James MacPherson / The Association Press – 2008-10-03 09:34:11
Supervisor: Capt. Admitted Taking Launch Device
James MacPherson / The Associated Press
MINOT, N.D. (October 3, 2008) — A Minot Air Force Base officer admitted taking a missile launch control device as a souvenir because he thought it would be “a cool thing to have,” one of his supervisors testified Tuesday at a hearing to determine whether the officer will face a military trial.
Four witnesses testified at the one-day hearing in the case of Capt. Paul Borowiecki, a missile combat crewmember assigned to the base’s 91st Missile Wing. Borowiecki, 27, was given a chance to speak on his own behalf, but declined. His attorneys declined comment after the hearing.
Borowiecki is accused of taking the launch control device in July 2005, rather than destroying it as required when it was no longer in use. Officials say he admitted the theft in May and returned the device.
The domino-sized device is obsolete but Borowiecki’s supervisor, Capt. David Walbeck, testified that had the technology been compromised, it could have led to “unintended detonation” of a nuclear missile.
An Air Force spokeswoman, Maj. Laurie A. Arellano, said later that the launch device is one of many safeguards that must work together to ensure 100 percent security and that Walbeck was referring to the “absolute farthest end of the spectrum.”
“The loss of that technology alone would not lead to unintended detonation. There would also have to be many other safeguards in conjunction with this that would have to be compromised,” Arellano said.
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.
Lt. Col. Dave Castro, an investigating officer and military judge, will make a recommendation to Air Force officials on whether Borowiecki will face a trial.
The launch control device was placed over other code components inside an underground missile launch control center to detect tampering, officials said. The missile crews work 90 feet underground behind huge blast doors, prepared to launch the weapons.
Borowiecki’s attorney, Capt. Tiwana Wright, asked Walbeck during Tuesday’s hearing if the device was the only safeguard for the weapons system. Walbeck replied that many safeguards are in place.
Walbeck said Borowiecki told him he had kept the device in a green, hard-bound notebook.
Officials said the theft came to light when Borowiecki was given a lie-detector test in applying for a job with the government’s National Reconnaissance Office. As part of the test, he was asked if he had ever stolen classified material. Walbeck said Borowiecki answered yes and asked to meet with his supervisor.
“This was a shock to me,” Walbeck said. At the time, he said, Borowiecki had performed his duties “flawlessly.”
Maj. Michael Sweetland, who supervised Walbeck and Borowiecki, described Borowiecki as “top notch and very professional.”
The Air Force said Borowiecki also told officials that another officer had lied in saying he destroyed a launch component. That device remains missing. The other officer’s name has not been released. The Air Force says it is handling the cases separately.
Walbeck said codes were changed at the Minot base and at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming as a result of the incident. He also said it led to changes in the procedure for destroying the launch devices after they are no longer in use.
In the past, the devices were burned in an old ammo can within the launch capsule by airmen who sign a paper saying they destroyed them, Walbeck said. Now, he said, the devices are destroyed at the base under the supervision of two people with top-secret clearance.
Borowiecki has been reassigned to a helicopter wing, Arellano said. His access to classified documents has been suspended and he is barred from using Air Force computers.
Arellano said Tuesday’s hearing was similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian court. If tried and convicted, Borowiecki could lose his officer commission and could be ordered to prison for a term determined by a military judge, Arellano said.
Air Force Says Officer Stole Launch Control Device
James MacPherson / Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. (September 29, 2008) — A Minot Air Force Base officer accused of stealing a classified missile launch control device faces a hearing to determine whether he will face a court martial.
The Air Force said a hearing is scheduled Tuesday at the base to evaluate evidence against Capt. Paul Borowiecki, a missile combat crew member assigned to the 91st Missile Wing.
“This is basically the equivalent to a preliminary hearing,” Maj. Laurie A. Arellano, an Air Force spokeswoman, said Monday.
Borowiecki (bor-oh-WIK’-ee), 27, is accused of taking a classified component used in an underground missile launch control center in July 2005. Arellano said Borowiecki notified the military in May that he and another officer had lied in saying they had destroyed launch components.
Borowiecki’s attorneys, Capt. Tiwana Wright and Capt. Mike Berens, did not return telephone calls seeking comment on Monday.
The two accused officers were among the crew members who work 90 feet underground behind huge blast doors, prepared to launch nuclear missiles.
Arellano said Borowiecki turned one launch device over to the government but the other remains missing.
The domino-sized devices, now obsolete, were used on equipment inside the launch control center to detect equipment tampering.
The other officer’s name has not been released. Arellano said the Air Force is handling the cases separately.
Borowiecki is accused of dereliction of duty, making false official statements, wrongful appropriation of military property and mishandling of classified items in violation of federal law.
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