News Flash! War On Drugs A Failure! ??? I’d never have guessed!
(Originally posted 13 May 2010 23:59EDT)
Check it out, hot off the press from AP:
*as of 19 May, 2010, this AP link expired
I add here three links to the same AP story, because I don’t know how long any given link will be available. I also saved it to disk, so when/if these links expire, it will still be accessible. Some articles should not be lost to expiration/archiving: this is definitely one of them.
http://finance.rr.com/news/read.php?id=17875731 (19 June 2010: link expired)
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100513/ap_on_re_us/failed_drug_war (19 June 2010: link expired)
Sarcasm aside, Mendoza has published some righteous, damning numbers in an article that renders unimpeachable proof of the facts we all intuitively know.
She also credits the whole thing to Nixon right at the start, which *was* news to me back in 2003. I honestly thought we’d had most all those laws since the turn of the last century, mainly because they were in effect pretty much for my whole life, and I never had any reason to ask when they were put on the books.
I guess I kinda thought the criminality of it all was a left-over element of Prohibition. Things my grandmother used to say led me to believe that using/buying/selling marijuana, opium, and cocaine were all outlawed as heinous criminal acts… well… during Prohibition. It wasn’t till I stumbled on some History Channel thing back in 2003 that I discovered the whole thing was brought on by Richard Nixon. During my lifetime.
Which makes the “War on Drugs” even more ludicrous… that the whole thing started *after* Prohibition, which was also a resounding failure, except, of course for the bootleggers.
I typically villainize Richard Nixon to a rank just three or four rungs below Adolf Hitler, yet on this topic, I believe Nixon actually believed that his new anti-drug policy was viable and necessary for the welfare of the country. I blame his advisers for encouraging him, even exploiting him, and bringing the whole thing into existence. From its very inception, opportunity for corruption impregnated nearly every clause of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, and as corrupt as Nixon may have been, I don’t believe he ever considered it an act through which to extract financial gain. He was just too Quakerly out-of-touch with that whole scene. (…and if you think I’m exaggerating about the corruptibility of the 1970 law, here’s the Controlled Substance Act portion of the full act, if you want to plumb those depths.)
The relevance of Martha Mendoza’s article can perhaps be best appreciated after reading the DEA’s own version of their history: http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/history/deahistory_01.htm
That the DEA, formed in 1973, and its “War On Drugs” has brought the *escalation* of drug abuse and drug-related crime is easily inferred from their site, even in the first paragraph:
(I broke it into a couple paragraphs, tho’; stylin’, doncha know…)
“By the 1960s, the two agencies charged with drug law enforcement were the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (BDAC) and the federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). It was during this period that America underwent a significant change.
The introduction of drugs into American culture and the efforts to “normalize” drug use started to take a terrible toll on the nation. Nevertheless, American children could still walk to school in relative safety, worrying only about report cards or the neighborhood bully. Today however, as children approach their schools, they see barbed wire, metal detectors, and signs warning drug dealers that school property is a “drug free zone.” In too many communities, drug dealers and gunfire force decent, law-abiding citizens to seek refuge behind locked doors.
In 1960, only four million Americans had ever tried drugs. Currently, that number has risen to over 74 million. Behind these statistics are the stories of countless families, communities, and individuals adversely affected by drug abuse and drug trafficking. ”
Using their own words, I believe a 5-year-old child would be able to understand that the DEA and the “War On Drugs” are not only ineffective, but incendiary to the problem.
For me, I smoked my first joint before Nancy Reagan suggested one merely need “Just Say No.” I admit I was afraid that first time, too. All the stuff that had been in ad campaigns prior to Ms. Reagan’s naive and egregiously condescending “answer” indicated that one may die or suffer some irreversible health catastrophe from the first use, from a single use, of recreational drugs. There had been plenty enough media saturation of that message, that it *was*, verily, engraved into my cortex. The only problem is, I smoked my first joint, and I did not die, nor did I suffer any irreversible health catastrophe. In fact, I didn’t even get high. All the scare tactics geared towards preventing a person’s experimentation with drugs toppled into a disheveled pile of disinformation and deception. It was all lies. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign began, which for me and my friends prompted the responding question, “Why?” I contend it is the busting of trust—an unavoidable outcome when a first-time drug user discovers the deception inherent in nearly all anti-drug propaganda—that pours the foundation of drug addiction, for those who are susceptible to the disease.
By now, we no longer have Sgt. Joe Friday reminding us every few weeks that smoking a joint opens the gate to a path inevitably leading to heroin addiction, but it took at least a decade, really more like two, to weed that lie from the body of anti-drug propaganda. The truth is, all those strung-out hippie-junkie kids that he and Bill Gannon were packing off to San Quentin more likely got their start in their parents’ liquor cabinet. With *that* said, it is important to realize that all drug addicts drank water before they ever felt the urge to seek out something that satisfied a different thirst. And with *that* said, clearly, not all forbidden forays into parental stash lead to a career on West 42nd Street. Drug use vs. drug abuse is simply not a 0 – 1 condition.
Denial of the reality of variation in human physiology is often the source of failures in public policy. Consider how the institution of slavery was built upon the notion that phenotypic expression of observable characteristics *invariably* determined one’s intelligence, stamina, even one’s beliefs and morality. When a public policy requires the dumbing-down of its message for the masses to an either/or condition, chances are it’s a bad public policy, and it’s going to fail. Eventually.
In the meantime, however, if you’re in a position of power and you work the odds just right, you can rake in outrageous profits, especially if you can figure out how to play both sides of the coin. And that’s exactly what the “War On Drugs” has been about. Even while Nixon was clueless to the futility, blind to the schematic of corruption, people whose political ventures were tempered in the ways of commerce, like say George H. W. Bush, were no doubt aware of the myriad “prospects” embedded in the Controlled Substance Act. It didn’t matter if they had to wait through an administration or two before they could really get in there and put that puppy to work. The soil was plowed and terraced and ready for whenever the seeds might arrive.
Mendoza’s exposé didn’t get so much as a sentence in ABC’s network broadcasts today, although ABC did dutifully upload it to their website. I didn’t check other networks, though I did hear CBS, and they likewise didn’t provide a hint in their television broadcast that this story has broken. At last check, the CNN website doesn’t even have the AP release available. Considering how Mendoza acknowledges Obama’s lip service to address the drug problem with a more holistic approach, while revealing he’s giving the rubberstamp to a budget that funnels money into the law enforcement protocol at a rate of nearly 2:1, I can’t say I’m surprised the media is reticent to give her report airtime.
This week President Obama promised to “reduce drug use and the great damage it causes” with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment.
Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.
Chances are if Martha had left out the bit about that $10 billion, Katie Couric may have braved the waters, but disclosures like this, in the eyes of mainstreamers, may make Martha Mendoza about as popular as John Brown.
Who knows: overnight, maybe our major media outlets will figure out a way to comment. Of course, when the sum of the total U.S. budget supercedes this tiny facet by at least 2 orders of magnitude, maybe that $10 billion really isn’t such a big deal after all? Who worries over $10 when the total bill-of-sale is $3550? Somehow, though, I can’t help but think that there are people—like the family members of Kathryn Johnston, for example—who might feel differently. If you don’t know who Kathryn Johnston was, I strongly urge you to click this link and get caught up on your U.S. history. Start with the earliest entry, dated November 22, 2006, and read the entries as they occurred chronologically, in case that’s not abundantly clear.*
Perhaps because it all went down in Atlanta, CNN *did* follow-up on Kathryn Johnston’s story. Your tax dollars at work for the War on Drugs. And check it out: the officers got whopping 5-10 year sentences for the murder of an innocent 92-year-old woman. Ya just can’t have a real War on Drugs omelet without cracking a few eggs, eh?
*Because I originally blogged Kathryn Johnston’s story at myspace, an account which I’ve since made private, for historical purposes dead myspace links to my own work have been left intact (they will work if you are in my friends list at myspace, a very small population), but I transferred all those blogs here to wordpress, and they all appear in the list that rolls up for the link in bold red, which is *this* blog, that you’re reading right now.