PLEASE REDISTRIBUTE THIS DOCUMENT TO APPROPRIATE FORUMS
1) Happy 4th of July
2) Let's Screw Kevin Again: The Movie
3) Where Are the Activists?
4) What You Can Do
Did you have an enjoyable 4th of July weekend? Did you hang out by the barbeque, beer in hand, and eat too many burgers and/or tofu dogs? Well, whatever you did it was probably more enjoyable then Kevin Mitnick's 4th of July. Kevin spent his in the same place that he had the last few -- the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Los Angeles.
Kevin has been held without bail for three years and four months pending his trial on a 25 count federal indictment, and it will likely be more than four years without bail by the time his trial actually takes place. MDC is a pre-trial facility and is intended for much shorter periods of detention, so Kevin is only allowed visits from his attorney and immediate family. Amazingly, Kevin has never had the opporunity to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses in an adversarial detention hearing, as is required by the Bail Reform Act.
Kevin did waive his right to a speedy trial, as most defendants do, but this isn't quite what he had in mind.
What makes all of this worse is that Kevin is not likely to get the facilities that he needs to defend himself properly while he is in MDC. The government is entering loads of evidence against Kevin that exists in electronic form, and he will need a computer and a lot of time to properly sort through it all. So far it appears that he will be given neither the time nor the equipment to properly prepare a defense against the government's case.
How long will this go on? Kevin has never committed a violent crime, and there's no evidence that there was any profit motive behind his hacking. Violent and truly dangerous criminals get lighter treatment than Kevin every day and no one blinks. What would the Founding Fathers have thought of such an obvious attempt to prevent someone from obtaining a fair trial?
Let's hope that Kevin doesn't have to spend another 4th of July in custody next year...
From the Exploitative Journalism Makes Good Movies department:
Miramax pictures recently announced that they will begin shooting in July on "Takedown," a movie based on the book by Tsutomu Shimomura and John Markoff. The book, which chronicles Shimomura's version of the events leading up to Kevin's capture, was criticized by some as a self-serving attempt by the authors to cash in on the hype surrounding Mitnick's arrest. People who have seen the script for the movie say it's even worse.
Emmanuel Goldstein, editor of "2600" magazine, was one of the first Mitnick supporters to obtain a copy of the "Takedown" script. Goldstein writes that the script is, "far worse than I had even imagined." "If this film is made the way the script reads," he adds, "Kevin will be forever demonized in the eyes of the public. And mostly for things that everyone agrees *never even happened* in the first place!"
Inaccuracies in the script range from the merely comical (Kevin makes free phone calls by whistling into the handset) to the outright false and defamatory (Kevin assaults Shimomura in an alley with a garbage-can lid, and Shimomura visits Kevin in prison and tells him "good work" for cracking his systems).
Goldstein's notes on the scripts are online at:
In an article for ZDTV, columnist Kevin Poulsen writes, "nobody predicted that the script, supposedly based on the dry, but inoffensive book of the same name, would be filled with so much blatant fabrication. No one expected that Kevin Mitnick might become the most feared and hated screen villain since Hannibal Lecter."
Poulsen, himself a convicted hacker who was held for years without bail, scored a revealing interview with one of the "Takedown" screenwriters, John Danza. Danza told Poulsen that he had wanted to present a different view of Mitnick's case, one that, "wasn't so black and white; good and bad-- I think Tsutomu was basically self-serving, and I thought it would be an interesting idea if he realized that." The studio allegedly didn't buy off on Danza's ideas, or even on his draft that stuck more closely to the book. "Then they gave it to a high-priced polish writer who gets paid an enormous amount of money to spice up the dialog," Danza told Poulsen, "and I think he did that and also changed quite a bit. I've read that draft and I'm even less satisfied."
Poulsen's article is at:
He's written several other articles about Mitnick's case:
One of the most disturbing aspects of Kevin Mitnick's case is the lack of support for his plight from Net activists. The same people who could probably quote moving passages from their dog-eared copies of "The Hacker Crackdown" seem to become very quiet when it comes to Kevin's case. Not only have groups like EFF not lent direct legal support to Kevin, but they have done little else to show any support for him.
It's time for Internet activists to take a stand. It's time for people to realize that for phrases like "Cyber Rights Now" to have any meaning, they must apply to Kevin Mitnick as well as every other netizen. Even if we assume that the worst accusations about Kevin's hacking are true, it still becomes quickly clear that his case has been blown way out of proportion. Kevin is the victim of a campaign to hype his story, a campaign which has made millions of dollars for those responsible.
Obviously, Net activist organizations have a limited amount of time and must focus their resources. They cannot respond to every potential crisis, and no reasonable person would expect them to. They have other, more practical concerns as well, like the possibility of alienating potential donors and sponsors. That's reality.
What's also reality is that Kevin's case is sure to be a landmark in the field of computer crime, and that activists should be getting involved to make sure that bad precedents aren't set which could impact us all. Kevin is obviously being singled out to act as an example for other hackers, and the message is pretty clear so far: that the government can do as it pleases when it comes to hackers, civil rights be damned. If that's the case, then how safe is anyone?
Why should a "computer criminal" be treated more severly than violent criminals are? Is a hacker more dangerous to the fabric of society than a rapist or murderer? Should someone be penalized more severely for their crimes because they involve computers? Is a computer a weapon, something to be feared?
Will the real activists please stand up?
Ironically, it's the movie of "Takedown," which some people feel may do irreversible damage to Kevin's reputation, that may put him in the same boat with some prominent netizens. EFF co-founder John Gilmore reportedly is portrayed in a negative light in the script, as are the management of The Well. And believe it or not, Goldstein writes that the script portrays "'Electronic Freedom Foundation' types" who actually aid in Mitnick's capture. Things aren't quite that bad in real ife, but they could be a lot better.
There are a lot of things you can do to help Kevin's situation:
A) Donate to Kevin's defense fund. This is one of the most helpful things you can do. Over $3,000 has been raised so far, but that's just a drop in the bucket. Kevin needs expert witnesses, research, and other things that the court is unlikely to provide much financial help for. Information about donating is at:
If you can't afford to donate, though, there are still other things you can do.
B) Bumper stickers. The tres chic "Free Kevin" bumperstickers are available for $1 a piece through www.kevinmtinick.com, and the money goes towards Kevin's defense fund. You can also place a virtual bumpersticker on your web page and link it to www.kevinmitnick.com.
C) Join the mailing list. "2600" has set up a Majordomo list for discussion of Kevin's case, and it's a great place to stay tuned for information about the case and other related events. Email email@example.com with the words "subscribe mitnick" (without the quotes) as the body of your message. You can also get info on Kevin's case (and many other topics) from "Off The Hook," Emmanuel Goldstein's radio program that airs on WBAI in New York, and via RealAudio. More info is at:
D) Protest the movie, "Takedown." Plans are being put in place now for pickets of the Miramax offices in New York and Los Angeles, and there will likely be some sort of demonstrations in North Carolina when shooting there begins. Join the mailing list using the directions above to stay up to date on these events. Also, write letters to those involved with the movie expressing your feelings about the project. Individuals involved with the production might not even be aware of the finer points of the case, and they deserve to know what they're getting themselves into. A list of contacts is at the end of this message.
E) Write legislators, members of the media, and anyone else you can think of who might be able to have a positive impact on Kevin's situation.
F) Join the RC5 team. We're participating in the distributed.net effort to crack RC5-64, and if someone on our team hits the key we will donate our winnings to Kevin's defense fund. It's also an opportunity to get some positive publicity for Kevin, and, after all, they're just spare CPU cycles. You might as well use them for a good cause. More information is at:
G) Contact Net activists and ask them to get involved. The trial is getting nearer, and Kevin needs help now, not in a couple of years on appeal.
H) Read, read, read. Read the books about Kevin's case, and the information at www.kevinmitnick.com. The more information you have, the better able you'll be to discuss the case.
I) Spread the word. Tell people about Kevin's case, hand out fliers, do whatever you can to try to help balance out the negative hype.
J) Repost this message to appropriate forums.
K) Think of more ideas like these and post them to the mailing list.
For feedback about this document, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Emmanual Goldstein of "2600" can be reached at email@example.com. Feedback on the www.kevinmitnick.com website should probably go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can all be reached throught the email@example.com Majordomo list.
Miramax Films 7920 W. Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90046 (213) 951-4200 (214) 941-3800 New York Office ANDREW STENGEL Publicist for Miramax (212) 625-2222 DAILY VARIETY 5700 Wilshire Boulevard #120 Los Angeles, CA 90036 (213) 857-6600 MONICA ROMAN Variety writer who wrote internet announcement about "Takedown" movie (212) 337-7001 (Variety New York office) HOLLYWOOD REPORTER 5055 Wilshire Bouevard #600 Los Angeles, CA 90036 (213) 525-2000 SKEET ULRICH (actor who will play Kevin Mitnick) ICM 8942 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211 (310) 550-4000 (310) 550-4100 (fax) (this is the agency representing Skeet) Aleen Keshishian (212) 556-5698 (Skeet's agent) JOE CHAPPELLE (director of Takedown) Bohrman Agency 8489 W. Third Street Los Angeles, CA 90048 (213) 653-6701 (agency representing Chappelle) DAVID NEWMAN HOWARD RODMAN JOHN DANZA (writers of Takedown script) There were too many Newmans to trace. Danza is not listed with the Writers Guild. Howard Rodman is represented by: Creative Artists 9830 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (310) 288-4545