Navy prosecutor accused of trying to spy on defense attorneys for two Navy SEALs

news

The Navy attempted to use tracking software to spy on civilian and military defense attorneys for two Navy SEALs charged in connection with the death of an Islamic State fighter and a journalist covering the cases, one of the SEAL's attorneys said on Monday.

"You can't do this without a warrant," said Timothy Parlatore, who represents Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher. "There's a big difference between what a marketing firm can do to check the demographics of its customer base and what the government can do to directly target and track the email communications of a private citizen."

In total, 13 people received an email on May 8 from Navy prosecutor Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak that included an image that, if opened, would have allowed the Navy to see with whom they communicated, Parlatore told Task & Purpose on Monday.


"The tiny little image that he put at the bottom of his signature line, it was just the logo of the Region Legal Services Office," Parlatore said. "That gives them the ability to track when and where and what system I was using to open it. If I forward it to you, they get to see your email address and your IP address. They're using it to see who I am sending things to."

Parlatore said the email also went to defense attorneys for Navy Lt. Jacob Portier, who is charged with obstruction of justice and related offenses for allegedly trying destroying evidence against Gallagher and not stopping Gallagher from shooting civilians, as well as Navy Times editor Carl Prine.

"These allegations, if true, are a troubling assault on journalists and the work we do," Andrew Tilghman, executive editor for Military Times, said in a statement.

"These are not classified documents that we're talking about, so it's especially disturbing to hear that the federal government is taking these extreme measures to secretly surveil the activities of our reporters and violate their constitutional rights against unlawful search. This is potentially unlawful and should be thoroughly investigated."

On Monday, Portier's attorneys asked the judge in the case to make prosecutors explain what information they were seeking and how widespread the surveillance was, Associated Press reporter Brian Melley first reported on Monday. Task & Purpose was unable to reach Portier's civilian defense counsel.

Czaplak declined to comment on Monday because there is an ongoing investigation into the leak of protected documents in the Gallagher case, said Brian O'Rourke, a spokesman for Navy Region Southwest.

Parlatore said he plans to file motions to have charges against Gallagher dismissed and to disqualify Czaplak from the case.

"They did a warrantless search of a defense attorney's email less than three weeks before trial is supposed to start," Parlatore said. "Quite frankly, this is such a new situation that we're still researching what all the proper remedies are."

SEE ALSO: Trump raises questions about killing vs. murder by embracing US troops accused of war crimes

WATCH NEXT: Regional Victims' Legal Counsel PSA

Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less

U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.

The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.

Read More Show Less
(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

Read More Show Less

There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.

For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook photo)

The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less