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Guest Commentary / October 5, 2022

Treachery by an Army Physician

Dr. Jamie Henry disclosed information of the spouses of deceased service members.

By Mark W. Fowler

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends: they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.” —Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

In 2015, Dr. Jamie Henry, a graduate of the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, came out as the first openly transgender woman in the military. He had been through a difficult divorce prior to coming out. As a result of a bicycle accident, he sustained injuries that were treated at an Army hospital. He felt his privacy was not protected, and during his treatment he was outed by his wife as transgender to a psychiatrist. Things went downhill from there. He developed gender dysphoria, leading to relationship issues and being shunned by friends for being “sexually immoral,” according to an article on the website Heavy by Tom Cleary. Apparently, although a troubled man, Henry was ultimately given a secret government clearance by the U.S. Army, demonstrating the razor sharp insight of the Army intelligence community. In the same year of his divorce, he married Dr. Anna Gabrielian, also a doctor and obstetric anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins. In addition to their medical educations, they shared an antipathy towards the United States and an affinity for Russia.

They now have another thing in common: both were indicted for conspiracy to violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which prohibits the disclosure of protected health information, the very thing that gave Henry such angst originally. The indictment alleges that both Henry and Gabrielian had reached out to the Russians in an attempt to provide information about the health records of service members and others that might be helpful to the Russians. They did this out of a sense of patriotism on Gabrielian’s part and out of a sense of outrage on Henry’s part. Henry, though an officer and in the U.S. Army, practicing medicine at Fort Bragg, inquired into joining the Russian army, he was declined since he had no combat experience. Henry’s outrage seemed to be based on the fact that Americans were “using the Ukrainians as a proxy for their own hatred toward the Russians.” He must have overlooked the fact that the Russians invaded Ukraine.

The indictment indicates they met twice with an undercover agent from the FBI after Gabrielian had contacted the Russian embassy by email and phone offering this assistance. These two had thought this out well for amateurs, except for failing to confirm the real identity of the alleged Russian agent. They had a cover story: They were seeking to employ the agent as a medical translator. Gabrielian talked in code regarding Henry’s proffer of information. Henry declined to ask the agent’s name to avoid being caught in a security check.

They were all in. Henry told the undercover agent that his wife suggested he read Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy by Victor Suvorov because the book described the mentality of sacrificing everything. In addition to the two visits with the undercover agent, they provided copies of medical records from the spouses of deceased service members and a spouse of a staff member of the Office of Naval Intelligence. They also provided records of service members. The purpose of this information was to give the Russians information they could exploit. Gabrielian allegedly asked that if they were at risk of arrest, their children be given a nice flight to Turkey so they would not be held as hostages.

Henry indicated to the undercover agent that until the U.S. declared war, he could do as he wished regarding the unlawful disclosure of protected health information, but that following such a declaration he would have ethical issues. Henry is ethically nuanced, you see. Gabrielian chirped that he could overcome those.

Apart from this treachery, what is troublesome to me, as a physician, is that they disclosed information of the spouses of deceased service members, knowing it was illegal to do so, and without regard to the harm and humiliation they might cause.

And finally, as Miss Brontë pointed out, treachery is a two-pointed spear. Recall that Gabrielian contacted the Russian embassy, and it must have been the Russians who reported this preposterous scheme to the FBI. Having declined Henry’s offer of military service and then ratting him out to the FBI, one could argue the Russians are transphobic.

The conspiracy charge carries five years and the disclosure of protected information a sentence of 10 years. One hopes that these two will next share the experience of being confined in a federal penitentiary and the loss of their licenses. Henry could be the first transgender Army officer convicted of conspiring to commit a crime by giving the Russians protected patient information. Another first for Dr. Henry!

Mark Fowler is a former attorney and board-certified physician. He can be reached at [email protected]

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