A federal judge has ruled that the Navy must reinstate Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy McVeigh in what could well to be the final word on the service's botched attempts to expel the sailor for his alleged homosexuality. In a decision that affirmed his own highly critical preliminary injunction of last week, Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled that the Navy violated the Pentagon's so-called don't ask, don't tell policy when it sought to expose McVeigh as the author of an anonymous profile on AOL. In the profile, "Tim" described his marital status as "gay" and listed cruising for young men as a favorite pastime. AOL has already admitted that it also violated its rules by divulging the information to an anonymous investigator. The Navy accepted the judge's historic decision while reserving the right to appeal, but has not yet said whether it will go through with it. Meanwhile, McVeigh's lawyer alleged that his client has become the target of hostility and thinly veiled retribution on the job, and asked Sporkin for a court order to make the Navy protect McVeigh or allow him to retire early.