#226 Speak Out Against Drug Propaganda Campaign

Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2002
Subject: #226 Speak Out Against Drug Propaganda Campaign

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #226 Wednesday February 6, 2002

Speak Out Against Drug Propaganda Campaign

*********************PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE*************************

The link between drug prohibition and terrorist funding has been
established ( see for example, http://www.narcoterror.org/ ), but it’s
a long stretch to say that American drug users are helping to fund
terror. Drug warriors, no strangers to long stretches, are trying to
sell the argument on TV and newspaper ads. They were willing to use
more than $3 million of your tax money in a single minute to promote
the new campaign during the broadcast of the Super Bowl.

A few newspapers have covered the new ads as stories – and at least
293 newspapers have been paid to run the ads. Please write a letter to
one of those newspapers to debunk the faulty logic underlying the ads.
Please remind editors that terrorists aren’t using alcohol and
pharmaceuticals to fund their activities, and that prohibition offers
the strongest link between drugs and terror.

WRITE A LETTER TODAY

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do

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PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID ( Letter,
Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so
others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing
efforts.

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see:

http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm

and/or

http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is one very effective way of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.

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CONTACT INFO

Source: Washington Post (DC)
Contact: letters@washpost.com

EXTRA CREDIT

A number of other newspapers have covered this story – please send a
letter to them as well. And, if you’ve seen these ads in your local
newspaper, please write to tell them what you think of the ads.

US: Anti-Drug Ads Play The Terror Card
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n190/a02.html
Pubdate: Mon, 04 Feb 2002
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Contact: letters@sfchronicle.com

US MN: Editorial: New Campaign Highlights Effects Of U.S. Drug
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n192/a05.html
Pubdate: Tue, 05 Feb 2002
Source: Duluth News-Tribune (MN)
Contact: letters@duluthnews.com

US NY: This Drug Ad A Hard Sell
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n181/a06.html
Pubdate: Sun, 03 Feb 2002
Source: Newsday (NY)
Contact: letters@newsday.com

US: White House Drug Agency Scores Last-Minute Super Bowl Ad
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n162/a04.html
Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Contact: letter.editor@wsj.com

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NOTE: Please address each newspaper one at a time using the To: field of
your email program. Be sure to use the newspaper name somewhere in each
message. Newspaper editors expect that you are addressing them only – they
are quick to hit the delete key if they think you are sending something to
multiple publications.

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Pubdate: Sun, 03 Feb 2002
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Page: A03
Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company
Contact: letters@washpost.com
Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/491
Author: Frank Ahrens, Washington Post Staff Writer
Cited: Drug Policy Alliance http://www.drugpolicyalliance.org/
Bookmarks: http://www.mapinc.org/campaign.htm (ONDCP Media Campaign)
http://www.mapinc.org/find?203 (Terrorism)

NEW PITCH IN ANTI-DRUG ADS: ANTI-TERRORISM

The ads by the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy
aired during last night’s Super Bowl marked an escalation in the
selling of the administration’s war on drugs — for the first time,
the illegal narcotics trade is linked to terrorism.

Previously, government anti-drug messages focused on how users harm
themselves. The two Super Bowl ads, which cost nearly $3.5 million to
place during the widely watched Fox television broadcast, claim that
money to purchase drugs likely ends up in the hands of terrorists and
narco-criminals.

“Where do terrorists get their money?” asks one of the ads, which
portrays a terrorist buying explosives, weapons and fake passports.
“If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you.”

About half of the 28 organizations identified as terrorist by the
State Department are funded by sales of illegal drugs, according to
the drug office.

The ads are targeted at teens and aim to tap the same sense of
international awareness seen in young protesters of globalization and
the lending practices of the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund. “Young people are interested in and motivated by larger concerns
in society, such as environmentalism” and the World Trade
Organization, said John Walters, director of the Office of National
Drug Control Policy. “They’re looking for ways to make the world
better and against things that make the world worse.”

The two 30-second ads (which aired a total of three times before and
during the game) were funded by the drug office’s $180 million
advertising budget, the largest of any government agency. They were
created by New York advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather. By law, Ogilvy
receives expense reimbursement from the government for making the ads,
but they are “essentially pro bono work,” said Chris Wall, Ogilvy
executive creative director.

In addition to the paid Super Bowl ads, Fox is required to provide the
drug office with three additional free prime-time airings of the
commercials.

The ads kick off a four-to-six-week nationwide campaign, which also
includes ads on radio and in 293 newspapers (including The Washington
Post), an augmented Web site (www.theantidrug.com) and teaching
materials to be distributed to middle and high school students.
Walters estimated the campaign’s cost at $10 million.

“Considering that Americans spend over $60 billion on [illegal] drugs
a year, this is a pretty well-leveraged investment,” said Walters, who
was the drug office’s chief of staff under William J. Bennett.

Even before they aired, the ads drew criticism from groups that favor
drug decriminalization and treatment programs instead of harsh
criminal penalties. “There is something very disturbing about the fact
the federal government is spending almost $3.5 million to blame
nonviolent Americans for funding terrorism when . . . people who need
drug treatment can’t get it,” said Matthew Briggs, an assistant
director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates changes in drug
laws.

“We’re not blaming Americans for terrorism, we’re blaming terrorists
for terrorism,” Walters said. “We’re telling Americans that if they
use drugs, they should be aware that some of that money is being used
to support terrorism in many cases.”

The drug office spent about $50,000 to make its Web site hacker-proof,
said Alan Levitt, chief of the drug office’s education division. The
office also bought about two dozen Internet addresses with names
similar to the official site, in an attempt to prevent parodies.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the drug office contacted Ogilvy,
an agency it had worked with before, asking for ideas on how to link
the war on drugs to terrorism in an ad campaign. The drug office knew
that the Taliban was partially funded by sales of opium, which can be
refined into heroin.

What followed, said British film and commercial director Tony Kaye,
who produced the ads, was “unprecedented” fact-checking between the
drug office and government agencies, including the FBI, DEA, CIA, and
the departments of Defense and State. Details down to the price of
AK-47 assault rifles, featured in one of the ads, were debated. “The
FBI said, ‘Is the price retail or black market?’ ” Levitt said.

Each line of dialogue in the ads is explained by a story on the
agency’s Web page. For instance, in one of the ads, a teen actor says:
“I helped kill a judge.” On the Web page, that line is linked to a
drug-related killing in South America.

Before airing, the ads were shown to teens in focus groups. The
teenagers showed “a strong decline in intention to use” drugs after
seeing the ads, Levitt said. And, he said, parents called them a
“powerful way to initiate conversations” with their children.

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SAMPLE LETTER

To the editor:

The new so-called anti-drug ads that debuted during the Super Bowl
were offensive on many levels. The ads aren’t intended to make viewers
think, or everyone would be asking why terrorists aren’t using money
derived from alcohol or tobacco markets. We don’t pretend we can wipe
those legal drugs off the face of the earth. We recognize that despite
the problems associated with them, outlawing alcohol and tobacco would
cause bigger problems – like creating easy funding for terrorists.

But we continue to play the good drug/bad drug game. Too bad we don’t
play the game honestly and base our judgement of good and bad on the
amount of death caused by a group of drugs. Then alcohol and tobacco
would be considered as bad drugs, while drugs like marijuana, which
causes no deaths, would be considered good.

But, perversely, Super Bowl viewers were sold the notion that
marijuana use leads to torture, while drinking Budweiser constitutes
patriotism. What a wonderful lesson for young people.

A more honest ad would have featured the face of federal drug czar
John Walters saying, “I helped to drop toxic herbicide on peasants in
Colombia today.”

Or a DEA agent saying, “I helped to take medicine away from a cancer
patient today, and subvert the democratic process in California at the
same time!”

I’d buy such ads myself, if I had the money. Sadly, a good portion of
my money is pooled with yours in order to convince us that (drug) war
is (terror) peace.

Stephen Young

NOTE: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at
least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of
the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for
his/her work.

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ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing
efforts

Writer’s Resources http://www.mapinc.org/resource/

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Prepared by Stephen Young http://www.maximizingharm.com – DrugSense FOCUS
Alert Specialist