Three U.S. Air Force pilots have been grounded and now carry permanent blemishes on their records...all for a series of text exchanges that references Miley Cyrus, T.I., and JellyRoll lyrics. According to a Daily Beast investigation, commanding officers read the texts and concluded that the pilots were engaging in illegal drug use.
The investigation began as an attempt to catch an instructor accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. When investigators seized the instructor's phone, they found drug-themed texts, which launched an entirely new trial. Eventually four more phones were seized and the texts picked apart.
In the texts, the pilots joked about using molly and marijuana. Some of the texts referenced a trip to Vegas where Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" became the anthem of the trip, although the pilots swore it was a drug-free outing. "Molly" was an inside joke referencing a group of girls they met who appeared to be high on drugs. According to the Daily Beast, the texts were basically the sort of jocular, joking, bro-y thing that groups of male friends fire back and forth without thought. For Air Force commanding officers to take them as evidence of drug use and distribution might've been a stretch.
In another exchange, a pilot texted a colleague that he should bring some food to grill for a large cookout at the man’s house.
It's also not entirely clear whether Air Force investigators had the legal authority to seize any of the pilots' phones—a copy of their search warrant was dated the day after the search was conducted. The pilots' lawyers have asked for a full explanation of all legal authorities the Air Force used. For now the pilots are grounded; three are assigned to desk jobs and are still being paid. At least one pilot has resolved to fight the Air Force's dishonorable discharge, which would make getting a job as a commercial pilot extremely difficult in future.