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Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 01/ 9/2011

Jared Loughner unable to enlist in Army because of drug use

By Josh White

(Photo credit: REUTERS)

Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson, was rejected from enlistment in the U.S. Army because of issues related to his history of drug use, military officials said Sunday.

In writings on the Internet attributed to Loughner, the suspect wrote that he had at one point been trying to join the Army through the Military Entrance Processing Command in Phoenix. Army officials confirmed Saturday that Loughner was not accepted and was never in the Army, but did not disclose the reason or reasons for his rejection.

Typically, applicants for military service must pass a barrage of exams, including a standard aptitude test, a urinalysis drug screening, a background check for felonies and misdemeanors, and a series of medical tests that can include psychological evaluations. Military officials said failing the drug tests or lying about prior drug use or convictions are among the most common disqualifiers for service.

In Loughner's case, it appears that his drug use was the problem, and he has a prior drug-related conviction. A military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information said Loughner failed an aspect of the drug inquiry, though it was unclear if it was the urinalysis or other questioning that blocked his entrance. It is unlikely that someone who failed the drug portion of the examinations would have gone on to have more extensive testing, such as a psychological evaluation.

By Josh White  | January 9, 2011; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Hey Curmudgeon10,

You may be surprised to learn that I'm actually quite liberal in my political and social outlooks. But I am realistic in what society needs. People need affordable health care, we need good jobs to support a middle class, poor people shouldn't go hungry, etc. On the other hand, I am pro-life.

But allowing dangerous individuals like Loughner to roam the public streets is crazy. That's not a right wing / left wing issue, it's pure and simple a public health issue.

Posted by: lahhtims | January 9, 2011 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Left-leaning Loughner would have been more likely to actively respond to the bullseye map on the Daily Kos's web pages than to Sarah Palin's map.

If Loughner thought rightwing Sarah Palin was hinting that he should hurt Giffords, he would have done the opposite and protected Gabby.

Posted by: dumbreddown | January 9, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

When impressionable young men/women are bombarded with incendiary rhetoric. fires break out. This time it was like napalm.
One reason wars are fought by the young is because the military system strips them to their psychological core in order to build them into soldiers will to shoot to kill.
Loughner, 22, was deemed unfit to serve, a decision I suspect planted a seed of resentment toward the government.
Cue the right wing hate speech spewing from every form of media add a deep seated disgust of minorities and a lighted fuse starts burning.
Buying a gun does not require a psych evaluation - a lie and no felonies will do.
Stir fervently and explosion is imminent.
Right-wing hate mongers will deny their influence and hide behind their privilege of opinion - they have mostly chosen their words carefully - but second and third tier talkers, eager to move up, scream every invective allowed by the FCC.
To some it's entertainment, but the troubled and emotionally disturbed take it as gospel.
Loughner may be the tip of the spear to greater and frequent horror.
There can be no excuse, rationale or shield for the Limbaughs and Hannitys to hide behind.
Political discourse can be collegial. There is plenty of room for polite discussion and opposing views or for consensus and compromise. It served the country well for it's first 200 years.
Forget Sun Tzu and the Art of War and begin an era of government for all of the people.
Stop carving out and catering to niches of voters who can be linguistically manipulated to re-elect. Pander to them, make them feel important and call them your base - then brazenly desert those who are no longer useful. Hypocrisy does not serve the common good.
Is political power more important than the murder of an opponent?
Mass changes of the political system are mandatory. The cosmetic glossing over that passes for overhaul must end or we will face many more Loughners.
And that can not be allowed.

Posted by: wicked49 | January 9, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

When impressionable young men/women are bombarded with incendiary rhetoric. fires break out. This time it was like napalm.
One reason wars are fought by the young is because the military system strips them to their psychological core in order to build them into soldiers will to shoot to kill.
Loughner, 22, was deemed unfit to serve, a decision I suspect planted a seed of resentment toward the government.
Cue the right wing hate speech spewing from every form of media add a deep seated disgust of minorities and a lighted fuse starts burning.
Buying a gun does not require a psych evaluation - a lie and no felonies will do.
Stir fervently and explosion is imminent.
Right-wing hate mongers will deny their influence and hide behind their privilege of opinion - they have mostly chosen their words carefully - but second and third tier talkers, eager to move up, scream every invective allowed by the FCC.
To some it's entertainment, but the troubled and emotionally disturbed take it as gospel.
Loughner may be the tip of the spear to greater and frequent horror.
There can be no excuse, rationale or shield for the Limbaughs and Hannitys to hide behind.
Political discourse can be collegial. There is plenty of room for polite discussion and opposing views or for consensus and compromise. It served the country well for it's first 200 years.
Forget Sun Tzu and the Art of War and begin an era of government for all of the people.
Stop carving out and catering to niches of voters who can be linguistically manipulated to re-elect. Pander to them, make them feel important and call them your base - then brazenly desert those who are no longer useful. Hypocrisy does not serve the common good.
Is political power more important than the murder of an opponent?
Mass changes of the political system are mandatory. The cosmetic glossing over that passes for overhaul must end or we will face many more Loughners.
And that can not be allowed.

Posted by: wicked49 | January 9, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Why not require fingerprints to buy a gun, then?

What are we coming to? Political participation means register to vote and buy a gun?


Posted by: cmarshdtihqcom | January 9, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

This is a complicated situation. Drug use was not the problem with this kid. Most normal people can handle mind altering substances with no problems. A small few cannot. the vast majority of human beings use these substances without incident and yes that would include alcohol.

This guy had a long history of mental illness and it's documented. One tool we now have and it can be a very useful one are these social networking sites on the net. This country needs a hot line or a site where people can report this type of behavior. We also need to have law enforcement using it as a tool to prevent crimes before they occur and not trying to piece together a case for prosecution when there were warning signs.

If you are making grim reaper videos online then some type of law enforcement should be knocking at your door asking the hard questions.

Posted by: skins91r | January 9, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"I realize that some people won't really care, but this is a Privacy Act violation, to disclose confidential information about an applicant."

The man shot a U.S. Congresswoman in the head, killed a 2 including a 9-year-old, and wounded many others...And you care about his privacy? If that was your little girl, what would you say then? If that was your grandpa (Judge John Roll), would you say the same thing? No!

This man commited a deadly crime. We deserve to know 1)why, 2)what events lead up to it, and 3) what's going to be done about it.

Privacy...ha!

Posted by: budley109 | January 9, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

This is a complicated situation. Drug use was not the problem with this kid. Most normal people can handle mind altering substances with no problems. A small few cannot. the vast majority of human beings use these substances without incident and yes that would include alcohol.

This guy had a long history of mental illness and it's documented. One tool we now have and it can be a very useful one are these social networking sites on the net. This country needs a hot line or a site where people can report this type of behavior. We also need to have law enforcement using it as a tool to prevent crimes before they occur and not trying to piece together a case for prosecution when there were warning signs.

If you are making grim reaper videos online then some type of law enforcement should be knocking at your door asking the hard questions.

Posted by: skins91r | January 9, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

This dismissing Loughner as only a mentally disturbed individual won't wash. What about his drug use? And this is the country which appears to be trying to LEGALIZE drugs as the big solution to the rampant drug problem.

It will be interesting to see whether drug tests on this guy turns up stuff in his system during the time he started shooting.

Dave Hughes

Posted by: dave19 | January 9, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Ditto comments about locking up paranoid schizos. What good has come from mainstreaming these people? I mean good to society as a whole, not good to a few handwringers and wussies.

I still want to know what the parents did to see about treatment for the guy. He was living at home, having been kicked out of college. I haven't read about a job, but apparently he had enough cash to buy a nice Glock.

But, hey libs, this is your idea of civil rights I guess. Mainstream all the nuts, and let them do what they will.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | January 9, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with slightest knowledge of deviant psychology will instantly recognize this kid as a paranoid schizophrenic. The most telling sign is his obsession with his mind being "controlled" by an external force.

We need to seriously revisit our decisions giving the mentally ill their "full civil rights". There are psychotics out there like Mr. Loughner who are a clear and present danger to society and need to be separated from the public.

Posted by: lahhtims | January 9, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure DOJ will be hunting down this unathorized leak for prosecution.

Posted by: MalcolmYoung | January 9, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

tokenwhitemale wrote "I realize that some people won't really care, but this is a Privacy Act violation, to disclose confidential information about an applicant."

You are SO RIGHT -- I don't care. You also could have pointed out that he's innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by: D_E_V_O | January 9, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes... just like George W. Bush... and Bill Clinton... and - oh forget it.

-----------------------

past history of drug use disqualifies you for serving in the Army? LOL Obama never would have been eligible to serve, but he is the commander in chief???

Posted by: cr10 | January 9, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: atact88 | January 9, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"past history of drug use disqualifies you for serving in the Army? LOL Obama never would have been eligible to serve, but he is the commander in chief???"

a) yes: deal with it
a1 he wouldn't even have to have been elected President, he could become president & CinC through succession. Right now John Bohner is the 3rd in line if Obama and Biden become unfit to serve.

b) there are plenty of other reasons that people are disqualified on a regular basis, or are discharged from military service. Or are found unfit to serve, even if they are not actually discharged. For example the military routinely accepts illegal immigrants, none of which would have a ghost of a chance to be president because they weren't born in the US, and indeed aren't even US citizens.

c) "never" is a long time.
Cases change, status changes, rules change.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 9, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"A military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information said Loughner failed an aspect of the drug inquiry, "

...also quotes like this are now much more interesting than they were before. When someone has to speak "off the record" because they are not authorized to say what they are saying.

I realize that some people won't really care, but this is a Privacy Act violation, to disclose confidential information about an applicant. Everyone and anyone in the government is explicitly trained not to do this, you have to sign a certification that you are aware of the Privacy Act restrictions and their implications. And yet it happens all the time, every time a newsworthy story comes up that has a government angle, some reporter gets a government official to do just that.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 9, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Honestly what I was worried about when I first read about this wasn't some tea-party nut (or in this case, a repressed fascist) doing the shooting, but some shooter for a drug-gang out there with an Ak-47 spraying the rally as some sort of sign about the border enforcement or immigration policy, I figure it's just a matter of time before that happens.

The fact that it's just a white kid out there with issues and a Glock is almost a letdown, really. That's so common these days as to almost not even be newsworthy. Seriously there are too many guns out there, too many kids with issues and too much stress these days with the economy. These kinds of shootings are going to be very common. 8th of January and we've already had a kid shoot his assistant principal because he got disciplined over driving his jeep on the football field, a 10 year old shoot his mother because he got disciplined over having to bring firewood into the house, and now this. There are a lot of mentally-troubled people out there with access to firearms. It's just going to be a common thing.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 9, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

past history of drug use disqualifies you for serving in the Army? LOL Obama never would have been eligible to serve, but he is the commander in chief???

Posted by: cr10 | January 9, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"Why didn't his drug conviction show up on his criminal check when he purchased the handgun used in the shooting."

They don't do a "criminal check" when you file the paperwork to buy a weapon.

This is a good catch I have to admit that I missed it myself when I read this, but you have to understand that there are layers of bureaucracy at work here. There are federal laws against the possession of a firearm or ammunition, but that doesn't mean that the NICS check is tied into federal law or that the purchase itself is tied into the NICS check.

a: Only gun dealers perform NICS checks. If they pass the NICS check the gun dealer is off the hook. Obviously the NICS check isn't fully up to date on the criminal history of the applicant, it takes some time for that to filter up from the state level to the federal level.

b: he may not actually have a drug conviction on his state criminal record. If he had, there is the immediate question of why he was ever told that he even had a chance of enlisting in the Army...and then obviously if the Army disqualified him for that, why wasn't the BATF told of his drug conviction? It's just not a simple straightforward issue

and then there's

c) if he had just gone to a gun show or bought the weapon through a private transaction no NICS check would have been performed. All the seller would have to do is notify the BATF about the sale. Obviously that wouldn't have stopped him here, he would have had the gun and ammo in plenty of time.

The main issue is that the law doesn't stop criminals from violating it, only the enforcement of the law will stop criminals at all. And if it becomes a crime to simply buy a weapon then people will simply buy them on the black market. The main arrests will be made of people who unknowingly break the law, or who are at least honest enough to admit that they broke it. But in PG just this week they areested a man for impersonating an officer and shaking-down Hispanics on the street and the guy was a former PG county *officer* whose brother was an officer still and who somehow got his brothers' uniform and convinced an officer on patrol to let him use his squad car. There are going to be hardcore criminals out there. No amount of legislation is going to eliminate that.

But you can bet that behind this there are going to be a lot of changes in terms of what info gets to NICS and how quickly.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 9, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

What difference does it make.

Not like the only psychos out there shooting people are kids who couldn't get into the Army.

Doesn't matter what the gun laws are either when you take legally-purchased weapon and go shoot 9 people with it at a political rally.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 9, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't his drug conviction show up on his criminal check when he purchased the handgun used in the shooting.

Posted by: NewTexan | January 9, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. I read recently that 85% of young Americans are ineligible to get into the military. I'm glad to see they are successfully screening out idiots like this guy.

.

Posted by: ZZim | January 9, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It could be valuable, if available, to have the Army's psych evaluation, but I understand that these tests are only given to those who pass previous levels of screening.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 9, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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