The drug war is abuse of the rule of law

It’s good to see the DEA/NSA story getting some traction. It’ll help some more people wake up to the systemic abuse of the law that is going on regularly in the name of the drug war.

The notion of “parallel construction” is completely foreign to the core principles of our justice system. And yet, the notion is so natural to those in the drug war that the DEA officials who provided info for the Reuters story seemed oblivious to the magnitude of thier admissions.

The ACLU comments:

“The DEA is violating our fundamental right to a fair trial,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “When someone is accused of a crime, the Constitution guarantees the right to examine the government’s evidence, including its sources, and confront the witnesses against them. Our due process rights are at risk when our federal government hides and distorts the sources of evidence used as the basis for arrests and prosecutions.”

“When law enforcement agents and prosecutors conceal the role of intelligence surveillance in criminal investigations, they violate the constitutional rights of the accused and insulate controversial intelligence programs from judicial review,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “Effectively, these intelligence programs are placed beyond the reach of the Constitution, where they develop and expand without any court ever weighing in on their lawfulness. This is inappropriate, dangerous, and contrary to the rule of law.”

Of course, we also don’t know how often this use of intelligence information simply ended up as a cash grab for law enforcement without it even reaching the arrest stage.

In a nice moment of coincidence, the New Yorker published an extensive article about the abuse of civil asset forfeiture: Taken. The whole article is worth reading, even though it’s pretty much the same material that Radley Balko has covered already. It’ll hopefully get more people upset, about the abuse of our judicial system.

Ilya Somin comments on forfeiture:

Ultimately, however, the best solution is to abolish civil asset forfeiture completely. If a person is convicted of a crime, he or she can be duly punished, including in some cases with financial penalties. Stolen or illegally acquired property can then be returned to its rightful owners. But there is no good reason for the authorities to be able to seize property merely because they suspect it might have been used in some illegal transaction. Moreover, once such a system is established, it turns out to be very difficult to prevent it from becoming highly abusive. As a practical matter, most of the people victimized by asset forfeiture abuse are poor, lacking in political influence, and unable to bear the expense of prolonged litigation. For these reasons, there is little political pressure to prevent the sorts of abuses documented in Stillman’s article and elsewhere. And there is similarly little incentive for higher officials to monitor police and prosecutors’ use of asset forfeiture to curb this kind of behavior. A categorical ban on civil asset forfeiture would be easier to administer than piecemeal reforms, and therefore more likely to succeed.

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33 Responses to The drug war is abuse of the rule of law

  1. Cannabis says:

    I wonder, what percentage of asset forfeiture cases came out of NSA intercepts? DEA doesn’t want drugs, they want property and cash.

  2. Servetus says:

    Last year’s take for Drug War, Inc: $4.2-billion in seized assets. A new record! Perhaps the government should offer stock options.

    And the drug war money machine just keeps rollin’ in. Nicole Flatow at ThinkProgress has five examples of bizzare forfeiture cases:

    And in Texas, Drug War, Inc.’s female Texas troopers get way too close to three female suspects. Searching vaginas for marijuana…tsk, tsk. What made the NSA think there was pot in those vaginas? And if the women were found with marijuana, would they be charged with having a secret stash compartment as well?

    • You want to stick your fingers where? says:


      The prohibitionists are running amuck. Could they at least get a proctologist to do mine so I can kill two birds with one diddle? Well Mr. 20903 the good news is that you don’t have any WMDs hidden in your colon.

      There are some people would argue the point about the WMDs after I eat a dish with a high content of caramelized onions.

  3. Money is power. We have empowered greed not law. Legal theft by those being paid to protect us. When I cannot safely travel to the bank with the cash for my house payment anymore we have crossed a threshold that should never have been crossed. Asset forfeiture preys upon the citizenry. By its very nature it breeds dishonest behavior amongst those we pay to protect us. It invites criminal behavior into the very ranks of those meant to stop it. The DEA has become an organization of self paid thugs. Their minions are local law enforcement. Local DA’s have become extensions of a Federal conspiracy to defraud whats left of the lower and middle class.
    Justice is no longer served.

  4. claygooding says:

    Could this be why Kerli was removed from drug czar?
    Are they preparing to end the wosd because of the costs of this investigation?

    We know they are investigating federal cases now but what about when every state AG has to go through their cases and check for DOJ/SOD links,,and that is next.

    If they are one of the first things to go will be the grants to law enforcement and that alone will remove a lot of the greed driving law enforcement further into the corruption of becoming a drug warrior.

    If they tie seizures into this it may just end that also.

    The cost of this policy alone will make the DEA look like the rent-a-pigs they are.

  5. Windy says:

    I received this email from this morning, I urge everyone who reads this to join in this effort:

    The following information comes from Reuters …

    The NSA is spying on you and sharing this information with the DEA
    The DEA is then sharing this information with local law enforcement
    If you get arrested because of this, abandon all hope because …

    Law enforcement is hiding where the evidence came from
    This means you cannot effectively challenge the evidence in court
    But it gets worse…

    The DEA unit responsible for this program — the ominous sounding Special Operations Division — is a secret organization. It cannot be investigated by defense attorneys or called into court. Even the location of the Special Operations Division is classified.

    Now remember what you were promised…

    Your so-called “representatives” promised you that the NSA only spies on those associated with foreign terrorists. They’ve insisted that there is no domestic aspect to this spying.

    You now know this to be untrue. It’s just one more lie. So let me ask you …

    When will enough be enough ?

    At what point does our so-called government cease to be legitimate? At what point do we declare it to be a criminal entity?

    We think we should start making this declaration NOW. We will launch a new campaign for exactly this purpose starting tomorrow.

    The hardwired message to Congress will read …

    I no longer consider the federal “government” to have any legitimate authority. A long train of abuses and usurpations persuades my conscience that it has become a criminal enterprise. In the future I will submit to it out of fear rather than allegiance. Here’s part of why I feel this way …

    Should you choose to make use of this campaign you will be able to list whatever reasons you like. It may be about this latest spying scandal, or a long list of other abuses and usurpations, including perhaps, but not limited to …

    NSA spying
    Fat-cat bailouts at taxpayer expense
    Missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
    Massive counterfeiting by the Federal Reserve
    Acts of torture committed in your name
    Indefinite detention under NDAA provisions
    Illegal wars
    IRS targeting of political opponents
    Drone attacks on foreign civilians
    The largest, national incarceration rate on the planet
    Assassinating Americans
    Obamacare imposed against the will of the people
    Illegal gun-running in Operation Fast & Furious
    The list could go on and on, almost without end. The real question is this…..

    When have you had enough?
    When have your friends had enough?
    These are very important questions, not to be taken lightly. So, please think about this today and tonight. Please also consider sharing this message with those close to you. Try to start a discussion: How much criminality are we prepared to endorse from our so-called government? How long will we sit silent while the criminality expands? How long before we withdraw our allegiance?

    Other people are having similar thoughts. While you may disagree with some elements of these articles (we do), you may still find it valuable to read …

    Claire Wolfe, who writes, “…millions… have been edging for years toward the realization that something’s terribly, terribly wrong.”
    Paul Craig Roberts, who declares that, “Americans are oppressed by an illegitimate government ruling, not by law and the Constitution, but by lies and naked force.”
    Until tomorrow …

    Perry Willis & Jim Babka, Inc.

    • Windy says:

      I took too long to add the url for the Claire Wolfe article, so here it is:

    • Duncan20903 says:


      How in the world do the SOD empoloyees know which way to drive if they don’t tell them where they work? Is that why I see so many “men in black” type people feeding the pigeons in the park during business hours?

      Seriously, a couple of days ago I was panhandled by a “will work for money or food god bless” guy cardboard sign at a traffic light. What was unusual was that he was wearing a 3 piece suit, shaved, not drunk, appeared to have showered recently and like that. I guess he must have been the Oliver Wendall Douglas of panhandlers. I swear, life is getting stranger by the day.

      • B. Snow says:

        In the ‘TalkLeft’ article = that Kaptinemo helpfully provided a link to in the previous thread, titled –
        “DEA’s Special Operations Division in Media Crosshairs”

        Jeralyn notes:

        “As many who have been writing about the Special Operations Division for years point out, SOD and its location in Chantilly Virginia are hardly a secret.”

        Although the Rueters story said, “Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed.”

        Reporting the city it’s located in is hardly “specific”, and I’d imagine it looks just like any other office-park in the general vicinity of the Washington Dulles International Airport…

        After a quick perusal of the area via Google Maps – I’d say it’s probably next door to the “National Reconnaissance Office” across the way from the “Dulles Expo Center/Chantilly Shopping Center”.

        *Note: That’s merely a guess = purely for the sake of my own personal amusement.* If someone ends up knocking on my door wanting to talk about my guess & my ‘irresponsible amusement’ = I’ll let ya know.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Uruguay has announced that their GI cannabis will be priced at $2.50/gram or $100 for the maximum monthly purchase of 40 grams. No word yet on whether they’re going to hire Steve DeAngelo or ElSohly Laboratories, Inc. to run the government grow.

      Uruguay To Sell Legal Marijuana At Low Price Of $2.5 Per Gram To Compete With Black Market

  6. Pingback: Conspiracy News! | The drug war is abuse of the rule of law – Drug WarRant

  7. DdC says:

    Edward Snowden
    DEA SOD Covers Up Surveillance Used To Investigate Americans

    500,000 contractors can access NSA data hoards

    Documents provided by two House members demonstrate how they are blocked from exercising any oversight over domestic surveillance
    Glenn Greenwald

    The recent NSA leak reveals the disturbing extent to which the US’ government and corporate sectors have merged.

    What Do You Think Of National Security Leaker Edward Snowden? [POLL]
    72% of 5000+ say he’s a hero.

  8. Servetus says:

    In another highway incident, a female LAPD officer curses at a driver, and threatens to do a search without a warrant (w/video and foul language).

    The LAPD tweeted that the offending officer isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, the driver’s counter-surveillance camera performed beautifully.

  9. Howard says:

    I often wonder if people interviewed for articles are really aware of what they are saying. An example from the New Yorker’s ‘Taken’;

    “We all know the way things are right now—budgets are tight,” Steve Westbrook, the executive director of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, says. “It’s definitely a valuable asset to law enforcement, for purchasing equipment and getting things you normally wouldn’t be able to get to fight crime.”

    What Steve Westbrook probably doesn’t understand is that his statement could be interpreted this way;

    “We all know the way things are right now—budgets are tight. If we can create schemes that allow us to take the assets of innocent people we will do it. Heck, we’ll even take assets from real criminals and send them on their way without arrest. We need these assets to purchase equipment and get things we normally wouldn’t be able to get to fight crime. Like my sizable year-end bonus. And my wife has become quite dependent on our yearly winter trips to the Bahamas.”

    Sorry Steve, but that’s my reading of your quote. Especially after reading the ‘Taken’ article.

  10. darkcycle says:

    This SHOULD be a big deal. I fear it is not, and will be forgotten by this time next week. *sigh*
    Not feelin’ very optimistic right now.

  11. kaptinemo says:

    Once more, I am reminded of Lincoln’s dire prediction:

    “We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them–they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their’s was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

    How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

    At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” (Emphasis mine – k.)

    The danger has been slowly moving towards us for the past century, in the form of drug prohibition, with all of its’ rights-destroying baggage. But now, with technology, it has fully arrived, under the deceptive cloak of ‘security’. But one must: whose ‘security’? That of the people? Or that of The State?

    • Windy says:

      And Lincoln was among those who dug the first shovelfuls of dirt from the intended grave of the Constitution, not much of a “transmitter” of the Founder’s legacy. Just another politician speaking words he knew his constituents wanted to hear, but not meaning a single word of what he said.

      I gave you a thumbs up for the final paragraph of your comment.

      • kaptinemo says:

        I am only too well aware of what Lincoln did; suspension of habeus corpus, military tribunals of citizens, etc. His actions were never taken so much for humanitarian concerns but out of a shrewd calculation based on something that few in this country, with our typically insular way of thinking, ever consider: the international angle.

        The British Empire wanted to break up the US and reclaim it, hence its’ covert backing of the Confederacy. A chess move the Russian Empire sought to check by its’ backing of the North. Wheels within wheels. And too much to go into here, as it’s only in a very tangential way related.

        But it was the North’s victory that set the US on an imperial footing, with the rise of the central, Federal government assuming the dominant role in national affairs, and beginning of the dissolution of the States’ ability to govern their own affairs and the reduction of their status from de facto sovereign countries into little more than postal code extensions.

        From this dissolution of State power as a bulwark against the danger of centralized government eventually came the DrugWar. Had only one or a few States engaged in it, as some did, the contagion could have been localized; it could have been recognized for the threat to life and liberty it was, and been stopped early on.

        But with the Federal Juggernaut in operation, any bad policy spawned of lunacy or greed or both can spread and pervade the entire country. Lincoln in his Lyceum speech was prescient in a way, but not prescient enough to see he would be assisting in that national suicide. For that country did die, a long time ago, and what we call ourselves today bears little resemblance to the original idea.

        • Jean Valjean says:

          Kapt: “The British Empire wanted to break up the US and reclaim it, hence its’ covert backing of the Confederacy.”
          Not sure that breaking up the US, and even less reclaiming it, was really the issue for Britain by the 1860s. Far more important was the South’s raw cotton supplies, essential to Britain’s biggest industry, textile manufacturing.
          I actually think that breaking up the USA in 1865 would not have been a bad thing. Certainly the Federal Juggernaut would have been avoided and a more liberal, independent community of states would have emerged.

  12. claygooding says:

    I bet they pulled Kerli so no press can ask to interview the drug czar about this,,now there is no drug czar,,the DEA will refuse to comment,,the DOJ will claim ongoing investigation and that leaves no other attached bureaucrat to ask. Smooth move.

  13. Time to call Amash and anybody else you can think of.
    Would be nice to see how congress lines up on this. I want to see some names.

  14. I was just having some thoughts. Its not safe to carry cash. I can think of some people who would love to see cash disappear (most of it is tied up in the black market, I bet). Sounds like a win win scenario if you are positioned right. As in: banks, government.

  15. Servetus says:

    Are you safe? History Repeating Itself:

    In the late 1980’s, an old friend of mine based in Moscow was calling her husband in the USA late one night. She said it was a “typical dumb husband/wife call,” mostly about a broken garage door.

    Around midnight, a gruff voice broke into the call. “This is your KGB listener. This is the most boring, stupid call I’ve ever listened to. Shut up and go to bed!”

    Welcome to the 21st century and the banality of tyranny, brought to you by the 1930s, and the war on some drugs.

  16. Duncan20903 says:


    Uruguay has announced that their GI cannabis will be priced at $2.50/gram or $100 for the maximum monthly purchase of 40 grams. No word yet on whether they’re going to hire Steve DeAngelo or ElSohly Laboratories, Inc. to run the government grow.

    Uruguay To Sell Legal Marijuana At Low Price Of $2.5 Per Gram To Compete With Black Market

    • claygooding says:

      At $2.50 per gram there will still be a black market because it only costs pennies on the gram to produce outdoors.
      And 40 grams per month limit will have people looking for a dealer about two weeks into the month if not sooner.

      • Matthew Meyer says:

        Yeah, that’s over $1000 / lb. retail…

        Who knows what black market prices are in Uruguay?

        The limit is silly, but I bet most consumers come in under 40 g/ month.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        They’re going to allow personal cultivation of up to 6 plants as the plan stands at the moment. Supposedly that’s going to be subject to a 480 (12×40) gram annual limit but unless they’re sending around an inspection team that would hardly be enforceable.

        Nowadays I wouldn’t have any problem with coming in under 40 grams a month if it’s quality cannabis. I probably wouldn’t have a problem with a 20 grams per month limit. That’s presuming that they don’t hire Dr. ElSohly or Prof. Kleiman to run the government farm. But me when I was in my 20s wouldn’t have been happy with 40 grams a week. (On a side note that’s part of the reason why I laugh when people start talking about the fiction of merrywanna addiction. Sorry Mr. Prohibitard, true addiction leads to needing more and more as time passes. It doesn’t produce people who wonder how the heck they managed to consume so damn much 3 decades ago when they wax nostalgic during a pipe dream. And just put that nonsense about pot being better today by several orders of magnitude. 30 years ago I was enjoying what was advertised as “Hawaiian” but likely it was locally produced homegrown. Also there was that really sweet Afghani black hash courtesy of the Freedom Fighters al Qaeda.)

        There are black markets and then there are black markets. Unless the citizens of Uruguay are particularly different than most human beings, filling the gap for the people who want more than their 40 gram allotment will more likely resemble modern day American bootlegging than the cartels’ distribution chain. In Georgia USA, there are still a few vestigial bootleggers of drinking alcohol. In that State modern day bootlegging leads to the scourge of stripper poles and the tragedy of illegal buffets:

        Gainesville men charged with illegally selling alcohol

        Though the squads focus on drugs and gangs, they address a few bootlegging cases each year

        “They pop up every now and then. People want to make a little extra money,” Ware said. “They’ll buy beers and then sell it for two or three times more.”

        In early November, three people were arrested and accused of selling alcohol illegally out of a home on Brown Street. The suspects allegedly were selling beer, wine, mixed drinks and shots of moonshine.

        There was also a buffet and a stripper pole set up at the house, Ware said.

        Here’s some facts about Uruguay which I find fascinating:

        “The Oriental Republic of Uruguay” is the Country’s official name.

        “Libertad o Muerte” (Liberty or Death) is the Country’s official motto.

        The U.S. sending the British packing sounds like child’s play compared to how Uruguay gained independence. Uruguay had to win their independence from Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. That took just under 2 decades between 1811 and 1828. Then they had to do it again in 1985 from their own military.

        Uruguay has departments rather than States.

        Unemployment runs ~6%.

        They have national referenda to implement laws and veto referenda if the people want to kick a politician generated law to the curb. If the citizens really want to re-criminalize it then they have the power to do so. I hope that they won’t but this one means I don’t feel compelled to worry about the publics almost 2:1 disapproval of the law.

        The annual average income was $9,360.00 in 2010 according to the World Bank. So $100 for 40 grams isn’t cheap relative to income.

        To legally immigrate you need to prove an income of $650/month. By law legal immigrants are afforded the same rights and opportunities that nationals have.

        Now I know why I’ve been toying the the idea of learning Spanish lately. Bonerz dias Señor Manager…

  17. jean valjean says:

    interesting that cleveland kidnapper ariel castro had to agree to a plea bargain for the city to be able to destroy the house. compare that with the old couple whose grand son sold a little weed who forfeited their house. asset forfeiture is a massive crime being committed daily in plain sight

  18. Servetus says:

    Breaking Bad tells us the War on Some Drugs is really bad. Good, concise, video clip.

  19. Servetus says:

    Mexican journalists are self-censoring and turning into drug bloggers, disguising or not-revealing their identities against the threat of retribution by the cartels, military, and/or police. Many photographers in Mexico are doing the same.

    Various national and international organisations have described the six-year term of President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012) as bloody. His failed national security policy only aggravated the problem. During his presidency, more journalists were murdered, tortured, threatened, charged or had to go into exile than at any other time in Mexico’s history.

    The magazine Proceso, which is distributed nationally, announced publicly in 2007 that to protect its journalists, it would no longer print their names. Without bothering to announce it, provincial publications simply did the same thing. Even though Proceso, which is based in Mexico City, is a powerful and well-established publication, it’s been the object of many threats and attacks. It has faced legal action, and its correspondent in Veracruz, Regina Martínez, was murdered in 2012.

    Another argument for anonymity.

  20. Duncan20903 says:

    Oh my stars and whiskers, who’da thunk it possible? This one is from the “Thud!” category:

    N.J.’s medical marijuana program a scam on the sick: Editorial
    By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
    August 07, 2013

    Suzette Roberts of Cliffside Park should feel no guilt whatsoever about breaking the law and buying her marijuana on the street.

    Friends and family who might have ready access to the black market should help her out, because the state has made it clear that it won’t.

    Comments open and the sycophants of prohibition are suffering aggravated conniption fits.

  21. War Vet says:

    Well, the drug war takes the Department of Defense out of the hands of the President and gives it solely to the Justice Department i.e. it chooses for us to have an attack(s), which we then naturally respond . . . it funds our enemies, which naturally keeps us there longer. Me thinks the DOJ influences the U.N. Single Laws and many of the other nation’s Justice Systems.

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