#246 Columnist Misses The Point Of DrugTerror Connection

Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001
Subject: #246 Columnist Misses The Point Of DrugTerror Connection


DrugSense FOCUS Alert #246 Wednesday December 12, 2001

Write a Letter – Make a Difference!

Columnist Misses The Point Of Drug/Terror Connection

While drug policy reform advocates have been trying to explain how the
drug war benefits terrorists, some confused pundits have taken the
bizarre looking-glass view that the war on drugs is a crucial aspect
to the success of the war on terror. This week syndicated columnist
Robert Novak devoted one of his pieces to this premise.

He ignored the fact that inflated black market prices created by drug
prohibition are crucial for the funding of terrorists. Without the
drug war, terrorists would lose an important funding mechanism. (See
Jacob Sullum’s comments on this and other reasons the war on drugs is
good for terrorists at URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n2001/a12.html

Please write a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times or the Washington Post
to explain why Robert Novak has it backwards – the war on drugs helps
terrorism, it doesn’t hurt it.

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Contact Info:

Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Contact: letters@suntimes.com

Extra Credit

Source: Washington Post
Contact: letters@washpost.com

This column also appeared in the Washington Post on Dec. 10 under a
different title. Please send a letter to the WP as well.

Source: Washington Post



Newshawk: Sledhead
Pubdate: Mon, 10 Dec 2001
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2001 The Sun-Times Co.
Contact: letters@suntimes.com
Website: http://www.suntimes.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/81
Author: Robert Novak
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?203 (Terrorism)


America’s war on terrorism ought to be linked inextricably to the war
on drugs. It is not. That unfortunate failure, making it more
difficult to defeat either scourge, is reflected in two anomalies.

*President Bush, omnipresent and eloquent in exhorting his fellow
citizens to combat terror, since Sept. 11 has mentioned narcotics
hardly at all. Not once in his daily rhetoric over those three months
has the president used the phrase “narco-terrorism.”

*The Drug Enforcement Administration, widely considered to have the
best U.S. intelligence operations, has no seat at the inter-agency
table in fighting terrorism. It never did, and the attacks of Sept. 11
did not change anything.

These facts of life are the background to last Tuesday’s unprecedented
narco-terrorism symposium convened by the DEA’s aggressive new
administrator, former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, and held at DEA
headquarters in Arlington, Va. Criticism was restrained and indirect,
but the consensus was clear that drug-fighting must be part of the
anti-terror strategy.

The DEA always has appreciated the nexus between terror and narcotics,
but the State Department and the CIA have not. Accordingly, the U.S.
government for years turned a blind eye to the fact that Colombia’s
FARC guerrillas from the start have been financed by illegal
narcotics. The Taliban, which supported Osama bin Laden and his
al-Qaida terrorist network, have been financed by the opium trade to
Europe. While U.S. policymakers still talk at length about
state-sponsored terrorism, support now is more likely to come from the
poppy seed than from a government sanctuary.

Raphael Perl, narco-terrorism expert for the Congressional Research
Service, told last week’s symposium that “income from the drug trade
has become increasingly important to terrorist organizations.” He
added: “State sponsors are increasingly difficult to find. What world
leader in his right mind will risk global sanctions by openly
sponsoring al-Qaida or funding it?”

Steven Casteel, DEA chief of intelligence, agreed: “State-sponsored
terrorism is diminishing. These organizations are looking for funding,
and drugs bring one thing: quick return on their investment.”

Narcotics provide more than a way to finance terrorism, in the DEA’s
view. Al-Qaida expands ABC–atomic, biological and chemical–to ABCD,
with drugs added, according to Casteel. “Drugs are a weapon of mass
destruction that can be used against Western societies and help bring
them down,” he said.

On Sept. 7, DEA agents seized 53 kilos of Afghan heroin distributed by
Colombians. “I would argue,” said Casteel, “that we’ve been under
attack in this country for a long time, and it didn’t start on Sept.

Considering DEA’s experience, it would seem natural that its
representatives would immediately be put on the high command of the
new war against terrorism. They were not, and still are not.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA official who was a high-ranking State
Department counterterrorism expert during the first Bush
administration, told the symposium: “I can say, hands down, that the
best intelligence we have on the ground overseas is DEA, and yet,
after all of the time that I’ve been involved with counterterrorism,
not once have I seen a DEA body sitting at the table, at the [Counter-
terrorism and Security Group] meetings which go on at the White House,
where you’re talking about combatting terrorism.” Nor are they there

No wonder the president never uses the words narco-terrorism. What is lost
by this silence is the leverage of the presidential bully pulpit to fight
drugs. Last week’s DEA symposium was called “Target America: Traffickers,
Terrorists and Your Kids.” The “kids” part was discussed by Stephen Pasierb
of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. He presented polling data
showing a rare conjunction between generations: a mutual inclination by
parents and children to believe that illegal drugs finance terrorism.

That opportunity can be exploited by the government’s massive
megaphone, especially the presidential bully pulpit. “The
understanding of this link [between narcotics and terrorism] is
essential,” said Pasierb, “and that’s what our leaders can do.
Leadership in this nation can help our people understand.” The wonder
is that the blase attitude toward narcotics in high places that marked
the Clinton administration has not totally disappeared under Bush.



Dear Editor,

I was baffled by Robert Novak’s column on the alleged need to tie the
drug war to the war on terror (“America’s 2 Wars Must Be Linked,” Dec.
10). The drug war helps to finance terrorists – they would not be
drawn to drug sales as a funding source if prohibition had not made
drugs so profitable. While Novak calls drug “weapons of mass
destruction” and lists several official U.S. enemies that have
profited from the illegal drug trade, it is crucial to remember that
some official allies (including the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan)
are no strangers to drug trafficking. Are our friends also using
weapons of mass destruction against us?

In reality, if we want to hurt terrorists, we would end the war on
drugs. Such a move would stop the flow of black market narco-dollars
to terrorists and slash the power of drug gangs here in America. If we
do as Novak suggests and link the war on drugs to the war on terror,
the only result will be prolonging both indefinitely.

Stephen Young

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