#353 Washington Newspapers Print Two Important OPEDs

Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2007
Subject: #353 Washington Newspapers Print Two Important OPEDs


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #353 – Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Below are excerpts from the OPEDs printed Sunday and

Unfortunately, with Congress in recess, your congresscritters may not
see them — unless you make an effort to get them copies and tell them
you agree with the OPEDs and they should have the courage to act on
their recommendations — either in their district/state offices now,
or in Washington when they return.

Both are appropriate targets for your LTEs.

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


Pubdate: Sun, 19 Aug 2007
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Page: B01
Copyright: 2007 The Washington Post Company
Contact: letters@washpost.com
Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/491
Author: Misha Glenny
Note: Misha Glenny is a former BBC correspondent and the author of
“McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Underworld,” to be published next year.


We’ve Spent 36 Years and Billions of Dollars Fighting It, but the Drug
Trade Keeps Growing

Poppies were the first thing that British army Capt. Leo Docherty
noticed when he arrived in Afghanistan’s turbulent Helmand province in
April 2006. “They were growing right outside the gate of our Forward
Operating Base,” he told me. Within two weeks of his deployment to the
remote town of Sangin, he realized that “poppy is the economic
mainstay and everyone is involved right up to the higher echelons of
the local government.”


Thirty-six years and hundreds of billions of dollars after President
Richard M. Nixon launched the war on drugs, consumers worldwide are
taking more narcotics and criminals are making fatter profits than
ever before. The syndicates that control narcotics production and
distribution reap the profits from an annual turnover of $400 billion
to $500 billion. And terrorist organizations such as the Taliban are
using this money to expand their operations and buy ever more
sophisticated weapons, threatening Western security.


The trade in illegal narcotics begets violence, poverty and tragedy.
And wherever I went around the world, gangsters, cops, victims,
academics and politicians delivered the same message: The war on drugs
is the underlying cause of the misery. Everywhere, that is, except
Washington, where a powerful bipartisan consensus has turned the issue
into a political third rail.

The problem starts with prohibition, the basis of the war on drugs.
The theory is that if you hurt the producers and consumers of drugs
badly enough, they’ll stop doing what they’re doing. But instead, the
trade goes underground, which means that the state’s only contact with
it is through law enforcement, i.e. busting those involved, whether
producers, distributors or users. So vast is the demand for drugs in
the United States, the European Union and the Far East that nobody has
anything approaching the ability to police the trade.

Prohibition gives narcotics huge added value as a commodity. Once
traffickers get around the business risks — getting busted or being
shot by competitors — they stand to make vast profits. A confidential
strategy report prepared in 2005 for British Prime Minister Tony
Blair’s cabinet and later leaked to the media offered one of the most
damning indictments of the efficacy of the drug war. Law enforcement
agencies seize less than 20 percent of the 700 tons of cocaine and 550
tons of heroin produced annually. According to the report, they would
have to seize 60 to 80 percent to make the industry unprofitable for
the traffickers.


According to the Government Accountability Office, 70 percent of the
money allotted to Plan Colombia never leaves the United States. It is
used to buy U.S.-built helicopters and other weapons for the military,
and a large chunk is paid to the security firm DynCorp. Britain and
other E.U. countries have so far resisted spraying Afghan poppy fields
with chemicals. But for several years, DynCorp has been spraying the
herbicide glyphosate on thousands of acres of coca in Colombia.


And now the U.S. government wants to repeat this “success” in Mexico.
There’s talk in Washington about a $1 billion aid package for the
government of President Felipe Calderon to back his own war against
drugs. And in Mexico, it’s definitely a war: Calderon has mobilized
the army to fight traffickers. In the first half of this year, more
than 1,000 people were gunned down by rival drug cartels. Among the
dead were newspaper reporters, narcotics police investigators, judges
and politicians.


An avalanche of B.C. Bud rolls southward into the United States every
day, dodging U.S. customs in myriad imaginative ways. But as the Hells
Angels and other syndicates get stronger and their control over the
port of Vancouver tightens, the ability of U.S. and Canadian
authorities to monitor the border becomes ever weaker.

Could anything replace the war on drugs? There’s no easy answer. In
May, the Senlis Council, a group that works on the opium issue in
Afghanistan, argued that “current counter-narcotics policies . . .
have focused on poppy eradication, without providing farmers with
viable alternatives.” Instead of eradication, the council, which is
made up of senior politicians and law enforcement officials from
Canada and Europe, concludes that Afghan farmers should be permitted
to grow opium that can then be refined and distributed for medical
purposes. (That’s not going to happen, as the United States has
recently reiterated its commitment to poppy eradication.)

Others argue that the only way to minimize the criminality and social
distress that drugs cause is to legalize narcotics so that the state
may exert proper control over the industry. It needs to be taxed and
controlled, they insist.

In Washington, the war on drugs has been a third-rail issue since its
inauguration. It’s obvious why — telling people that their kids can
do drugs is the kiss of death at the ballot box. But that was before
9/11. Now the drug war is undermining Western security throughout the
world. In one particularly revealing conversation, a senior official
at the British Foreign Office told me, “I often think we will look
back at the War on Drugs in a hundred years’ time and tell the tale of
‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ This is so stupid.”

How right he is.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n969/a02.html


Pubdate: Mon, 20 Aug 2007
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2007 News World Communications, Inc.
Contact: letters@washingtontimes.com
Website: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/492
Author: Arnold Trebach
Note: Arnold Trebach is a professor emeritus at American University.
Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n959/a01.html


A recent article in The Washington Times by Sara A. Carter show the
frightening importance of the alliance between Arabic terrorists and
Mexican drug cartels. It documents how well known this dangerous
situation has been for several years, for which no effective action
had been taken by the Department of Homeland Security or local officials.


In the longer run, our government must start taking even more
courageous actions that account for the dynamics underlying this
lethal alliance. That alliance is based on the fact that American drug
laws and strategies have managed the majestic alchemy of converting
relatively worthless plants into substances often worth more, ounce
for ounce, than gold and diamonds. If we assume that the Arabs are
jihadists planning to harm this country, then it follows that they
have no interest in the drugs but rather in the great treasure to be
made and the access to our cities and nuclear plants to be gained by
associating with the Mexican gangs.


In my latest book, “Fatal Distraction,” I went over all the evidence
that proved the war on drugs was indeed a fatal distraction. By that I
meant that the drug war has never worked and now diverts limited
resources from combating more deadly menaces — bombs, not bongs.
Today, in the Drug Enforcement Administration alone, a total of 10,891
federal officials are employed to save us all from drugs — usually
marijuana — at an annual cost of $2.5 billion.


Of course, Congress and the president must soon demonstrate the
political courage to repeal the drug laws, dismantle the expensive
drug-control bureaucracy and create a new legal system to control the
formerly illegal drugs. That’s no small task, but stopping another
September 11 demands guts and imagination.

Continues: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n976/a04.html


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Prepared by: The MAP Media Activism Team www.mapinc.org/resource