::


:: PoliticsWatch Archives

> PoliticsWatch Frontpage


:: Inside PoliticsWatch

> Contact PoliticsWatch


:: PoliticsWatch News

Drug Testing in U.S. Government and Politics 

[PoliticsWatch updated 3:00 p.m., August 29, 2007]

While running for president, U.S. President George W. Bush would not comment on whether he used illegal drugs before the age of 28. 

OTTAWA -- Drug testing in the U.S. government is much more stringent than in Canada where there is no drug policy whatsoever for civilian employees.    

In 1986, U.S. President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12564 -- Drug Free Federal Workplace, which requires federal employees refrain from drug use and allowed for mandatory testing. 

"The use of illegal drugs, on or off duty, by federal employees is inconsistent not only with the law-abiding behaviour expected of all citizens, but also with the special trust placed in such employees as servants of the public," Reagan's order read. 

It also expressed concern about high-ranking government officials with access to secret information who could face "the possibility of coercion, influence, and irresponsible action under pressure that may pose a serious risk to national security, the public safety, and the effective enforcement of the law." 

The order allows the head of government agencies to test employees in "sensitive positions," to randomly test when there is "reasonable suspicion" of drug use and to test any job applicant for drug use.  

Despite the zeal of Reagan to make the federal workplace drug free, later occupants of the White House had their own challenges. 

In July 1996, two Secret Service agents told a Congressional committee that U.S. President Bill Clinton's White House created a special drug testing program for 21 employees after their background checks indicated recent drug abuse. 

"I have seen cocaine usage. I have seen hallucinogenic usages, crack
usages," said agent Jeffrey Undercoffer, when asked to describe the types of drugs used by White House staffers who were placed in the special programs.

The Secret Service had originally denied passes and clearances to the staffers but the White House arranged the testing program as a compromise so the employees could keep their jobs. 

Later in 1996, FBI Special Agent Dennis Sculimbrene, who conducted the background interviews of White House staff, told the Wall Street Journal that the problem at the White House was widespread. 

"There were senior people as well, senior aides and advisers to the president who used drugs recently --people in policy positions, or, say, a director of an office," he said without revealing names. "Some of them had the attitude: No big deal; it should be legalized. Some senior people even said they had used drugs as recently as the Inaugural."

Sculimbrene said the White House's personnel security chief, Craig Livingstone, created a guideline in 1994 that drug use of more than 50 times was an automatic disqualifier for receiving a permanent White House pass. That prompted many staffers to call the FBI to recant their interviews in which they said they had used 100 or more times.  In the ultimate irony, Livingstone, who handed out the White House passes, had his own FBI security clearance held up because of past drug usage. 

Finally, there is current U.S. President George W. Bush who spent much of the 2000 presidential campaign dodging reporters' questions about rumours of his past use of cocaine. 

Bush would not answer questions about whether he ever used illegal drugs, but told reporters that he would be able to pass an FBI security background check for White House appointees that asks if they had used illegal drugs in the past seven years. 

"I've told the people of this country that, over 20 years ago, I made some mistakes when I was younger. I've learned from those mistakes," Bush said on the campaign trail, without ever denying or admitting that he used drugs. 

At one point his campaign drew a specific date at 1974, when Bush was 28, and said he had never used illicit drugs since then, but would not comment on Bush's activities before that. 

During his presidency an old Bush friend, author Doug Wead, released taped conversations he had with Bush, including one that touched on the drug issue. 

“I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions,” Bush is heard saying. “You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.” 

: Related Links

> Are Your Politicians and Public Servants on Drugs? You Don't Have a Right to Know

© PoliticsWatch® 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, including by framing, copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Public Interests Research and Communications Inc. (PIRCINC). PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.

> More Recent PoliticsWatch News...







:: Got a News Tip?

Call the PoliticsWatch
tip-line at 613.232.0516
or
e-mail

 

PoliticsWatch Home  |  News Services  Voter Resources  |  Research Base

© PoliticsWatch® 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PoliticsWatch content, 
including by framing, copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of 
Public Interests Research and Communications Inc. (PIRCINC). PoliticsWatch is registered trademark of PIRCINC.
PoliticsWatch® | Canada's Political Portal™
85 Albert Street, Suite 1502, Ottawa ON K1P 6A4 |  phone: 613.232.0516
news@politicswatch.com  |  Terms of Service, Copyright, Trademarks, and Disclaimers Statement