RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany — Documents seized last year from the home of an Air Force noncommissioned officer included confidential material from a promotion testing program, such as answers and verbatim questions, an Air Force official testified at a hearing Wednesday.

The Article 32 hearing for Master Sgt. J. Abdur Rahim Saafir is one of at least three cases that have threatened the integrity of the Weighted Airmen Promotion System.

Saafir’s hearing at Rhein-Main Air Base is the first to progress to the Article 32 stage, a pretrial process similar to a civilian grand jury hearing. After the hearing concludes this week, the investigating officer will make a formal recommendation that may lead to a general court-martial.

The sergeant faces multiple counts of conspiracy and failure to obey a lawful general regulation.

Saafir, a 37-year-old mission support flight superintendent for the 469th Air Base Group at Rhein-Main, is no run-of-the-mill airman. He was named the 2003 U.S. Air Forces in Europe personnel manager of the year. In that capacity, he had access to the testing material.

Prosecutors began their case Tuesday evening with a conference call to the States to question an acquaintance of Saafir. That airman has been implicated in the case.

On Wednesday, prosecutors questioned three special agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Each gave testimony that served to link documents and information seized last May from Saafir’s house, vehicle and office with a subsequent review that uncovered a possible scandal involving the testing process.

Another witness, 1st Lt. Eric Quidley, testified that the material seized included a photocopy of a test and various e-mails that included verbatim questions and answers to promotion tests enlisted personnel take. The tests are “controlled items,” and strident steps are taken to safeguard them, said Quidley, chief of test construction for the Air Force Personnel Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

Under questioning from the prosecutor, Capt. Jack Spencer, Quidley spoke of instances in which airmen associated with Saafir scored unusually high marks on their test, given the mean average and their past scores. On average, airmen who take the tests, a major factor in promotion decisions, score in the high 40s to low 50s. Documents showed “highly unusual” upswings in several test scores, including some that topped 90.

Maj. Patrick Dolan, Saafir’s lead defense attorney, questioned Quidley on the wide availability of tutorial books that could explain the higher test scores. Quidley, though admitting he hasn’t looked at such books, doubted that was the case because of the extraordinary lengths his office goes in formulating the multiple-answer tests.

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