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Air Force IG investigates cadet informant case

Dec. 11, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Former Air Force Academy Cadet Eric Thomas, shown during a parade practice in 2013, claims he was expelled because of assignments he was given as an OSI informant.
Former Air Force Academy Cadet Eric Thomas, shown during a parade practice in 2013, claims he was expelled because of assignments he was given as an OSI informant. (Courtesy of Eric Thomas)
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The Air Force Inspector General’s Office is investigating how the Office of Special Investigations handled a former Air Force Cadet, who claims he was expelled in part due to demerits he was given for activities associated with helping investigators as a confidential informant.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson has also ordered a review of the academy’s disenrollment process after Eric Thomas and another former cadet who agreed to work as a confidential informant told a Colorado newspaper their handlers did nothing to stop them from being expelled.

“Additionally, as we work to improve and strengthen our culture of commitment and respect, I will personally oversee any use of the CI [confidential informant] program with my long term intent to eliminate the need for cadet Confidential Informants in the cadet wing,” Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday.

A Dec. 2 story by the Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette shook the academy and the Air Force as a whole by exposing the scope of OSI’s confidential informant program.

Thomas told the newspaper he was recruited as a sophomore to spy on fellow cadets after attending a party at which cadets used synthetic marijuana. While working for OSI, he earned demerits, some of which were related to helping investigators, and he was ultimately expelled six weeks before graduation.

“I did not have an outstanding number of demerits and fear of being disenrolled in 2010,” Thomas told Air Force Times in a Dec. 5 interview. “I did not. I was approached, and the incentive was to do the right thing. They knew that I was a man of character — they said that. They said I was a man of honor — they said that. And they said, ‘What would a man of character and a man of honor do if he had the opportunity to help out OSI battle sexual assault and drugs and federal crimes?’ And it’s an easy answer.”

In its initial response to the story, the academy issued a statement that Thomas started to work for OSI in 2011, by which time he had enough demerits to warrant expulsion, but Thomas’ attorney says his client started helping OSI as a source a year prior to that.

“One of the things that I think is very important here when we’re deciding who’s being forthcoming and who’s not is the fact that [Thomas] sent two — count ’em, two — FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] privacy act requests for his OSI records and was told — and therefore his chain of command was told — twice: There are no such records,” Skip Morgan told Air Force Times in a Dec. 4 interview. “It wasn’t until he got his congressman involved that finally those records were disclosed that showed yes, indeed, he was a confidential informant and yes, indeed, he did a lot of work for them.”

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