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Drug War Continues to Fail Spectacularly

Update: The AP article is getting huge distribution. It’s completely dominating my drug war news feed this morning. Check to see if it shows up in a paper in your area — could be a great opportunity for a follow-up letter to the editor.

bullet image AP: IMPACT: After 40 years, $1 trillion, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals

After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.

“In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. “Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.” […]

From the beginning, lawmakers debated fiercely whether law enforcement — no matter how well funded and well trained — could ever defeat the drug problem.

Then-Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who had his doubts, has since watched his worst fears come to pass.

“Look what happened. It’s an ongoing tragedy that has cost us a trillion dollars. It has loaded our jails and it has destabilized countries like Mexico and Colombia,” he said. […]

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs. In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:

— $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.

— $33 billion in marketing “Just Say No”-style messages to America’s youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have “risen steadily” since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.

— $49 billion for law enforcement along America’s borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.

— $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.

— $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.

Pretty intense stuff to be seeing from the AP.

[Thanks, claygooding]

bullet image Woman Hospitalized Following Botched Raid

An elderly Polk County woman is hospitalized in critical condition after suffering a heart attack when drug agents swarm the wrong house. Machelle Holl tells WSB her 76-year-old mother, Helen Pruett, who lives alone, was at home when nearly a dozen local and federal agents swarmed her house, thinking they were about to arrest suspected drug dealers.

“She was at home and a bang came on the back door and she went to the door and by the time she got to the back door, someone was banging on the front door and then they were banging on her kitchen window saying police, police,” said Holl. […]

“My mother has had a heart attack. She has had congestive heart failure and she is in ICU at the moment. She is not good condition and her heart is working only 35 percent,” said Holl. […]

Police say they have had her mother’s home under surveillance for two years.

Holl says if that’s true, how could police get the wrong address?

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41 comments to Drug War Continues to Fail Spectacularly

  • denmark

    Per the elderly Polk County woman hospitalized: Do you see my fellow End Prohibition friends? This will never end until we go for the throat of members of Congress. And rather than a person who lives in the state with the Prohibitionist Congress member it would be better for out of state people to write them. Seriously, I’m not being paranoid however, this would be a way of protection for the people who live in the state.

    And Fox, well I can’t quite figure out what they’re up to. I have doubts that it’s admirable intention. Read the entire article, not all of its pretty.

    Judge Napolitano is going live on television, weekends I heard.

  • Chris

    How much do you want to bet that this old lady gets less attention than that dog in Missouri? Ah, people here are too smart for that one.

  • Cannabis

    It’s an AP story. It’s everywhere. Here’s the one at the LA Times with the author’s byline. It makes me wonder why the Associated Press is covering the story like it is.

  • claygooding

    Because they want the headlines. Fox News picked it up
    so they can wave it in Obama’s face. I expect them to turn it over to Glen Beck,for the kicker. It might be worth watching just for laffs and giggles.

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, sitting down with the AP at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, paused for a moment at the question.
    “Look,” she says, starting slowly. “This is something that is worth fighting for because drug addiction is about fighting for somebody’s life, a young child’s life, a teenager’s life, their ability to be a successful and productive adult. “If you think about it in those terms, that they are fighting for lives — and in Mexico they are literally fighting for lives as well from the violence standpoint — you realize the stakes are too high to let go.”

    This was the only lines I found with the old double speak
    of the ONDCP,just one bureaucrat protecting another ones back. Kerli came off sounding his usual hound dog crying self and Waters still spouting that no matter what it’s cost,it is worth it speech,only he is speaking to a broke
    bunch of senators that are now eyeballing the ONDCP budget like a ripe plum.

  • Exactly, Cannabis. This is unusual for the AP. They tend to be much more deferential to the government line on the drug war.

    To be this critical is a pretty big step.

    Clay. Fox runs AP stories all the time. I doubt it means anything.

  • dudeman

    The quotes from Walters are just hilarious:

    “To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven’t made any difference is ridiculous,” Walters said. “It destroys everything we’ve done. It’s saying all the people involved in law enforcment, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It’s saying all these people’s work is misguided.”

    Shorter Walters: “Public knowledge that we failed would embarrass us drug warriors”.

    Well, yeah.

  • Ed Dunkle

    What is this, Bizarro World? I am still having a hard time believing that that is an AP story. The regular editor must be ill or something.

    But, WAY TO GO AP!!! (only 40 years late, but who’s counting?)

  • claygooding

    My favorite part of the AP story:
    “Just a few years later, a young Barack Obama was one of those young users, a teenager smoking pot and trying “a little blow when you could afford it,” as he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.” When asked during his campaign if he had inhaled the pot, he replied: “That was the point.” So why persist with costly programs that don’t work?

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, sitting down with the AP at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, paused for a moment at the question.

    “Look,” she says, starting slowly. “This is something that is worth fighting for because drug addiction is about fighting for somebody’s life, a young child’s life, a teenager’s life, their ability to be a successful and productive adult.

    So we arrest them,give them a criminal record and make sure if the drugs don’t hurt their chances in life,we will!

    “If you think about it in those terms, that they are fighting for lives — and in Mexico they are literally fighting for lives as well from the violence standpoint — you realize the stakes are too high to let go.”

    The stakes being control of the green market,which Calderon and his cohorts want. Approximately 70 billion US dollars a year. That is a lotta steaks!

    Could we please have an icon for shooting the finger added for the message posting?

  • if they’re willing to do what they do in the name of “fighting for our lives” by preventing us from harming ourselves with drugs, to want lengths will they go in the name of defending us from heart disease?

  • Tyler

    I go to this sit a few times a day for years. And everyday I leave with my jaw dropped and telling everyone i come into contact with all that i’ve read. I love you guys on here and PLEASE, never give up…

  • Just me.

    Police say they have had her mother’s home under surveillance for two years.

    Holl says if that’s true, how could police get the wrong address?

    If this doesnt show the incompetance of and failure of the drug war…what does? Two Years and still couldnt tell this lil ol lady wasnt a drug dealer? Were all in deep sh@t.

  • Paul

    I saw that AP story, too, and I was wondering why it appeared. AP is generally liberal, and I’ve never really understood the liberal mind, personally, or at least maybe not the mainstream establishment liberal mind. And AP is about as establishment liberal as it is possible to get.

    Far left liberals generally hate the drug war but establishment liberals who believe in it support it for their own paternalist reasons. If they are not true believers in the drug war, they support it for the usual craven political reasons–mostly to appear tough on crime.

    It’s a significant development to see the establishment liberal press question the drug war and the motivations of their favorite leaders. It is not quite the same as seeing Rush Limbaugh begin to seriously question the war on drugs (although he certainly has personal reasons to do so), but it is a major change.

    If we had serious establishment liberals like, say, Barbara Boxer stand up and say, “you know what, I’m sick of supporting this expensive, violent and self destructive war on America, and I’m going to introduce a bill to end it,” I would have a lot more sympathy for them. But instead, they do nothing about the most serious problems their leftward base worries about, and focus on spending the rest of our dwindling reserves on themselves, their friends, and their bone-headed projects.

  • Dvq

    just to give you guys an idea of what a trillion dollars look like: http://www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html

  • Nick

    Keep up the heat Pete.
    We are not alone in the fight.
    Thanks for a great post.

  • ezrydn

    Paul,

    We both know Barbara won’t do that. Even when tasked with explaining Obamacare to her constituents, she instead went on a book tour. Barbara and Diane both need to go. Barbara’s turn is this year.

  • kaptinemo

    Hoo, boy. Like I kept saying, the money, the money, the money. And with the AP coming out with this, well, this is international in scope. People in other countries who are on the receiving end of the DrugWar will now press the own legislators, saying the Yanquis have said it’s a farce, why should we continue participating in it?

    Another tectonic shift underway. A major news media outlet, once a DrugWarrior lapdog, has just bit the fingers and piddled in the laps of those who fed it kibble and stroked it for so long. This is going to be an interesting summer…

  • kaptinemo

    It’s become quite clear who the real addicts are. They walk around in three-piece suits or police uniforms, with an IV drip attached to their arms; in the IV bag are taxpayer’s dollars. Everything they have came from that source…unless, of course, they’re corrupt and ‘wetting their beaks’ courtesy of taking money from the narcos, too.

    Threaten to remove that IV bag, by questioning the basis for their existence, and they get panicky, and say the kinds of things they believe will touch heartstrings…and deflect logic.

    But economic meltdowns have a curious side-effect: they get people to thinking. As in, “We can’t afford throwing taxpayer’s money into patently, demonstrably ineffective national programs anymore, not with millions out of work (and therefore, not paying taxes to maintain those programs). Time for change.”

    The ‘fat, dumb and happy’ days of the faux economic good times are over. The smiley mask which always covered the cankered face of the true cost of destroying a nation’s manufacturing base has fallen away. The reality must now be dealt with. And that reality means that it’s time to punch more notches in the fiscal belt…and a good place to start is the DrugWar.

  • kaptinemo

    (Second post WRT Janet Napolitano’s remarks. Honestly, a little less heartstring-tugging and more thinking is what I expected from the Obama administration. I guess even cynical old fart me expected too much…)

  • Scott

    “This is something that is worth fighting for because drug addiction is about fighting for somebody’s life…”

    Prohibitionists talk as if their policy works. Of course, they must. Otherwise, there’s no need to spend the taxpayers’ money.

    Aside from the unconstitutional argument that I continue to believe is an important tool to persuade more conservatives (basically comparing the original Commerce Clause with the overreaching powers provided by the CSA), a great strategy is putting the burden-of-proof on the prohibitionists’ shoulders, working to remove any remaining assumption within the public perspective that drug prohibition works.

    Like fighting any enemy, the goal is to find critical weaknesses to exploit, and to use his strengths against him.

    In the case of drug prohibition, we have a lot to work with, but that can both be a blessing and a curse, if we’re not smart about it (we can dilute ourselves, weakening our attack).

    We’re constantly providing evidence proving drug prohibition does not work, and that’s fine, assuming we have the resources for a strong multifaceted approach at that level.

    However, we should understand that our lives become a whole lot easier (and can vastly improve our resource usage) when we stop trying to prove we are right by providing evidence of failure (noting one can never prove a negative), and start simply publicly challenging the prohibitionists to prove success (provide a cost/benefit analysis supporting their policy).

    Prior to each proposed penalty reduction relevant to illicit drugs, prohibitionists warned that disaster would strike if the reduction passes.

    After roughly 30+ reductions worldwide, it’s time for us to focus sharply on continuously pressuring them to prove those disasters happened.

    When they fail, similar quotes like the one beginning this comment are immediately defeated (including their only remaining perceived strength, the current disaster warning against legalization), leaving the prohibitionists with nothing left to say.

    This, of course, then means that drug prohibition ends.

  • Maria

    Huh. Someone at the AP licked a finger, held it up and finally felt the gales force winds a blowing? A girl can hope.

  • Dante

    Regarding the AP story about the failed War on Drugs:

    I doubt this will change anything. The “Guns & Badges” crowd will make enough threats to stop any real refom. Anybody who stands up to them will be labeled a “traitor” or a “terrorist”, thrown in jail, or killed. Just like if you stand up to the drug cartels.

    I guess we’ll know soon enough, when this article results in zero change. Our country has been taken over by the maniac Drug Warriors – even the President seems powerless to stop them.

  • Duncan

    40 years ago a dollar was worth a lot more than it is today. Adjust that $trillion to constant 2009 dallars and you’re talking about $2.5 trillion…and every single penny of it borrowed.

  • kaptinemo

    Dante, as a character from a favorite TV of mine show put it, “When the avalanche begins, it’s too late for the pebbles to vote.” An ‘avalanche’ of drug law reform has just started, and is picking up speed. The DrugWarriors are no bigger than your average pebble once the avalanche of public opinion turns against them. As it’s been doing, as evidence of the public’s reaction to the pet-murdering and child-endangering drug raid video going viral showed.

    The debate that will seal the doom of drug prohibition just got a little closer to taking place. When enough members of the public begin asking why this has to happen, and the DrugWarriors can only come up with more stale platitudes, and they demonstrate this publicly, the public reaction will be ‘less than favorable’.

    It’s time to bring out the rhetorical hammers again, just like we did with using the word ‘prohibition’. It stuck after enough repetition. Now the watchword should be ‘debate’…as in debating the (racist) origin and (impossible to achieve) purpose of the DrugWar. And if the prohibs don’t want to debate? Then hold press conferences with empty chairs symbolizing the prohibs and point out they don’t want to debate. Shame them into it.

    This is our chance to nail their feet to the floor. It’s been a long time coming. Let’s not waste this opportunity.

  • Bruce

    Empty chairs lol
    Two of us remaining grey-hairs were sitting in the pub just recently looking around and commenting about the empty chairs everywhere. Everybody died. The festivities must continue nonetheless.

  • davidstvz

    As good as the AP story seems, they still end with a quote by some douche he thinks the Drug War is so wonderful that we should never let go. It’s a shame more people in this world can’t think rationally.

  • claygooding

    The shame is that these were bureaucrats comments,people appointed to their positions for their specialized organizational skills,not because they can THINK.
    We can’t even fire the idiots but we can replace the people that appointed them.

  • claygooding

    It would probably be a good time for Pete to forward his
    drug war victims page to the AP and Freedom Watch.

  • Ziggy

    Funny thing is, I go to PoliceOne.com and they fail to mention either the Misouri Swat raid or this article, yet they often post AP stories.

    I wonder why?

  • It’s all a bunch of scumbaggery. We are the losers when it comes to the drug war.

  • Chris

    kaptinemo, I want to see that debate. Under oath. It would be absolutely amazing to see.

  • nt109

    dont worry folks. Nothing to see here. We will spend billions of your tax dollars on failed policy nothing to see here. It works! yeah it does. The excessive spending worked great in the EU. Lets just spend spend spend on protecting people from themselves while big pharma peddles shit drugs that actually do kill people. Good policy man. We don’t want to actually allow people to take a “drug” or “herbal” product that produces an effect with minimal side effects and a low risk of addictions. We want you to take those other drugs. You know the good drugs. That are sponsored by great companies like phizer, J&J, and whoever pays as much money to my senate campaign. But, the war on drugs is working, NOT, sarcasm. It’s not working but lets keep funding it. Buy our bonds, print more money, run up the deficit. Works great man. Good policy Mr. Fed. keep it up. Dumbasses. Who the heck is running this program over there Mickey Mouse? LOL … Too funny.

  • Just me.

    “The sins of man will be seen by all.”

    I seem to remember this as a quote from the bible, not to go all religious on ya all, but does TV and internet come to mind?

  • until you hear your grandmother talking about this, i wouldn’t get too excited.

  • Nick z

    Now why on Earth would a bunch of multi-millionaire corporate vampires and vultures that control the ruling-class and government fear a plant that was given to the working-class majority (by Shiva) to help them overcome all of the problems indicative to oppression?

    Vampires use the media to control what we think and use fear to control what we do. They outlawed cannabis after they discovered it made people immune to their mind-control. Why would they lie about it for so long with such persistence, even while the DEA is wasting billions every year combating it and the economy is going down the toilet?

    Something to think about (but that’s what they don’t want us to do).

  • ezrydn

    The “Trillion” in interesting. However, the money they’re talking about isn’t printed on paper. It’s “0” & “1” in a computer somewhere. It’s a good reference but far from reality.

  • @ Nick Z… read Colin Wilson’s The Mind Parasites, it’s an education on “vampires.”

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