#325 Washington’s Drug War Contradictions

Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006
Subject: #325 Washington’s Drug War Contradictions


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #325 – Monday, 6 March 2006

On Wednesday, March 2nd the Bush administration published an annual
report on international narcotics control, listing its accomplishments
in disrupting the production and trafficking of cocaine, heroin,
marijuana and other drugs to the United States.

Sadly, the proclaimed successes come on the heels of a different
report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy released a few
weeks ago saying that “cocaine is widely available throughout most of
the nation.” The ONDCP offered similar assessments for heroin and marijuana.

The U.S. “War on Drugs” is well into it’s 36th year. Leading federal
officials seem to remain blind to the utterly ineffectual results
proffered by a policy of criminal prohibition. Their ignorance comes
with an increasing audacity given that their own offices and leaders
report contradictory data.

Coverage ran Thursday in the New York Times, but failed to attract
significant attention in other newspapers.


Pubdate: Thu, 02 Mar 2006
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2006 The New York Times Company
Contact: letters@nytimes.com
Website: http://www.nytimes.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/298
Author: Joel Brinkley
Note: The 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
(INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress
prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act. It describes
the efforts of key countries to attack all aspects of the
international drug trade in Calendar Year 2005. The 900 page report
is on line here http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2006/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/international+narcotics+control
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/pot.htm (Cannabis)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/coke.htm (Cocaine)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/heroin.htm (Heroin)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/Colombia
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/Afghanistan
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topics/Bolivia


WASHINGTON- The Bush administration published an annual report
Wednesday on international narcotics control, listing its
accomplishments in disrupting the production and trafficking of
cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs to the United States.

But perhaps the most important measure of the programs’ efficacy was
issued just a few weeks ago, when the White House drug-policy office
reported that “cocaine is widely available throughout most of the
nation.” The office offered similar assessments for heroin and marijuana.

“Yes, narcotics are readily available,” said Anne Patterson, the
assistant secretary of state for international narcotics enforcement.
“But if we weren’t doing these projects, the problem would be
dramatically worse.” The government spent more than $1 billion last
year fighting drugs.

The successes included Colombia’s extradition of 134 suspects to the
United States on trafficking and other criminal charges during 2005,
the most ever. The report also noted that Laos had reduced its opium
poppy cultivation to negligible levels, and that Thailand, once a
major producer, had “practically eliminated” drug production, though
that point was also made in the 2004 report.

In singling out trouble spots, the State Department report focused on
two countries in particular, Colombia and Afghanistan.

In Colombia, the United States has financed a multibillion-dollar
antidrug program since 2000. Every year, thousands of acres of coca
plant have been sprayed with herbicides; the department reported
record spraying of 36,000 acres in 2005.

But each year, growers plant new bushes so quickly that for the past
three years, acreage under cultivation has remained stable. As a
result, the report said, “Colombia is the source of 90 percent of the
cocaine entering the United States.”

Congress is to debate the financing for the Colombia project this

The antidrug campaigns have run for more than 25 years, but, officials
acknowledged, traffickers have almost always been able to meet
American market demands. Drug enforcement officials measure their
success on small fluctuations in purity and price.

On Wednesday, an official pointed to a note in the report that said
preliminary reports indicated that enforcement efforts “may have led
to an increase in the U.S. street price of cocaine” and “a reduction
in purity.”

Afghanistan is the other country of major concern. About 30 percent of
Afghanistan’s economic activity is a result of opium poppy
cultivation, which supplies about 90 percent of the world’s heroin.

Ms. Patterson said intelligence information shows that poppy
cultivation in Afghanistan was increasing this year. Last year, the
administration warned that Afghanistan was “on the verge of becoming a
narcotics state.”

On Wednesday Ms. Patterson said at a news conference that controlling
production in Afghanistan “is going to be a huge challenge” and “is
going to take years and years and years.” Most of the heroin produced
from Afghan poppies is sold in Europe and Asia, not the United States.

Though the report did not address it, the administration remains
gravely concerned about Evo Morales, the new president of Bolivia, who
once led a major coca planters’ union and has vowed to end the
American-financed eradication programs.

Although Mr. Morales has not said what he intends to do, he has
offered the paradoxical position that he will not impede coca
cultivation but will fight drug trafficking. Government troops in
charge of coca eradication have stopped work, awaiting orders.


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