t byfield on Fri, 17 Jul 1998 22:04:01 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> how to convict a hacker

"Convict the son of a bitch *in the press.*
 *That's the way it's done.*"


TAKEDOWN, The Movie Review by Emmanuel Goldstein

well, i just got finished reading the script for
takedown. while i initially said that i hoped we could
influence this thing and that actually *stopping* it
from being made wouldn't be the best move, i can
honestly say i no longer believe this. this thing is
far, far worse than i had ever imagined. i honestly
don't know how they ever thought they could get away
with such blatantly libelous material. one thing is for
sure: if this film is made the way the script reads,
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! the
individuals portrayed in the film are mitnick,
shimomura, lewis depayne, julia menapace, levard burns,
shimomura's assistant andrew, fbi agents carson and
ornellas, kevin's girlfriend karen, sprint technician
jim murphy, cellular one's kevin pazaski and todd
young, well administrators pei chin and john gilmore,
john perry barlow, and netcom admin robert hood. note
the absence of new york times reporter john markoff who
is mentioned only once in the entire film when the
front page story comes out. no mention is made of the
major role he played in mitnick's apprehension. all of
the following observations are what i consider major
departures from reality, or just plain bad dialogue:

as a 12 year old, kevin is portrayed as foul-mouthed
and a cheater at pinball. he is imprisoned at age 18
for a year instead of in his mid 20's in real life.

when the front page article comes out, kevin is mostly
upset that the article is "below the fold." kevin had
never heard of shimomura until the feds started to use
him to capture hackers, among whom were "the dutchman,"
who hacked into the cia. kevin needs his friends to
constantly tell him he's the best. lewis depayne is put
in this role repeatedly.

kevin likens his fate to a game of pacman. "there's
food. you find it. you eat it. you stay alive. then
there's a couple of ghosts chasing you. they find you,
you die. that's it."

the authors are apparently unaware of the company
called okidata since file names are constantly referred
to as "oki data" with a space. kevin hacks a radio
contest to win a tv for him and depayne. this is done
so sloppily that he answers the phone with a winning
phrase *and* is told he's the lucky "caller." "Depayne
just shakes his head, in full awe."

the congressional hearing chairman insults shimomura by
implying that he's working with the japanese simply
because of his ethnicity.

mitnick is portrayed as a racist anti-japanese person
who makes pearl harbor allusions and constantly refers
to shimomura as japboy.

shimomura becomes obsessed with mitnick when he insults
julia. "i didn't mean to bring you into this. i should
never have brought you into this." shimomura says this
to julia and it makes absolutely no sense as he didn't
bring her into anything. more shimomura ego-boosting in
this exchange with an investigator. "and how do you
come to have access to classified material?" "i wrote

mitnick whistles touch tones to avoid depositing money
in payphones. yeah, you heard it right.

when depayne tells mitnick that their conversation is
being bugged by the feds, mitnick comforts him with
this: "i whistled in to PacBell, switched the routing
ID. Right now they're listening to the family next

when the feds kick in depayne's door, they find a
picture of mitnick with the words: "Missed me, now you
get to kiss me."

mitnick is almost caught by a rotweiller while being
chased by the feds.

mitnick cards plane tickets for depayne to follow
shimomura to a presentation where he heckles him:
audience member: "what did they get?" shimomura:
"that's confidential." depayne: "not anymore." the
crowd laughs, shimomura realizes he's a mitnick
sympathizer. shimomura: "where's mitnick right now?"
depayne "that's confidential." shimomura: "not for

shimomura sorted ones and zeroes *by hand* to figure
out mitnick's trick.

no mention whatsoever is made as to why kevin is on the
run in the first place. they make it seem as if he
hacked shimomura once and then became an instant

the federal agents are made to look endearing and
helpless when targetted by mitnick.

mitnick made $10,000 in cell calls in a couple of weeks
in seattle according to the bumbling cellular one

mitnick rips off newspapers from vending machines as a
course of habit.

mitnick gets intimate with his girlfriend by trying to
scan with her.

mitnick clubs shimomura on the head with the top of a
metal garbage can in seattle. "shimomura, dazed, blood
flowing freely from a gash above his ear, raises
himself to his elbows and watches mitnick disappear,
into the night." shimomura has to get nine stitches and
a neck brace. probably the most blatant lie of the film
as the two had never met.

shimomura on the federal agents: "they'll never find
him. they're just not... smart."

"Electronic Freedom Foundation types" aided in
Mitnick's capture.

the well management are portrayed as idiotic deadheads
who protect unauthorized users.

very little detail is given on how shimomura stole
julia away from gilmore but gilmore is portrayed as
bitter and potentially dangerous. he jeopardizes the
investigation to settle the score.

a call from the airplane between shimomura and julia as
they start losing reception and are facing relationship
problems: "I'm losing you. "We're breaking up." heavy

the feds worry about mitnick's ability to outmaneuver
them in court: "HE won't be on trial. WE will." after
almost three and a half years of keeping him *from* a
trial, that concern really gave me a laugh.

shimomura has to erase files mitnick obtained from his
days at los alamos before he "gives it to the world."

depayne hacks into a computer to discover shimomura
took a plane to raleigh and warns mitnick.

in mitnick's apartment "the modem sound is deafening."

"the sound of touch tone dialing" is heard on the
cellular scanner.

shimomura expresses frustration at the slowness of
mitnick's capture: "he could be going into medical
records, fucking them up. he could be killing people,
and we're just standing here."

mitnick is seen changing medical records even though he
knows that shimomura is moving in on him.

judge dixon finds kevin guilty in an apparent flash to
the future of "felony theft of intellectual and real
property in violation of Section 6 of the Penal Code"
as well as violation of the terms of his previous
parole. the two sentences, which aren't defined, are to
run consecutively. it's pretty damn unlikely, however,
that the time would approach anything near what he's
already served in real life.

incredibly, they try to flip shimomura's image at the
end to someone who is trying to be friendly to mitnick:
in the courtroom, "shimomura tries - and fails - to
catch mitnick's eye."

shimomura visits kevin in prison and says he's sorry it
had to be like this. as for breaking into his system,
he says "good work."

mitnick tried to upload shimomura's secrets but was
actually uploading to shimomura who used an "fddi
concentrator" to fool him into thinking he was
connected to another system. "your technique. my
implementation," shimomura says. and that's when
mitnick says "i admire your skills." but before the two
of them get the chance to kiss, the guard ushers kevin
away, where he says to shimomura: "i'll be SEEING
you... all i need is a dime and a phone... sometimes,
if i'm lucky... i don't even need the dime."

both mitnick and his attorney will have a copy of this
script. i imagine neither will be too happy with this
utter defamation of character. whether or not his
lawyer is able to do something about this remains to be
seen. we must work on the assumption that he will be
unable to stop it. which means it's time to start
planning some very definite action of our own. we need
targets and we need objectives.
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