Navy accused
violating policy

The author of the 'don't ask, don't tell'
guideline files a brief in the Pearl
Harbor sailor's case

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The Navy violated its "don't ask, don't tell" policy involving gays by starting an investigation without credible evidence that a senior enlisted Pearl Harbor sailor had engaged in homosexual acts or had openly stated that he was a homosexual.

That was the evaluation of Charles Moskos, a Northwestern University sociology professor and author of the Pentagon's 5-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

In a four-page brief filed in the District of Columbia Federal Court yesterday, Moskos said the Navy also violated the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act by seeking confidential information from an online service provider without a court order.

But yesterday, America On Line charged that the Navy had duped it into disclosing data on Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy R. McVeigh, senior enlisted crew member of the nuclear attack submarine USS Chicago berthed at Pearl Harbor.

McVeigh, who is unrelated to the Oklahoma City bomber, sued the government last week after the Navy ordered his honorable discharge Jan. 5 -- three years shy of the 20 needed to retire with a pension -- alleging that he is gay.

Although McVeigh, 36, never publicly discussed his sexual orientation, he had listed himself as "gay" in the marital status section of an AOL online user profile.

Moskos said McVeigh sent the ombudsman representing the wives of the men on the Chicago an e-mail that did not identify him as the source and contained no statement by the sender that he was a homosexual.

The e-mail contained the screen name "boysrch" which the recipient was able to access through an AOL user profile. That profile only listed the sender's name only as "Tim" and he lived in Honolulu.

Using that information, Moskos maintains the Navy initiated an investigation.

"In simple terms," Moskos said, "Senior Chief McVeigh did not 'tell' in a manner contemplated under the policy -- but by launching an investigation solely on the basis of this e-mail, which required the Navy to obtain Senior Chief McVeigh's identity from America On Line, the Navy 'asked' in a way that should be forbidden under the policy."

A spokesman at the Pentagon maintained that the Navy had enough information from McVeigh, both in the content of the e-mail message and in his public internet profile, "to clearly and positively identify him."

"Because of the specific topic and the frequency of correspondence between the ombudsman and Senior Chief McVeigh, it was clear to the ombudsman from whom the e-mail came," the Navy official said.

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