Monday, December 12, 2011

The War on Drugs! (Part 1)



Commentary: In the 'War on Drugs,' dissent in considered 'unpatriotic'

Glenn Garvin, The Miami Herald
Mon, Dec. 12, 2011
I owe Kyle Vogt an apology. A former military policeman, he’s now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP,, a group of former cops, prosecutors and judges that supports ending the war on drugs.
When I interviewed Vogt for a column earlier this year, everything he said about the high cost and low results of the war on drugs made perfect sense. But he made one claim which, though I smiled politely, I didn’t believe and didn’t use in my column: that dozens and dozens of drug cops have contacted LEAP to express their support.
“They’re afraid,” Vogt said. “Any policeman who says he thinks drugs should be legalized gets fired.” In civil-liberties-conscious America, patrolled by attack squadrons of ACLU lawyers? Get real, buddy, I thought. The war on drugs does enough damage without piling on with paranoid delusions.
But in the war on drugs, the line between paranoia and reality turns out to be a thin one indeed. Over the weekend, The New York Times carried a story on Bryan Gonzalez, a young agent fired by the U.S. Border Patrol. Grounds for dismissal: Gonzalez told another agent that legalizing marijuana would save lives both in the United States and Mexico. And he mentioned LEAP.
When the other agent reported the conversation to his superiors, it triggered an internal affairs investigation that ended with an official letter dismissing Gonzalez for holding “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and esprit de corps.”
For starters, that sentence is a flat-out lie. The Border Patrol’s “core values,” according to its own web page, are serving the American public “with vigilance, integrity and professionalism.” There’s not a single word about patriotism, dedication or esprit de corps.
But what if there was? Since when is it unpatriotic to advocate a change in the U.S. criminal code? If Gonzalez had told his fellow Border Patrol agent that he thought prison terms for drug smugglers should be doubled, would that have been unpatriotic, too?
Gonzalez did not light up a joint or bring a pan of Alice B. Toklas brownies to work. He did not let a drug smuggler go. He did not even sell guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. (Though, to be fair, that’s apparently not a firing offense in the Obama administration.) All he did was express an opinion.
But, as Kyle Vogt tried to tell me, having the wrong opinion about the war on drugs is enough to get you fired from a law-enforcement job these days:
• Last month, former Arizona probation officer Joe Miller filed suit to get his job back after being fired for signing a letter in support of a ballot initiative (in another state!) to legalize personal use of marijuana.
Jonathan Wender, a sergeant in the Mountlake Terrace, Washington, police department, was fired for supporting the decriminalization of marijuana. He won a court case that got him an $815,000 settlement plus his job back, but decided to quit anyway.
• Canada, which hosted so many American draft dodgers trying to stay out of the war in Vietnam, is apparently taking a less tolerant view of dissent from its own war on drugs. When city officials in Victoria, British Columbia, invited local cop David Bratzer to give a speech outlining his support for legalization, Bratzer’s chief canceled it, then warned him not to criticize drug laws while within the city limits.
Clearly, the war on drugs has escalated to a war on talking about the war on drugs.
I’m sorry I doubted Vogt. As the old joke goes, even paranoids have real enemies. Though nobody’s laughing at this one.
10 Ways the War on Drugs is a Wild Success
Eric Blair
Thursday, December 8, 2011

For all the evidence of how the War on Drugs has failed society, there's equally as much evidence of how it is a great success to those who continue to support it. The drug war has many advantages if you wish to control society and expand your empire. It also enriches several industries that would otherwise have a very difficult time staying solvent without it.
Here are ten ways the War on Drugs is a wild success:
Military-Industrial Profits: As the Vietnam War came to an end, it struck fear into the military-industrial machine that enjoyed great profits from that conflict. In a world where contrived enemies were needed to keep a constant funding of weapons, Richard Nixon declared drugs "Public Enemy Number 1". Thus, domestic armies were erected to combat the illegal drug trade, delivering consistent cash flow to weapons manufacturers. These companies make money, not just from the needs of the DEA, border patrol, and local police forces, but also from drug traffickers. Win-win and profits all around.
Huge Boon to Private Prisons: The private prison industry thrives off long sentences for drug offenders. At least 25% of their profits come from these nonviolent criminals. A great number more are held on "drug related" charges that may have resulted in drug violence. However, the current trend shows that three-quarters of new inmates admitted to state prisons are nonviolent offenders. Private prisons clearly depend on arresting pot smokers and addicts of more severe drugs.
Prevents Higher Unemployment Rates: Imagine if the millions of American currently jailed on drug charges were released into a job market already suffering from real unemployment numbers over 20%. Additionally, if it wasn't for drugs being illegal, countless people like DEA agents, court staff, prison guards, parole officers, drug dealers, etc would otherwise be unemployed. Thank goodness for the war on drugs, or the U.S. economy would look even worse.
Suppresses Minority Populations: It's often said that the drug war is a war on minorities: "According to the ACLU, African Americans make up an estimated 15% of drug users, but they account for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: The U.S. has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70%) of them are black or Latino." So it is a huge success for those who wish to suppress minority populations.
Drives Up Prices: Making any substance illegal will result in much higher prices than a free market would dictate. Especially when there's a high demand for that substance. In the case of the cannabis plant, which grows like a weed and requires very little value added, the dried flower would virtually be free if it wasn't for the harsh restrictions and dangers involved in producing and distributing it. These high prices are terrific for drug dealers and even medical marijuana growers opposed legalization in California because it threatened their profits.
Drug Violence Justifies Tough Gun Laws: The violence generated from the prohibition of drugs is reminiscent of the extreme mob violence during the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition of anything will always create black markets which require firearms to protect banned products. Recently, the U.S. government itself was caught red-handed supplying guns to Mexican drug cartels in their "Fast and Furious" scandal. It's now proven that the ATF plotted to use Fast and Furious to push for new gun control regulations. Indeed, most street violence is due to turf wars over the drug trade, and tougher gun laws are proposed as the war escalates. It's wonderful for those who blame violence on guns and wish to restrict them from law-abiding citizens.
Protects Big Pharma Monopolies: No one is happier about the war on drugs than Big Pharma. Their control over the FDA and monopoly of "controlled substances" would be threatened if all drugs were legalized. They want you addicted to their FDA-approved versions of heroin and cocaine, not something you can get on the black market. In turn, they also benefit greatly when the prices of street drugs increase, as they can then inflate the cost of their products. They love the drug war so much they've lobbied to extend it to vitamins and supplements.
Allows Proxy Armies: If you want to create an empire by force, but it's politically disadvantageous to base your army in certain countries, then the global war on drugs is your ticket to supplying troops or creating proxy armies. One of the most recent examples is Costa Rica, a peaceful country in Central America without an army, where the U.S. bribed the government to allow the Navy and Marines to be stationed off the Caribbean coast to fight the war on drugs. In other nations where even this won't be allowed, the CIA funds and arms one of the drug cartels who then act as their hired enforcers, or they're used as an excuse for governments to accept U.S. help to combat the enemy they created. In either case, the U.S. sells more arms and trains soldiers to be used upon command.
Keeps Big Banks Flush with Cash: It has long been known that big banks happily launder money for the big drug cartels. According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), "Up to 1.5 trillion dollars in drug money are laundered through legal enterprises, accounting for 5% of global GDP." Take just this year and one bank, Wachovia; who had to pay a slap-on-the-wrist fine for laundering more than $420 billion for Mexican drug cartels. Imagine where the big banks would be without this money, given that they also needed a bailout of over $23 trillion for lack of sufficient deposits to pay for their gambling habits.
Funds CIA Black Ops: Do you ever wonder where the U.S. government gets all that money for their secret "Black Ops" like underground bases, secret wars, corporate takeovers and seed money, etc? It's been proven over and over that the CIA (and Pentagon) controls a large majority of the illicit drug trade either directly or indirectly through proxies mentioned above. They've been caught in the act of shipping in massive amounts of cocaine, while the CIA now openly admits to protecting and facilitating the opium trade in Afghanistan. If it wasn't for this tremendous profit, the CIA would not be able to build their secret shadow government.
So, as you can see, there are great benefits to the War on Drugs depending what side of the coin you're on. If you're a poor pot smoker, well, you're out of luck. But if you're the biggest heroin and cocaine dealer in the world and desire a monopoly . . . well, you've got the world right where you want it.
Basic Facts About the War on Drugs
by Clifford A. Schaffer
Also See:
What Do You Know About George H.W. Bush?
05 December 2011
Illegal Drugs and the Government
14 April 2010
Across the Border in Mexico
27 March 2010