Transcript: U.S. Army Recruiter Assistance Program (G-RAP/AR-RAP) investigations review Media Roundtable, November 3, 2022

By U.S. Army Public AffairsNovember 3, 2022

Moderator: Lt. Col. Terence Kelley, OCPA Media Relations Director

Moderator: Okay, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is Lt. Col. Terry Kelley, Army Media Relations Director. Today's media roundtable will discuss the Army's Recruiter Assistant Program investigation records review. On today's panel is Mr. Gregory D. Ford, Director, Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division; Lt. Gen. Douglas S. Stitt, U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1; Ms. Denise Council-Ross, U.S. Army Principal Deputy General Counsel and Brig. Gen. David E. Mendelson, U.S. Army Assistant Judge Advocate for Military Law and Operations.

Today's media round table is on the record with all statements attributable to the speaking official. We will begin with opening comments by the officials and then open the discussion for questions and answers. Please keep your microphone muted and wait on me to call you. Please identify yourself by name and agency when speaking. Due to time constraints, we do ask that each media professional limit themselves to one question with one follow on. I'll now call on Director Ford for his opening statement.

Mr. Ford: Good morning, everybody, and thank you for taking the time to be with us. I'm Gregory Ford, the Director of Army Criminal Investigation Division. Apologize up front, I'm getting over a bit of a cold, so I'm happy to repeat if I need to. But joining me today as previously mentioned are the U.S. Army G-1, the Army's Office of the General Counsel and the Office of the Army Judge Advocate General.

We are here today to discuss the comprehensive review of investigations conducted in relation to a number of Army recruiting programs. Between 2012 and 2016, CID conducted over 900 investigations pertaining to the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program G-RAP, and the Army Reserve Recruiting Assistance Program, AR-RAP, based upon information that these programs may have been vehicles for fraudulent claims against the government.

In the spring of 2022, CID was contacted by a number of individuals potentially impacted by these investigations who requested to be removed from criminal data bases. As a result of that, those inquiries, CID reviewed the associated cases and identified deficiencies therein.

Based on the results of those reviews, in June, I directed a broader review of 100 percent of the investigations related to the RAP programs to include all associated subjects in order to ensure that appropriate standards were applied. Particularly with regard to placing these individuals in criminal data bases.

Since June 2022, CID has been reviewing these cases from both an evidentiary and administrative procedural standpoint. CID is fully committed to identifying and correcting all records to align with the documentation and evidence present in the case file. CID takes our responsibilities in this area very seriously and it is clear that we fell short in a large number of these investigations.

We are dedicated to completing the review of our processes, policies and training to ensure that such errors do not reoccur. These efforts will be undertaken as part of our larger transformation of CID and raising of the level up to the federal law enforcement standard.

If individuals believe they were impacted by these investigations, they can visit our CID website, our crime records center section. We expect to have the majority of these investigations reviewed and corrected by the end of 2022, though a few may extend into early 2023 based on the complexity of the information in the files. Thank you. I'll turn it over to my colleagues.

Moderator: Okay, Lt. Gen. Stitt.

Lt. Gen. Stitt: Good morning. Lt. Gen. Doug Stitt, I'm the Army G-1. Really appreciate you all taking the time to participate in this panel today. And as Director Ford indicated, we are now going to take the documentation that CID has uncovered and transpose this and work with individuals and treat them with dignity and respect because we take this seriously and we want to assist and facilitate each one of these individuals that has been impacted by this review and work with them across each of their individual actions as it pertains to their military records. I'LL look forward to your questions. Thank you.

Moderator: Okay. And then for our combined legal team, Brig. Gen. Mendelson.

Brig. Gen. Mendelson: Hi, good morning. My name is Brig. Gen. David Mendelson. Next to me is Ms. Denise Council-Ross. Our legal teams have been fully engaged in the assessment progress and we will remain integrated with the teams as the review continues. Thank you.

Moderator: We will now transition to questions and answers. Again, please stay on mute until I call on you and limit yourself to a question and one follow up for the sake of time. We will begin with Lita Baldor, Associated Press.

Lita Baldor: Hi, good morning. Lita Baldor with AP. A quick question on the review so far. Can you tell us, Mr. Ford, how many reviews your staff has gotten through so far? There was an indication that more than half or were found to be wrongly done. So can you give us a sense of how many have been done so far and what the results have been to date? Thank you.

Mr. Ford: Sure, thank you. Again, this is Greg Ford, CID. To date, we have conducted approximately 900 reviews. And when I say reviews, those are not necessarily of cases. I'm talking about reviews of individual subjects, so that’s how we are breaking it down. And what we are finding is the majority of those are requiring some form of correction.

Moderator: Okay, thank you, sir.

Lita Baldor: Thank you, sir.

Moderator: CBS, David Martin or Mary Walsh, did you join and if so do you have a question?

David Martin: This is David Martin, can you hear me?

Moderator: Yeah, we can, David.

David Martin: What were the shortcomings?

Mr. Ford: I'm sorry, I missed that. Could you repeat that one more time?

David Martin: So you said that you found shortcomings in the majority of the 900 cases reviewed. What were the shortcomings?

Mr. Ford: Sorry about that. Thank you for repeating it. So, again, Greg Ford, CID. The shortcomings are related to the criteria used for entering individuals into the criminal databases. That is really the crux of this review. Was there enough information and were the right procedures followed in order to justify entering individuals in the criminal databases.

So when I say there were shortcomings, that was the shortcoming in that people were inappropriately entered into the databases. And again, just to clarify, with these cases occurring between 2012 and 2016, largely conducted by reservists activated to conduct these cases, we are left to look at the historical case files and we are basing our decisions solely on the information and evidence contained in those case files and that is where we are looking for the information necessary and the evidence necessary to warrant entry into those data bases. If those are, if they're not present in the files, we are taking corrective action.

David Martin: So, the bottom line is that several hundred so far were wrongly listed in criminal data bases?

Mr. Ford: What I will tell you right now is we have over -- between 100 and 200 ready for notification, which means we have taken some corrective action on those. And I earlier said we have reviewed, you know, around, approximately 900. The difference there is where we are in the process of actually correcting those records. It’s a multistep process, so that’s the reason for the gap there, but yes. We certainly expect, we have between 100 and 200 now. We certainly expect as we finish the corrective action on each piece there, we will have several hundred to notify at least and then so we are tracking right now.

Moderator: Let's go to --

Mary Walsh: This is Mary Walsh, can I just jump in with a question. What is the impact of being listed in the criminal data base?

Moderator: Mary, excuse me. Your organization has already been given a question and a follow up.

Mary Walsh: All right. Never mind.

Moderator: Let us just get through this and we have others we haven't gotten to yet. So, Stars and Stripes, Corey Dickstein.

Corey Dickstein: Yeah, actually I would like to have them answer Mary's question first.

Mr. Ford: Sure, thank you. Again, Greg Ford CID. So the two databases we are talking about is DCII which is the Defense Clearance and Investigations Index. That is a database that someone gets entered to when they are titled as part of a CID investigation. And actually, any military criminal investigative organization investigation.

Titling is an administrative process. Our routine record keeping and identification and does not indicate any sort of guilt or innocence. In fact, there is a Department of Defense instruction that prohibits the use of mere titling for any adverse action.

Indexing is the process by which an individual is enrolled in the Interstate Identification Index, or Triple I which is an FBI administrative database. And now that enrollment can trigger certain impacts and right now it is impossible for us to know how an individual may or may not have been impacted by that which is part of the reason, we are directing folks to our website so they can identify themselves if they believe they have been impacted.

Again, we are conducting a hundred percent review, but we are limited in some of the contact information we have. It is very dated for some of these individuals, so we are encouraging people to identify on that website. But some of the potential impacts of that indexing in Triple I, that database Is queried when people apply for certain jobs, when people apply to be volunteers in certain organizations, would be queried for security clearances, different things like that.

Moderator: Okay. Hannah Lambert --

Corey Dickstein: Whoa, whoa, I have got a follow up.

Moderator: Oh, okay. Go ahead with your follow up.

Corey Dickstein: Yeah, I'm curious to know those that have been impacted, I mean, you just talked about for jobs or security clearances and that kind of stuff. What -- are you guys prepared to financially help these people or, you know, what are you guys going to do going forward for people that have wrongly been denied jobs or security clearances, things like that?

Lt. Gen Stitt: Good morning.

Mr. Ford: Go ahead, Lt. Gen. Stitt.

Lt. Gen Stitt: Director Ford, good morning, and, sir, good morning. Doug Stitt here. So speaking within the realm of military personnel, as these individuals are going through and we receive information back from Director Ford and CID, you know, we will facilitate them and treat individuals individually as, you know, do they have a question regarding their personnel file and what impacts it had potentially on promotion, separation, updating their record. And then if they decide -- if they have separated from the military, come forward with a claim we would facilitate in a system as well.

Moderator: Director Ford, did you have anything else?

Mr. Ford: I do not. I was simply going to cover the CID piece which was the corrective action and then hand it over to Lt. Gen. Stitt. So nothing additional.

Moderator: Thank you, sir. Okay. Now let's go to Hannah Lambert, Fox News Digital.

Hannah Lambert: Good morning. A question and a follow up. So my first question is just zeroing in on the numbers a little bit more. You mentioned that you're conducting a 100 percent review.  How many cases is that since we know at least 2500 people were titled?

Mr. Ford: So again, I'll try to redirect you away from the cases and go to the individuals because that’s really how we are looking at these, is on an individual subject basis. So prioritizing these, 1900 individuals were potentially indexed in Triple I and that is where we are focusing the -- that is why we are focusing that initial effort on those 1900 is because as I laid out, while titling, you know, is not meant to have any impact, the indexing potentially could have an impact.

So we are focusing on those and making those corrective actions as quickly as possible, as well as any associated titling corrections. But, you know, you're right. The number you referenced, the larger number of individuals titled we are also looking at those. So we will be looking at the entire universe of G-RAP cases. That is what I directed back in June and again, we anticipate being able to get there and complete the review and the corrective actions by the end of the calendar year. Potentially stretching a little bit into '23.

Hannah Lambert: Thank you. And my follow up question was just can you provide any additional clarity on how the titling system showing that --

Hot Mic: Can you hear me?

Hannah Lambert: -- many and veterans were received into custody, or it shows up as an arrest on their records but received into custody when most of them say they were not received --

Moderator: Can everyone else mute their mics please? Hannah, can you go back to your question please?

Hannah Lambert: Yeah, no worries. My question was just any additional clarity on how the titling system resulted in so many people having their records show that they were received into custody when many individuals say they were never received into custody?

Mr. Ford: Sure. Again, Greg Ford, CID. And that’s where there is a distinction between the titling and the indexing. So the titling itself would not -- does not reflect anybody being in custody or reflecting a criminal history. That is simply the administrative action of an individual being titled in a CID investigation.

The reflection of an arrest or being taken into custody comes in the Triple I database, the indexing portion of this. And that’s where we are looking at the protocols that were utilized to make those decisions. We are reviewing it from, you know, the two perspectives of was there enough information and evidence in the file that would lead to the potential for an arrest and then were the appropriate procedures followed which in this instance would be an actual arrest to warrant people being put in that database? And that's where in many instances those were not followed so that is why they were saying they were accurately and inappropriately entered into that Triple I system which reflects that as an arrest.

Moderator: Okay, thank you, sir. Task and Purpose, Haley.

Haley Britzky: Hi, yeah, thank you for doing this. I just want to clarify, you're saying that CID is like proactively looking at all of these cases, but also that soldiers should be submitting reviews. So, you know, who has the responsibility here? Is this up to soldiers to submit a review or CID, even if they don’t going to be reviewing all of these cases? And is there a deadline for them to submit those requests to review?

Mr. Ford: No, thank you for that question. I would like to clarify that. So yes, we are absolutely doing the reviews regardless of whether or not anybody contacts us of the entire universe of G-RAP cases. We have taken that on ourselves, that is our responsibility to do.

What we are doing in addition is providing a mechanism for individuals that, you know, believe they may have been impacted to also contact us on our website, provide some updated information, specifically mailing information and contact information so that as we complete these reviews, we have a good mechanism to contact those individuals and advise them, you know, of what if any corrective action was taken with regard to their individual situation. It also allows us to pass that information over to Lt. Gen. Stitt's team on the G-1 side and others to prepare for any follow-on conversations that may occur between that individual and the larger Army.

Haley Britzky: Got it. And if I could follow up. When this was first being reported I think earlier this year, there was some skepticism among, you know, people who said they were impacted by this that this would be carried out correctly and, you know, and probably understandable so, they were a little wary of, you know, would this actually help them? Would this, you know, discover discrepancies and things like that?

Mr. Ford: Yeah, no I appreciate the question. So yes, we are a federal law enforcement agency, and it is important that people view us as responsible, conducting independent investigations and willing to take and accept responsibility when we make mistakes. So on these cases, again, I can't really go into the why the mistakes occurred, because we are limited to looking at the files and what is contained in them, but it's clear that we made mistakes. So on our own volition, we are taking responsibility for that, directed the review and will make all the necessary corrections to those records.

I mentioned earlier, this is part of the larger transformation of CID and there, the organization is undergoing a lot of change right now to really model ourselves in that traditional federal law enforcement model and provide the Army with the superior felony criminal investigative support it needs and deserves. So again, for us, this is just what we must do and should do as a law enforcement agency. If we identify we did something wrong, we need to be up front about it and take the action to fix it.

Haley Britzky: Thank you.

Moderator: Okay. We will go to Military Times.

Jonathan Lehrfeld: Hi, thank you. This is Jonathan Lehrfeld with Military Times. I wanted to ask how you think this investigation compares to other CID investigation in terms of its scope? Would you say that other investigations have risen to this standard and scope or is this still the most prominent one?

Mr. Ford: So, I will -- this is Greg Ford again, CID. I will caveat this with I have been a member of CID for about a year and a half so you're working with a limited, you know, limited direct involvement here. But from what, you know, I have learned about the organization and from what we have started to do here in terms of the transformation, this certainly was a significant effort, a large number of investigations at one time. You know, and so in the terms of effort, yes. It was a large effort, but we have other significant cases at any given point in time.

We have had very significant cases throughout the history of the organization and we absolutely, you know, are and should be capable of conducting an investigation with the span and scope of this. So yeah, I mean, again, it was large, I don’t want to minimize that at all. It was certainly a lot of effort, a lot of personnel dedicated to it at the time, but not something that should be completely foreign to us. And again, I would have confidence, you know, today in our ability to conduct an investigation of this size and scope.

Moderator: Jonathan, any follow up?

Jonathan Lehrfeld: No, thank you. I appreciate it.

Moderator: Okay. Let's go to Elizabeth Howe with Defense One.

Elizabeth Howe: Hi, thanks for doing this. I was wondering about you’ve mentioned several databases, organization systems. Have these investigations revealed any issues with the data tracking itself? Do these programs and software's and databases need to be updated? Are they, or was it truly just human error when these issues occurred? Have the software and the programs do any changes need to be made to how CID tracks this type of data? Thanks.

Mr. Ford: Thank you. Greg Ford, CID again. No, we have not -- our reviews have not indicated any concerns with the systems themselves, the databases themselves. And again, the DCII, the database that is used for titling, that is a Department of Defense system that all the military criminal investigative organizations feed into, and Triple I is an FBI managed system that all law enforcement across the country, state and local and federal feed into.

No, this was not a problem detected with the systems themselves or any corrections that need to be made there. This was our individuals and their assessment of the information evidence and the protocols that led to individuals being inappropriately indexed. So, the systems themselves, no concerns there.

Elizabeth Howe: Great. And then I did have one follow up about this program kicked off because of severe recruiting shortcomings at the time, kind of like the ones the Army is facing now. Does the renewal of investigations have anything to do with the current recruiting environment? Has the Army considered like how this investigation might impact current recruiting, anything like that? Thanks.

Mr. Ford: So, I will let Lt. Gen Stitt speak to the recruiting piece, but again, I'll just reiterate for us, the CID, the review of these cases predates the discussion or certainly it was my knowledge of any discussion about future use of the programs. This was related to the few initial contacts we got and request to review individual investigations that led us to identify broader concerns and then mandate the full review of the G-RAP cases. So that's what caused this review, but I'll kick it over to Lt. Gen. Stitt.

Lt. Gen. Stitt: Good morning, appreciate the question. I think that Army National Guard is reviewing their referral program to isolate and access control measures that were lacking in the previous program. But the Army National Guard and would refer you to the NGB to get more details as they have the direct oversight and responsibility.

Moderator: Okay, thank you, sir. Hey, we have one -- we have time for one final question. Steve Beynon,, did you join?

Steve Beynon: Yeah, I'm here. Hey, thanks for doing this. How many actual fraud cases were found? Because that’s how this investigation actually started.

Mr. Ford: So, in terms of action that was taken on the universal G-RAP investigations, there were 137 prosecutions -- sorry again, Greg Ford, CID again. 137 prosecutions and 286 or so adverse administrative actions.

Steve Beynon: Thank you, thank you. Just real quick, it seems a lot of people got entangled in this stuff that potentially ruined their lives. Is the Army prepared for any litigation on this? I mean, this screams class action lawsuit. And then I know, or Stitt talked about a little bit, but I didn't really get a clear answer. Is there any compensation set aside that the Army can give these people?

Brig. Gen. Mendelson: I’m Brig. Gen. David Mendelson. Thank you for the question. In terms of individuals impacted by these record corrections, the website has been referenced multiple times. We will be a primary source for those to reach out to, to get guidance in order to assist them, one in determining where they think they may have been impacted, and getting relief, whether it be an evaluation which they determine, or think may have impacted them moving forward or a promotion. All that information is online, and the team is ready to assist in that regard.

In terms of what the longer-term impacts are, at this point in time, we are just trying to do the right thing. This is about dignity and respect for those who have been maybe wrongly noted in the FBI index. Its correcting the record and then providing a forum and an opportunity for those individuals to seek the remedy they need. Thank you.

Moderator: Okay, thank you everyone. Hey, we are running short on time. To conclude this, I'll call on Director Ford for any closing remarks he has.

Mr. Ford: Thank you. And just want to thank everybody again for joining us today and very much appreciate the questions and the opportunity to shed additional light on areas that maybe needed a little more clarity.

So, I just want to end by saying CID is committed to being transparent and correcting any errors made. And that is not just for this set of investigations, but we are committed to transparency across the board as we conduct our investigative mission.

And I again will encourage you to direct folks to the CID crime records center website where they can identify themselves as potentially impacted and provide some of that information that will allow us to quickly and easily get ahold of them to pass on the information relative to their individual portion of this review. So again, thank you for everybody's time and very much appreciate the questions today.

Moderator: Thank you, Director Ford. So, for the media, the Army media relations team is available for follow ons. That information is on the advisory. Thank you. Have a great day.