Back in December 2015, the Army found a civilian had been living in the barracks of 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers.
How did this happen??
These soldiers are among the Army's most elite - and no one had any inkling a civilian had been living with them?? For months??
I immediately requested the Army's investigation into how this happened through the federal Freedom of Information Act. I was told the investigation wasn't complete and to try again in 60 days. In February, I filed another report and included my original request. U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) attempted to make this difficult by saying they would only accept FOIA requests made through their online form. For the sake of processing my request, I filled out the form, but also sent an email to that office citing the FOIA law, which clearly states a request must be accepted if the records described are reasonably clear.
The USASOC office called me on April 13 to let me know the report was completed and they would attempt to email it over. If it was too big, they warned, they would have to snail mail it. I offered to pick it up from the office - and dove right into it.
I was shocked to see the investigators redacted the name of the civilian, especially since he had been criminally charged related to this incident. Nonetheless, I was able to use state court records to match up the civilian described by the Army with Triston Chase. Both men had the same six felonies out of Harnett County with court appearances on the same days. Our crime reporter was able to track down the mug shot for Chase to appear with my story.
The USASOC office also redacted the case number and defendant name for the case in Harnett County that they said the civilian was charged for. The office claimed the redaction was for "personal privacy."
I am fighting those redactions. It's moot, but its the principle of the matter. State court records are public and USASOC had no right to redact public information.
My story showed how Chase exploited the lack of oversight in the barracks to obtain a room key, access the barracks and live there for months.
He was described by Army investigators as a "con-artist" who had never served in the armed forces, but had enough knowledge of the military to dupe others into believing he was a soldier.
You can read the full story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/military/civilian-found-living-in-rd-group-barracks-called-a-con/article_239685cb-7000-5975-b29a-0ec8d8ec0936.html
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