Quite apart from the serious issues raised in the Guardian article quoted above, the replies in this thread from US citizens who I respect as rational, intelligent and articulate guys, just goes to show how out of touch many US officials and citizens are with the way people think in much of the remainder of the world. While 9/11 was a terrible disaster, it, above all else, appears to have sensitised US attitudes to “terrorism” to the point of irrationality and overreaction, and that’s not good.
When we have someone as balanced as Ron suggesting that this guy was a terrorist perpetrating a terrorist attack, in other words, in all seriousness believing that there was an intent to cause harm to the US government and citizens then something is very out of kilter.
The analogy I used above, was of course simplistic. Expanded, it would go something like:
Imagine a rich powerful family in a splendid house with all mod cons, living across the street from the little guys in their adequate but insignificant dwellings. The rich family, deter really bad guys from entering the neighbourhood with their mere presence and power, but they sure as hell make sure that they let the little guys across the street know that it’s their presence that protects them.
Most days the rich powerful family drive out in their big cars and helicopters and on the way out make darned sure to let the little guys know just how big and powerful they are. Every opportunity, boasting that they are the greatest family in town, the wealthiest, the most powerful, and most of that they are untouchable, above the laws of the town, and immune to harm or attack because of their immense power and tight security.
This goes on for years, and while the little guys are kinda grateful to be under the protection of the big powerful family, they begin to resent the boastfulness, the refusal to show any humility, the fact that even when some members of the big family try to hold out an olive branch by say, shaking the hand of one of the little guys, the other members of the big family taunt their weak member for showing kindness to inferiors.
Time passes and the big family gets bigger and, the bigger and more powerful it gets the more paranoid it becomes. Rewards in the big family are big, but so are punishments. Everything is big big big, the family lose touch with balance, and the realities of the rest of the town. They become more paranoid more insular and more boastful of their power and security.
One day, a kid from the little guys’ families spots an open grating in big family’s cellar window. He crawls through; delighted he’s managed to penetrate the much vaunted security of the big guys! Inside, he finds all sorts of interesting treasures, and in a fit of pique and jealousy, for all the taunts and boasting suffered over the years, he goes berserk and has a grand smash up party.
Caught red handed! He scampers back to the little guys place and hides. Try as they might the big family can’t get the little family to hand the kid over to them for punishment. Sure, they say, he broke the law, but come on guys, you kinda asked for it. The big guys don’t see it that way at all. The kid made them look fools, he smashed mom’s best pair of heels, he broke the door alarm, he made the big guys look VULNERABLE. They totally need to prove that people who do that to them get harsh treatment.
They give the kid’s actions a frightening name. “Terrorism” they call it! It’s a terrorist attack they yell. Hand him over for punishment.
But the little guys stand firm. And who can blame them. For the big guys themselves are little more than kids. Well intentioned kids, but kids nevertheless with big guns and big egos, capable of harming themselves and others more than they understand.
The spokesman for the little guys sends a message to the big family. “When you yourselves grow up you may have our kid, and you may judge him.”
The big family sulk and fizz for a few days, and then the big guy in the big family with the biggest gun and the biggest ego, whispers, half ashamed seeing as it’s a kid they are talking about, “I wonder what Seal Team 6 are doing this evening?”
The actions of McKinnon were wrong. Whether they were intentionally destructive I very seriously doubt given the illness he has (which my wife’s nephew also has). Showing intent beyond any reasonable doubt is normally a requirement of a successful criminal prosecution of this nature.
To suggest that this was even a crime at this stage, let alone a terrorist attack!!, is plainly wrong, and is fairly typical of the cowboyish prejudging nature of the US judicial system on occasions. Not to mention the US media and some of it’s more hot blooded public servants.
No doubt the British legal system, to which McKinnon is apparently happy to surrender himself, will take a more balanced and rational approach to the matter.