The U.K. has been our strongest ally for well over a century and will continue as such for the foreseeable future, but next time you hear the President state or imply that we need to seek approval from our allies before we take military action to protect our strategic interests around the world (i.e. that we need to “lead from behind”), keep this one in mind:
Gary McKinnon is an “alleged” computer hacker, and an accomplished one at that. He “allegedly” hacked into computer systems at both the Pentagon and NASA in the early 2000’s and accessed classified information that could’ve compromised our national security. And “allegedly,” he doesn’t even deny it, but instead claims that he had a good reason — he was “allegedly” searching for evidence of “UFO’s.”
So is he crazy? Apparently not — he’s a computer genius, “allegedly” capable of formulating and executing complex cybercrimes, remember? He does “allegedly” have Asperger’s Disorder, a diagnosis within the Autism spectrum that describes people who are often high-functioning intellectually but are markedly low-functioning interpersonally. What does that have to do with his “alleged” crimes? Nothing — it’s not the kind of disorder that ever renders a person incapable of knowing what he’s doing or that it’s wrong.
So if the crimes are admitted, and if McKinnon doesn’t appear to have an insanity defense, then this ought to be a slam-dunk prosecution, right? Not so fast. McKinnon has been in custody in the U.K. for approximately a decade, fighting extradition to the U.S. to face federal criminal charges, and now, the U.K. has made a decision: Despite a strong bilateral treaty, whereby we and the British have agreed to support each other’s law enforcement efforts, they’ve decided not to extradite McKinnon.
Why? According to the U.K.’s Home Secretary (roughly the British equivalent of our Secretary of Homeland Security), they’re not extraditing McKinnon because he “allegedly” has threatened to commit suicide if he’s extradited. Yes, you read that right — they’re not going to send him here to face justice for his “alleged” crimes for fear that he might kill himself.
So does this mean that they’re going to hold him in the U.K. indefinitely, until he’s deemed mentally stable enough to be extradited? Not necessarily. The British have given us no reported guarantee that he’ll be kept in custody at all. In other words, McKinnon could now be free again — and hacking again, and compromising our national security again — one day soon, thanks to our friends the British.
My fellow Americans, this is preposterous! Just think of the precedent that it sets — if you don’t want to face justice for crimes that you’ve committed in the U.S., forget about fleeing to Mexico or Central America; flee to the U.K., and if they arrest you and try to send you back, just say you’re suicidal, and you get out of jail — American jail at least — free.
The moral of this story: Nobody else, not even our friends the British, can be counted upon to take our national security as seriously as we must take it; therefore, while consultations and coalitions with our allies are generally wise and beneficial, nobody else’s approval should ever be considered a precondition of our self-defense.