Drug Testing Under Fire In Air Academy Scandal 

Drug Testing Under Fire In Air Academy Scandal 
Posted by FoM on February 07, 2001 at 07:55:43 PT
By Judith Graham, Tribune Staff Writer
Source: Chicago Tribune
A major drug scandal at the U.S. Air Force Academy is highlighting concern that cadets are using illegal substances such as Ecstasy that are difficult to detect with standard drug tests. The scandal has prompted talk of a congressional investigation.The investigation entered a new phase in the past week, as one cadet, senior Stephen Pouncey, 22, was court-martialed Jan. 31 and sentenced to 42 months in military prison in Leavenworth, Kan., for using and distributing drugs such as Ecstasy and LSD.
Sophomore Cadet Barton Duvall has been charged with taking LSD and could be court-martialed in a hearing Wednesday. He faces up to 5 years in prison.A third cadet resigned under pressure last month, and 11 others are under investigation in the drug scandal, the largest ever at the academy. Nine other cadets have been put on probation for knowing about students' misbehavior but not telling authorities.The scandal is "a big black eye for the academy," which trains future Air Force officers and fighter pilots on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, said Sarah Sheldon, spokeswoman for Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.)."We are deeply disturbed," said academy spokesman Neil Talbott. "Our cadets know their actions have consequences. And because of the responsibilities we trust them with, we hold them to a higher standard."Faced with criticism from Hefley concerning their drug-testing policies, academy officials have promised to step up random tests and commander-ordered tests, especially on weekends and holidays when senior cadets tend to leave campus, Talbott said. Officials are also working to develop more sensitive tests.Last year, the school conducted urinalysis on about 2,600 of its 4,100 cadets. The current investigation began in October after a test showed positive for drugs.The scandal underscores the dangers that drugs such as Ecstasy pose to military academies' efforts to combat drug use. Five of the 14 cadets being investigated are believed to have used Ecstasy, according to a mid-January briefing by academy Vice Supt. Brian Binn. Other drugs reportedly involved include marijuana, LSD and Blue Nitro, a sleep aid and muscle builder also known as Verve and Midnight Blue.Since Ecstasy is flushed out of a person's system in less than a day, much more rapidly than other illegal drugs, it is harder to discover its use with episodic testing."Clearly, there's a changing dynamic out there with new drugs like Ecstasy that are not detectable by traditional drug-testing policies," said Sean Conway, press secretary for Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), who is on the Armed Services Committee.The potential for undetected abuse "is not just an Air Force Academy problem--it's a problem for all the military academies and for the military servicewide," Conway said.Underscoring Allard's concern, a separate, unrelated investigation by the Air Force in Colorado Springs is looking into the alleged use of Ecstasy, LSD and marijuana by 15 enlisted personnel at Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.Allard's spokesman said the senator is worried about the lack of a uniform drug-testing policy at the nation's three military academies--the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and the Air Force Academy--and may ask Congress to look into the testing programs.At the Air Force Academy, 35 cadets initially were investigated. Twelve were exonerated; nine were found to have concealed information; and 14 became the main targets of the probe, which has been conducted by academy security staff and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.At his Jan. 31 court-martial hearing, Pouncey said another cadet introduced him to Ecstasy in May. In October, he said he tried LSD and cocaine at clubs in Denver. After a commander requested a urinalysis on Oct. 16 and Pouncey's results turned up positive, the cadet began cooperating with investigators.Drug problems crop up at all three service academies on an intermittent basis. But in addition to the unfolding scandal at the Air Force Academy, West Point in December began investigating four cadets who were found to have taken a drug known as ketamine or "Special K," used primarily as an anesthetic for large animals. Like Ecstasy, it is difficult to detect, said West Point spokesman James Whaley.Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Judith Graham, Tribune Staff WriterPublished: February 07, 2001Address: 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066Contact: ctc-TribLetter Tribune.comWebsite: Articles:Air Force Wages Weekend War on Drugs Force Probing Drug Use Drug Testing Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by draft dodger on February 07, 2001 at 17:14:29 PT
fart in a windstorm
> senior Stephen Pouncey, 22, was court-martialed Jan. 31 and sentenced to 42 months in military prison in Leavenworth, Kan., for using and distributing drugs such as Ecstasy and LSD. Ya know what, authoritarians? This will do NOTHING to change drug use preferences within or without your sacred armed forces. After 30+ years of war on LSD, and coming up to 20 years of war on "ecstasy" (which is what, exactly?) your armed forces function as they always have and always will: as a preferred point of distribution for illegal drugs.
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