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July 2008



More outrages

Last week, I mentioned the excellent OpEd by Joy Strickland of Mothers Against Teen Violence: Drug laws fertilize teen violence
Well, special agent in charge of the Dallas Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency James Capra responded (can’t have people thinking that the drug war is bad for teens).
Here are a couple of his more outrageous comments:

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that legalization or decriminalization would reduce crime in our communities.


For Ms. Strickland to suggest that she “is not aware of one single death directly caused by marijuana” or that it “is irrational to lock up an individual because of what he chooses to put into to his own body” as justification to decriminalize is disturbing logic.

What’s disturbing is that our tax dollars are paying for him to lie to us. Prompt at Newsvine does a nice job of taking this apart.

Elsewhere, we have an idiotic background paper from The Heritage Foundation written by Ray Walser, their Senior Policy Analyst for Latin America: Mexico, Drug Cartels, and the Merida Initiative: A Fight We Cannot Afford to Lose. Now, much of this very long background article is just providing, well, the background, but Walser lacks even the basic understanding of drug policy, drug use, and the effects of prohibition, which results in very bizarre statements:

Drug consumption and the resulting international trade in controlled substances remain one of the greatest man-made catastrophes of the past 30 years.

What? Drug consumption is a man-made catastrophe? Anything else related to drug policy perhaps have an impact in the past 30 years? Bueller? Bueller?
Of course, the idiot gets his “facts” from Walters.

Despite modest progress, continued U.S. drug consumption is a root cause and a central driver of drug-related violence in Mexico. John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Pol icy (ONDCP), recently exclaimed, “We will all need to come to grips that American consumers are fund ing the violence. We share responsibility, and we need to do more to help!”

Drug-related violence. Right. And even worse, in Walser’s words, later:

Drug violence inevitably translates into economic losses as well as human loses.[sic]

Drug violence? What is that?

The Mexican people are besieged by the continuing drug violence. […] Much of the intensified drug violence in Mexico is the result of open warfare among the dif ferent trafficking organizations. Undoubtedly, many of Mexico’s mounting drug casualties are traffickers murdered by traffickers. […] Military surge operations have targeted several epicenters of the drug violence [emphasis added]

Don’t you mean prohibition violence?
The conclusion was so dramatically over the top, I couldn’t help laughing:

Mexico is teetering on the brink of another crisis, which involves bullets rather than banking policies and exchange rates. The victims of this crisis range from honest cops and Mexican children to American youth who become hooked on cocaine or methamphetamines.
Mexico and the U.S. face the same enemy: elusive, sophisticated, resourceful, and violent transnational criminal networks that exploit U.S. and Mexican weaknesses and vulnerabilities, defy historical concepts of sovereignty and nationhood, supply the most dangerous and darkest human desires, and undermine the foundations of democratic goverÜnance and the basic concepts of free societies. Making common cause against such an enemy makes eminently good sense.

Oh, and according to Ray Walser’s bio his “areas of policy research and interest include defending the values of freedom and individual liberty.”

Who watches the watchers?

When looking at these stories, keep in mind that drug policy reform could just as easily be the target in each of these.
“bullet” Maryland Troopers spied on activist groups

Undercover Maryland state troopers infiltrated three groups advocating peace and protesting the death penalty Ö attending meetings and sending reports on their activities to U.S. intelligence and military agencies, according to documents released Thursday. […]
‡ On Oct. 3, 2005, an undercover state police agent attending a meeting of activists ferreted out the fact that antiwar protesters were laying plans to distribute fliers at the Towson Town Center mall.

Hmmm, our meetings are much more interesting.
“bullet” They could be eavesdropping. In Massachusetts, where they opposed federal spying on citizens, they apparently want to do it themselves:

MASSACHUSETTS residents are on the verge of losing a fundamental protection from government spying if the Legislature and governor approve a bill to give prosecutors the power to seize Internet, telephone, and electronic communications records – without judicial oversight and without notifying a citizen they have done so.
The attorney general and district attorneys have attached their power grab to a bill aimed at increasing sentences for sex offenders, which is named “An Act to Further Protect Children” or “Jessica’s Law.” However, the power that they seek isn’t limited to investigations of suspected sex offenders or child abuse cases. It is a general grant of unchecked power to district attorneys and the attorney general that can be used against all of us.

Yeah, make it a bill to go after sex offenders, but allow police to use it for anything. Who will vote against that?
“bullet” And score one for the good guys. From the ACLU:

We just received word today that the Third Circuit struck down a federal Internet censorship law as unconstitutional. The law, called the Child Online Protection Act, imposed civil and criminal penalties on those who place ‹harmful to minorsŠ material on the Web. Under this law, no adult, no matter how mature or responsible, would have been allowed to see material that is deemed unfit for a child. The law would have forced vast swaths of constitutionally protected speech off of the Web.

That’s good news. I’ve been involved in the fight against internet censorship since the predecessor of COPA (the Communications Decency Act) back in 1996 — I was part of 24 hours of Democracy — my first major internet activism.
These are where the real fights for our freedom take place. Not on the Iraq/Pakistan border.