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Government Networking News

3 of 4 Charges Against Terry Childs Dropped 189

phantomfive writes "Terry Childs, who was arrested nearly a year ago for refusing to turn over the passwords to San Francisco's FiberWAN network, has been cleared of three of the four charges against him. The dropped charges referred to the attachment of modems to the network; the remaining charge is for refusing to turn over the password. The prosecutor has vowed to appeal, to have the charges reinstated. We have the original story, and the story where Childs tells his side, for those who want a refresher."
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3 of 4 Charges Against Terry Childs Dropped

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  • Actual crime (Score:2, Interesting)

    by somanyrobots ( 1334451 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:43AM (#29162863)

    Shocking! The charge that sticks is the only one related to what he actually did wrong! I know the "City of San Francisco" is royally pissed, but even if they're throwing the book at him they have an obligation to stay within the bounds of fact.

    I hope he's let off the hook, personally. The damage he's done to his career (who'll hire a DBA who would hijack the whole network?) is probably enough punishment even by itself. And the details of the offense (hostage-taking to avoid a pink slip) are sufficient to keep him from being hired in any field, technical or not.

  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:47AM (#29162889) Homepage

    I opined on the last story that he was playing the 'power game' from the bottom of the political strata. By most accounts he was at the top of the network knowledge, so a technically important guy. 'Network God' doesn't translate into political power and he got burned.

    But what else is in the plea deal? I can't help but think there's waaaay more to the story given the political heat this guy brought on himself. Maybe the plea deal keeps him quiet?

  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @08:55AM (#29162909)


    Apparently that wasn't the interview either. Where the hell is that interview?

    It's like watching cable news doing a circle jerk talking about how a twitter post talks about a blog post that mentions an article that refers to an interview where the reporter asks a question about something, but no one even cares about showing the relevant clip!

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:34AM (#29163085)

    It's a little known fact that prosecutors cannot be sued for anything they do in court [reason.com] to a defendant. Prosecutors are truly the worst part of the system since they are unaccountable to the public and are rewarded for getting convictions, not enforcing the law wisely. As a profession, they are so corrupt that they make civil lawyers look sympathetic since civil lawyers are at least limiting themselves to cases where you can kinda sorta see how their client was genuinely harmed.

    Most prosecutors answer to the District Attorney, and can be fired by the DA almost at will. The District Attorney is an elected official. In those cases where the prosecutor doesn't answer to the elected District Attorney (or essentially the same office with a different title), they answer to the elected head of the of the executive branch of whatever level of government they represent (Mayor, Governor, President, etc). If your local prosecutors are loose cannons, campaign against their boss.
    The only reason that prosecutors appear to be unaccountable to the public is because the public doesn't pay enough attention to local politics/civics

  • what was this about? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:47AM (#29163171)

    What led up to this? This didn't happen for no reason. This wasn't just an ex-con with a temper, nor was it a disgruntled employee wishing revenge. Terry Childs would not have brought this on himself merely for revenge, he's way too smart for that. He was there to protect the network, to keep it running and safe. That must have been a factor.

    One of the quoted articles says that the city owned the passwords to the network, so Childs was obligated to provide them on command. The moral of the story is, get your commands in writing and follow the chain of command.

  • by asaul ( 98023 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:52AM (#29163199)

    As I recall it was something to do with the routers that if they lost power, they lost configuration - something to make sure if gear was stolen then it didnt come up with any of the secure networks details.

    From memory someone viewed this as him setting up some sort of timebomb instead of being good security practices, and charged him as such.

  • One more bit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:14AM (#29163333)
    From http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chris-vein/7/110/71b [linkedin.com] you can see that Chris Vein was a senior advisor at the White House after only three years in the workforce! I do not think such a rise is possible by merit or desirable in an honest government.
    I hope this case looks deeply at the motivations behind getting the police involved. I'm also extremely curious as to what the $1million that has to be spent to repair the "damage" is required for and hope the defence and judge push hard for an explanation of this unusual claim
  • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:08AM (#29163629) Journal

    I dont see that happening on NPR or other reputable new sources.

    NPR doesn't show video clips at all. :)

    All kidding aside, I think you have your blinders on. I listen to NPR for, on average, an hour a day (most of my morning and evening commutes) and while I find them to be superior to most other news outlets other than the BBC, there have been plenty of times that I've noticed them talking about something at length, before playing the source material (and sometimes they don't play the source material at all), which is the exact behavior that the GP described. I also listen to right wing talk radio, and while the entire reason that they seem to exist is to program responses into people, their methods of doing so are a bit different. Someone like Limbaugh or Hannity absolutely loves playing soundbites (original source material in this case) over, and over, and over, but they're often taken out of context or referencing a slightly (in some cases completely) different subject.

  • by eosp ( 885380 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:05PM (#29164031) Homepage
    Remember, when asked for the passwords the first time it was over a teleconference with a large group of people whom he did not know. I don't care who's on the other line and what they're threatening; you don't give passwords in such a situation. That is why he wanted to speak with the mayor.
  • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:11PM (#29164517) Homepage

    On his linkedin page he describes himself as "Delivering strong and effective leadership", which often means someone that fires people for no good reason to show they are "strong" but maybe I've just seen too many bastards in action that like that word.

    I'm not defending this person at all, but I wanted to disagree with you on this point. I'm a senior IT manager, and I would describe myself as delivering strong and effective leadership. What strong and effective leadership means to me is helping people to reach the next level (where interested) and achieve their personal goals, while matching the right skills in the right people to the right problems. I bring people together, and have proven myself particularly effective in getting opposite sides to come together to make a decision that everyone believes in, or at least supports (the two are not always connected.)

    It's all about good leadership, which often balances out to communication (particularly "listening" and "coaching/mentoring.")

    I suspect it's as you mention in your comment: you've seen too many bad bosses fire people, then describe themselves as "strong and effective." Certainly the position requires making the tough decisions when someone isn't working out, or when you're in a budget contraction, but being "strong and effective" isn't about firing people.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @01:47PM (#29164777) Homepage

    That's interesting: the trial I was in had a jury with a chemist and 2 software developers. The only person booted for professional reasons was an attorney. However, this was in a county court system that put a lot of effort into making the jury pool a wider selection of people in the interests of getting a fair trial (silly concept, I know).

    YMMV, but blind cynicism about what a well-run court would look like is about as useful as blind trust in the court system. If you're in an area where judges are elected, talk to the judicial candidates about your concerns regarding jury selection, and go ahead and base your vote on their answer. Yes, they may still lose/win based on TV ads that say "Judge Smith is tough on crime", but politicians actually notice when their constituents talk to them directly.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:17PM (#29165047) Journal

    Speaking of incompetent but well meaning people on the jury, I used to work with a girl who sat on a jury trial over a murder where two boys (14 and 16) shot and killed some girl who was obsessed with one of them, enlisted the help of his mom and another friend (a 19 year old woman) who took the body to a barn across the county and caught it on fire.

    This girl on the jury came into work after the first day of trial and told us they were going to fry if she had anything to do with it. I wrote a letter to the judge and defense attorney about this. She was left on the jury and the death penalty was taken off the table. I was also arrested and brought before the judge and told that if I threaten a juror it was a felony and so on before being release 5 miles away from my car with no way to get home but walking with no charges ever being filed. I was totally flabbergasted and had no idea what was going on. The jury was then sequestered.

    Years later, someone else that used to work there told me she had told the judge that she only said those things because I kept telling her to convict the people. I never spoke to her directly, I was just there when she was bragging about how much power the jury had (and hence, how much power she had because of it) I guess I had the same last name (no relation) as one of the defendants and throwing me under the bus was her way of making sure they paid while she stayed out of trouble.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:19PM (#29165483)

    I have to disagree with your entire statement. Lawyers are busy people, a lot the local ones are my clients.

    They don't have time to learn more about anything other than law.
    There is no way to educate someone who doesn't have a desire to learn, or who has themselves convinced that they don't have time to learn.

    Some of my clients ask for my opinion on cases, and I've been an expert witness on 2.

    One good example is this one. A local kid "cracked" into his schools (completely unprotected) "teacher only" network share and looked at his grades, then told the "network administrator" (read:80year old librarian) about the security issue.

    A month later, some grades were changed in this system (still unprotected to this day btw) and they threw the book at this kid.

    I can access this system from the parking lot, with my cell phone.

    After explaining this to the court, the prosecutor still insisted that the kid must have hacked into the system because of half of an answer to a single question,

    Lawyer : "Are you suggesting that any one member of the jury could have done this easily?"
    Me: "Probably not, but" >> "Thank you, no further questions."

    When the expert witnesses get cut off in the middle of their explanations, how in the hell are we supposed to educate anyone?

    Fyi, the kid was released because someone else went in and deleted the entire network share while he was still in jail.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:41PM (#29165643) Journal

    I was young, about 19 at the time. I could have handled it different and trust me, with hindsight, I would have. I thought I was doing the right thing and it left me very scared to do anything else at the time. I'm not that way any more and I'm willing to stand up to them if nothing else but to get my chastising them onto the public record.

    The country I live is is really corrupt (well it appears that way). When I was a kid, the sheriff had his house blown up by some Mob associates because he decided to close down a gambling hall and run it himself. He quit and his replacement has lost an election some 10 years later because drug dealers were complaining that they didn't touch drugs until the sheriff recruited them to do sting operations in which all traces of the drugs except those used to convict them disappeared. Evidently the sheriff was framing people in order to show results at a time people were demanding others to be tough on crime. The sheriff after that is currently serving time in federal prison for embezzlement and something else. The then 30 year tenure chief of police of the nearest town and county seat resigned without pension to avoid charges of embezzlement, improper allocations of public resources and systematic mistreatment of prisoners along with a few allegations of planting evidence made on a couple officers who resigned also.

    It appears to have taken about a 8 year lapse in corruption but I was recently (2 years ago) threatened by a police officer in the lobby of the police station over wanting to file a complain for misconduct against another officer. I handled that entirely different and went to the mayor, the state and federal attorney generals office, and even called the FBI who was investigating another corrupt sheriff a county or two away. I can't really do anything to him for it because he didn't act on the threats which he kept vague and the audio to the surveillance system was somehow turned off ten minutes before I got there and turned back on a half hour after I left. The video shows anger on both out faces but he kept his back to the cameras when speaking. But I am privy to an internal disciplinary action on the officer who was order to take an anger management class on his own time and a refresher course on dealing with the public on the department's dime. I also got an apology from the deputy director of the police force and the mayor went to bat with me to make sure that no threats would be followed through with.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:45PM (#29165669) Homepage Journal

    It's really sad that these days the best source of news on American television is a comedian who makes no attempt at journalistic integrity.

    So much so that people who ARE supposed to be journalists immediatly go on the defensive when they interview him (and so make asses of themselves).

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.