ANCHORAGE, Ak. – Senior Airman Ralph Montanez, an Intelligence Operations Specialist assigned to the 611th Air Operations Center at Elmendorf Air Force Base, was detained last week and charged with mishandling classified information while not having high enough rank to get away with it.
“This is a serious charge,” said Lt. Col. Peter Smith, the Intelligence Division commander. “We expect our enlisted intelligence personnel and sometimes junior officers to adhere to the highest security standards to protect classified information.”
Airman Montanez allegedly sent classified summaries of various intelligence reports over an unclassified computer network, according to the complaint. This, explained Smith, was strictly forbidden for anyone below the rank of colonel.
“If he was, say, a theater commander, and he wanted to send classified data to a reporter with which he had a romantic interest, then that would be one thing,” Smith said. “But more is expected of Airman Montanez, until such time as he earns a commission and attains a rank more appropriate for egregious security violations.”
“There are rules,” agreed Lt. Col. Travis Templeton, Judge Advocate General at 11th Air Force. “You just can’t send secret information over non-secure lines. This could result in discharge and/or jail time. Unless, you know, you’re a commander or a flag officer or the Secretary of State or an advisor to the president or something. “
Airman Montanez’s troubles have been compounded by a discrepancy found during his initial security clearance investigation. Templeton revealed the investigation discovered that Montanez “failed to disclose having an overseas business association without having ‘Kushner’ or ‘Clinton’ as a last name.”
“We have to be able to trust our junior enlisted with classified intelligence,” said Col. Smith. “The consequences of Airman Montanez’s actions could cost American lives. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to call my wife and let her know that my Advance Team’s arrival time in Syria has been pushed back another day, so I’ll be home for dinner.”