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Gary McKinnon is a 39-year-old British man who is a world of trouble. Over the last few years, he hacked into a pile of US governmental computers, ranging from US Space Command to various Forts (Fort Benning, Fort Meade). The government hunted him down and charged him with 20 counts, including stealing computer secrets, and he faces up to 70 years in jail.
But the really weird thing is the reason why, precisely, McKinnon was snooping — he was a UFO buff looking for evidence of extraterrestrial coverups. In a rather hilarious (if sad) profile in the Guardian, there’s this terrific exchange:
“What was the most exciting thing you saw?” I ask.
“I found a list of officers’ names,” he claims, “under the heading ‘Non-Terrestrial Officers’.”
“Non-Terrestrial Officers?” I say.
“Yeah, I looked it up,” says Gary, “and it’s nowhere. It doesn’t mean little green men. What I think it means is not earth-based. I found a list of ‘fleet-to-fleet transfers’, and a list of ship names. I looked them up. They weren’t US navy ships. What I saw made me believe they have some kind of spaceship, off-planet.”
“The Americans have a secret spaceship?” I ask.
“That’s what this trickle of evidence has led me to believe.”
“Some kind of other Mir that nobody knows about?”
“I guess so,” says Gary.
“What were the ship names?”
“I can’t remember,” says Gary. “I was smoking a lot of dope at the time. Not good for the intellect.”
(Thanks to Rachel for this one!)
I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).
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