The Air Force Academy defended its use of confidential informants after a former football and soccer player said he was expelled because of misconduct linked to providing information.
The academy said informants provide vital information about criminal activity, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported this week. They are instructed to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while helping the Air Force Office of Special Investigations gather information on drug use, sexual assault and other cadet misconduct, the newspaper said.
Cadet Eric Thomas, who was expelled from the academy this year, said he became an informant when he was pressured by OSI agents after he attended an off-campus party that was raided by police.
Thomas, 24, said OSI ordered him to infiltrate academy cliques by wearing recorders, setting up drug buys, tailing suspected rapists and feeding information to investigators. He said he was regularly directed by agents to break academy rules.
He said he helped get 15 convictions on drug charges and two in sexual assault cases.
Thomas said he was kicked out of the school for misconduct ordered by the OSI. He said the unit promised to vouch for him, but no one showed up for his disciplinary hearing.
In its response, the Air Force Academy questioned Thomas’ reliability.
In a separate statement, OSI said the informant program is an important and time-proven investigative tool.
Thomas’ lawyer, Skip Morgan, said in a letter to the academy superintendent that Thomas’ treatment "goes beyond merely disappointing and borders on despicable." The superintendent has not replied.
The Air Force also has not replied to a letter sent by Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota in September asking officials to meet with Thomas, who is from that state.