- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AP) Two U.S. pilots in Afghanistan were given amphetamines to help them stay awake before they mistakenly dropped a bomb that killed four Canadians, a defense attorney argued yesterday.
The pilots also were given anti-depressants when they returned from their mission, said David Beck, attorney for Maj. William Umbach.
Mr. Beck spoke at a military hearing to decide whether Maj. Umbach and Maj. Harry Schmidt should be court-martialed for dropping the guided bomb near Kandahar, Afghanistan, on April 17, 2002.
Maj. Umbach and Maj. Schmidt are charged with involuntary manslaughter. The Air Force says they failed to follow proper procedure and make sure there were no allied troops in the area.
Mr. Beck and Charles W. Gittins, Maj. Schmidt's attorney, have said the pilots were not told Canadians were conducting live-fire exercises and believed their F-16s were under attack from the Taliban or al Qaeda. They have also said the amphetamines may have impaired the pilots' judgment.
Mr. Beck said the amphetamines are given to Air Force pilots to help them stay awake during long missions, and promised to raise the issue of the pills later in the hearing.
"The Air Force has a problem. They have administered 'go pills' to soldiers that the manufacturers have stated affect performance and judgment," Mr. Beck said. "Also, when [pilots] come back, they are given an anti-depressant. That is the reason we have concern."
In the military court system, the hearing that began yesterday is known as an Article 32 and is considered an investigation, similar to a civilian grand jury hearing. Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the 8th Air Force based at Barksdale, was expected to decide after the hearing whether the pilots will be court-martialed.
The pilots, from the Illinois National Guard, face a maximum of 64 years in military prison if convicted in a court-martial.


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