Military Police at Guantanamo Bay have detained a U.S. Navy lieutenant who confessed that Ron DeSantis’ people had hired him to search GITMO’s local area network (LAN) and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet)–a system of interconnected computer networks used by the Departments of Defense and State to transmit classified data—for files containing the Florida governor’s name and copy them to an S.D. card.
The suspect, 25-year-old Lieutenant Junior Grade Tom Patterson, a Naval telecommunications systems expert assigned to GITMO in March 2022, surrendered to M.P.s at around 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. He reportedly told them he was guilty of Articles 133 and 106a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman, and espionage, respectively, but added he had a volte-face before siphoning any data from the naval station’s network. He apologized for violating his oath and asked to be read his rights and incarcerated.
When questioned that afternoon, Patterson told investigators that “a representative for Ron DeSantis” had offered him $150,000 for GITMO’s info on DeSantis, who had worked as a Navy lawyer for JAG in the Spring of 2006.
DeSantis has of late had an uncanny interest in GITMO. As reported previously, his gubernatorial staff has at his bequest begged GITMO leadership to let him visit the base. According to one GITMO source, DeSantis’ spokesperson Christine Pushaw has since February made dozens of calls beseeching GITMO leadership to reconsider. When she said DeSantis would visit GITMO at his discretion, irrespective of JAG’s decision, she was told DeSantis would be considered an enemy combatant and fired upon if he approached Guantanamo Bay.
Patterson then claimed a man named “Jimmy” (possibly Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis) had initially offered him $50,000 for the files. He said he negotiated a higher price, considering the risk of getting caught. Jimmy told Patterson the cash would be held in escrow pending receipt of the S.D. card.
“Lieutenant Patterson seemed to have had a last-minute change of heart. The guy turned himself in right before he was going to infiltrate the network, and it’s unclear if he actually could, but the thing is, he hasn’t committed a crime. He didn’t get any money, and he didn’t access classified data. In fact, the networks used now are completely different than what we had here back in 2006 when DeSantis was here, and it’s unlikely info on DeSantis is stored in computers. Maybe copies of his DD-214, but anything else is probably in Washington,” our source said.
Although Patterson blabbed willingly, investigators asked how a representative for DeSantis knew to contact Patterson—what connected Patterson to Jimmy? Patterson argued he had no earlier ties to Jimmy or DeSantis, and he guessed that Jimmy could have obtained GITMO staff records and solicited several B610s—the Navy MOS for Mass Communication Specialists—until one accepted the offer.
Investigators requested the passcode to Patterson’s cellular phone to inspect his call log; they wanted the phone number from which Jimmy had called him. At that point, Patterson became nervous, stammering as he explained that his phone held no meaningful information. The investigators retorted they could crack the code but preferred he cooperate. Patterson provided the code and pointed to an April 23 call from a Tallahassee, Florida, area code. Investigators called the number, which belonged to a dry-cleaning business in Tallahassee, and the answering party, a man with a thick Thai accent, said no one named Jimmy worked at the establishment.
Nonetheless, Patterson insisted Jimmy had used that number to call him.
The investigation took a tortuous turn when M.P.s looked deeper into Patterson’s phone. On it, they found over 300 publicly available pictures of DeSantis’ wife, Casey, that he had downloaded from the internet. Some images had been cropped and edited. In a 2009 couple wedding photograph, Patterson had removed Ron DeSantis’ face and pasted his own onto the picture, for example.
“At that point, the investigating agents questioned everything Lt. Patterson told them. They thought he might have lost his mind and become some sort of lovelorn stalker obsessed with Casey. He said he’d never seen the pictures and had no clue how they got on his phone, that someone must have planted them, even though they’d been downloaded periodically over a few years, according to time and date stamps,”
He said in closing that Patterson will remain in custody pending the outcome of the investigation and is scheduled for a psychological evaluation on Wednesday.
As an aside, we have been told that only “high-value prisoners,” or HVPs, have been shipped to Camp Blaz in Guam. Our sources would not qualify what criteria distinguish a high-value prisoner from one of low value.
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