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Air Force investigates Navy for ‘malware’ cyberattack in SEAL Gallagher case

A malware notification. (Christiaan Colen/Flickr)
May 22, 2019

The U.S. Air Force is investigating a fellow branch, the U.S. Navy, after “malware” spy software was sent by a Navy prosecutor to defense attorneys and the media in the case of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher.

Military Times obtained a May 19 memo stating the Air Force is investigating the Navy, as an Air Force attorney was among the defense attorneys who received an email with tracking software intended to spy, and that the Air Force is now treating the malware as a “cyber-intrusion.”

The Navy’s Defense Service Offices’ Chief of Staff Capt. David Wilson called the spy software “malware,” and in the memo said, “In fact, I’ve learned that the Air Force is treating this malware as a cyber-intrusion on their network and have seized the Air Force Individual Military Counsel’s computer and phone for review.”

In the memo, Wilson wrote that the malware was determined to be a “splunk tool” and that whomever sent it had gained “full access to his [the Air Force attorney’s] computer and all files on his computer,” Air Force Times reported.

A Navy prosecutor, Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak, admitted in court that he spied on Navy SEAL defense lawyers and a member of the media, Tim Parlatore, Gallagher’s civilian defense attorney, had confirmed to American Military News. He admitted that emails were sent with spy software, and that they were sent in order to investigate leaks in the case.

Gallagher, a 15-year Navy SEAL, is charged with premeditated murder, accused of stabbing and killing a critically wounded ISIS fighter during a 2017 deployment to Mosul. He is also accused of shooting at unarmed civilians. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set to begin May 28.

However, the prosecution’s behavior in the case has been tainted with wrongdoing and unethical behavior, Gallagher’s defense team has said. The defense is moving to dismiss the entire case.

President Donald Trump is also considering pardoning Gallagher, and other service members, accused of war crimes.

Trump could pardon Gallagher, as well as Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn and others, as early as Memorial Day or around that time, The New York Times had first reported over the weekend, saying that Trump has asked the Justice Department to prepare the necessary paperwork for that timeframe, citing two unnamed U.S. officials.

The President is also said to be considering pardons for a former Blackwater security contractor, who was recently found guilty of shooting dozens of unarmed Iraqis in 2007, and a group of Marine Corps snipers who are charged with urinating on dead Taliban corpses, the Times reported.