The Department of Defense announced a two-day pause to court-martial and administrative separation proceedings involving the wrongful use of controlled substances, due to worries over the integrity of the lab tests involved — a move that could also cast a pall over past drug-related dismissals, Military Times reports.
A May 2018 study conducted by the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory, which oversees drug-related urinalysis testing for the service, found that potential leaks between urine samples during transport could result in cross-contamination of drug-free samples with “hot” urine, tainting the samples of ostensibly innocent airmen.
The Air Force reached that conclusion through a series of experiments involving shipping urine samples in various configurations to check for contamination. “When ADFTL received the boxes, they were both soaked with urine,” the study says, making it officially my favorite government report ever.
In announcing the pause, the DoD general counsel stated that all officer elimination actions “will need a closer look to ensure they are not a part of a current situation with the drug lab testing procedures” — basically, to ensure that hard-working officers aren’t having their careers ruined over a lab error.
This is going to cause a lot of problems for drug violations past and present. “This definitely raises doubt in the system,” Tully Rinckey law firm founding partner and former active-duty JAG Greg Rinckey told Military Times. “There are a lot of defenses that can be raised now that call into question all of the drug testing.”
The Pentagon’s pause comes just over a year after every U.S. military base implemented brand-new drug testing procedures to test for substances beyond the traditional marijuana, cocaine, and LSD, to include opioids like oxycodone and synthetic cannabinoids. And it raises an interesting question: How many active-duty U.S. troops had their careers ended over some loose piss? Something tells me we’ll never know the answer.