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Stray e-mail reveals investigative secrets

August 25, 2001

— An Air Force Academy officer "pushed a wrong button" and sent an e-mail message with sensitive details about on-campus investigations to all 4,400 cadets, school officials confirmed.

The e-mail named 40 cadets who have been punished or are under investigation by the Academy along with details of each case. It also named and gave details about cadets who are being treated for mental health problems and who are graduating late.

Academy officials refused to comment on any of the material in the message, which was sent Tuesday and later was obtained by The Gazette. Cadets named on the list have been assured their cases will be handled fairly, said Col. Marty Coffman, commander of the 34th Training Group.

A major in that group had intended to send the weekly investigations update to a select group of commanders. Instead, the message was sent to all cadets plus 30 other academy officials, Coffman said.

"He simply hit a wrong button," Coffman said. "It was 100 percent a mistake."

The officer immediately realized the error and was able to pull back as much as 70 percent of the e-mail, he said.

Academy officials sent e-mail to all cadets ordering them to delete the message. Coffman declined to comment on any possible punishment for the officer.

The message includes the names of 14 cadets accused of dealing or using drugs. So far, seven cadets have been court-martialed and all but one were sentenced to time in a military prison. Four have been expelled or quit, according to the message, and cases against the other three are pending.

The Associated Press. Copyright © 2001


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