Military reports from Iowa and Nebraska congressmen incorrectly published by the Air Force
WASHINGTON. The U.S. Air Force inadvertently released military personnel numbers for at least two members of Congress—Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska and Zach Nunn of Iowa—which led to frustration and concerns about veteran privacy.
“The recent attack on the military files of members of Congress, the leakage of confidential data and the duplicitous forgery committed by political hackers is not only a violation of public trust – it is a crime,” Nunn said in a written statement.
“As a country, we must support veterans who want to continue their service, and not harass and intimidate them,” Nunn added. “I strongly support the bipartisan efforts being made by the House Armed Services Committee to protect our service members and bring criminals to justice.”
An Air Force spokesman said in a written statement that an internal review of records released between October 2021 and October 2022 revealed “unauthorized disclosures of 11 people’s military service.”
The Air Force refused to share information about 11 people.
Air Force employees did not follow procedures requiring a signature to disclose this type of information, although a spokesman stated that “there was no evidence of political motivation or malice on the part of any employee.”
An Air Force spokesman stated that “virtually all of the unauthorized disclosures were in response to a third party requesting service records for employment or benefits through a process commonly used by other federal agencies to verify employee backgrounds.”
Air Force Major General Troy E. Dunn’s letter to Bacon regarding the disclosure of his military personnel records states that Abraham Peyton, a biographical investigative analyst with Due Diligence Group, LLC, requested records from a congressman from the Air Force Military Personnel Center. in November 2021.
“He has improperly requested copies of your military personal data for the stated purpose of employment and benefits,” Dunn wrote. “While Mr. Payton was already in possession of your social security number at the time of his request, the records department still provided your personal information on November 12, 2021 without your permission, which is protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.”
Additional security checks
Dunn wrote in a letter to Bacon that the Air Force immediately changed its procedures, requiring higher level scrutiny and more security checks to avoid future misdisclosure of records.
Bacon served in the Air Force from 1985 to 2014, according to his official Congressional biography.
Bacon specialized in electronic warfare, intelligence and reconnaissance. His military awards include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, two bronze stars, two Legion Service Medals, five Distinguished Service Medals, and an Air Achievement Medal, according to his Congressional website.
Nunn’s campaign website says he was a combat aviator who flew three times to the Middle East and is currently a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Air National Guard. His official congressional biography lists the United States Air Force and the Iowa Air National Guard, although it does not list years of service.
The Freedom of Information Act states that the public may gain access to certain information in military personnel files without the permission of the veteran or his immediate family. This information includes name, service number, dates of service, line of service, final service status, and final rank.
According to the National Archives, this may also include salary, appointments and geographic location, source of commission, level of military education, awards and distinctions, photograph, court martial transcript, and place of entry and discharge.
Bacon said in a written statement that “Knowing that this third party, paid for by the Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee, was able to obtain my Social Security number and fraudulently use it to obtain my military records worries not only me and the other ten victims, but and every veteran.
Over the past two years, the Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee has made at least 35 payments totaling more than $100,000 to the Due Diligence Group, according to FEC records compiled by Open Secrets. Payments are classified as either “GENERAL CMTE RESEARCH MATERIAL” or “GENERAL STRATEGIC/POLITICAL ADVISERS”.
Due Diligence Group LLC writes on its website that it specializes in “using public document research to provide our clients with the knowledge and insights they need to make strategic decisions.” Due Diligence Group LLC did not respond to a request for comment.
The Due Diligence Group website was missing more information on Tuesday, after Politico first announced the release of the war reports.
A January 2021 archived version of his website lists Payton as a partner and says he “found his passion for transparency and ethics” after meeting with a colleague at VR Research, an opposition research firm, in 2009.
Peyton then trained to become “a due diligence researcher on various projects on behalf of political and commercial clientele over the next two years,” according to the archived website.
“Abraham joined the Democratic SuperPAC in 2011 as Director of Due Diligence,” the website’s archive reads. “He has produced over 100 opposition studies books and handled over 4,000 requests for public records.”
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