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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Air force academy informant policies ignite debate

The New York Times has been following developments at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs after the academy's informant program came to light and was subsequently dismantled. NYT story here: Informant Debate Renewed as Air Force Revisits Cadet Misconduct. The informant program turned out to be the impetus for the only three prosecutions of sexual assault in the last 15 years. The ability of the informant program to produce such benefits, even as it mistreated and eventually expelled its own participants, reflects the constant dilemma of informant use: is the information it produces worth its significant costs? From the NYT:
Defending the practice, a retired deputy judge advocate general Maj. Gen. Steven J. Lepper, said [] that the academy’s honor code sometimes had to be broken to expose crimes like drug dealing and sexual assault. ... But the idea of having students spy on one another is controversial, with both alumni and experts on campus sexual assault arguing that it violates the honor code's ban on lying and erodes trust among cadets.