Reporter Comments: When a Journalist and a Prosecutor Lie to the Public

Date: Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Introduction by: The Clone


This file is a continuing saga. Read the original article first.


I recently received an e-mail from a Toronto Star reporter by the name of Rachel Ross, who found the Nettwerked article pertaining to the Alberta prosecutor Steven Bilodeau, and the mis-information spread within the pages of the Edmonton Journal by editor Keith Gerein. She had some comments to make, and some information to share regarding the claim that Steven Bilodeau made regarding the Massachussetts teenager's apparent airport / power-grid shenanigans. So now it seems that the false claim Steven Bilodeau made was actually loosely based off of the truth. One thing though; in the Edmonton Journal article, Steven Bilodeau claimed that the Massachussetts teenager was able to shut down the power-grid and airport lighting system easily just by hooking onto a "switch box" with a device - it sounded all too similar to a lineman's handset.

So the truth is the teenager disabled the lighting system at an airport and supposedly interrupted telephone service at a nearby town in Rutland. HOWEVER, I don't see where it says anything about disabling power, either than the article making a really bad analogy: "Just as disabling a circuit breaker box blacks out an entire house, so disabling a loop carrier system cuts off all communications with the telephone lines it services". Heh.

Thanks to a REAL reporter Rachel Ross from the Toronto Star doing her homework, we now know that we should never take what we read in the media as absolute truth just because it happens to be printed word. Rachel, the Canadian hacker community salutes you. Steven Bilodeau, shame on you for telling lies. Keith Gerein, shame on you for spreading the blatant libel in a city-wide newspaper. Don't think you're getting off that easy, Keith; I've convinced several of my close friends, family members, and readers to boycott the Edmonton Journal for the bullshit it published!

I want to send a special thanks to Anonymous_Hero for the original contribution to this story. When readers like you speak out, everyone wins.

The Truth...

From [email protected] Fri Mar 28 21:44:33 2003
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I found the article 'When a Journalist and a Prosecutor Lie to the Public'
interesting and decided to look into the "tale" of the teen hacker who
allegedly shut down the power grid and runway lights. At minimum, it sounded
a little ridiculous. I think I know the incident that the reporter was
trying to describe. I've pasted a news story about the incident below. It
appears as though the teen didn't take out a power grid, but he did manage
to disable a remote control system for some runway lights. (I guess they
could still run out there and switch the darn lights on the runway but what
a pain in the ass.) Anyway, I just thought your readers might be interested in
the real story.


P.S. All reporters do not suck. No really, we don't. Well, some of us TRY not to anyway.

Teen hacker charged with disabling airport control tower telephones
18 March 1998

BOSTON, March 18 (AFP) - A teenage computer hacker was charged Wednesday
with disabling telephones and control tower services at a Massachussetts
airport, the Justice Department said.

The incident last spring virtually shut down the Worcester, Massachussetts
airport, and also interrupted phone service in the nearby town of Rutland.
The lead federal investigator on the case, Secret Service Special Agent
Michael Johnston said the case was one of the agency's "most significant
computer fraud investigations," and had significant "national security

The charges unsealed Wednesday were the first brought by the federal government
against a juvenile for computer crimes. "Computer and telephone networks are at
the heart of vital services provided by the government and private industry, and
our critical infrastructure. They are not toys for the entertainment of teenagers,"
said US Attorney Donald Stern, in a press release.

"Hacking a computer or telephone network can create a tremendous risk to the
public and we will prosecute juvenile hackers in appropriate cases, such as
this one," Stern said. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors said the youth would
receive two years' probation, during which he will not be allowed to own or use
a computer modem. He must also pay restitution to the phone company and perform
250 hours of community service.

Officials did not release the name of the youth because of his age. Prosecutors said
the incident occurred March 10, 1997, when the teenager hacked into remote computers
called "loop carrier systems" that move voice and data transmissions from older copper
telephone lines to more sophisticated fiber-optic cables.

"Just as disabling a circuit breaker box blacks out an entire house, so disabling a loop
carrier system cuts off all communications with the telephone lines it services," Stern

Worcester Airport in eastern Massachusetts had no telephone service for six hours, nor
did the airport's fire department or security system, the statement said. A remote control
systems operating runway lights also failed.

On the same day, the teenager also broke into a Worcester pharmacy computer and
ordered it to transmit to his computer information on all prescriptions filled the previous

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