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McVeigh Story

Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy McVeigh is the senior enlisted nuclear submariner whom the Navy attempted to discharge for allegedly using the word "gay" in an anonymous America Online user profile.  The Navy attempted to verify McVeigh's identity by surreptitiously, and possibly illegally, obtaining subscriber information from America Online.  On January 26, 1998, Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled that the Navy "violated the very essence of 'Don't Ask' and 'Don't Pursue' by launching a search and destroy mission."  


. June 13, 1998 update:   McVeigh will retire under a settlement that includes full benefits and payment of $90,000 in legal fees. McVeigh said he was "happy to be leaving on my own terms" and looking forward to returning to civilian life just before Labor Day. His lawyer, Christopher Wolf, said a separate settlement had been reached with America Online, the nation's largest online service, which will pay McVeigh damages for violating his privacy. Wolf did not disclose the amount. Wolf said McVeigh "will be able to leave the Navy with full retirement benefits and with his head held high. The Navy also has agreed to pay Mr. McVeigh's attorney fees and costs," which amount to $90,000. C. Dickson Osburn, a director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who also represented McVeigh, said, "This case should serve as a warning to the Department of Defense to clean up its act, follow the rules, and stop invading people's privacy." 

March 26, 1998 update:  A Federal District Court told the Navy and Department Of Justice to reinstate McVeigh, giving them until Monday, March 30 to appeal the decision in McVeigh v. Cohen.  Judge Stanley Sporkin said the Navy should return Timothy R. McVeigh to his old status as the top enlisted man on a nuclear attack submarine rather than give him only clerical jobs. The Navy's intransigence reached a new extreme 3/26/98.  

David Glass of the Department of Justice reportedly told Sporkin that the Navy will not reinstate McVeigh as Chief of Boat because of the "confined conditions aboard the nuclear submarine."  The DOJ statements are extreme and out of step with Administration policy.  The position also defies a federal court order that the Navy restore McVeigh to the position he held.  Glass told the judge one chief-of-boat position had opened up recently, but McVeigh wasn't deemed the best candidate. The judge ordered the Navy to justify its decision by May 1.