Air Force Officer Faces Hearing for Theft
An Air Force officer is scheduled to appear at a criminal hearing today on charges he stole classified nuclear missile launch control devices three years ago.
Capt. Paul A. Borowiecki, a 27-year-old missile combat crew member with the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, is accused of taking the device in July 2005 with a fellow officer. The device is used in a missile facility, located about 90 feet underground behind blast doors, to launch nuclear weapons.
Borowiecki is charged with dereliction of duty, making false official statements, wrongful appropriation of military property and mishandling of classified items in violation of federal law. He will appear at an Article 32 investigation hearing -- the Air Force equivalent of a criminal preliminary hearing -- and is facing a possible court martial proceeding.
Borowiecki told investigators in May that he and the officer had lied when they said they had destroyed the devices. An Air Force spokeswoman, Maj. Laurie A. Arellano, told The Associated Press that Borowiecki turned over one of the components, but that the other one remains missing.
Air Force Times reported that the other officer admitted in a recent interview for a security clearance that the bandage-sized devices, which dispense a residue if launch codes have been removed, were not destroyed.
The devices are now obsolete, Arellano said. The second officer's name has not been released.
The Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based watchdog group, first reported the alleged theft in July and has accused the Air Force of misleading the public and media outlets, including The Post, about the story when it first became public.
In a separate incident near the Minot base in July, a crew of three Air Force personnel fell asleep while assigned to watch classified missile launch code components.
The trio did not compromise any top-secret material, officials said. The crew members went to a "leadership room" above ground level -- described as a rest area for Air Force officers -- at about 9:30 p.m. July 12 and were asleep within 15 minutes, officials said.
The Air Force later announced that the three crew members were sanctioned and "decertified from missile operations." The officers received written reprimands and will forfeit a portion of their pay for two months. Six other officers also received disciplinary letters in their military files.
By Derek Kravitz |
September 30, 2008; 9:46 AM ET
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