Your pants are in a state of combustion

Yesterday, I noted that the Washington Post not only disagreed with our drug warriors regarding needle exchange, but caught them in some bold lies.
Turns out a couple of other major newspapers have done the same. First, the New York Times talks about the stupidity and danger of the administration’s international drug policy:

The Bush administration has contributed to suffering and death through the so-called global gag rule, which prohibits Washington from giving money to any group that performs – or even talks about – abortions.æ Organizations that provide desperately needed family planning and women’s health services have lost their financing.æ Now there are moves in Congress and inside the administration to apply a similar rule to needle exchange programs.æ That would be an even more deadly mistake.

Allowing drug users to trade used needles for clean ones gets dangerous needles off the street and minimizes needle sharing.æ A proven weapon against AIDS transmission, it has not been shown to increase drug use, and indeed may reduce drug addiction by providing a way to talk to drug users and lead them to treatment.æ It is endorsed by virtually every mainstream public health group.

Then they nail them:

In the Senate, a member of the staff of Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican, has compiled a grossly inaccurate chart of programs financed by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that is subtitled “Immoral, Illegal ( with bilateral funds ) or Inconsistent with U.S.æ Foreign Policy.” Needle exchanges rank high. … [Representatives Mark Souder of Indiana and Tom Davis of Virginia] claim that a U.N.æ drug agency report attacks needle exchange as encouraging drug use.æ In fact, the report makes no such accusation and endorses needle exchanges.

Liar, Liar …
Then we hear from the Chicago Tribune today:

Clean-needle programs have been shown to be effective in controlling the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases by protecting intravenous drug addicts from contaminated syringes. Illinois has had needle-exchange programs since the 1980s, and in 2003 legalized the over-the-counter purchase of hypodermic needles. Buyers receive information on how to use the needles as well as where to get help if they are addicts.

And yet, resistance in Washington to such efforts has been strong. Congress prohibited the use of federal funds for such programs unless they were found effective by the Department of Health and Human Services. Former President Bill Clinton declined to lift that ban, even though his HHS secretary made such a finding. President Bush has made no move to lift the ban.

And now some in Congress want to cut off American support for international organizations that provide clean-needle exchanges. Given the reach of U.S. efforts on AIDS, for this country to stop funding organizations that provide needle exchanges would be a blow to worldwide efforts to contain the epidemic.

… and then they move in for the kill:

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), is leading the effort to restrict U.S. funding for international groups that, an aide says, “distribute paraphernalia for the consumption of illegal drugs.” Souder would direct funds only to prevention and drug rehabilitation efforts. …

Souder cites a study of a needle-exchange program in Vancouver that, according to his spokesman, demonstrated the “HIV and hepatitis epidemics exploded in the aftermath of the introduction of needle-exchange programs, as did the drug epidemic.”

But the doctors who conducted the Vancouver study wrote, in an April letter to the director of the National Institutes of Health, that Souder’s interpretation of the data was incorrect. “For Mr. Souder to take the Vancouver data out of context, is selective and self-serving,” they wrote.

Liar, Liar, pants ablaze!
Three major newspapers. And while they didn’t use the “L” word, they sure meant it.

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