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November 2011
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CNTPO

Are you familiar with CNTPO? I wasn’t either. Maybe by its full name: The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office. Nope? Me neither.

Pentagon’s War on Drugs Goes Mercenary

An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.

This is the kind of thing we constantly face — pots of money and power all over the place that depend on the drug war (as well as the war on terror and other such never-ending wars).

The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.

Mercs. Drug War. Terrorism. Funding. What a combination.

For the vast majority of people who’ve never heard of CNTPO, the organization answers to the Pentagon’s Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict Directorate, within the Counternarcotics and Global Threats portfolio. It’s tucked away so deep, bureaucratically speaking, that it doesn’t actually have an office at the Pentagon.

The organization, run by a civilian named Mike Strand, has been around since 1995. In 2007, it made a big push into contracting, hiring the Blackwater subsidiary U.S. Training Center as well as defense giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and ARINC for “a wide range of Defense counternarcotics activities,” according to a statement provided to Danger Room by the agency. That award, which has doled out $4.3 billion so far, is the precursor to the current bid. […]

In its new contract, the office explicitly stakes out a broad definition of its mandate: “to disrupt, deter, and defeat the threat to national security posed by illicit trafficking in all its manifestations: drugs, small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, people, and illicitly-gained and laundered money.” It declares its practices “beyond traditional DoD acquisition and contracting scopes.”

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15 comments to CNTPO

  • Hope

    All the warriors, of all ranks, devoted to enforcing and perpetuating the War on Drugs, whatever they call themselves, ONDCP, DEA, or CNTPO, need to be thinking of the truth and reality that it might be getting close to that proverbial “Swords into plowshares” time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swords_to_ploughshares

    http://bible.cc/isaiah/2-4.htm

    • hey you…

      that darn swords into plowshares routine turned me into a peacenik and twisted my mind into thinking that nuclear weapons are, uh, inappropriate. The insanity of so many resources devoted to human destruction when we kill so many just thru neglecting the most needy. Tsk tsk tsk…

      swords into plowshares, plates and spoons…

      • Hope

        Even the nuclear “swords” were hammered into plow-shares to an extent. Nuclear energy has helped a lot of people and we’re learning to harness it better all the time.

        It can be done. Even with the drug warriors. They can become useful people to a peaceful and flourishing society.

        They need to think about that.

  • claygooding

    Let’s beat ONDCP,DEA and CNTPO into plow shares.

    I am having trouble being patient for the budget hearings this next round,,the ONDCP caught hell for the first time in history and that was before we knew exactly how broke we are,,,now the oversight committee is making noises about marijuana possession bounty money,,it is going to be an interesting year,me thinks.

  • Duncan20903

    I’m getting really fed up with alphabet soup day in and day out, day after day after day after day!

  • kaptinemo

    “…“to disrupt, deter, and defeat the threat to national security posed by illicit trafficking in all its manifestations: drugs, small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, people, and illicitly-gained and laundered money.”

    Well, they should have an easy time of it, and put themselves out of business very quickly.

    Drugs: CIA. Arrest them all. Check

    Small arms trafficking: BATF’s “Fast and Furious” program gave the narcos plenty. Arrest the people involved. Check.

    Illicitly-gained and laundered money: Every one of the Too Big To Fail banks are dripping with dirty money. Walk into the boardrooms and arrest every bankster you see. Check.

    Okay, they can stop feeding at the trough, now. Close down and find another job.

    Of course, it will never happen that way. Narco corruption reaches the very highest levels of government. Oh, not the one you were taught about in school; that’s just the facade. No, the real government, that one that actually runs things powered by greed and powerlust, and fueled by the unholy trinity of commerce in oil, drugs and guns. Danny Casolaro’s ‘Octopus’.

    That’s why this DrugWar is a Punch-and-Judy farce of monumental proportions. The real criminals are at the very heights of society, shielded from government by being the government, and are thus untouchable.

    It may take something on the order of an economic and social collapse or revolution or all of them before this matter is settled sensibly. Given how this insane house of cards is stacked, it’s going to take more than legislation to end prohibition. The money being spent by government to stop what is in effect government’s ‘left hand’ is what’s has to run out, sooner or later.

  • Dante

    Kaptin said:
    “The money being spent by government to stop what is in effect government’s ‘left hand’ is what’s has to run out, sooner or later.”

    I have long wondered if our government is funding both sides of the same conflicts all over the world – and for what purpose. For instance, we put a lot of money into the police and security forces in Iraq & Afghanistan. Now I hear that even more money was illegally diverted to warlord/druglord factions which blow up the police and security forces in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    Same in south & central America – money is intended to go to one side, but then somehow ends up in the hands of the other side. Same thing in Mexico. Probably everywhere the US spends money.

    Result? Serious casualties, for one. Also the combatants usually come back for more money/weapons/support/etc., making the US a power player in yet another incredibly bloody conflict.

    Was that the goal?

    • kaptinemo

      I cannot provide a definitive answer, only some disturbing suggestions.

      Empires generally only make alliances with equals…and treat weaker nations as little more than resource deposits. And, sad to say, we are the Empire-In-Denial.

      We have the surface trappings of a republic, but in practice, we do indeed behave imperially toward other, weaker nations.

      (As well as towards our own citizens; ever wonder why the Founders capitalized the word ‘states’ every time they wrote? Because the States were meant to be sovereign nations within a federation. By removing the capitalization, a subtle change takes place, a change in status from independent nation to imperial province. This was not accidental, as the practice began after the Civil War had cemented centralized Union dominance over the Secessionists.)

      One of the most effective means of maintaining control over potential rivals (who, incidentally, possess resources your corporations want) is ‘divide and conquer’. Destabilize the potential rival by causing all manner of problems in their economy, their society, etc. The DrugWar succeeds exceedingly well at this, and has the added bonus of a faux moral cachet as a rationale. A real ‘two-fer’.

      Almost every place the US has ‘interests’, we see the same pattern, again and again. Propping up tin-pot dictators to keep access to lower-than-market cost resources. If they play ball and don’t get too greedy, they get to do the ‘IMF shuffle’ and get paid off to allow multinational corporations to rip off that country’s citizens. If they get too big for their britches, in come the ‘economic hitmen’ to wreak the local economies and soften them up for either replacing Tin-Pot A with soon to be Tin-Pot B…or as has been happening lately, the US military will invade. Either way, the corporations get what they want, by hook or by crook, mainly the latter.

      So, yes, Uncle plays all sides. But he’s the one with most of the (marked) cards…until something like Tunisia or Egypt comes along. A genuine, spontaneous uprising by the citizens scares the absolute wee-wee out of the multinationals, as most of those uprisings are led by those who know how they’re being exploited, and want nothing to do with their exploiters. Then, Uncle will play the ‘terrorism/rogue nation’ card, and it’s back to the same old faux moralizing. But it’s always, always, ALWAYS about the money.

  • Servetus

    The Pentagon’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office would be struggling for its bureaucratic life were illicit drugs to suddenly become licit. The one advantage the agency has as a counter-terrorism unit is that narco-trails are relatively easy to track, in that they involve commercial transactions of bulky tangible objects, drugs in this case, and lots of money.

    If the CNTPO leans heavily toward thwarting terrorist activity, as is suggested, then losing the drug and money trail is a big deal. Rather than being an obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs, the CNTPO is more likely to launder money and deal drugs to keep the narco-trails alive so as to detect terrorist infiltrations of the network.

    Move over, CIA, you have a competitor

  • claygooding

    The American government is footing the bill for the WOD on our tax dollars,,the American people are footing the cartels expenses on our cash,,theoretically,,the government should run out of tax dollars before we run out of money,,theoretically.

  • Hope

    It’s a very sad thing that this country has become so much about “Swords” and “Sword rattling” and nothing else. The “Sword” way was not ever meant to become a way of life for this country, but it has for numerous people.

    It disgusts me so when I think about all these agencies and the terrible waste that they are of the resources that we have.

    It’s time to grow. To thrive. To develop better lives for everyone. That’s what the “Plowshare” is about. Growing and living and developing better ways, to come out of the warrior mentality.

    The fighting. The death. The cruelty and destruction of war is supposed to stop somewhere. There is supposed to be rebuilding and recovery at some time.

    And while the ONDCP has announced that it’s not really a “War” anymore, “to disrupt, deter, and defeat the threat to national security posed by illicit trafficking in all its manifestations: drugs, small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, people, and illicitly-gained and laundered money.” It declares its practices “beyond traditional DoD acquisition and contracting scopes”, sure sounds like war to me.

    And the last part of that statement, “beyond traditional DoD acquisition and contracting scopes”… what does that mean? It sounds like it means outside of the “scope” of the law, to me. It doesn’t sound right or good in any way.

  • From the did you know? category…

    Remember the Mumbai, India, attack by terrorists?

    Did you know the mastermind behind that attack was both an American and a DEA informant? David Coleman Headley… it seems he worked his DEA creds when the FBI wanted to question him.

    What a woild…

    No offense to my porcine friends but these folks are pigs. Cut ’em off at the wallet.