Sunday, November 29, 2009
I had an interesting debate last night with a friend here in Bath, UK. We were discussing the young fellow with Asbergers syndrome who had penetrated the inner computer files of the Pentagon, purportedly seeking classified files on UFOs. If you haven’t caught the story wherever you are in the world, there is a big campaign to stop him being extradited to the US to stand trial. Maximum sentence is 60 years. (By the way, the extradition process is distinctly one way as very few US citizens are allowed by their government to be hooked out of that land and into the UK). Anyway, my friend’s argument is that there is a due process of law and, Asbergers or not, he should stand trial. We discussed whether a plea of unfit for trial could be brought and he was also against it saying that that was part of the judicial process. Anyway, the debate travelled down its circuitous routes until we ended up with his suggestion that we are all good and bad and the Pentagon is no better nor worse than anywhere else and so we shouldn’t paint it as an ogre.
This got me thinking about something I actually know something about – not necessarily an element in most debates I find myself in! It came to me that the Pentagon is unlikely to enlist people like, say an advertising agency or a retail store or a hundred other kinds of organisation. The process will be highly focused on enlisting staff it can trust to do its business. And its business, as we know, is to be top dog in warfare, in arenas of US interest and in ensuring that the US economy remains strong. These are priorities which outweigh any moral reservations its staff might have about strategy, tactics and their implementation. In fact they can’t afford to have staff who suffer from any concern at all about consequences for human beings elsewhere, that might result from their activities. So, to a great extent, they must enlist staff of a particular psychological make-up with the result that the organisation becomes a monochromatic, self-fulfilling vehicle, carrying out its brief. The same with MI5, or any state police, anywhere, whether it is Mossad, the Stasi or the KGB. As in Orwell’s 1984.
In other words they are not like everyone. They are special in their capacity to deliver a government’s agenda without recourse to the Hamlet-like hand-wringing that you might have, otherwise . So Gary McKinnon is unlikely to get much sympathy for his condition. He hacked and he will be packed off to a US cell.
Given that the British government won’t stop the extradition, all we can do is make a big enough fuss so that the Pentagon show trial becomes an international event that focuses the world’s scrutiny on its judicial processes.