FORT HOOD, Texas — A Battalion Intelligence Officer was relieved late last week after he was found misusing a classified stapler in his office, according to Army officials.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Sgt. Dot Weems, a soldier in the battalion S-2 intelligence section. “We were just working like normal, and suddenly the colonel and some other officers were in here. The colonel read the lieutenant something on a sheet of paper, then told him he was relieved. They made him collect his things from his desk and leave right then and there.”
1st Lt. David Howald was fired in person by his battalion commander and escorted from the S-2 office on Monday.
Investigators from the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) were present as well to interview members of the battalion staff. None were taken into custody, but much of the battalion’s classified storage and equipment were dusted for fingerprints, sources said.
"Lieutenant Howald was using a stapler which clearly has a red SECRET label affixed to staple unclassified documents," said Chief Warrant Officer Hamish Sinclair. "He even left the stapler out on the desk when he left for the day, although the battalion headquarters is not certified for open classified material storage.”
At a press conference, Sinclair held up a clear plastic evidence bag with a light brown Swingline stapler inside, which indeed had a SECRET sticker on it. Sinclair confirmed that Howald was caught multiple times using the SECRET stapler on unclassified documents over the course of an eighteen-month, $12 million dollar sting involving over a dozen undercover operatives embedded in the battalion.
Howald was not arrested, but was advised by CID to remain in the local area for possible further questioning. Once the investigation is complete, Howald may be charged with a crime. For now, he has retained a trial defense counsel but would not comment to reporters.
“I can’t believe the lieutenant is gone,” said Weems. “I guess it just goes to show that anybody can get in trouble for classification issues if they’re not careful. Thank God nobody saw me using the SECRET coffee pot."
Dark Laughter contributed to this article.