Aletho News


Why the War on Drugs is So Bad For Privacy

By Jay Stanley | ACLU | April 8, 2015

In 2011, for the 50th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s declaration of America’s “War on Drugs,” I wrote a roundup of some of the ways in which the War on Drugs has eroded privacy. Yesterday’s news about the DEA’s enormous program to collect Americans’ call records is a hell of an addition to the list. But with the DEA story fresh in the headlines, it’s important to remember a key point about why the drug war has been so corrosive of privacy: drug use is a victimless crime.

Why does that make it so bad for privacy? Think about it: with an ordinary crime, you have a victim who goes running to the police to tell them about the wrongdoing that has taken place. They have been assaulted, or stolen from, or otherwise wronged, and are hopping mad, and look to the police for justice. If the crime is murder, then the victim’s loved ones will do the same. While police might engage in a certain amount of patrolling, for the most part reports of crime come to them.

But when there’s no victim, how are the police supposed to find out when the law has been broken? The only way for police to fight victimless crime is to proactively search out wrongdoing: insert themselves into people’s lives, monitor their behavior, search their cars, etc. The enforcement of drug laws thus relies disproportionately on surveillance, eavesdropping, and searches of private places and effects. This (and misguided judges) is the reason that the failed War on Drugs has generated so much bad law around privacy and the Fourth Amendment in particular.

It’s a simple point, and I’m hardly the first to make it, but it’s well worth keeping in mind, and it’s one reason that the ACLU generally opposes victimless crimes.

April 10, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Desperate Drug War Beneficiaries Spread Marijuana Legalization Disinformation

Ron Paul Institute | September 6, 2014

While local and state governments continue moving forward with reducing and eliminating restrictions and penalties regarding marijuana, drug war beneficiaries are desperately responding by spreading disinformation. One such effort is the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Traffic Area August report “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.”

The report purports to be a balanced analysis of the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. In fact, the report is over 150 pages of deceptive pro-drug war propaganda.

One may wonder how much time and money the HIDTA spent on researching, writing, and producing the professional appearing report. Whatever the cost, the HIDTA people must figure it is a good investment of other people’s money.

While the Rocky Mountain HIDTA and its private and government allies spent hundreds or thousands of hours creating the agitprop, drug war writer Jacob Sullum had no trouble promptly rebutting a good portion of the report’s conclusions and exposing some of the rhetorical trickery that made the report particularly deceptive. Nonetheless, singers of prohibition praise from Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation to DARE enthusiastically promoted bite-size packets of the report’s disinformation.

As explained by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 28 HIDTAs, including the Rocky Mountain HIDTA, assist United States, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in fighting the drug war in areas that include 60 percent of the US population pursuant to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. While a lot has changed in America since 1988, the US government’s drug war keeps going strong.

With more and more state and local governments moving away from prohibition of marijuana and this trend showing no signs of reversing, the HIDTA people, along with their connected police departments and other allied drug war beneficiaries, must be having some job security concerns. Drug war arrests, and marijuana arrests in particular, after all, help keep the police busy. US News and World Report writer Steven Nelson reports some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation war on drugs arrest statistics:

Data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show there were an estimated 1,552,432 arrests for drug-related crimes in 2012 – a slight uptick from the 1,531,251 drug arrests in 2011. Marijuana offenses accounted for 48.3 percent of all drug arrests, a slight reduction from 49.5 percent in 2011, which itself was the highest rate since before 1995.

Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011.

HIDTAs (with their $238 million in ONDCP grants) and US, state, and local police (with their “policing for profit”  through drug war asset seizures) are not the only groups that benefit from marijuana prohibition. There are many additional beneficiaries including prosecutors who push defendants who typically lack comparable legal resources along the guilty plea conveyor belt, private and public prisons that cage drug war convicts, treatment centers where people with no addiction problem whatsoever will opt to take part in court-mandated treatment as an alternative to being in prison, and arms manufacturers who have found new income in police militarization.

While it is important to counter deceptive propaganda with truth and logic, there is little reason to expect that the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report and other propaganda efforts will stop the general American trend toward greater respect for the right to grow, use, transport, buy, and sell marijuana. On marijuana, America it seems has turned a corner, with the country moving toward a patchwork quilt of marijuana laws that overall are much less prohibitionary and punitive than the laws have been over the last few decades of the war on drugs. People are seeing firsthand that very significant loosening of marijuana restrictions in parts of the country did not cause the sky to fall. Indeed, people are seeing that marijuana freedom, despite the prohibitionists’ dire warnings and continuing disinformation campaigns, is not dangerous.

With marijuana use coming out of the shadows of illegality, people are more and more recognizing that individuals who use marijuana, on occasion or regularly, are not so different from people who do not. Reality is overtaking hype.

Marijuana freedom is nothing to fear. Instead, as Ron Paul Institute Chairman and Founder Ron Paul says, freedom “brings people together, whether you are liberal or conservative or what, because people like to be in charge of their own life; they like to be in charge of their own money.” Despite the efforts of the Rocky Mountain HIDTA and its prohibitionist allies, Americans are rejecting the government and private drug war beneficiaries’ propaganda and experiencing the benefits of “live and let live” over “arrest, fine, and incarcerate.” Hopefully, this lesson will help create paths to greater respect for other freedoms as well.

September 7, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Colombia Peace Talks Survive Elections, May Have Lasting Implications for Regional Integration and US-Led “War on Drugs”

By Peter Hayakawa | CEPR Americas Blog | June 19, 2014

Ending a very close race, incumbent Juan Manuel Santos won a decisive five-point victory Sunday in Colombia’s second round of presidential elections, beating challenger Óscar Iván Zuluaga, who had won the first round in an upset. The campaign had centered on two related issues: first, the future of the Santos-led peace process under way in Havana between the Colombian government and the rebel group FARC that may have the potential to end a half century of civil war, and second, a referendum on Santos’ shift away from the militaristic policies of his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe.

Zuluaga, who had been hand-chosen by Uribe and ran in opposition to the peace talks (though he had softened his position slightly after the first round), quickly conceded defeat this Sunday. Uribe, however, wasted no time in claiming that the elections had been marred by “massive fraud.” Santos ran on not only defending the peace talks which he had played a primary role in instigating, but also on repairing ties with regional neighbors (ties that he himself, as a defense minister under Uribe, had played a key role in breaking).

Santos’ victory has certainly dealt a major blow to ‘Uribismo.’ Colombians largely seem to support the peace process as well as recent moves toward regional integration, and it looks as though few were convinced by Uribe’s wild charges during the campaign that the peace process would open the path to “Castrochavismo,” allowing the “FARC to run this country from Havana.” Uribe has long loomed over Colombian politics, but Zuluaga’s defeat signals that his influence may be waning, even on the political right. Meanwhile, Santos’ support of the peace talks won him the backing of some of Colombia’s most prominent business people, in addition to endorsements from indigenous groups and left-wing coalitions.

Uribe might have thought twice about investing so much political capital in opposing the negotiations. While it is true that the peace talks had the support of Venezuela and Cuba, they also had the support of virtually every other country in the region, as well as the United Nations, in addition to broad domestic support. More to the point, the peace talks have throughout had the quiet endorsement of the United States. Just a month ago, on May 18th, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed U.S. support for the peace process, which, given that they were the central subject of the elections, arguably amounted to an endorsement of Santos.

One might be able to forgive Uribe for being confused. While he was president, Uribe was the U.S.’s closest regional ally. At the time, his antagonistic posture toward neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador, including his repeated accusations of their support for the FARC, were highly appreciated by the U.S. (and not just by the Bush administration). More recently, his accusations tying Santos to Cuba, with their anti-Castro fervor, seem to come right out of the U.S.’s Cold War-era playbook. There is no evidence that Cuba is influential enough to be able to “run” Colombia, and the language betrays a loyalty to the U.S. perspective. Thus, it might have shocked him to learn that Secretary Kerry had basically endorsed Santos.

Indeed, U.S. support for Santos is a little puzzling, given the extent to which Santos has started to move away from U.S. policy on several important fronts; for example, emerging as a champion of regional cooperation and as a key participant in a regional effort to change course in the U.S.-led “War on Drugs.” But despite what might be a natural preference for a more pro-U.S. candidate (as any Uribe-endorsed candidate surely would have been), the U.S. simply might be unable to publicly oppose the almost universally-supported peace talks without risking serious and coordinated push-back. This development can be seen as another sign of Latin America’s growing independence from the U.S., though it’s important to remember that Santos also continues to cooperate with the U.S. militarily, and is one of the last remaining champions of U.S.-promoted “free trade’” agreements in the region.

The Peace Talks, Paramilitaries, and the “War on Drugs”

The negotiations have taken on momentum over the past year. Before the election, a framework emerged that will include the vital input of the civil war’s victims as well as mutual acknowledgement of responsibility for crimes committed during the course of the war. Perhaps most importantly, the talks have now widened to include negotiations between the government and Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN, increasing the reach of any potential deal. Since the talks began, the Colombian government claims that violence committed against civilians has significantly decreased.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about these peace talks, particularly about the chances they will lead to real justice for the victims. While the FARC have committed many human rights abuses, the Colombian military and paramilitary groups with which the military has closely worked have been responsible for most of the violence. During the course of the war, paramilitaries alone have been responsible for up to 80 percent of all of the killings in the country, according to the United Nations. The fact that there is strong collusion between these paramilitary groups and the Colombian government is not a point of serious debate. In a move that bodes ill for the prospects for justice, in March, the government announced that it would release hundreds of paramilitary soldiers who had served lenient sentences for extremely serious crimes.

It is also almost guaranteed that U.S. policy makers and multinational companies, like DynCorp and Chiquita Banana, which have played a large role in fueling this conflict over the decades (primarily through the “War on Drugs” and the U.S.’s obsession with counterinsurgency), will also not be held to account. The U.S. has used the pretext of anti-narcotics campaigns to justify funding the Colombian military and Colombian political allies  despite longstanding evidence of their ties to paramilitary groups. Paramilitaries, who are major players in the drug trade themselves, have among a litany of other abuses, declared war on unions, aiding the Colombian military in efforts that have nothing to do with counter-narcotics. In 2006, the “parapolitics” scandal story broke in Colombia, and 45 Colombian congressmen and seven governors were eventually convicted of ties to some of the country’s most notorious paramilitary groups. But even after these ties were brought out in the open, the U.S. government still defended the military aid it gave to Colombia.  At the height of the scandals, a partial, temporary freeze was enacted by a handful of Senate Democrats against the wishes of the Bush administration. After the even more shocking “false positives” scandal emerged in 2008, when it was discovered that the Colombian army had hired paramilitaries to kill civilians and dress the bodies up as rebel fighters, declassified documents released by the National Security Archive show that the U.S. knew as early as 1994 that U.S.-backed Colombian security forces had ties to groups engaging in “death squad tactics” similar to those brought to light in the false positives scandal. There is evidence that the U.S. was still providing resources directly to some of these military units as recently as 2010. If the U.S. role is left out of the discussion and paramilitary groups are not held to account, this will greatly diminish the credibility of the peace process.

But despite these obvious shortcomings, the peace talks may eventually lead to a huge change in the “War on Drugs.” An under-discussed aspect of the negotiations is the fact that both the government and the FARC have already agreed on key issues, including commitments to seriously limit the U.S.-led aerial eradication program (where tens of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent annually to spray powerful herbicides on coca plants in rural Colombia), and also on a commitment to implement badly-needed land reforms for rural Colombians as well as programs to create economic incentives for Colombian farmers to grow crops other than coca. If these reforms are implemented, many Colombian subsistence farmers may one day be able to lead normal lives, instead of being terrorized by aerial eradication that makes no distinction between coca plants and the food that farmers grow to feed themselves. Aerial eradication has entailed huge human and environmental costs, while being shockingly ineffective [PDF] in limiting cocaine production, despite U.S. claims to the contrary.

At the same time, other countries are taking a stand against harmful anti-drug policies. In Peru, which in 2012 overtook Colombia as the world’s largest producer of cocaine, the government recently began a program to provide assistance to farmers to grow alternative crops. Since then, the reduction in the production of coca has been so significant that the government recently decided to postpone forced eradication efforts (Peru and Bolivia had both already banned aerial eradication in the past). The government of Peru also recognized that popular opposition to forced eradication has been a primary reason why the remnants of Peru’s Shining Path guerrillas have any popular support.  If the Colombian peace talks succeed, there is a chance that the decades-long struggles of Colombian farmers against aerial eradication might eventually take a decisive positive turn in the place where the policy has caused the most harm—where for a time, an astounding 8 percent of the arable land in Colombia was subject to the program.

In the coming months, it will be important to see how the U.S. reacts to developments in the peace talks, which may have big implications for U.S. policy in Latin America. Despite U.S. support for the talks, the U.S. government has been clear that it wants aerial eradication and other “Drug War” policies to continue. But if the talks are successful, there is a chance that the U.S. may be forced to accept real change—not just a curtailment of destructive counter-drug policies, but perhaps also a process of demilitarization that might loosen the U.S.’s grip on a key regional foothold of military power.

June 19, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

The Creeping Decriminalization of Marijuana in the Caribbean

By Kevin Edmonds | The Other Side of Paradise | May 23, 2014

While the decriminalization of marijuana has been a topic of discussion for decades, those in attendance at this week’s Jamaica Cannabis Conference are doing more than just blowing smoke—they are discussing the upcoming stages of a long-overdue and vital transformation of the Caribbean’s regional economy. Jamaica has long been associated with potent, naturally grown marijuana, but also the unfortunate social ills that have accompanied its criminalization.

While marijuana, or ganja, arrived in the Caribbean with Indian indentured laborers in the mid-1800s, it was not criminalized until 1913, when the Ganja law came into effect at the behest of the church and colonial elites. The ban was largely based on ignorant, racist perceptions of the evil effects that ganja would have on the poor black majority, and thus dealt out fines and other oppressive penalties for consumption or cultivation. During the 1940s and the 1950s, despite the cultivation of ganja for spiritual and medical reasons, it became the routine justification for government raids upon the original, self-sufficient Rastafari community of Pinnacle.

Despite Jamaica’s independence in 1962, the colonial origins of criminalizing ganja were not eroded, but strengthened. When Jamaica signed the United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1964, it became obligated to treat marijuana as a harmful drug, following the prevailing attitude of the United States. Under the banner of the War on Drugs, the Jamaican government diverted millions of dollars from social development to eradicate marijuana plantations through aerial spraying. If Jamaica refused, under the conditions of the U.S. Drug Certification Policy enacted in 1986, Jamaica would risk losing access to U.S. trade, aid, loans, and visas.

There are very serious human rights issues associated with the prohibition of marijuana. Across the Caribbean, courts are backlogged with simple possession charges for small quantities of marijuana. In one case in St. Lucia, fines for small quantities of marijuana reached $200, or up to 30 days in jail. These charges in turn limit employment and travel opportunities, creating inter-generational disadvantages for those who face jail time. As a result of the overloaded prison systems across the region, the economic and social costs of marijuana are tremendous, as much needed economic resources are taken away from social development and funneled towards an endless cycle of law and order policies.

In addition, the criminalization of marijuana has also led to the unfortunate and unnecessary marginalization of the Rastafari community, which regard the herb as a holy sacrament. Last August St. Lucian journalist Earl Bousquet commented on the negative portrayal of marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s:

Marijuana was… pinned to the Rastafarian movement that started spreading to the rest of the region from Jamaica at the same time. The then leaders erroneously hoped they could easily do away with ‘Rastas and marijuana’ through new laws and armed police forces. By legally twinning Rastafarianism with an illegal substance, growth of a positive and distinctively Caribbean social movement driven by the works of Marcus Garvey, rooted in Pan Caribbean-African nationalism and advocating closer communion with nature half-a-century ago was stifled, suppressed and forced to spend more time resisting and fighting ‘Babylon’ than refining the philosophical, spiritual, cultural and political base of the only indigenous Caribbean movement of its kind in the 20th century.

As a further result of these criminalization policies, Jamaica now has to play catch up in the newly emerging legal and medical marijuana market, according to Dr. Albert Lockhart, a leading ophthalmologist and noted speaker at the Cannabis Conference, who stated that “we are 40 years late.” Dr. Lockhart has helped to pioneer medicine derived from marijuana such as Canasol (which treats glaucoma) and Asmasol (which treats asthma), but due to lack of funding their discoveries are not widely known outside of the island. Dr. Lockhart further warned that if Jamaica does not act now it would be at risk of missing the boat, losing out to countries such as the United States, where the states of Colorado and Washington have fueled the push for legalization across the region—and Canada where medical marijuana has become big business.

Phillip Paulwell, Jamaican Minister of Science and Technology, has assured interested parties that marijuana will be decriminalized by the end of the year. Paulwell remarked that “I am of the firm opinion that scientific research into marijuana, both in the very many uses of the plant as hemp, and its medical properties, is an idea whose time has come,” adding that a marijuana-based medical industry could earn as much as $5.2 billion.

So the Cannabis Conference closed with hope that Jamaica and the wider Caribbean will be able to finally cash in and create a world leading, legal industry which not only acts as a cash crop and provides much needed agricultural jobs, but also as the building blocks for the development of wide ranging medical treatments. Additionally, the new CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana Use shows a regional investigative interest. Beyond just decriminalization, the Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association has been advocating for a regulatory model that will benefit small growers instead of large corporations, stating: “For the first three years of a regulated industry, licenses should only be given to plots of one acre or less.” The taxable income from the industry has the power to transform stagnating Caribbean economies and will allow them to have the self determination to rightfully produce a quality product which the world has always demanded in great quantity, but has been criminalized for far too long.

Kevin Edmonds is a NACLA blogger focusing on the Caribbean. Edmonds is a former NACLA research associate and a current PhD student at the University of Toronto, where he is studying the impact of neoliberalism on the St. Lucian banana trade. Follow him on twitter @kevin_edmonds.

May 24, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

War on Drugs Ends with a Fizzle

By Kelley Vlahos • The Unz Review • February 4, 2014

Thanks to an accelerating trend towards ending the prohibition of marijuana in this country, the entire construct of the ‘War on Drugs’ as we know it is about to change and there is no one more frightened of this than the drug war establishment itself.

What happens next is a war for war: with billions of dollars in government investment and corporate profits at stake, it would be naive to expect the vested interests to take such a hit lying down. This is about survival. So get ready, the war to end the Drug War, or save it, has already begun.

“It scares us,” James L. Capra, head of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operations, told congress on Jan. 15, when asked about the new marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state.

“Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again.”

Capra did not bother backing up this bold statement with any facts, but he did let his emotions do the talking – what The Washington Post account of this exchange did not capture but the raw CSPAN video (around the 50-minute mark) clearly does, is Capra’s attempt to appeal to the senators’ inherent fear of the drug. First, he proclaims his fealty to government service, then his fatherhood (six kids), then his voice, nearly trembling, enumerates the shock at recent developments:

“Going down the path of legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible. I am talking about long-term impact … it scares us. The treatment people are afraid, the education people are afraid, law enforcement is worried about this … the idea that this is somehow good for us as a nation, sir … is wrong.”

But what Capra really seems exasperated about is this has been a popular shift in policy voted in by the people across the country, and not just by small pot interests with deep pockets. Sure, the efforts to promote the successful legalization referendums in Washington and Colorado had significant funding, but proponents tapped a diverse range of support, and made it an issue of fairness and economics, and about treatment over punishment. It’s a reality 55 percent of Americans are now willing to accept: prohibition just doesn’t work.

“Ten years ago, a DEA official talking like this would be like, well, duh,” said Mike Krause, director of the Justice Police Initiative at the Independence Institute in Colorado. “Now all of a sudden people are mocking him. I think what you are going to see is the drug war establishment really freak out.”

To call it an “establishment” might even be understating the situation. Even the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower would acknowledge that something akin to a Drug War Industrial Complex (DWIC) has been constructed like a sprawling empire around the criminalization of drugs, beginning in 1970, when marijuana was first declared a federal Schedule I narcotic and President Richard M. Nixon began to funnel money into expanded law enforcement efforts against pot and harder drugs like heroin and cocaine. The DEA was created in 1973.

Since then, both the public and private prison industry has swelled with millions of non-violent drug offenders, fueled by a seeming endless pipeline of policing and prosecution resources, and the advent of broader mandatory and “three-strikes” sentencing. The CIA and military have staked out their own turf in international interdiction. The DEA, beyond its domestic purview, has become a paramilitary force executing its own expensive missions all over Latin America and Afghanistan, i.e., Plan Columbia and the Merida Initiative. After launching the latest front — “Operation Anvil” – in Honduras, the DEA, working with U.S military, has been criticized for killing civilians in botched operations as recently as 2012.

Capping it off is the White House Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), led by a series of “drug czars,” some more zealous than others. It serves as a command center and generous trough for all government anti-drug measures, from questionably effective national media campaigns to the billion-dollar military operations more recently accelerated by the War on Terror. In fact, the DEA doubled its presence worldwide (87 offices in 63 countries) after the 9/11, developing a robust intelligence and law enforcement network all over the Americas and in Afghanistan, according to documents published by WikiLeaks two years ago.

ONDCP also directs teams of agents planted in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) in U.S counties and states (covering about 60 percent of the population, according to its own website) for intelligence sharing, law enforcement assistance and prevention. Or as Rolling Stone put it last year, they are budgeted $238 million a year “to meddle in state-based marijuana policy reform.” That proved true during the run up to last year’s Colorado referendum. And don’t forget, President George W. Bush’s longtime czar, John Walters, spent most of the 2000’s campaigning in states against legalization and medical marijuana initiatives.

Who’s Panicking?

So today’s picture for Capra, and to some extent the latest DEA Director Michele Leonhart, and a score of ex-czars and other directors who have been scolding Attorney General Eric Holder for not getting tougher on the renegade states, must be stark. Brutally stark, when one looks at how much is at risk from the DWIC point of view if marijuana were ever federally legalized.

For example, according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report, there are 19 federal agencies getting billions in anti-drug funding today. That’s a lot of programs and administrators and staff dependent on the status quo. Some beneficiaries are obvious, like the Department of Justice, the Pentagon and Department of Health and Human Services. But one wonders when the Agriculture Department, Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service got on the front lines of the War on Drugs.

All told, $24.5 billion was appropriated to these agencies in 2013, a slight increase over 2012 numbers. Some $15.1 is allocated to “supply side” (law enforcement), while $9.3 billion is going to treatment and prevention. Add that to state and local funding and the country spends about $51 billion a year on the drug war, says the pro-decriminalization Drug Police Alliance.

Prosecutions and incarceration rates are humming, probably the only part of the drug war one could call “working” (if only they were bringing down abuse rates, keeping bad guys off the streets, or improving society, which they’re not). According to the Drug Policy Alliance, there were 1.5 million people in US arrested on non-violent drug charges in 2012. Of them, 749,825 were related to marijuana, and of that number, 658,231 were for possession only. Pot smokers are costing the system alright, but think of all the money they are paying into it, by way of court fees and fines, bail bondsman bondsmen and attorneys to defend them. Quite a tidy business.

Not surprisingly, those pot offenders unlucky enough go to jail (and we know they are disproportionately black), make up more than 10 percent of the state and federal incarcerated population today. In fact, one could say their absence would have a somewhat of radical effect.

For example, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics Report, “Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004,” which uses the most recent data available, an estimated 333,000 Americans were imprisoned then on drug offenses (27 percent were for possession). Of all drug offenders behind bars, 12.7 were there on a marijuana rap (the majority, 60 percent, were there for cocaine/crack violations).

Crunching the numbers at the time, Paul Armentano, senior policy analyst for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), wrote, “Multiplying these totals by U.S. DOJ prison expenditure data reveals that taxpayers are spending more than $1 billion annually to imprison pot offenders.”

Writing for Reason magazine in 2012, Mike Riggs charged that beer and alcohol, addiction services, drug testing and the private prisons industries had the most to lose when the drug war ends and they know it.

“Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the country’s largest private prison company, has donated almost $4.5 million to political campaigns and dropped another $18 million on lobbying in the last two decades,” he wrote. “The company, and others like it, is up to its elbows in drug war spending.”

Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who lobbies the government for marijuana decriminalization, told reporter Lee Fang that next to police unions, the “second biggest marijuana opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA (Pharmaceutical lobby),” because pot can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

The only front in this war that stands to survive might be the international theater – the DEA FAST and military operations — because they can pretend they were focusing the stronger stuff — heroin, cocaine — all along. But they might find, too, that a shift toward treatment over punishment might be shrinking their budgets and political capital back home (and the $7 billion failures in Afghanistan don’t help).

Meanwhile, noises toward full legalization in countries like Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile and even Mexico, might soon yank the welcome mat right off the front porch.

“Peer Pressure”

Could this be the end?

“The answer is categorically, yes. We are going to look back on this year down the road and say this is where it all started,” proclaims Jim P. Gray, who served as a Superior Court Judge in Orange County from 1989 through 2009 and adjudicated enough drug cases to make his own assessments about the dangers of prohibition. He wrote the book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed: A Judicial Indictment Of War On Drugs in 2001, and served as Gov. Gary Johnson’s running mate on the Libertarian Party ticket for president in 2012.

During an unsuccessful bid as a Republican for US Senate in 1998, Gray recalled a trip he made to Washington to meet with conservative leaders on Capitol Hill. On the issue of drugs, “they brought up the subject and almost literally, said ‘Jim, most people in Washington realize the drug war is lost … but this is money.’”

The political winds, however, have been blowing against the War on Drugs, and “if politicians are really good at any one thing, it’s followership, and they are starting to come out,” Gray said.

Bottom line, the “peer pressure” is growing. Consider that just in the last two weeks, Eric Holder has said that lawful marijuana businesses should have access to the American banking system. Meanwhile, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, former UN Secretary Kofi Annan and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, called for a rising up against drug prohibition.

They were joined on stage by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who said in reference to the marijuana question, “states should be allowed to make those decisions.”

Four thousand miles away, a once uptight Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was telling reporters, “we waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after these guys that are smoking marijuana.”

Just a week before, President Obama made headlines when he recalled his own dalliance with pot as a youth, and said, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” and, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”

Apparently, the DWIC is responding to this latest salvo in kind, and perhaps, there’s no going back. Reports from The Boston Herald say Obama’s own DEA Chief Michele Leonhart, “slammed him” over the comments in a speech she made before like-minded cops on Jan. 21.

“This is a woman who has spent 33 years of her life fighting drug abuse in the DEA, her entire life,” said attendee Donny Youngblood, a county sheriff and president of the Major Counties Sheriffs’ Association. He called the president’s comments “a slap in the face” to everyone in the room.

“I think the way that she felt was that it was a betrayal of what she does for the American people in enforcing our drug laws. … She got a standing ovation.”

Let the war to end the war begin.

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

RELEASE US – a short film on police brutality

By Charles Shaw | October 28, 2013

500 innocent Americans are murdered by police every year (USDOJ). 5,000 since 9/11, equal to the number of US soldiers lost in Iraq.

In 1994 the US Government passed a law authorizing the Pentagon to donate surplus Cold War era military equipment to local police departments.

In the 20 years since, weaponry designed for use on a foreign battlefield, has been handed over for use on American streets… against American citizens.

The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” replaced the Cold War with billions in funding and dozens of laws geared towards this new “war” against its own citizens.

This militarization of the police force has created what is being called an “epidemic of police brutality” sweeping the nation.

a short film by Charles Shaw
featuring the track ‘RELEASE” by Random Rab
and excerpts from the films

& “NO JUSTICE , NO PEACE” by Krissana Limlamai & Brett Huff…

P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act I, II & III (2001, 2004, 2010)
Homeland Security Act (2002)
Enhanced Border Security, Visa Entry Reform and
Immigrant Deportation Act (2002)
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention
Act (2004)
Military Commissions Act (2006, 2009)
The FISA Amendments Act (2008)
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

AP Investigation: U.S. Spends $20 Billion Over 10 Years on Increasingly Bloody Drug “War” in Latin America; Rejects Drug Policy Reform

By Alex Main | CEPR Americas Blog | February 5, 2013

It started in Colombia in 2000, moved on to Mexico in 2008 and now rages in Central America.  Since the beginning of the century, the U.S.-backed “war on drugs” has progressively spread throughout the northern part of Latin America, leaving tens of thousands of lost lives in its wake. An in-depth investigative piece published by the Associated Press over the weekend explains how this so-called “war” – which relies on U.S. funding, training, equipment and troops – has grown in recent years to become “the most expensive initiative in Latin America since the Cold War.”

The article, authored by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Martha Mendoza, describes how the U.S. has “spent more than $20 billion in the past decade” and deployed U.S. army, marine and navy troops to support a heavily militarized campaign to fight drug trafficking throughout the region.  The fact that the efforts have been accompanied by soaring violence – with, for example, 70,000 Mexican lives lost in the last six years – doesn’t seem to trouble the U.S. officials in charge of implementing U.S. drug policy internationally.  In fact, they seem to consider spikes in violence to be a sign that the “strategy is working.”

William Brownfield who heads the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, told Mendoza that “the bloodshed tends to occur and increase when these trafficking organizations… come under some degree of pressure.”

For others in Washington, the shocking number of lives lost suggests that the strategy is in fact not working.  New York Congressman Elliot Engel, a moderate Democrat who is now the ranking minority member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the AP that he supports a congressional review of counternarcotics programs in the Western Hemisphere.

“Billions upon billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent over the years to combat the drug trade in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said. “In spite of our efforts, the positive results are few and far between.”

Particularly worrying is the fact that the administration seems to be unable to account for enormous sums that have been authorized to be spent on military equipment.  The article notes that,

neither the State Department nor the Pentagon could provide details explaining a 2011 $1.3 billion authorization for exports of military electronics to Honduras — although that would amount to almost half of all U.S. arms exports for the entire Western Hemisphere.

The first major militarized anti-drug campaign that the U.S. supported in the region was Plan Colombia in 2000, and the U.S. administration frequently presents that initiative as a shining example for the region given that homicide rates and cocaine production have fallen in that country.  But this assessment disregards the tragic “side effects” of the Colombian campaign, including thousands of abuses carried out by the Colombian military and by paramilitary groups, and the displacement of millions of poor Colombians from their lands.  Furthermore, Colombia continues to be one of the top cocaine producers in the world and is still the number one exporter of cocaine to the U.S.

Today Central America is increasingly the focus of U.S. militarized counternarcotics programs.  As the New York Times revealed in early May of last year, tactics and personnel that were previously used in Iraq and Afghanistan have been transferred to Central America, including the DEA’s Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) that first operated in Afghanistan.

Only days after the Times article was published, four innocent villagers – including a pregnant woman and a 14-year-old boy — were killed in an anti-drug operation in northeastern Honduras which involved at least ten FAST team agents.  The killings were denounced by human rights groups in Honduras and the U.S., particularly after it became clear that the victims had been abandoned by authorities and that the Honduran attorney general’s investigation of the incident was deeply flawed.  Consequently human rights groups and 58 members of Congress have called on U.S. authorities to carry out a full investigation of the incident to determine what role may have been played by U.S. agents.

As a result of this and other recent incidents, $30 million in aid to Honduras has been put on hold by Congress, according to Mendoza.  Yet, she notes, “there are no plans to rethink the strategy.”  Instead, Brick Scoggins, who manages counternarcotics programs at the Defense Department, told Mendoza: “It’s not for me to say if it’s the correct strategy.  It’s the strategy we’re using (…) I don’t know what the alternative is.”

President Obama and Vice President Biden cannot pretend to be as unaware of alternatives to the administration’s “war on drugs.”  In recent multilateral meetings, both Obama and Biden were asked by regional leaders to reconsider the current militarized approach to fighting drugs and to consider paths toward drug decriminalization or, at the very least, to consider placing a greater focus on reducing demand for drugs in the U.S. and treating the drug problem as a public health issue.   Both rejected any change of course in the current war on drugs, and – despite the fact that the president of Colombia himself supported the discussion of alternative policies – both Obama and Biden have insisted that Plan Colombia is the model to follow.

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Re-militarization gives rise to new tensions and violence in Guatemala

By Kelsey Alford-Jones | Upside Down World | January 25, 2013

On October 6, the Guatemalan army gunned down six indigenous protesters in Totonicapán and injured at least 30 more. Thousands had gathered to oppose unpopular government reforms, and while the police held their distance, the military advanced and shot into the crowd.

The event was a tragic manifestation of one of the public’s worst fears since President Pérez Molina took office in January 2012: that the Guatemalan armed forces would resort to deadly force in order to repress and silence dissent, an experience all too familiar in the nation´s collective historic memory.

Pérez Molina has made no secret of his intention to deploy the armed forces in ever-greater numbers and ever-expanding roles – the military now overwhelmingly dominates citizen security initiatives. Whether walking down Guatemala City’s central avenue, the “Sexta,” or driving on any major highway, Guatemalans are once again likely to encounter soldiers patrolling with semi-automatic rifles or checking papers at military roadblocks.

The government has opened at least five new military bases and outposts since the beginning of 2012, and has sent soldiers to fight drug cartels, to protect historic sites and nature reserves, and to back up the police during evictions and protests. Soldiers have also been deployed en masse to reduce crime in Guatemala City´s poorest neighborhoods.

Seeing soldiers on the streets may not be new in Guatemala, but under Pérez Molina, it has become symbolic of his administration’s approach to governance; and for the first time in over 15 years, current and former military personnel permeate the leadership of civilian institutions and dictate the administration’s approach to governance.

This swift re-militarization is deeply controversial, and the reasons behind it are much more complex than first meet the eye. In fact, some argue that the motivation for militarization has little to do with providing security for Guatemalan citizens – instead, it is about protecting the status quo, ensuring impunity for the armed forces and defending multinational economic investments. The US government has been eager to offer support to the Guatemalan military, despite the problematic implications.

The Military’s Past Atrocities

In1996, Otto Pérez Molina was a General in the Guatemalan military, and was one of their representatives at the peace negotiations that would put an end to the armed conflict. The Peace Accords, signed by Pérez Molina himself, emphasized the importance of strengthening civilian governance: the number of soldiers would be vastly reduced and a new, civilian, police force would be created. The Accords stipulated that the “National Civilian Police shall be under the direction of the civil authorities.” In contrast, the role of the armed forces was to “[defend] Guatemala’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; they shall have no other functions assigned to them, and their participation in other fields shall be limited to cooperative activities.”

The Accords placed limitations on the military not just to strengthen democracy, but also as a response to the atrocities the military had committed against its own people. In 1999, the UN-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) established that during the 36-year internal armed conflict, 200,000 people were killed, mostly civilians, including an estimated 45,000 who were forcibly disappeared. The Guatemalan state (through its military and paramilitary forces) was responsible for 93% of all human rights violations committed during the conflict, and had committed acts of genocide against the Mayan people.

The Military Creeps Back into Citizen Security Initiatives

Neither the Peace Accords nor the CEH report outlined steps to hold individual soldiers and high-level military officials accountable for the egregious war crimes committed, and many remain in positions of power to this very day. Internal reforms of military institutions were superficial at best, and government officials have been quick to re-engage the military with the justification that it is necessary to provide security to the Guatemalan public.

– In 2000, only four years after the signing of the Peace Accords, a bill was passed legalizing the military’s collaboration with the police to combat common and organized crime, as well as deforestation, kidnapping, and other crimes.

– In 2006 (under the direction of then Presidential Commissioner for Security Pérez Molina), President Berger mobilized reserve troops to maintain internal security, fight crime and distribute humanitarian aid.

– From 2007-2011 President Colom continued to expand the military’s role, reopening military bases and increasing the number of troops, while Congress created a minimum requirement for spending on the Defense Ministry’s budget.

When Pérez Molina assumed the presidency in January 2012, he became the first career military official to hold that office in 25 years. He immediately called on the army to collaborate in “neutralizing illegal armed groups by means of military power.” In September, Pérez Molina inaugurated the Maya Task Force in Zone 18 of Guatemala City, with 1,200 soldiers and 100 police. He initiated a similar operation in Zone 12 in November.

The Re-militarization of Guatemalan Institutions

The dramatic images of thousands of heavily armed soldiers in Guatemala City are shocking and troublesome, yet the re-militarization of Guatemala today isn’t simply about more soldiers on the streets. It also refers to something much less visible –an institutional culture disturbingly similar to the counter-insurgency model that dominated during the internal armed conflict.

Numerous governmental agencies are now run by former military, including the Interior Ministry and offices within the National Civilian Police and intelligence services. According to Guatemalan security analysts, upwards of 40% of security-related positions are held by former military, including many who were directly involved in the counter-insurgency campaigns; some have even been named in cases before Guatemalan courts for their role in crimes against humanity during the conflict.

Many of these policymakers, including Pérez Molina himself, hail from the generation of armed forces that was active during genocide campaigns such as Operation Sofia; a generation that participated in the extermination of entire villages, that used rape as a tool of war, and justified the use of torture and brutality in their campaigns against civilian, mostly indigenous, communities. This is the generation taught to believe that anyone who rejected existing structures of racism, economic dominance by a minority elite, and political exclusion, were “subversives”, “guerrillas,” “terrorists” and “internal enemies.”

The administration’s approach to policy-making, according to human rights groups, reflects this culture of discipline and obedience rather than democratic governance and dialogue. Any social conflict that disrupts the established order is addressed as the military has always dealt with perceived “threats” from its own citizens: intimidation, defamation, repression, and the use of force — sometimes with deadly consequences.

The tragic massacre in Totonicapán momentarily ripped through the curtain of government propaganda to expose the ever-present threat of violence. The international and diplomatic communities reacted strongly, and President Pérez Molina quickly assured the public that his administration would no longer deploy the military at protests and evictions. Only hours later, however, he had reversed his statement and later came out with a new protocol for the military’s collaboration with the police – a protocol that did not, in fact, reduce the military’s role at all.

The Military and the ‘War on Drugs’

The Guatemalan government has attempted to justify the military’s expanded presence due to the country’s high rates of violence linked to organized crime, gangs and common crime. The US has been quick to accept this argument.

“The military must provide security where the police have failed,” is an easy sell in the context of the US war on drugs andis an argument readily repeated by the US State Department. (Meanwhile, the much-needed reform of Guatemala’s police force languishes without the resources or political support to move forward).

The Department of Defense and US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have provided ongoing support and training to the Guatemalan Armed Forces. This collaboration persists despite a decades-long Congressional ban on direct funding to the army due to the atrocities committed by the Guatemalan military against its own people, and the lack of reform within the institution.

Operation Martillo (Hammer) is the newest in a series of US-Guatemala joint operations, although it is also coordinated amongst other countries in Central America and Europe. The operation began in early 2012 and in July, President Pérez Molina signed off on an expansion of the operation. The new agreement permitted US marines and military contractors to be stationed in Guatemala for 120 days and collaborate directly on counter-narcotics missions. It granted US marines the right to be uniformed, to carry weapons, and to enjoy complete diplomatic “privileges, exemptions, and immunity.” Despite regulations requiring approval from the Guatemalan Congress, the document signed by the US and President Pérez Molina attempted to circumvent the process simply by stating: “It is understood that these activities […] do not constitute the passing of a foreign military through Guatemalan territory.”

The operation was not popular among many in civil society. “Drug trafficking in Guatemala shouldn’t be combated by the Guatemalan military, much less by the US military,” commented analyst Sandino Asturias in an interview with GHRC.

Helen Mack, executive director of the Myrna Mack Foundation and former Police Reform Commissioner, commented to the AP at the end of August: “Rural communities in Guatemala are fearful of the military being used to combat drug traffickers because the same techniques are applied that were used in (counterinsurgency) warfare. The historical memory is there and Guatemalans are fearful of that.”

There are other complications in using the military to combat organized crime. The military can’t carry out a criminal investigation, nor can it (legally) detain suspects of a crime. And while the US and Guatemalan armed forces collaborate on high-profile (often unsuccessful) attempts to capture narco-bosses, the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office has quietly had them arrested, many for extradition to the US. Furthermore, the Guatemalan military has documented ties to drug trafficking organizations and other criminal structures – the very groups they are sent to combat.

What does re-militarization achieve?

Soldiers train for battle, not to police the streets. Not surprisingly, increasing involvement of the military in police work has not only re-traumatized communities and survivors of the armed conflict, but it has also failed to reduce crime and violence in Guatemala. In fact, Sandino Asturias confirms that the homicide rate began to rise dramatically after the military reengaged in matters of internal security in 2000.

The military’s remarkable failure to address security concerns over the last 12 years doesn’t faze policy makers; in fact, the security of Guatemalan citizens doesn’t seem to be the primary concern at all.

Instead, increasing militarization has often functioned as a means to provide protection for the economic interests of transnational corporations.

The administration has constructed new military bases near existing or planned development projects such as mines, cement factories, and hydroelectric power plants. Military forces – in coordination with the police and private security guards – have consistently been mobilized to guarantee that “development” projects aren’t disrupted by local protests. This occurs despite the fact that, in the majority of cases, the government failed to consult local communities about the project and actively ignores threats, attacks, intimidation and other illegal acts committed by persons linked to the international corporations.

Public officials have instead branded those who organize against these unwanted development projects as “terrorists” and “guerrillas,” a strategy similar to the psychological warfare tactics utilized during the conflict. The government’s use of States of Siege in conflict zones has given the military free reign to terrorize indigenous families and detain “suspects.” Dozens of community leaders have been arrested on trumped up charges simply for their rejection of the administration’s development policies, giving rise to a new movement in solidarity with Guatemala’s first generation of political prisoners.

The international diplomatic community has been just as willing as the Pérez Molina administration to overlook commitments laid out in the 1996 Peace Accords – partially implemented at best – in favor of political and economic ties that promote investment, trade and “stability.”

Finally, for an entire generation of military officials and their civilian allies, the re-militarization of public institutions is not just about maintaining control, but about ensuring impunity.

As Guatemalan courts at long last – and against all odds – move forward with indictments against the military high command from the 1980s, accountability and incarceration for war crimes is suddenly a concrete possibility. The threat of judicial action has resulted in a policy of denial of the military’s involvement in war crimes and genocide, even as exhumations and court cases add to voluminous evidence against the military. An ongoing exhumation at a military base in Coban, Alta Verapaz has already unearthed over 500 bodies in mass graves, many bound, blindfolded, and showing evidence of torture.

In response, Pérez Molina has methodically dismantled public institutions that worked to promote human rights, historical clarification and justice, seeking to . During first half of 2012, the administration gutted the Peace Archives Directorate (DAP). The office had opened in 2008 to compile and analyze military (and other) archives in order to establish human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict. Archive staff published numerous reports on the conflict and acted as expert witnesses in key human rights cases. The closure of the DAP took place as the government was further weakening the Presidential Human Rights Office (COPREDEH) and consolidating it under the Secretary of Peace, Antonio Arenales Forno, a genocide-denier and long-time ally of the military.

The administration has made repeated attempts to limit or dismiss its regional and international human rights obligations that would jeopardize members of the military. At the beginning of 2013, Pérez Molina issued a presidential decree that refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in cases prior to 1987, even when they are “continuing crimes” such as forced disappearance and other crimes against humanity. Public outcry by national and international human rights organizations forced Perez Molina to annul the decree. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry further limited access to information that relates to human rights violations from the early 1980s, which, according to Guatemalan groups, should be part of the public domain.

Emboldened by the administration’s fierce pro-military stance, retired members of the military and other ultraconservative and fanatically nationalistic groups have launched their own campaigns in the press and social media, sending direct,and very public, threats to those who seek justice and defend human rights.

As Guatemala spirals back into a reality frighteningly reminiscent of the 1980s, those who have become the intentional or collateral victims of re-militarization find themselves with little support from state institutions. Nevertheless, indigenous communities, activists and other civil society organizations –despite fear of repression or retaliation –continue to denounce re-militarization in all its forms. They recognize that the way forward for Guatemala is not to be found by returning to the nefarious practices of the past.

Kelsey Alford-Jones is the Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, a non-profit, grassroots, solidarity organization dedicated to promoting human rights in Guatemala and supporting communities and activists who face threats and violence. GHRC documents and denounces abuses, educates the international community, and advocates for policies that foster peace and justice.

January 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Re-militarization gives rise to new tensions and violence in Guatemala

U.S. Steps Up Militarization of Africa Through “Drug Wars”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | July 25, 2012

The United States wants to drag Africa into its drug wars – on top of Washington’s War on Terror. Since drugs always follow American “anti-narcotics” activity in the world, the inevitable result will be an explosion of drug networks in targeted African countries. “Liberia and Ghana will soon emerge as hubs of the African drug trade – just as happened in Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America.”

When a high U.S. government official says Africa is “the new frontier,” it’s time for everyone that cares about the continent to watch out, because something really dangerous is afoot. A top guy in the D.E.A. recently described Africa as the “new frontier” where Washington hopes to embed commando-style teams of specially vetted police for an American-run war on drugs, similar to U.S. operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. And we all know how those U.S. so-called anti-drug operations turned out. We should add to the list Colombia and Afghanistan, the world capitals of cocaine and heroin, respectively.

According to mythology, everything King Midas touched turned to gold. It appears the United States has the Narcotics Touch; everything the Americans touch turns to dope. American allies in the developing world quickly become narco-states.

The pattern has not changed in 60 years, since the Italian and French mafias were rewarded with international drug franchises in return for their assistance against socialists and communists. Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle became the center of the global heroin trade during the Vietnam War – a project of the CIA. When the U.S. shifted its focus to suppressing leftist movements in Latin America, cocaine became the region’s biggest export. The United States has never waged war against drugs – quite the opposite. Washington rewards its political friends with drug franchises and monopolies, in return for service to American corporate interests. That’s why most of America’s friends in the developing world are criminal regimes.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is most proud of its work in Honduras, where a U.S.-backed coup overthrew a mildly leftist government during President Obama’s first year in office. The Americans now roam the country like they own it, in joint operations with the same soldiers and national police that continue to kill and brutalize peasant, student and worker organizations. The joint drug operations, which have succeeded in killing at least four innocent Mosquito Indians, including two pregnant women, will undoubtedly result in a march larger drug trade under the tight control of the military, police and wealthy landowners allied with the Americans. That’s how the American Narco Touch works. The endless phony War on Drugs is a tool of U.S. policy, designed to subvert foreign governments and societies. The drug trade never gets smaller.

Now it’s Africa’s turn. Washington has its eyes on Liberia and Ghana, where it plans to train elite police units after first “vetting” their personnel – a euphemism for making sure that the commandos are willing to act as de facto U.S. operatives. You can be sure that Liberia and Ghana will soon emerge as hubs of the African drug trade – just as happened in Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America. With Washington’s “vetted” operatives in charge of the African drug networks, the U.S. will vastly increase its ability to buy influence among the greedy classes all across the continent, both in and out of uniform. Just as in Colombia and Honduras and Panama and Guatemala, the Drug Wars become indistinguishable from the War on Terror, which used to be called the War on Communism. It’s really a war against the poor.

Glen Ford can be contacted at

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments