Inside the mind of a drug warrior

William R. Brownfield is Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Even the title of his job tells you something about the absolute wrongness of how our government has approached drug policy.

He shared some of this thoughts in this speech: U.S. Official Comments on Drugs, Security and Latin America.

Of course, he denies he is a drug warrior:

A little bit of history: In the 1970s, the United States of America, or at least its government, discovered the drug issue. Richard Nixon declared a ‘war on drugs,’ a very unfortunate selection of terms, by the way, since in fact it’s not a war. It’s certainly not a war against our own population that in some way, shape, or form is part of the drug issue. And for that reason, ever so wisely, in the year 1993, the then newly-inaugurated president of the United States Bill Clinton said, and I quote, “It’s not a war, and we’re going to stop calling it a war on drugs.” Things move slowly in the federal government and the media, but don’t you all come at me in 15 minutes and start condemning me for the war on drugs, because I have already told you in advance it is not a war on drugs, it has not been a war on drugs for 21 years, and what we are doing goes a bit beyond the classical, typical definition of the term war, combined with the word drugs.

Read the rest of his comments as he talks about each effort that has been taken over the years and how it failed miserably, and, at the very end, merely comes to the conclusion that what is required is all of the above and some undefined “more.” Also note his pathetic attempt to claim Colombia and changing drug consumption trends as some kind of validation, and never once questions the damage caused by these policies.

Even as he recognizes shifts (Uruguay, Washington, Colorado), he fails to see them as anything other than new factors in the equation as opposed to repudiations of decades of war.

It’s a powerful blindness, demonstrating either a true believer, or, perhaps more likely, someone who has spent a career under flawed assumptions and is constitutionally unable to question their life’s work.

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46 Responses to Inside the mind of a drug warrior

  1. jean valjean says:

    a careerist drug warrior in deep denial and desperately trying to hang on to his publicly financed pension. i would like to see what these students asked him at question time

  2. STV says:

    “It is both unfair to the criminal justice system as well as to many of those who are caught up in the criminal justice system to try to address drug abuse solely in the criminal justice system.”

    Awwww, those poor prosecutors, cops, and judges. Clearly, our first sympathies should be with them.

  3. Servetus says:

    William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State, is a drug war denier. He’s an historical revisionist in much the same sense as a Holocaust denier. Neither historians, nor citizens, will ever afford him such an undue privilege.

    It’s too bad Richard Nixon and his prohibitionist goon squads chose to use ‘war on drugs’ to describe their plans for creating a persecution society. They believed people would continue to interpret the phrase as a metaphor, even when the drug war was far too close to being a real war on real people. The human tendency to objectify evil, to make evil a real thing; an object, a chemical, herb, or plant, so it can be physically destroyed or eliminated in some ceremonious fashion, exists within belief systems at the cores of many ancient religions. Evil is foisted onto human beings in much the same way. Wars are by definition eliminationist and amoral. We see the results in Mr. Brownfield’s war on drug consumers, people who end up suffering a lifetime of persecution for something that should never have been made a crime.

    This is why a drug war crimes tribunal is essential to bring closure to the human rights crimes committed by bureaucrats such as Mr. Brownfield. Without international human rights trials, the future William Brownfields of the world will continue in their refusals to distinguish right from wrong. They will ignite a similar culture war based on a new set of allegedly good intentions to give their program a morally plausible disguise. This cannot be allowed to happen. The government’s war on its own citizens must be stopped here and now.

    • kaptinemo says:

      As they used to say, “Hear, hear!”

      Couldn’t have put it any better. Until the ‘infection’ of prohibitionism is removed from the body politic, it will return to sicken it again. And that means dealing with this ‘disease”s particular ‘vectors’, those bureaucrats and their equally parasitic niche industry allies who seek to personally profit from it.

      People keep forgetting that other drug prohibitions (Harrison Narcotics Act 1914) came before alcohol Prohibition (Volstead Act 1918).

      You’d think that the first failure would have caused some to consider if another failure was worth the cost. But so long as there are professional BSers like Mr. Brownfield running around, on our dime and our time, telling us black is the new white and upside-down is right-side-up (the drug war isn’t a war on our own people in the way that waterboarding isn’t torture), we will continue to face future risks of the ‘disease’ returning.

    • Paul McClancy says:

      Speaking of historical revisionism, check out this tripe.

      • kaptinemo says:

        And this is why I keep harping on about why a Congressional Committee needs to be formed, one with teeth, to investigate all the horrors that took place under prohibition…and make such ferocious penalties against anything like that ever being proposed again that no one ever does.

        Every reformer who’s done his/her homework learns very quickly about the mendacious foundation of the DrugwWr. Lies, lies, lies, through and through. But since those lies were never challenged in court, and were allowed to constitute policy, they became ingrained in the culture, to the point that reality was ignored in favor of ever expanding DrugWar based on those lies.

        Well, the truth is outing, all over the LameStream Media, which previously had its orders to maintain an air of snickering, condescending attitude towards cannabis…and, thus, cannabis law reformers.

        The proof of that was the until-recently (and still happening in some backwards places) easily discernible pattern of headlines deprecating the issue and those who promote it (“Potheads dreams of legalization go up in smoke” and other such demeaning statements.)

        That worked only so long as the voting public was dominated by those who agreed with such sentiments. Which is no long the case. And media outlets everywhere are starting to realize the fact that it’s not such a good idea to piss off future potential customers…ones that want legal cannabis again. Which is why we’re seeing more news articles with a more neutral, if not timidly supportive, tone to them.

        But so long as those lies remain unchallenged legally, and no punishments are meted out for telling them, those who tell them will continue to do so. Hence the ‘revisionism’.

        The day a DrugWarrior is eviscerated on the witness stand for lying under oath (which happens as soon as DrugWarriors open their mouths) and is publicly crushed with the truth, the other DrugWarriors will get the message. Until then, we can expect more of this ‘black is white, up is down’ idiocy to get worse.

      • B. Snow says:

        These people never read “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” (by Daniel Okrent).

        Or saw PROHIBITION = “a three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick – that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed.

        If these clowns read Okrent’s book or watch the Ken Burns documentary and still feel the same way = then I’d be happy to discuss & debate the subject with them…

        But until then, I’m not likely to bother doing so – I know a little about this – I had a great-grandfather that ran a drugstore in a small Texas town back then – He died long before I was born…

        But, IDK how many times I’ve heard the story (from family that weren’t exactly proud of it) about the fact that he worked out some arrangement w/ a Doctor that used to sit in the drugstore and write prescriptions for medicinal whiskey… I don’t think anyone knows exactly what year(s) that went on?

        I do recall the next part of the story – It was always about how he bought a brand new house with cash – back when it was nearly unheard of to do so. I can’t recall what year that was (I think it was not too long after the Great Depression – maybe before WWII, or shortly thereafter?) I do remember visiting my great-grandmother there when I was very young – before she died… knowing (roughly) how old it was = it was still pretty darn nice.

  4. NotCalNative says:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, may I suggest to you that it is a little bit early, perhaps a century or two, perhaps a millennium or so, to declare success on this particular issue (i.e., the drug war)?”

    The Nixon “WAR-ON-DRUGS” Millennial Cluster Fuck Society of Authoritarian Assholes bids you good day.

  5. Russell Olausen says:

    My sister-in-law is a muddled drug warrior, feminist, and old enough to be a true hag in the Roman sense. Should the world come down to her and me, the only logical solution for me would be to imprison her as an undue tax on what society remained.

  6. Duncan20903 says:


    Colorado is number one!!!!!

    Law enforcement from neighboring states agree, Colorado has strongest marijuana in the world”

    When it comes to quality and potency, Colorado pot is at the high end of the spectrum.

    “There is no place in the world where you can buy as strong marijuana legally as you can in Colorado,” said Mark Overman, sheriff of Scotts Bluff County, Neb. “It’s the most powerful stuff you can find.”

    Overman is also the operational coordinator of the Western Nebraska Intelligence & Narcotics Group, which covers 11 panhandle counties.

    Colorado pot’s muscle has also been felt in Oklahoma.

    Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Control, compares it with cannabis from California.

    “It’s some of the most powerful marijuana we’ve ever tested,” he said. “Some of the most powerful marijuana we have found on earth is coming out of California and Colorado. It’s frightening.”

    • Jean Valjean says:

      Can these people really be that clueless? By their own definition, they are “sending the wrong message…”
      The CO tourist board should publicly thank them

      • kaptinemo says:

        LOL! My thoughts exactly! But isn’t that what they have done all along? Excite interest in them where before there was ignorance of illegal drugs? First time I ever heard about them was when a cop visited our school to ‘warn’ us.

        Makes you wonder, sometimes…

    • NorCalNative says:

      To law enforcement, dose titration doesn’t exist and our biggest complaint is that we can’t inject the damn stuff.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        It’s not fair to expect the mentally defective to understand a word with as many syllables as “titration” has. They think that the official judges at the wet t-shirt contest issue titratings and just can’t figure out how it applies to cannabis.

        • kaptinemo says:

          No, they’re probably thinking that ‘titration’ is how much breast milk a nursing baby is allowed to have per day.

          This latest effort looks like the DEA is trying to update their decades-obsolete playbook that they sent out (on our dime and our time) to police groups around the country to try to counter reformers. 20 years later, we’re on the verge of victory. Doesn’t look like it helped them any.

          They were hopelessly outclassed then, and they’re still hopelessly outclassed, today. It’s only the money that’s already in the budgetary pipeline that allows them to continue. Start hacking away at that, and even that nonsense will dwindle.

        • jean valjean says:

          tit ration. its the latest thing in edibles

  7. allan says:

    Brownfield summed it up pretty accurately (in fact, this could have been his complete speech) when he said:

    I have spent virtually my entire professional career doing Latin America


    • allan says:

      Caught Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, on Charlie Rose (PBS) last night, and he basically stated they’re done with the U.S. doing them. Well spoken fella.

      • kaptinemo says:

        It’s why so many nations down there are saying “No mas DEA!”. They know it’s been infiltrated by CIA. Enough said.

  8. Duncan20903 says:

    Res Ipsa Loquitur:

    US Attorney General Eric Holder admits using marijuana
    America’s top law official says he experimented with drugs during his college years

    Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, has admitted using marijuana while at university.

    Claiming he had been advised to characterise his dope-smoking days as “youthful experimentation” when applying for government jobs, Mr Holder said he had felt uncomfortable jailing youngsters for marijuana possession while serving as a judge.

    He added that he was “cautiously optimistic” about how the decriminalisation of the drug was proceeding in two states which legalised recreational sales of marijuana nearly a year ago.

    Mr Holder attended New York’s Colombia University in the 1970s, studying history before staying on for law school.

    In an interview with the Huffington Post, he said he had always disclosed his drug-taking experiences in background checks when applying for government jobs.

    “Yeah, I certainly have said in my four, five, whatever number confirmation hearings I’ve had that you fill out the forms, that I had ‘youthful experimentation’ – I think was the phrase that we were told to use – when I was in college.”

    • Randy says:

      What were the results of his experiments? And more importantly, did he wear a white lab coat when he did his experiments? At least Holder felt “uncomfortable” for meting out sentences for drug violations. Whatta swell guy.

      People can lose professional licenses for a drug conviction, but admitting to drug use won’t disqualify a person from becoming the AG or even the POTUS. More and more citizens see this double standard and this is just one of the many reasons why people are turning against drug prohibition. It can’t be over soon enough.

  9. NorCalNative says:

    To the best of my memory and knowledge, this blog is the only place I’m seeing calls for addressing the human rights crimes behind the drug war.

    If we’re going to start taking names and making lists of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, don’t forget the WESTERN system of medicine, aka allopathic medicine.

    If you view the drug war as a group of pillars that support policy, then the way to win the war is to remove the pillars of support.

    The AMA and Western medicine are part of the drug-war problem because they form two very solid pillars and need to be viewed as such.

    I have no patience or empathy for a physician ignorant or neglectful of cannabinoid-based therapeutics. We’ve been learning about this knowledge since 1998 and there’s been enough studies and research to put it into the mainstream.

    By definition (if you want to hold physicians to the “first-do-no-harm” standard) ANY doctor who is failing his/her patients by a failure to utilize the appropriate and timely application of cannabinoids must be viewed as a DRUG-WAR CRIMINAL, by default.

    Murder is murder, and poor health-care choices by ignorant and neglectful physicians based on politics makes them worthy of being on our list of drug-war criminals. There’s a word for making people suffer needlessly, and it’s torture.

    Western medicine inflicts torture and murder by abdication. Those are very serious accusations and I don’t make them lightly. I make them because our government knows plant-based medicine holds the keys to beating cancers and serious neurodegenerative diseases.

    There is a very great EVIL hiding in plain sight within our medical profession and it boils down to intent on what kind of medicine is acceptable and efficacious.

    We didn’t have any problem designating certain NAZI WWII physicians as war criminals for their barbaric experimentation on human subjects. So, we shouldn’t be shy or reluctant to impart the same moniker on those who deny whole-plant medicine.

    In 1910 when evidence for the efficacy for herbs was unavailable and unknown to science it made sense to not include them in a system of Western medicine. However, it’s the evolution and the timing of plant-based research that now makes one physician a healer and another a WAR CRIMINAL.

  10. claygooding says:

    People are dieing in the name of controlling drugs,,whether they have tons or is a fuckng war on the population of the world,,they just pray we don’t declare war back on them

    • Windy says:

      If you’ve been keeping up with the situation in Nevada, the BLM vs Cliven Bundy, you can see the war on the population, in one skirmish the freedom fighters on Bundy’s side forced the BLM to retreat and to release the cattle they’d stolen from Bundy. The people, well some of the people, have declared war back on them. But just like with the “war on drugs”, the retreat may not mean surrender, there are rumors that the BLM intends to go in in the dead of night to remove the entire family from the land dead or alive, Harry Reid wants that land so badly, but the land actually belongs to Nevada, not the BLM (the fed gov is Constitutionally forbidden to “own” land except in the immediate seat of the government — D.C.). Anyway enough of the OT topic, and back to the similarity. To wit, every time we think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the government comes back at us even harder in some destructive way. We, the people, need to stand up for ourselves and say “That’s it! No more! Cease and desist, immediately; or else … !”

      • allan says:

        these folks (the NV ranchers in this protest) pale in comparison to Carrie Dann and her sister.

        • Windy says:

          I agree that Carrie Dann and her sister have had the fight of their lives with the federal government (thanks, btw, for that bit of education I hadn’t known about that situation before), but I don’t think Bundy’s situation pales in comparison, because they are all fighting the same enemy for pretty much the same reasons, the fed gov is stealing (trying to steal) their ancestral lands. 53 other ranchers have gone through the same fight with the same enemy and eventually gave up, they ran out of money or energy to fight any longer and just gave in to the fed gov. Bundy, a TX ranching family (who are choosing to fight it in the courts instead of on the range), and the Western Shoshone are still in the midst of the fight.

  11. Nunavut Tripper says:

    ” I am the Assistant Secretary of State for Drugs and Law Enforcement, and to be clear, I officially oppose the former and support the second.”

    No grey area for Mr Brownfield. Drugs are all bad and cops are always good.
    I wish we all lived in a simple world like his.

    • primus says:

      I would love to be able to view the world as simplistic, however I must view it as complex. That is because I have a complex mind.

  12. Dave in Florida says:

    There is a new study just posted by NBC news (funded by NIDA, ONDCP of course) that claims “to show casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes.”

    The article is here…

    They have a link to the actual study and of course it says something different.

    “This preliminary study has several caveats. First, the sample
    size does not provide power to examine complex interactions
    such as sex differences. Because this is a cross-sectional study, causation cannot be determined, although marijuana exposure parametrically correlated with structural differences, which suggests the possibility of causation. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether marijuana exposure explicitly leads to the differences observed in this study. Furthermore, this study did
    not include quantifiable marijuana metabolite levels, which
    would have provided further information about the amount of
    marijuana exposure. This measure could be incorporated into
    future studies as a complementary measure to detailed timeline follow-back measures of drug use. Finally, age of onset was collected for marijuana use only. Early exposure to alcohol may have also affected brain structure (although no participant met criteria for past alcohol abuse or dependence).”

    More BS!

    • DdC says:

      “Drugs Aren’t the Problem”:
      Neuroscientist Carl Hart on Brain Science & Myths about Addiction

      Is Weed Addictive? doctor oooz

      “Drugs Aren’t the Problem” democracynow

      WChristians4Cannabis ‏@WC4Cannabis
      New Study Shows Cannabinoids Improve Efficiency Of Mitochondria And Remove Damaged Brain Cells

    • Yep. I don’t see the harm. Change proves nothing.

      Alcohol creates actual observable brain damage.

      What is the harm here? If you told Carl Sagan his brain got bigger from smoking he would probably agree.

    • Randy says:

      Newsflash! People whose jobs depend on continuing drug prohibition tout “studies” that declare drugs are dangerous! Film at 11:00!

    • Crut says:

      Saw this “study” in the paper this morning (no comment on how quickly this total non-news ended up there…). So wtf are they trying to claim? Your brain changes? Ooh, scary! Everyone I know who has ever poked smot knows that they start to think about things differently, and from a different perspective than before. I bet dollars to donuts that learning stuff “changes” your brain also.

      This shit is just fodder for the sheeple who skim headlines and suddenly know everything they think they need to know or want to. To them “changes in the brain” = “brain damage”. Fark, I would love to be in Colorado this weekend to witness all the brain changing.

      • B. Snow says:

        Yep, they are apparently claiming “different = bad”… That takes some nerve Einstein had a “different” brain, I don’t think they can prove that this means anything other than they want more money “for research”, and so they can -delay legalization- as long as possible.

    • kaptinemo says:

      With all those caveats, why run the study at all?

      More criminal waste of our hard-earned tax dollars!

      • Windy says:

        The Seattle news show I usually choose watch whenever I actually watch MSM news, referred to it as “reshaping the brain” but I didn’t watch it long enough to find out what else they had to say about it (hmm, I should have, it IS an interest of mine, guess I’ll have to go to their website to read what I didn’t watch, to see how they treated it) but they didn’t say it in such a voice as to imply “in a bad way”, it was said in an offhand voice.

    • DdC says:

      Study Finds Signs of Brain Changes in Pot Smokers

      The Stealth Genocide
      Program – Review:
      Death In The Air

      When Scientists Sin
      Fraud, deception and lies in research reveal how science is (mostly) self-correcting

  13. The newspapers are running wild with this garbage. There is something wrong with this whole line of research looking for supposed adolescent harm. That flawed New Zealand study just never matches up to my own observations of people who smoke pot that started young. This study does the same. When their studies don’t match what I can see right in front of my own face, something is rotten in Denmark.

    • Nunavut Tripper says:

      I know several people who ( like myself ) started using cannabis in their teenage years and now 4 or 5 decades later I can see no serious downside other than jail.

      My personal experience is not a peer reviewed scientific study but come on,you would think we would all be experiencing major health or psychotic issues by now.

      • allan says:

        I’ve just reviewed your 40+ years of cannabis consumption. To the best of my observations, you are here and literate. Literally.

        Now you can say you’ve had your peer-review. 🙂

        • Nunavut Tripper says:

          Thanks Alan

          I feel better now. Hope I don’t have to spend another thirty years dodging cops and Sabet clones.
          We have a few choice ones here in Canukistan.

  14. The scientific method begins and ends with personal observation. If they don’t match, you don’t have science.

    Stupid pot smokers can be found in the movies and the government’s stories of the madness that made marijuana illegal.

  15. strayan says:

    The most telling sentence of the NIDA/ONDCP ‘research’ posted above is in the last paragraph:

    the present finding indicate further study of marijuana effects are needed to help inform discussion about the legalization of marijuana.

    Has anyone read a study about the harms of alcohol that concluded:

    the present finding indicate further study of alcohol effects are needed to help inform discussion about the legalization of alcohol.


  16. Striking a Nerve: Bungling the Cannabis Story
    By John Gever, Deputy Managing Editor, MedPage Today

    “Correlation does not equal causation, and a single exam cannot show a trend over time. Basic stuff, right?”

    “But judging by coverage of a study just out in the Journal of Neuroscience, these are apparently foreign concepts for many folks in the media.”

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Man that confirmation bias is some bad joojoo. It’s getting to the point where I don’t even believe what I believe because I don’t want to look like an idiot! Fortunately, the prohibitionists don’t mind at all. So even though I’m never sure of anything anymore, there are always clowns to laugh at.

      • Well, just for consistency (speaking of enlarged amygdala’s and pot)- Date: June 3, 2008 :

        “The hippocampus, thought to regulate emotion and memory, and the amygdala, involved with fear and aggression, tended to be smaller in cannabis users than in controls”

        And also for your info: a larger amygdala is also associated with:

        anxiety in young children
        childhood adversity
        mesial temporal lobe epilepsy
        internalizing syndrome’s

        – and last of all, people with conservative tendencies are associated with larger amygdala’s.

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