Military secrets for sale – on eBay

By WND Staff

A captain in the Army reserves is suspected of selling flight manuals and performance charts for U.S. military aircraft on eBay, according to an investigation by an Indianapolis television station.

WTHR Channel 13 reports a Navy investigation has already produced a report on the activities of Army Reserve Capt. Jeffrey Jones, who was selling on eBay and his own commercial website at least 17 different manuals. The Navy characterized them as “sensitive with significant and obvious distribution restrictions.”

Among the secrets offered for distribution to the highest bidder were:

  • flight manuals and performance charts for the EA-6B Prowler, a $52 million Navy jet used to block enemy radar in operations such as Iraqi Freedom;
  • flight manuals and performance charts for the FA-18 Super Hornet, a Navy fighter jet that drops bombs and shoots missiles and is still used in Iraq today.

Retired Indiana Guard Reserve Maj. General Jim McCoskey told the station: “One thing I think we’ve learned here is we can’t really sell this enemy short in terms of gray matter and determination and sophistication.”

The documents are not classified, but they are restricted, with a clear warning that distribution is “limited to government agencies and contractors – for official use only.”

McCoskey said he fears terrorists could make good use of the information.

“By no means do they lack the sophistication to take full advantage of something like this,” he said. “It is a scary thought. Scary, that’s for sure.”

The station said an internal Navy Criminal Investigative Services report obtained shows the sales were first discovered two years ago by a Boeing flight-test engineer for the FA-18 Super Hornet. The engineer was scanning eBay when he came across the current flight manual for the FA-18. In an e-mail to a three-star Navy rear admiral, he wrote that it “scares hell out of me.”

As for the EA-6B Prowler, the aircraft contractor told Navy investigators “this current manual contains flight performance data which can be used by potential adversaries to design countermeasures against the EA-6B.”

The Navy confirmed hundreds of sales, according to the investigative documents. When an information-technology manager called Jones to tell him to stop selling the sensitive manuals, he reported “Jones became belligerent and asked rhetorically, ‘Why shouldn’t I?'”

Jones apparently downloaded documents from the Department of the Navy website, obtaining an ID and password by claiming he had permission from his supervisors.

He was ordered to stop by his commanding officer, Col. William Ivy.

But the Army opted not to prosecute.