraditors – be careful what you wish for!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Angrysoba, I agree entirely that if Craig has helped people avoid possible torture and death, that’s praiseworthy. Very well put.

    However, I really do not think it is valid to align the very serious concerns over David Kelly’s death with ‘Elvis legends’.

    I think though that you’re right about the lack of competance of security systems, amply proven by this hacker – in general, the more complex they are, the less effective they become. I do not think that the bunch of idiots who brought us ‘Iraq: Disaster Part 2: The Day of Reckoning’, the dolts who were unable even to rule Iraq for more than a millisecond without the active help of Iran, would be capable of organising a village green tea-party. They had lots of power and hubris but precious little intelligence (and I use the word in both its senses). But that’s for another, very long (!), thread. Colin Powell’s amateur ham-act at the UN Security Council was a very bad joke and the fact that the leaders of The West bought it is more an indictment of those leaders than anything else.

    Also, eddie, look I am saddened by what happened to the Labour Party, I’d like to see it get back its soul. But I don’t think the present lot of mannequins have the capability of – of desire to – achieve that end. Diane Abbott is closer to the soul than any of the others but of course she’s not going to be elected leader. Hope she does give ’em a kick, though!

  • Anonymous

    Larry. The reason Brits of *all* political persuasions get agitated over the McKinnon affair comes down to 2 issues.

    Firstly. The asymmetric nature of the extradition treaty the Blair government negotiated in which any Briton can be automatically extradited to the US simply on asking, while US citizens cannot similarly be extradited to the UK. It smells too much of the poodle to us.

    Secondly the treaty was supposedly to be used to expedite the extradition of serious terrorists, yet the first case it was used for was for the extradition of this idiot McKinnon who if tried under the Computer Misuse Act in the UK would be liable to a maximum 6 month sentence. US prosecutors want to try him on seven counts with each count having a maximum 10 year sentence. To us this looks spiteful and vindictive.

    As for plea bargaining. From this side of the pond plea bargaining looks like intimidation to persuade an innocent person to plead guilty.

    I recall an interesting article on the subject of plea bargaining by Paul Craig Roberts, but no doubt you will dismiss him as a looney because his opinions do not match your mind set.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    How charming that the anti-troofers Larry and Angry think the fact that GM was able to hack with ease into the Pentagon computers somehow bolsters their case that the collapse of the air defences could have happened by accident. In fact, it just as plausibly demonstrates the opposite – it shows how easily the system could have been compromised from within.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    I’ve ALSO looked into this a little further, much further methinks than Larry and Angry. For a start, the guy is anything but a dimwit, so let’s leave off the cheap name-calling shall we?

    More penitently there seems to be something not quite Kosher about the narrative of this case that suggests to me that the purported images of aliens were left lying around on the hard disks of unsecured computers in order to be found by some dupe. I don’t believe for a second that the images were of genuine UFOs, but the whole history of UFOs dating right back to 1947 is full of what appear to be deliberately seeded disinformation.

  • Yakoub

    “Those commenters on this blog who refuse to accept that this government is an improvement on the hateful New Labour crowd, increasingly sound like nuts”

    I’m not crying for New Labour to return, but given that this administration has just announced it wants alleged rapists to be given anonymity, excuse me if I don’t share your views that the Con-Dems are an “improvement”. Yeah, glad to see the back of ID cards and a few other odds, and this turns the clock back 25 years.

  • Craig

    Larry –

    I am glad to hear that you are doing pro bono work for asylum seekers, genuinely. Apart from organising blog campaigns on deportation cases, I have also given evidence to asylum tribunals on over a dozen occasions – and I have never lost a case!


    The anonymity for alleged rapists question is a complex issue. The important point is that it ends on conviction – alleged rapists found not guilty maintain their anonymity, convicted rapists do not.

    Alleged rape victims have anonymity, of course, unlike say alleged victims of other crimes of violence. This leads to a strange situation where someone can with anonymity falsely accuse someone of rape, and that person is stigmatised beyond redemption.

    A difficult question, I agree. But the proposal does not seem to me self-evidently wrong.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I should’ve said of course that Craig most definitely has helped people avoid torture and death. My statement, earlier, ought to have read stronger. There’s no ‘if’ about it!

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Angry –

    Drugs found in Elvis at time of death in a hospital bed:

    Morphine, Demerol, Chloropheniramine, Placidyl, Vailum, Codeine, Ethinamate, Quaaludes, Diazepam, Amytal, Nembutal, Carbrital, Sinutab, Elavil, Avental, and Valmid.

    Drugs in Dr David Kelly on a hillside:

    Non-lethal dose of Co-Promxamol

  • Ed

    And now a Torture Inquiry too?

    If the Guardian headline this morning is correct, another helpful development. (obviously how the Inquiry functions will be key, but this is one important step)

  • Steve


    I talk with authority not from what I have read in a tabloid or broad sheet The reason that only a small percentage of rape allegations get convictions is because only a small percentage are true. Men and women regulary make false rape allegations for all kinds of reasons mental health,revenge,infatuation then rejection,attention seeking,Concensual sex then regrets when partner finds out,Wanting to get rehoused. In alot of these instances an innocent man has been arrested had penile intimate swabs taken had his nails scraped his clothing siezed. If he works in a notifiable occupation he may be suspended from work. He has to go into open court and face huge embarrassment and attention and when he is found guilty and the “victim” has been proved to have lied or made it up he has to put up with the whispers “no smoke without fire” comments. The police/CPS are under huge pressure to take all rape allegations to court even if they have doubts because of narrow minded people that dont believe that anyone could make such a thing up. God forbid they lower the burden of truth in rape cases as labour wanted as hundreds of innocent people would be locked up every year on the lies of some sick or wicked people. I am not for one minute making light of rape it is a terrible crime that can scar people for life. But it can also scar innocent people falsely accused of rape.

  • sean

    I think one of the fundamental problems with the MacKinnon case is the fact that people against his extradition, regardless of how genuinely tight and reasonable the arguments at their disposal are, still seem to want to resort to that old rhetorical chestnut of trying to diminish the seriousness of the offence in order to heighten the injustice of his treatment, as if they have no faith in the primary arguments.

    The lack of competancy in the security of the systems in question do not invalidate the fact that he committed a criminal offence, and he should be tried accordingly for that offence (in his own country), in exactly in the same manner as you would expect of anyone else. Similarly the 9/11 denial, the UFO-hunting, the chest puffing, remorseless grand-standing do nothing but divert attention away from the point that extradition would be a miscarriage of justice.

    Do not sentimentalise the man and do not allow him to be sentimentalised; ‘Childish Curiosity’ is not a defence and you are doing a dis-service to him by patronisingly referring to him as if he were a child, rather than a grown man with Asberger’s Syndrome.

    No one has helped to highlight just how injust this treaty (and therefore how necessary its removal) is by painting this man up as a fucking modern Che Guevara.

  • steve

    Larry is American “say no more”

    I was just watching a documentary on the US aircraft carrier stationed off Iraq during the invasion. The crew were telling the camera that after 9/11 it was important to invade Iraq and kill terrorists. Obviously a bit confusing as Iraq didnt have many terrorists during Sadams time and only got terrorists after we invaded it and fucked up the post invasion.

  • sean

    Yakoub –

    “I’m not crying for New Labour to return, but given that this administration has just announced it wants alleged rapists to be given anonymity, excuse me if I don’t share your views that the Con-Dems are an “improvement”. Yeah, glad to see the back of ID cards and a few other odds, and this turns the clock back 25 years”

    How do you square up a rejection of Identification Cards with your belief that an allegation of rape should remove a person’s anonymity?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Steve, with respect one cannot really be serious when one says that about ‘Americans’, just because of one persistently aggressive and irrational blogger.

    It also lays one open to the sort of comeback in which such disruptive bloggers enjoy engaging.

    I don’t know whether or not you’re in the UK, but here in the UK we get a very distorted view of American people, a mixture of comic-strip and Hollywood stereotype.

    It’s not like that in the real world.

    This does not have anything to do with an ongoing critique of American state power in the world, an aspect of their country with which I know lots of Americans are totally disgusted.

  • steve


    I am in the UK and Americans do tend to have a very narrow and ignorant perspective on international affairs. I think this is mostly due to the fact they dont need to travel outside the US they have everything at home Skiing deserts beaches mountains lakes etc etc. The example I gave from the documentary backs up my sterotyping. I also believe that the double edged sword of pride in the nation and one nation attitude also makes them very defensive. Pick on any American and you pick on all Americans. The view you get from Hollywood is an exageration cariacature of the american personality but like all cariacatures it has a basis in truth. Larry is a perfect storm of americanism. You could stereotype and say Scottish people drink alot and eat deep fried mars bars. And they do not all of them but alot of them do. To deny stereotypes and differences takes peoples and nations identities away then you are a short step from doing away with nations altogether. People dont complain when they say Italians are good lovers or the Welsh are good singers. So people should accept critical stereotyping aswell. I am sick of people trying to strip nations of their identities. What a boring place this world would be if we were all bland politicaly correct nobodies with no differences.And on a different note the Olympics and football would be pretty boring aswell.

  • Paul Johnston

    Whilst I will obviously be classed as a nut I must say this case should be dealt with by the British Courts and extradition should not have even been entertained. However the idea that because security on the sites was poor does not mean an offence did not take place. If you accidentally left your keys in your front door and were robbed would you agree with a defense which said you didn’t secure your property so it’s your fault. Also as to the claim of expert medical advice who remembers Ernest Saunders, the only man ever to recover from Alzheimer’s ?


  • John D. Monkey

    Steve, Suhayl

    The USA can be regarded as 50 countries in federation – which in many ways it is, with many laws State-based rather than Federal, local taxes, speed limits etc.

    51 if you count N and S California as two States, 52 if you regard the Navaho Nation as independent…they work on different time from Arizona.

    And “Americans” are as different from each other as English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Geordies, Scousers, Cornish, whoever.

    300 million people rose up and with one voice shouted “I am an individual”…

  • Clark

    Larry from St Louis,

    you’ve finally made me laugh. *Aggression is a response to threat*, remember? Are you a Windows user, perchance? Feeling a bit threatened, maybe? You wrote “Of course it follows that you don’t have a problem signaling to the world that it’s open season on computer security in the West” as if we all need to conspire to keep Microsoft’s ‘Open Secret’ of the insecurity of Windows! I assure you that this is common knowledge. Last time I looked, Norton Anti Virus was scanning for over two million *automated, mechanical* threats. Not live, thinking people. Was it the lack of discression of people like me that led to all these viruses being written?

    You’re really not that bright, are you?

    If our governmennts have a glaring, ongoing, easilly corrected insecurity, is it not in the public interest that it be pointed out?

    You wrote “I take it that [you] have absolutely no respect for the interests of the governments of the U.S./U.K. in protecting computer systems that serve as a backbone against global threats in the West”.

    So you’re the sort of person who feels more secure if you leave loaded guns lying around just out of sight on all the work surfaces of your home, because you’re sure that you could pick one up quicker than any intruder or guest who might turn nasty?

    Still, good on you for your pro bono work. For the sake of your clients, I hope you make more sense in court than you do here.


    if I find you in my living room I will not call for your punishment; make yourself a cup of tea. But if you bring Larry, please make sure he leaves his weapons in the shed and try to keep him away from anything fragile. When I get home I’ll show him how to install Linux.

  • craig


    I do not disagree. In fact I don’t think anything I have blogged suggests he should avoid all punishment, or accepts his mental illness plea. Quite happy for all thi to be properly tried and tested here.

  • Clark


    my opinions about Gary McKinnon were just that – personal opinions, not intended to form any part of a legal argument. He just doesn’t seem very threatening to me, and he’s had extradition hanging over his head for years.

    There’s something sick, scary and ironic about the worlds most powerful military nation so eager to get such a person under its total control. The whole US military machine, bristling with nukes, drones and spy satellites, killing and torturing routinely in multiple countries, but quaking in a fearful rage, pointing at a lone, unarmed, apprehended man with mental health problems and saying “Look, see? There’s the threat! Give him to us!”

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Steve, I know what you’re saying and I’m not trying to argue for a kind of ‘Cranfield Man’ or worse still, a ‘Brussels Man’. I’m smply pointing out that, as John D. Monkey suggests, it’s all too easy to apply simplistic notions, with no development of those notions (though I accept that you have developed it somwhat in your response), to entire peoples and it doesn’t really advance the stream of your otherwise rational argumentation.

    However, what it might do is inadvertantly allow some people to come back at one and say, “See – there’s someone who is simply anti-American, who despises all Americans becasue they are American, so why should we take someone like that seriously in any aspect of what they might say?”. Thereby, it attenuates the power of one’s rational argument as applied in situations and thematic vistas which really matter.

    In other words, when travelling through the jungle, don’t shoot yourself in the foot!

    Clark, if Angrysoba found himself in your auspicious abode, it may be that he would be bringing ceremonial tea all the way from Japan.

  • Simon

    I’d never realised that Labour never talked of freedom. I suppose I had become immune to the word (and ‘liberty’) because of its horrid overuse by the US. I visited DC a few years ago and I was genuinely sick of the use of those words without any feeling behind them. My only hope if that when Nick says freedom, he really pulls it off.

  • Sean

    Craig – I was referring more to comments rather than your actual post (you’re right); but I thought it was worthwhile to stress the point in general.

    Clark – I understand, and you’re perfectly entitled to your opinions, but even considering your last post – this is the kind of hyperbole about this case that I mean –

    “…quaking in a fearful rage, pointing at a lone unarmed, apprehended man with mental health problems and saying “Look, see? There’s the threat! Give him to us!”

    I don’t think that kind of caricaturing helps – he represents an international breach of security and the US reaction has been a textbook example of what you would expect.

  • angrysoba

    Suhayl and King of Welsh Noir:

    “However, I really do not think it is valid to align the very serious concerns over David Kelly’s death with ‘Elvis legends’.”

    Well, as you know my opinion on this is that Dr Kelly committed suicide which doesn’t diminish the fact that there are serious concerns over his death. I think that the Labour government bears responsibility for this even if not in the way that you perhaps think it does.

    It certainly was responsible for having him dragged through a media trial which obviously led to him killing himself.

    Now, you can say that it is very strange that his medical records were locked away for seventy years or that he didn’t seem the type to commit suicide etc… but don’t you think that unless his family – his wife or his daughters – come forward to question the manner in which he died then it is probably something that they don’t want dragged back into the public realm?

  • Clark


    if Dr Kelly was murdered, his family may be speaking (or remaining silent) under duress. Their feelings, statements or silence should not be used as an argument; to do so sets a precedent making such duress more likely. Such a case should be dealt with in public view.

  • angrysoba

    “Their feelings, statements or silence should not be used as an argument; to do so sets a precedent making such duress more likely.”

    No it doesn’t unless you are presupposing the existence of duress in which case your argument is question-begging.

    What evidence is there that David Kelly was murdered?

  • Clark


    WINDOWS presents a far greater “international breach of security” than Gary McKinnon. What I’m worried about is that Microsoft’s power is (1) maintaining that state of insecurity, (2) far too influential on multiple governments and organisations and (3) likely to influence McKinnon’s trial and sentence.

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