Fighting for the truth . . . exposing the corrupt




© 2002

Our job was to enforce the law, but more times than not, we ended up breaking it. This was the paradox I faced as a young Criminal Investigation Division (CID) agent.

To us, the Constitution didn’t matter. Due process was a legal term we paid little attention to. We didn’t have to. Our officers and commanders used us to plant evidence, settle scores, and “target” people the brass didn’t like.

All the illusions I had about honesty and integrity and learning to be a “good cop”– that all went out the window, almost from the first day I became a CID agent.

Sure, we busted people who committed crimes. But even a hard-nosed cop like I was in those days, couldn’t help but feel pity for some of the officers and men whose lives were ruined because they’d violated the Army’s regulations about “fraternization” and “adultery.”


It was always “selective enforcement.” As long as you had enough rank or you were “connected,” you could escape punishment. I’ve known at least two bird colonels who could have been busted, but the commander in each case let them go. One quickly retired with full honors and benefits. The other colonel continued to have affairs for more than two years before he got out of the Army. And he even got the Legion of Merit at his retirement ceremony! We thought that was a real joke.
But the lower ranks weren’t laughing. You’d be surprised at how much an E-4 knows what’s going on at his installation. The gossip, the stories, or who’s doing what to who, that gets around. There aren’t many secrets.

The “double-standard of justice” was routine. One man, usually a NCO, would lose his pension and be drummed out of the Army. Sometimes he’d get sent to Leavenworth if the offense had high political visibility. But the favored few - sergeant-majors and officers 0-5 and above, if they were “plugged in,” all they got was a slap on the wrist or nothing at all.

In fact, we saw one light colonel actually get promoted and given a medal. And we knew he was a dirt-bag. But the important difference was, that dirt-bag was the general’s “pal,” and nobody but nobody was going to touch him! The PMO made sure to let us know who’s who, and who to lay off of.

We knew who the heavy drinkers were. If we could have, we’d have busted some of the ranking officers who drove under the influence. But the word was to “look the other way,” so we did. Who needs to stop someone who could get you in big trouble?


I have to admit, it was a real “high” sometimes to know that a junior NCO like I was, could strike terror into the heart of a major or master sergeant. We wore plain-clothes and no one outside the unit knew what rank we were. But we had that badge and we were armed.

Part of our intimidation tactics was to “show” our sidearms when we arrested a suspect. I’d pull back my windbreaker and place the palm of my hand on the gun butt. The “perp” got the message real fast not to mess with me!

It also didn’t hurt to make them think you’d beat them at the slightest provocation. Of course, you don’t do that until you have them in the MP station where no outsiders will see or hear. That look of fear in their eyes, I’ll never forget it. It made me feel ten feet tall. Better than drugs.


IWe didn’t worry about suspects complaining to the IG. That’s another joke. I knew IG’s that would “sucker” a soldier into thinking he was going to get help. Then, as soon as they was out the door, the IG would be on the phone to the “old man,” ratting the soldier out.

JAG officers? A few actually cared, and some even tried to defend their “clients.” But anyone who wanted a promotion from captain to major, or to continue with their Army career, they knew what they had to do. Just “go through the motions.” A few JAGs we knew did more than that. They pumped information out of those they were “defending” and then passed it on to the prosecution. We’d call cases like that “a slam dunk.”

I never planted evidence myself – I wouldn’t have, unless I was given a direct order – but I had buddies who did. That helped nail down some drug cases. The end justified the means.

Getting into an office after-hours, or somebody’s quarters when we knew they were gone, that happened several times. When you’re trying to make a case, you do what you need to do. No way could we get away with half what we did if we were civilian police.


I think I started to lose my stomach for it when we were detailed to harass an officer the command had targeted. He was being treated for depression already, so it made it all the easier for us to “break him” and “send him over the edge.” It’s just I didn’t figure he’d kill himself. All we wanted was to intimidate him. He had a family and small children. Sometimes I think about them. I wonder if someday they’ll ask themselves why their father committed suicide? I hope they never find out.

You asked about “accidents” and other “suicides” that might be something else. I really don’t want to go there. Let’s just say, there’s ways to make a death look like it was just an accident. And an official finding of “suicide” is the best friend a CID agent has. That means the case is wrapped up tight. No need to do an exhaustive investigation. We have enough on our plate as is.

I read your story on the Marine colonel who got whacked and it was called a “suicide.” I did plenty of things I’m ashamed of now, but if I’d been in on something like that, I don’t think I could live with myself. It’s bad enough now, knowing that I may have contributed to a man’s death. I just didn’t figure he’d “take himself out.” But he did.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: SGT “Richard Edwards”(*) is, in actuality, a pseudonym for another former CID agent. That man was an E-5 and was able to prove his prior service.

At first, we at wondered if we had another “dis-information agent” on our hands. One time, when we’d just gone online, we had a retired LTC contact us suggesting he would like to “help” us by “reviewing” our articles before we posted them. Of course we did a “back-channel check” right away. He turned out to be a newly-retired MP officer running a security agency with a government contract. Needless to say, we didn’t take up his “offer.”

You know the old saying: “When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” We needed to know that this guy - “SGT Edwards” - wasn’t some company clerk with an over-active imagination. But we have “ways” to check out present and past service-members, and eventually what he said - that we could run down - indeed checked out.

We present his story here as a WARNING to the U.S. Army and the American people of what the CID – and their Navy and Air Force counterparts at NIS and OSI – have become. Not all agents did or do what “Edwards” did. Some are honest and have managed to hang onto their integrity. But many have not. Some are more of a “criminal” than those they are sent to apprehend. And that is why this first-person story is so important.

NO, we will NOT disclose the writer’s identity. To ANYONE. For reasons that should be obvious. As the last CID agent – initials TS – who called and tried to “lean on” us found out, you can get in trouble trying “bully-boy tactics” on civilian journalists. So don’t even try.


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