Wired Strategies Press Release

Email Press Release January 13, 1998

Wednesday, January 13, 1998, 4:00PM 

Contacts: John Aravosis, 202-328-0013, Barbara Bode, 202-588-9598 

Washington Brass Steps Up Action Against Sailor 
Pentagon Cover-up Feared 

Navy documents obtained by Timothy McVeigh's representatives show the Navy quietly moved yesterday to change McVeigh's discharge date from this coming Friday to Thursday.  This action comes on the heels of worldwide press coverage condemning the military's and America Online's action in the McVeigh privacy case, and AOL's insinuation that someone broke the law in obtaining McVeigh's confidential account information. 

Senior Chief Timothy McVeigh was present on Monday, January 12 when the separations clerk in Honolulu typed out the order notifying him of his discharge at midnight Friday, January 16.  On Tuesday, January 13 at 10:45
a.m. (Hawaii time, 5 hours earlier than EST), McVeigh was again present when the same clerk received a phone call from Washington, DC alerting him that something had changed, and the Navy would now be discharging McVeigh one day earlier, on Thursday, January 15. 

The clerk reported that the order came from the Office of the Judge Advocate General in Alexandria, Virginia via Commander McKenzie, who is the senior attorney for Rear Admiral Ellis, the Commander of the Navy's entire submarine force in the Pacific. 

There has been growing international attention focused on the McVeigh case -- in the last week, McVeigh's story was reported in the New York Times,  Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, USNews & 
World Report, ABC News, CNet, Wired, MSNBC, Yahoo!, National Public Radio, Good Morning America, Associated Press, Reuters, PCWorld, and the BBC, among others, and stories are currently in production in USA Today, CNN, and Time magazine.  Advocates are concerned as to the motivations behind the military's actions to expedite the discharge of Senior Chief McVeigh. 

"When the press first reported on Tim's story, America Online canceled his email account.  And now, the same day that AOL admits someone broke the law, the Washington brass try to get rid of the key witness.  This sailor is getting torpedoed," said John Aravosis, and Internet consultant working with McVeigh. 

Military lawyers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, report that this type of abrupt change in orders is highly unusual.  Even stranger, they noted, was the fact that Tuesday's new discharge notice was identical to Monday's, but for the change of the actual date of discharge.  It seemed, to more than one observer, that the military may have simply used "white out" on the original discharge to more quickly eliminate McVeigh. 

"You can't just use 'white out' to erase a man's 17 year career.  This whole affair has been about lies, cover-ups and official denials.  And now a decorated veteran has to pay for the Defense Department's arrogance," said Aravosis. 

"We have requested that the Secretary of the Navy delay Senior Chief McVeigh's discharge until his office can fully review the issue that we and others have raised, including potential violations of 'Don't ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue' and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act by Navy personnel.  We believe the result of such a review will justify McVeigh's retention in the Navy.  To date we have receipted no response.  We are obviously concerned by the Navy's action in moving up the date of McVeigh's discharge.  We continue to hope for a thorough and honest investigation by Secretary Dalton's staff," said Kirk Childress, staff attorney for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a non-profit organization that assists servicemember hurt by the military's anti-gay policy. 

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