July 26, 2004
Some facts are stubborn things to check!
In his last post, Varius made the following point:
To question the timing, to speculate about the worst cause of an unclear event (like those who wondered whether Bush 'went AWOL' to avoid drug testing), and to counter a valid argument through an ad hominem attack is part and parcel of the leftist worldview.My curiosity was aroused, so I poked around and saw that the story about drug testing is based on the following assertions in a piece by Salon.com Senior Editor Eric Boehlert:
Did Bush drop out of the National Guard to avoid drug testing?The official regulations look very authoritative, and would appear to settle at least the matter of when drug testing was instituted in the Air Force, right down to the date of directive, date of implementation, and the exact regulation number.
Surely these facts were checked and rechecked, I thought.
But the problem is, I lived in Hawaii in 1975-1976, and I knew a number of guys in the military. I got high with some of them (should I say I never inhaled?), and even discussed my own thoughts about possibly enlisting (something I ruled out -- but not because of drug testing).
In fact, I can state from my own memory that a lot of guys in the military in Hawaii in the mid 1970s did drugs. There was no routine drug screening. Drug testing was in its infancy at the time, and drug use was rampant in all branches of the service. All rules were liberalized, and there were even on-base beer dispensing machines. It wasn't until the late 1970s that there was talk of drug testing.
According to what I can discern, drug testing in the military started in 1981.
Here's an article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
When the U.S. Navy thought too many aircraft were crashing into carrier decks during the late 1970s, it instituted mandatory drug testing and found almost 50 percent of those tested were positive for marijuana, according to Carl Linden, scientific director of toxicology for Diagnostic Services Inc. in Honolulu.The 1981 date finds confirmation here, here, here, and here. And in an editorial letter to the Washington Times, Retired Air Force Colonel William Campenni says:
...[T]he formal drug testing program was not instituted by the Air Force until the 1980s and is done randomly by lot, not as a special part of a flight physical, when one easily could abstain from drug use because of its date certain.So who's lying? What about the "official" dates and regulations cited by Eric Boehlert?
I shouldn't have to go to so much trouble, but the idea that official regulations and dates might be made up is a possibility too disturbing to ignore. Surely, I thought, a little research should clear this up.
So I googled "Air Force Regulation 160-23", and found 33 hits -- all pointing not to any actual Air Force regulation, but to Eric Boehlert's language.
Then I googled "Medical Service Drug Abuse Testing Program", and I got the same 33 hits to the same language.
None of this proves conclusively that the regulation wasn't instituted, of course.
How might I confirm something so basic? Are we to assume that the author contacted the Air Force? He lists no Air Force spokesman, links to no official web site, and no matter what I google, it's a closed loop.
NOTE: Considering that Boehlert is said to be a writer of "fiction", even if the story of Air Force regulations proves false, I may be completely overreacting.... After all, these days, a documentary doesn't have to be true, so why should a story in an online news magazine?
posted by Eric on 07.26.04 at 04:12 PM
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