cannabisnews.com: Money Spent on Drug War Could Be Put to Better Use





Money Spent on Drug War Could Be Put to Better Use
Posted by FoM on October 17, 2001 at 10:46:13 PT
By  Judy Mann
Source: Washington Post
Our multibillion-dollar law enforcement apparatus, so caught up in the war on drugs, has managed to jail thousands of nonviolent and largely harmless criminals while failing to stop the deadly work of terrorists who have irrevocably harmed the entire nation.No one appears to have thought about redirecting the billions being wasted in the drug war to the infinitely more important task of combating terrorism. Make no mistake about the huge sums being spent on the futile attempt to stem the flow of illegal drugs into this country: 
The federal government pours about $20 billion a year into it, with state and local governments spending about the same amount. But cocaine and heroin are more plentiful in our cities than ever, and cheaper, too. Deaths from illicit drugs are up.We are sending $1.3 billion in military and social aid to help the government of Colombia wipe out coca crops, and so far the result is an increase in cocaine exports. Much of the military aid is in the form of training Colombian anti-narcotics troops and supplying transport helicopters. The helicopters' role is to destroy coca processing laboratories and to protect planes that are spraying hundreds of thousands of acres in Colombia to destroy coca plants. But the reality is that the military aid is reinforcing Colombia's army in its attempt to battle internal insurgency, and the United States is at risk of getting drawn into Colombia's 40-year-old civil war. The reality also is that defoliation has hurt farmers growing legal crops such as yucca and has forced them off their land. And the reality, which U.S. officials admit, is that Plan Colombia has yet to affect cocaine prices since it was launched late last year.Less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the chief of Colombia's anti-narcotics bureaucracy was in Washington pleading for additional money to triple the number of jungle bases used to launch offensives against the coca growers. The Colombian army is closely linked to right-wing paramilitary forces that, along with leftist guerrillas, have been terrorizing the countryside, taxing farmers and peasants and financing operations with drug money. The paramilitary and the leftists have been accused of terrorism by the United States; that label is likely to be used more and more as the drug warriors try to justify even more money for Plan Colombia.How much more money do we have to squander before we realize that the war on drugs is an abysmal failure?Far from changing course, we are about to anoint yet another drug czar, a dubious ceremony of ordination that goes back to Harry Anslinger, who was inventing the drug menace about the same time the young J. Edgar Hoover was discovering the communist bogeyman. The drug czar in waiting, John Walters, has been busy debunking what he calls "myths" of the drug war. Writing in the March issue of the conservative Weekly Standard, he argued: "What really drives the battle against law enforcement and punishment is not a commitment to treatment, but the widely held view that (1) we are imprisoning too many people for merely possessing illegal drugs, (2) drug and other criminal sentences are too long and harsh, and (3) the criminal justice system is unjustly punishing young black men. These are among the great urban myths of our time."At his confirmation hearing Wednesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were sharply critical of Walters's beliefs on treatment, mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and racial disparities. Walters told senators that he now favors federal funding for drug-abuse treatment and prevention. Before, he wanted that solely in the hands of states and localities. Walters, a former deputy to the first director of national drug control policy, William J. Bennett, was named to the post by President Bush in May. Since then, he has become the target of an extraordinary alignment of civil rights, public health and conservative organizations that have raised serious questions about his fitness to lead the war on drugs.The civil rights and public health coalition attacked his views on race (black men are jailed in state prisons for drug offenses at 13.4 times the rate of whites), crime and drug treatment. The conservative coalition, which includes the American Conservative Union and the Free Congress Foundation, has urged senators to question Walters closely on his views on privacy and civil liberties, both of which have been severely undermined by anti-narcotics schemes. More than half the members of the Congressional Black Caucus have urged the Senate to reject the nomination, as has the Betty Ford Center.The drug-war hard-liners' childlike faith in the efficacy of tough federal enforcement mysteriously evaporates, however, when it comes to the desperately needed reinforcement of airport security. The right-wing leadership in the House is digging in its heels to block the establishment of an effective airport security force, trained and managed to federal standards, with the hoary mantra that it wants to avoid the establishment of another huge federal bureaucracy. It is inconceivable that these people refuse to support measures to secure the safety of airline passengers but will heap money on the anti-narcotics apparatus. The drug war is diverting the nation's energy from real problems we face, including -- now -- the war on terrorism. The difference between the two is that the war against terrorism must be won. The war against drugs is already lost and should be abandoned.Source: Washington Post (DC) Author: Judy MannPublished: Wednesday, October 17, 2001; Page C12 Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: http://www.washingtonpost.comRelated Articles:It's Time to Give Up the War on Drugs http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread10882.shtmlA Debatable War on Drugs http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread10725.shtml 
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Comment #12 posted by Rambler on October 18, 2001 at 09:18:43 PT
billions
Gasp in shock and awe,as you become upset and disgusted by this:http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/Current_Releases/1017-161.html
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Comment #11 posted by wades on October 18, 2001 at 07:41:21 PT:
Dear Editors, 2
Dear editors:Ms. Mann's Oct. 17 column, "Money Spent on Drug War Could Be Put to Better Use," makes a critically important point. Programs and institutions to combat the faux threat posed by drug use annually consume tens of billions of dollars (nobody knows just how many tens of billions), resources that would be far better invested in reducing genuine dangers to our nation and people.When scholars of the future write the history of 20th century America, they will classify our War on Drugs with the witch hunts of Medieval Europe: an inexplicable outbreak of mass insanity. Those historians will point to the role that our news media played in uncritically supporting the insupportable. Ms. Mann's remarks are a refreshing change from the media's depressingly unanimimous endorsement of our nation's disastrous drug policies. They deserved a place on the Op-Ed page along with other discussion of issues of national importance, rather than being tucked away in the Metro section where readers from, say, Florida, are unlikely to see them.
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Comment #10 posted by goneposthole on October 18, 2001 at 06:31:37 PT
coca, corn and barley
Stopping coca production with Roundup so cocaine cannot be processed is like defoliating corn and barley in the early stages so alcohol cannot be distilled. It's a non-starter, 'it ain't gonna happen'.Would you say we have a plethora of drugs? We don't need no stinking drugs.We need pot, marijuana, reefer, joints, cheeba, ganja, smoke.'Smoke 'em if you got 'em'Have a nice day.
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Comment #9 posted by E_Johnson on October 17, 2001 at 23:33:17 PT
Dear editors
Dear editors,I applaud the column by Judy Mann on the fallacies of the War on Drugs. But I must say, I don't see enough of this kind of critical thinking in your news coverage of the topic. When I attended journalism school back in the great days of the old Washington Post, we J-students were trained to see ourselves as the natural adversaries of the government. We were the ones the public could trust to subject governmental pronouncements to harsh critical scrutiny.I don't see that adversarial relationship being exhibited by many journalists today when it comes to the War on Drugs. It seems that journalists have somehow been enlisted as team players along with the government in this program. This goes against everything that I ever learned determined the difference between a journalist and a government publicist.Tonight I read an AP story where Asa Hutchinson claimed that the DEA had intercepted 11% of the illegal drugs that were coming into America last year. Are we supposed to believe that anyone actually knows the amount of illegal drugs coming into America with a precision of one percent? It's highly doubtful that even the drug cartels themselves know how much they produce or ship with an accuracy of one percent.Yet the AP story reported that highly questionable number as if it were a verifiable fact. Hutchinson makes a claim that clearly flies in the face of ordinary statistical logic, and it propagates, completely unquestioned, into the news as if it were a fact. This is a bad situation and this cannot continue. I hear that Post staffers are divided on how to handle Ms. Mann's column. Please treat Ms. Mann fairly -- she is fulfilling the sacred duty of the press to subject the government to critical examination.When it comes to the War on Drugs, critical thinking by the press is badly needed, and long overdue.
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Comment #8 posted by Extreme on October 17, 2001 at 20:15:45 PT
Numbers of history
"Make no mistake about the huge sums being spent on the futile attempt to stem the flow of illegal drugs into this country: The federal government pours about $20 billion a year into it, with state and local governments spending about the same amount. But cocaine and heroin are more plentiful in our cities than ever, and cheaper, too. Deaths from illicit drugs are up."
It is well known that Americans waiste "countless" amounts of money on this futile war against its non-violent goodwilled citizens, but the question on my mind is how much money HAS BEEN SPENT on it for all these years. Is there anywhere with a semi-accurate(there is no way we could ever count it all) number of how much money we have spent on ending peaceful lives, and the pursuit of happiness? If we currently spend 20 billion a year, then what are your estimates? 200 billion???
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Comment #7 posted by Poisoned1550Days on October 17, 2001 at 18:01:30 PT
Post
  Judy sent me an email a while back
when I complained to the Post( and cc'ed Judy )
 that 
her article was not listed in the main page 
menu with other columnists and that I found 
out about the great article she wrote here.  It seems that there are significant 
arguments behind the scenes at the Post
on this issue. You should send an email
or letter agreeing with her.
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Comment #6 posted by mayan on October 17, 2001 at 16:00:34 PT
I Love You Judy Mann!
It is amazing enough that this article appeared in the Washington Post & I doubt if many mainstream journalists are willing to question our policies toward the Taliban just yet.This would be a good time to write a LTE to the Washington Post in agreement with Judy Mann. We could also bring up the Taliban/opium issue there. I'm sure some of the "elite" read this rag & they just might question our ludicrous drug enforcement policies. Who knows?
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Comment #5 posted by aocp on October 17, 2001 at 15:53:32 PT
Really?
No one appears to have thought about redirecting the billions being wasted in the drug war to the infinitely more important task of combating terrorism.Errrrhhhh ... Cowan? ... Richard Cowan? I applaud the effort, but try surfing around a bit. I'll drop her a line when i'm done with math class today.
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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on October 17, 2001 at 14:58:41 PT
I just wish someone would pick at this thread!
The DEA is always making the point that if they can't stop the flow of drugs, they can at least raise the price, and raising the price of drugs saves the lives of Americans. That is the excuse for 90% of their existence.It's impossible to attack their power and influence in Washington without attacking that idea in particular. And their power and influence is what keep this whole ball rolling.The National Academy of Sciences relased a report last year that said there existed no data to support any arguments that drug interdiction leads to reduced drug use or addiction. And they said the economic arguments being made about drug prices and drug use were exceedingly weak and unsupported by current economic theory and there was no reliable data to back that up either.Everyone ignored the NAS report.But the Taliban give us a good living example. Did the UN heroically negotiate with them a plan to raise the price of opium and save the lives of addicts everywhere? Or did the Taliban manipulate the Drug War to their own advantage to make a quick killing on the market?And if the Taliban can do it, why can't FARC? And their paramilitary rivals on the right?This is a thread which, if picked at sufficiently in the right publications, could unravel the power DEA has over our government.
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Comment #3 posted by bruce42 on October 17, 2001 at 12:09:53 PT
agreed
The message is there. The scope is limited, but she is getting the word out. This is only a newspaper article after all. Perhaps she is forsaking amount of content in order to maintain the attention of readers whose ears are trained on the infamous sound bite of the television media realm.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on October 17, 2001 at 11:47:50 PT:
Well, we all can't have eidetic memories
E., normally, I agree with you in castigating the media for its laxness in reporting crucial data. Like so many classically trained scientists, when confronted with an anomaly of nature which doesn't fit their pat little world views - or more importantly, that of their paymasters - journalists tend to ignore it in hopes that it will go away.But Ms. Mann has shown, in article after article, that she has seen through the bull to the core issues. And has pointed out more than once that the Emperor is not only bare-ass naked, but plug-ugly to boot. If she has missed something, I would attribute her lapse not to sloppiness, but to the simple fact that there is a plethora of information out there; not very many of us can cover all the bases. But at least she is trying - which is far more than I can say for her much higher priced  and better politically connected  brethren. Who do have the ear of the mighty...but waste their positions being nothing more than highly paid apologists for the Powers-That-Be.
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on October 17, 2001 at 11:19:29 PT
Pay a bit more attention to the news, Ms. Mann
The reality also is that defoliation has hurt farmers growing legal crops such as yucca and has forced them off their land. And the reality, which U.S. officials admit, is that Plan Colombia has yet to affect cocaine prices since it was launched late last year.This is an excellent editorial that would have been even better if this writer had been paying attention to the UN Taliban opium price debacle and its ever-shifting portrayal in the news media.First the UN brags all over the world about having raised the price of opium by factor of 23 through their brilliant interdiction efforts and their clever negotiations with the wonderful Taliban.Then the DEA rewrote the story so that the worrisome price increase was solely due to the devious manipulations of the evil money-grubbing Taliban.Perhaps in a few weeks we will be reading that Asa Hutchinson has told the State Department that FARC themselves devised Plan Colombia as a devilish way to manipulate cocaine prices in South America.
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