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I think that this...

   > One of the most admirable things about hackers is their ability to accomplish great things without - or in spite of government.
... is really a pretty sad, small statement. If anything, government is of more importance to us because it is the hacker mentality itself that is under attack right now. The reason, I think, that so many of the recent issues have salience with this community is that what various governments are trying to do is to shut down disruptive economic and social activities, the lifeblood of the hacker community, in order to protect entrenched and well-connected interests.

At some point we all have to stop saying "well I'm a {baker, hacker, librarian, truck driver,...}, why should I worry about these problems?" and realize that this is world-altering stuff happening, and if you want your little corner of the world to survive, you have to mobilize to protect it, even if that means doing a little less of the things you normally do.

So I'm OK with more political posts, as long as something actually comes from the emotions they generate. Frankly, I've noticed a change in myself. Twelve months ago I didn't care one bit about cryptography and networking, they were just useful plumbing that worked (or didn't). But now I'm moving to learn more about these topics because of recent events and a desire to at least better understand what is happening. HN was partially responsible for this shift in my attitudes, so good on you guys!

Exactly. Technology and especially things like cryptography and hacking, can potentially get you thrown in jail again, after a decade of peace. Does anyone even remember the immense legal problems that Phil Zimmermann had with releasing PGP? What about Kevin Mitnick? They put Mitnick in solitary confinement for years because the US government convinced a judge that "he had the ability to start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone" (as per Wikipedia). Guys, this is what we're dealing with, except now we have Guantanomo Bay where US citizens can be thrown into indefinitely with no due process for potentially being a terrorist.

Are we bound to repeat the same mistakes again, because a generation of "hackers" don't want to educate themselves on the importance of politics and concepts like "freedom"? Or is all you want to do is sit back, and fantasize that you will create the next Facebook, and you won't have to care about things like freedom, the Constitution, etc?

Guys, this is what we're dealing with, except now we have Guantanomo Bay where US citizens can be thrown into indefinitely with no due process for potentially being a terrorist.

It's just this kind of hyperbolic nonsense that is polluting the discussion here. A modern day Mitnick could not be "thrown into Guantanamo Bay" for "potentially being a terrorist". That would require the system to have broken down far, far more than it actually has, and indeed if it were that screwed up, anything we "hackers" on hn could do about it would likely be too little, too late.

One important skill engineers require is the ability to see the world as it is, and craft an appropriate solution. Maybe there's a certain thrill to imagining that "Big Brother" is here and we can band together to rebel against him, but that's a romantic fantasy, not reality.

I will grant that the specific mention of Guantanamo is a little off. AFAIK there aren't any US citizens there. On the other hand, Bradley Manning has spent, what, two years being tortured (solitary confinement, forced nudity, sleep deprivation). Is it so unreasonable to think that Mitnick might have been subject to similar treatment today?

Additionally, the US has actually extra-judicially executed at least one US citizen abroad. It also isn't entirely crazy (IMHO) to think that an appropriately "scary" "hacker" might be declared a terrorist and violently suppressed.

All you can say is that he would not be thrown into Guantanamo bay. Under current law, he most definitely could. I suggest you read up about the NDAA.

Hyperbolic nonsense? I suggest that you educate yourself on what is going on right now. There is no hyperbole, there is no pollution, there is only uneducated folks like yourself that don't seem to understand that things have broken down.

Obama signed off on the execution of known American citizens via drone attacks. These are American citizens that are protected by the US constitution against things like this. We're not talking about Pakistani citizens, or Afghanis. They were American citizens. Sure, they may have been terrorists, but they deserved a trial. Just like the Oklahoma Bomber, and the Unabomber. If you think it's okay for the US government to target its own citizens for drone execution without a trial, then we really don't have anything to discuss here.


Kevin Mitnick was thrown into prison, and suffered years in solitary confinement because of lies told by the US government. The 8th amendment to the Constitution is supposed to protect American citizens from this, but because of lies and delusion, they subverted the Constitution because they "feared" that Mitnick would become a nuclear terrorist and destroy the US. By saying that the US needed to be protected from Mitnick because he could start a nuclear war with whistles in a phone, they essentially charged him with being a nuclear terrorist, before it became chic. Yes he committed crimes, but they were social engineering crimes and electronic hacking. Nowhere did he even have a hint of wanting to destroy the US, and yet somehow his charged were trumped up to nuclear terrorism. This was 1995. You don't think today he would be thrown in Guantanamo or some other military prison indefinitely at this point? I have NO confidence that the current US government would give him due process in this day and age.

If you missed this news article, 3 religious nuclear protesters broke into a poorly guarded nuclear facility and set up a protest. Over the course of a few months, their charged escalated from trespassing to charges of sabotage and "intending to injure, interfere with, or obstruct the national defense of the United States and willful damage of national security premises in violation of 18 US Code 2155, punishable with up to 20 years in prison."


They are now jailed because "the court ruled that both the sabotage and the damage to property convictions were defined by Congress as federal crimes of terrorism".

And, of course that poor kid who was thrown in jail for making a terrorist threat for uttering a stupid "joke" online about killing kids.

Now, explain to me again how what I'm saying about Guantanamo is "hyperbolic nonsense"? Do you really believe that in this environment we're living, that Mitnick wouldn't be charged with terrorism? More importantly, is this really the US that you want to live in?

You don't think today he would be thrown in Guantanamo or some other military prison indefinitely at this point?

No, I don't, because Kevin Mitnick wasn't a member of the U.S. military like Manning, and it would be manifestly unconstitutional to transfer a U.S. citizen from U.S. soil into the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The habeas petition to the Supreme Court would take about nine seconds.

If you think the Obama administration no longer feels bound at all by the Constitution even in the face of an explicit ruling from SCOTUS, then, as I said, debating about it on hn will accomplish essentially nothing: We're already way too far down the slope. You apparently think that's the case, but that should be a fringe position in any community I'd like to participate in. Sadly it seems it's not.

I think people are getting personal here and the substance might be getting obscured. I will express my concerns differently: although you are probably right, technically and specifically, about relocating a prisoner to Guantanamo, I think the details are obscuring the gist. The US government acts with impunity, and really always has, against declared threats. Of course there is always a "reason" and a legal mechanism, and people who are concerned often articulate the details of the mechanism incorrectly, this doesn't change the substance of the concern.

Look at Waco, the MOVE bombing, consider that US officials have been unwilling to go on record against the legality of drone strike assassinations against US citizens on US soil, I don't think much hampers the executive branch from acting. Regardless of the label or legal doctrine they use to explain it.

Afterwards, there is always a narrative in the media that describes the people on the receiving end of these acts as crazy, weird, threatening, etc. This makes it appear only natural that the government acted with overwhelming force against its citizens ... but that just means we've fallen for the "rights are only for people like me" fallacy which underscores every system of oppression and exploitation.

Ok, who down voted my laboriously typed (on an iPad!) and thoughtful comment. Really?

Oh you mean unconstitutional, like executing an American citizen without due process, like Obama has already done?

Being a member of the US military is completely irrelevant, you really have no education on this topic. I suggest you read up on the NDAA, and the other crimes against the Constitution that have been committed by Bush and Obama. Whether or not they transfer citizens to Guantanamo is irrelevant, they could send him to some military prison indefinitely, which is the real crime.

If you don't feel like participating in this discussion, and spreading your "hypobolic" poison, then feel free to completely drop out.

And unlike you, I don't have a defeatist attitude. Even though people such as yourself refuse to be educated, I think there is a real chance, especially after the anti-NDA vote, that people will get their message across to the politicians. My hope is that politicians that actual believe in things, like Rand Paul, will get voted to lead this country, as opposed to phonies and shysters that want a fat pension.

I agree with this. I don't think an observant hacker can just sit back and pretend it's 1995, and that what's going on isn't going on. A lot of freedom that was taken for granted is under rapid encroachment by the US Government and other foreign governments as well. That includes the vast intrusion upon privacy online by the NSA.

People that work in technology need to be very politically active right now (I'd say hackers, but it's so much more broad than that). Tech is one of the few segments of the US economy still doing very well, there's a lot of money there, and politicians listen to money; it buys influence (as sad as that may be). Let this opportunity to push back against the abuses going on slip, and it might be a generation or more before another good chance exists, as abuses today become accepted norms tomorrow.

That all having been said. I think HN needs a strong balance against junk political discussions. Leave all of that to HuffingtonPost or thehill or Politico and so on. That is, it's the difference between having discussions about Anthony Weiner, and the NSA issue/s.

Agreed. Technology is having such a profound effect on the bigger political picture that, as technologists, I think it's important that we, as a community, are both sharing the information but also figuring out what to do about it.

I appreciate the political posts here primarily because hackers seem to be less afraid to post about and discuss some of the more awkward political events happening right now so there is more candid and open information sharing.

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