back to article CIA director AOL email hacker coughs to crime

Justin Liverman, arrested by the FBI for breaking into the AOL email account of CIA director John Brennan, has today signed a guilty plea deal in the face of what his lawyers described as "draconian penalties." Brennan's webmail inbox was hijacked in 2015 and his emails were subsequently published by WikiLeaks. Liverman is …

  1. Florida1920

    Yeah, but

    Exposing incompetence WRT online security, okay. Sending threatening calls and otherwise harassing public officials? Epic. Fail. Hope he had fun while it lasted.

    1. ma1010

      Re: Yeah, but


      If I forget to lock my house when I go out, that doesn't make it okay for some thief to walk in and steal my property. It would have been fine to let the fed know about their poor security, possibly even to publicize the fact, but then to break into databases, publish the data and send threatening messages and phone calls? That's way over the line.

      Federal laws here are generally horribly draconian, but most of the time they will offer a reasonable plea bargain. Personally, I think he does deserve some punishment for his actions, partly as a deterrent to others, but I hope they don't go overboard on it.

  2. hellwig

    That's Government For You

    It's one thing to leave the door of your own house unlocked. If someone steals from you, that's really on you. The buffoons running the government leave the door to everyone's house unlocked, and then complain when we install our own deadbolt (i.e. encryption). Then they wonder why we the people consider them an enemy. What would you consider someone who--sometimes unlawfully--collects your private/personal data, and then potentially exposes it to any slacker with enough time on their hands?

    The info that makes it to WikiLinks is just the stuff the hacking community thinks might make a difference. Imagine what gets sold off to the highest bidder instead on the dark web. Credit info, medical records, etc...

  3. Semtex451

    Did I miss a page?

    Do we know what motivated this behaviour? I'm not aware of CWA but on the face of it these sound like the actions of an unwell mind. Prosecutor spin? Could we flesh out this article?

  4. Herby

    Simple fact: Don't do the crime...

    ...if you can't do the time

    Pretty easy proposition if you ask me. Sure others could have done it and the security was most likely terrible, but people should learm. If you keep at it for long enough, you will be caught!

  5. Eddy Ito

    Really? "Crackas With Attitude", "straight outta incompetence"? Is this the wanna be gangsta white nerd group that's seen too many movies?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is he Russian?

  7. x 7

    so when's Putin going to be offered a plea deal?

  8. John H Woods

    Why are the Americans apparently addicted to plea deals?

    There's a place for them, sure. Someone who has committed a sexual assault, for instance, will be making life a tiny bit easier than it otherwise would be by sparing his victim from a trial; someone guilty of homicide will be similarly reducing the burden on friends and family of the victim. Perpetrators can get (relatively small) concessions in sentencing for cooperating in these instances.

    What is the purpose of a plea bargain in crimes such as this? It just seems to me that the US approach is to present the defendant with a non-trivial % chance of (often amazingly severely) punishment if they plead not guilty so they just plead guilty to get a more certain bet of a realistic punishment.

    I can't see how this is justice being seen to be done, which I believe is nearly as important as it being done. Can anyone enlighten me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are the Americans apparently addicted to plea deals?

      You have it wrong.

      The problem with the system here is that for a single crime they they bring multiple charges. So you are sentenced on multiple charges for a single crime and the sentences often run consecutively. This can mean long stretches in prison for the multiple charges related to a single crime. It can be so draconian that even if you are not guilty you plea the case rather than take the chance with being found guilty. In this specific case by taking a plea on the Conspiracy case the guy avoided trial on multiple Felony charges that could see him being sentenced to decades in prison.

      In most other developed countries sentences run concurrently so you really only serve the longest sentence even for unrelated charges. In fact I doubt there is anywhere in the world where prosecutors can spin as many charges for single crime as they do here.

      For the rest of the developed world District Attorneys and judges are technocrats. Here they are elected officials, politicians. They want to appear tough on crime so justice gets shafted in most case in favor of bringing tough charges for the simplest or crimes and padding every possible charge you can find for each crime that is committed

  9. mhenriday

    Quoud licet Iovi non licet bovi ?

    «Sarah Harrison, the acting director of the Courage Foundation, which had raised emergency funds for Liverman, said: "Without CWA, the public would not know that the Director of the CIA did not take adequate precautions around his own security clearance questionnaire. There's barely any point talking about 'cyber attacks' from sophisticated nation state actors when the highest-level officials are leaving the front door wide open." Harrison continued:

    If John Brennan will not face any penalty for his negligence, there's no good reason why anyone else should do. Justin Liverman's potential sentence is outrageous given the relative triviality of the Department of Justice's allegations. Courage's emergency appeal for Justin will remain open until he no longer needs our assistance.»

    I think Ms Harrison nailed it. Mr Brennan's negligence, which in his position should certainly be regarded as criminal, goes unpunished ; Mr Liverman, however, who performed a service in revealing the above, faces being put away for a long, long time. I suppose that's «justice», in the «indispensable nation»....


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quoud licet Iovi non licet bovi ?

      Trump doesn't think much of Brennan. He'll get fired next week. If he has job security his job will start to suck big-time. If embarrassing him is Liverman's only crime, Trump can commute his sentence.

      If Brennan's smart, he'll own up to his mistakes and resign.

  10. Oengus

    Never embarrass the government

    The big crime here is embarrassing the government (or senior public servants).

    The government can't have people revealing how incompetent they really are.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They just don't get it

    The paid liars want people to believe that the punishment for a crime is suppose to be "equal" to the damages incurred. That is NOT what punishment is suppose to be under law. Punishment is meant to discourage the perp and other potential perps from committing crimes. The U.S. computer hacking laws are not draconian at all. Allowing this criminal to get off with just a 5 year prison sentence and repayment of $95,000 is an insult to the populace who is violated by these crims.

    The paid liars will continue to dupe the gullible who think punishment is meant to be equal to the crime. To illustrate the point... If a person robs a bank, gets caught a week later and decides to give back the money he has left over from a buying spree, should this person just be able to repay the money and escape prison time? I don't think so. He probably endanger many people's lives and as such belongs in prison with the hackers.

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