Dec. 6, 2013: The Air
Force Academy and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations are pushing
back against a recent article
published in the Colorado Springs Gazette,
which claimed the Air Force recruited cadets to spy on fellow cadets for a host
of criminal activities and then “disavowed them.”
Gazette reporters identified
four informants, three of whom agreed to speak about their experiences with
OSI, according to the report. All three informants said the program must
change, according to the article.
“It’s contradictory to everything the
academy is trying to do,” Vianca Torres, one of the informants, told the
newspaper. “They say we are one big family and to trust each other, then they
make you lie to everyone.”
The article talked extensively about
former cadet Eric Thomas, who worked as an informant before he was kicked out
of the Academy in April—one month before graduation.
According to the article, OSI ordered
Thomas to wear a recorder as he infiltrated Academy cliques, set up drug buys,
and tailed “suspected rapists.” He was then asked to feed that information back
to OSI. In addition, the article states Thomas was “regularly directed by
agents to break Academy rules.”
“I worked on dozens of cases, did a lot
of good, and when it all hit the fan, they didn’t know me anymore,” Thomas told
The Academy says that
just isn’t true.
The article “does not
portray an accurate or complete view” of Thomas’ activities during his time at
the Academy, according to a USAFA
statement released Wednesday.
Thomas was the focus of the Gazette’s profile, but the USAFA claims
his statements are at odds with the facts. Thomas’ pattern of misconduct began
his freshman year, the Academy claims, and he accumulated many demerits,
confinements, and restrictions prior to his work with OSI.
The Academy also says his informant
work began in December 2011, not 2010 as stated in the article. And, Thomas was
allegedly “already a part” of the social circles OSI was attempting to
investigate, according to the Academy statement.
Thomas “was told that he was not allowed
to violate the law, Air Force or DOD policies, or Academy rules. Mr. Thomas
acknowledged these instructions in writing,” according to the Academy
“At no time did AFOSI agents ask then cadet
Thomas to violate this agreement,” the statement reads.
In a separate statement OSI defended the service-wide informant
program as a “recognized, legitimate, and sanctioned technique used by all law
enforcement agencies.” OSI says it regularly briefs USAF commanders on
informant cases. AFOSI will continue to oversee the overall program, however, USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson will provide oversight of Academy informants, Academy spokesman Meade Warthen told the Daily Report.
AFOSI confidential informant program is an important and time-proven
investigative tool successfully used to detect ongoing criminal activity,
resolve criminal allegations, and ultimately maintain a high level of good
order and discipline in the Air Force,” states the AFOSI release.