Souder Says Drug Czar’s Fake News Didn’t Break Law

Souder Says Drug Czar’s Fake News Didn’t Break Law
Posted by CN Staff on February 05, 2005 at 06:48:22 PT
By Sylvia A. Smith, Washington Editor
Source: Journal Gazette
Washington -- The drug czar’s office didn’t break a federal law with its packaged anti-drug news stories that were narrated by fake journalists, Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, said Friday. But the video news releases sent to hundreds of TV stations in the past three years should have made clear that they were produced at taxpayer expense, he said.Souder, who chairs a subcommittee that oversees national anti-drug programs, said the General Accountability Office was wrong when it ruled that the Office of National Drug Control Policy violated the law by sending the pre-packaged news stories to TV stations without disclosing to viewers that the government had produced them.
The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, said the anti-drug video news releases were “covert propaganda” and violated a ban against publicity and propaganda.The video releases “are complete, audio-video presentations that ONDCP designed for broadcast by television news organizations as news reports, without the need for any production effort by the news organization,” the GAO said.In its report, the GAO quoted the drug policy office’s top lawyer as saying that the video clips “are produced in the same manner as if produced by a television news organization. Many television news organizations are willing to use (prepackaged news stories) since they help broadcasters reduce the cost of gathering and producing news.”The Bush administration has gotten a black eye lately because of payments it made to journalists and commentators to promote various social programs. The journalists wrote commentaries in support of the programs without disclosing that they were on the government payroll.Souder said the video news releases are a different matter, however, because the TV stations were told that the government wrote, produced and distributed the material. In the case of journalists who accepted government money and then wrote about government programs in glowing terms, the relationship was not disclosed, he said.One of the video news releases issued by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for instance, was about teen driving and marijuana use. Its narrator identified himself as “this is Mike Morris reporting.” The GAO reviewed five other video news releases and said that although they were mailed to TV stations clearly marked as coming from the drug czar’s office, the news clips themselves did not tell viewers who produced the reports.Souder said TV stations that aired them could have disclosed the origin of the segments but chose not to.The drug czar is under orders from Congress to develop media campaigns to help prevent and reduce drug abuse among young people. Among them is a series of commercials with the theme “parents, the anti-drug.”In a letter, Souder and Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the committee, asked the GAO to withdraw its ruling and reconsider the law: “GAO’s analysis in this case is fundamentally flawed because it is inconsistent with ONDCP’s express authorization to conduct a media campaign … and does not distinguish between deliberate concealment of the source by the government from the news media and subsequent concealment of the source from the public by the news media.”They said TV stations’ use of the video clips might violate journalistic standards, but it’s not illegal for the drug czar to make and distribute them.The drug policy office sent the clips to 770 stations; 300 used the reports, which were seen by 22 million households, the agency said.Jennifer deVallance, press secretary for the drug czar’s office, said the video news releases date back to the Clinton years. She said the office stopped issuing them in May when the GAO raised concerns about another federal agency’s similar releases. “We didn’t want any distraction” from the anti-drug campaign, she said. “It just wasn’t worth it.”The six video clips produced in 2002, 2003 and 2004 cost $154,398, a fraction of the agency’s $154 million annual budget for an anti-drug media campaign.In their letter, Souder and Davis said if TV stations didn’t want to use the clips, they didn’t have to, and that they could have identified the material as coming from the federal government.The drug control policy office “does not control the ultimate content of a television news broadcast. The news organizations do,” the two lawmakers wrote. “The GAO opinion suggests that media outlets are passive conduits for any information anyone submits to them. Those of us in Congress who work with the media to ensure the public understands the work of the Congress know otherwise.”Complete Title: Souder Says Drug Czar’s Fake News Didn’t Break Federal LawSource: Journal Gazette, The (IN)Author: Sylvia A. Smith, Washington EditorPublished: February 5, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Journal GazetteContact: letters jg.netWebsite: http://www.journalgazette.netRelated Articles:Anti-Drug Office's Videos Defended The Propaganda Mill Control Office Faulted For Issuing Tapes
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Comment #16 posted by OverwhelmSam on February 07, 2005 at 03:33:45 PT
Constructive Congress
I still think that the major reform organizations should target Souder (among a few others) for de-election in his district. He almost lost last election, and he's back with more of the same fascism. Congress must be shown that if they are going to perpetuate a war on marijuana users, they had better be prepared to pay for it with their political careers. After all, that's the real reason that marijuana is dangerous, to them.
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on February 06, 2005 at 22:36:36 PT
Ekim, I mean
My brother, Mike, uses the same series of letters in some of his correspondence. Sorry.
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on February 06, 2005 at 22:34:44 PT
I'm a woman, too
and I'm very angry. Very angry.I care so much about what is happening to people because of the war on drugs...and "they" mean cannabis, too. It's the cannabis people that make up the bulk of the persecuted in their ignorant war. And they are ignorant and arrogant. They know...they've been taught the dangers of prohibition just like the rest of us...but they do it anyway. They ignore history and the facts of the matter.Thank God for LEAP.I'm glad to know this. Thank you, Mike, for bringing it to my attention. It adds fervor to my prayers and my letters.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on February 06, 2005 at 22:25:04 PT
Par for the course
The man had been smoking marijuana and missing meetings with his probation officer. Siler's treatment from these officers, who surely liked to call themselves "the good guys", was more par for the course than not. The only thing different in this case is that Siler's wife was smart enough to leave a tape recorder running.How many people do you suppose have suffered like this because of the heinous war on humans who use marijuana or drugs, but are dead or stuck in a cell with no way to defend themselves against monsters like the ones who invaded his home?A lot.
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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on February 06, 2005 at 22:20:11 PT
Hydro Shows Police Exaggerate Grow-Op Threats
CN MB: Pot Growers Are Paying Hydro Bills{Cost Of Stolen Electricity Much Lower Than Thought {The electricity stolen from Manitoba Hydro by illegal marijuana grow operations may not be as substantial as some have thought, an internal review by the utility suggests. {Marijuana grow operators may be breaking the law, but many of them do pay their electric bills, Manitoba Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider said. {Using information on grow op busts in 2004 supplied by Winnipeg police and the RCMP, Hydro calculated that it lost electricity worth about $300,000 to 38 Manitoba grow ops last year. {The 38 busted grow ops that were either stealing electricity by bypassing Hydro meters or simply not paying their bills is well below the total number of grow ops that were busted. {In 2003, for example, Winnipeg police busted 108 suspected grow ops, mostly set up using special lamps inside residential homes, Const. Shelly Glover said. }
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on February 06, 2005 at 22:03:53 PT
I'll try but I would rather read a reform cannabis type article. I don't like to read articles that are harsh with people. I don't watch shows like Cops or anything like that. They bother me and make me irritable and wreck my efforts to stay positive and not get angry. My mental health is worth more to me then to read what is hard like this one is. Remember I am a woman and I don't believe most women think like men.
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Comment #10 posted by ekim on February 06, 2005 at 21:56:31 PT
Lester Eugene Siler
is being shook down. the probation dept says he is using cannabis. these guys want his money. FoM this is what Leap is saying this War is corrupting officers. please read it again this story is why i fight.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 06, 2005 at 21:40:39 PT
I didn't understand the article. I tried but it seems to be about drugs and drug articles aren't cannabis and I just don't read them. Life's too hard to follow all types of drug war news. Believe me if there was a good cannabis related article I would post it but it is just very slow. That happens but it will pick up soon I think.
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Comment #8 posted by ekim on February 06, 2005 at 21:30:06 PT
souder play this tape i DARE you
Newshawk: Kirk
 Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sun, 06 Feb 2005
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)TAPE REVEALS TERRIFYING CAMPAIGN IN WAR ON DRUGS They Launched The Attack With A Stunningly Simple Message. "It's ( expletive ) over, son." For two hours, authorities say, that message would be pounded into Lester Eugene Siler's head and body, reinforced with the barrel of a gun and echoed in threats of electrocution. Handcuffed and surrounded, Siler was now a prisoner of the war on drugs in Campbell County.
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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on February 06, 2005 at 18:34:14 PT
late night cookie delivery
Aolbites ...don't know where you live, but I would be a bit concerned by a knock on MY door at 1030 at night, I am a retired soldier, I suspect I would be ok.don't know the lady who evidently "freaked" when the late-night knock in a rural setting alarmed her, but I understand that older folks have been scared shamelessly by local media and many probably do believe that the "druggies" are everywhere and do intend to commit mayhem.This story ran on the front page of our local rag a day or two ago, I was sad, but not suprised.Then again, mayhap I should be as incensed as you are ...Not sure ...
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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on February 06, 2005 at 13:00:40 PT
Hope, Maybe Some Prohibitionists Will Have a ...
Saul-like conversion. Acts 9:1-9 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society  Acts 9
Saul's Conversion 
  {1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 
  5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.  {“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  {7The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.} 
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on February 06, 2005 at 09:22:09 PT
Murderous Prohibitionists
If they prosecuted their hired killers they'd have to accept some guilt and prosecute themselves.They're killers. Their killing is based on greed, hatred, and hysteria.Prosecuting the hand while the head is still busy planning killing? Not likely. Especially, when the head decides who will suffer prosecution.All prohibitionists are greedy, hysterical, sadistic killers. Prohibitionists, you are vile murderers of the innocent in your zeal to control the perceived vices of everyone but your self. Self righteous murderers. Be ashamed. Be very ashamed. How are you going to get all that blood off your hands and souls?Just because prohibitionists in their self righteousness have no conscience to deal with...doesn't mean they are innocent. They are murderers with their laws and the law enforcers who delude themselves enough to allow themselves to be used by them are just as guilty. I just overheard the words from a movie my husband is watching that fits our prohibitionists well. As prohibitionists, they must believe themselves to be “The infantile center of the *&%$# Universe.”If I can divert at least ten prohibitionist from the evil of their delusion, I will have lived a very successful life.
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Comment #4 posted by jose melendez on February 06, 2005 at 06:55:51 PT
" . . . didn't break the law. . ."
February 6, 2005Federal prosecutors have decided not to seek criminal charges against CIA officers who were part of an antidrug operation that was involved in the downing of a missionary plane in Peru and the deaths of two Americans in 2001. Justice Department officials have until now not even acknowledged that they were investigating potential misconduct by the intelligence officers, including whether they lied to lawmakers who were looking into the incident and the interdiction program. But yesterday, Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said, ''We declined a criminal prosecution earlier this week." A Pennsylvania-based missionary group's plane was shot down by a Peruvian jet in April 2001 after a CIA-operated surveillance plane misidentified it as a possible drug-smuggling flight. Veronica Bowers, 35, of Muskegon, Mich., and her 7-month-old daughter, Charity, were killed. (AP)
The Drug War Crashes
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on February 06, 2005 at 03:52:42 PT
Want to swindle the laws? Souder is the man.
Hitler didn’t break the law either, right?Want to perpetuate historically discredited cannabis laws? Souder is the man.
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Comment #2 posted by AOLBites on February 05, 2005 at 15:11:09 PT
what is wrong with amerika????
heres another only in america one i ran accross...Teens' cookie deliveries crumble into $900 lawsuit
A neighbor says an anxiety attack sent her to the hospital after two girls dropped treats on her porch.
Durango, Colo. -- Two teenage girls trying to perform an act of kindness for their neighbors ended up being slapped with a medical bill for $900 after one neighbor suffered an anxiety attack when they knocked on her door at 10:30 p.m. delivering homemade cookies.The incident began July 31, 2004, when the girls, Taylor Ostergaard, 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitti, 18, decided to skip a dance and stay home and bake cookies for their neighbors.Big mistake.They were successfully sued for an unauthorized cookie drop on one porch. The deliveries consisted of half a dozen chocolate chip and sugar cookies accompanied by big hearts cut out of red or pink construction paper with the message: "Have a great night." The notes were signed, "Love, The T and L Club," code for Taylor and Lindsey
Teens' cookie deliveries crumble into $900 lawsuit
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 05, 2005 at 09:20:51 PT
Off Topic: New Rules at NIH Anger Its Employees
February 4, 2005WASHINGTON -- National Institutes of Health director Elias Zerhouni stood before hundreds of NIH employees Wednesday to explain why it had become necessary for him to impose, in his words, "drastic" restrictions on stock ownership and other forms of outside income, which took effect yesterday for agency employees."What I'm asking you to do is hold your fire until you hear the details," he told the crowd assembled in an auditorium on the agency's campus in suburban Bethesda, Md. 
They held.And when he was done, they let him have it.One after another, scientists, doctors and other agency staffers stepped up to the microphones and raged against the new rules, made public on Tuesday. By the time it was over, 90 minutes later, nary a positive word had been uttered about the new policy.The goal, as Zerhouni repeatedly explained, was to save the agency's reputation, sullied by 14 months of embarrassing revelations about conflicts of interest among NIH scientists."This issue was standing between the prestigious history of the NIH and its future," Zerhouni told the restive crowd.But the solution, many argued Wednesday, was unjustifiably extreme, punishing virtually all of the agency's 18,000 employees for the actions of a few."Even my secretary is going to have to sell her stock. How much sense does that make?" fumed Ezekiel Emanuel, chairman of the agency's department of clinical bioethics.But Zerhouni told his troops that after trying to stand up for them, he had been "shot in the back" with the discovery, made by congressional investigators, that more than 100 NIH employees had not disclosed various relationships they had with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, in violation of government ethics rules.From that point, Zerhouni said, he knew he had no choice but to put draconian measures in place.Most irritating, apparently, is the rule requiring thousands of employees - and their spouses and dependents - to divest themselves of all stock holdings in drug, biotech and other medically oriented companies.But seemingly less significant rule changes also drew jeers of derision. One rule, for example, will place the vast majority of scientific and public service awards off limits.Explaining what they could legally accept, NIH Ethics Office director Holli Beckerman Jaffe said employees "may accept the 'honor' associated with an award" - but not the cash. The audience was hardly appeased when Jaffe added that Nobel Prizes would still be allowed. Copyright: 2005, Newsday, Inc.,0,964510.story?coll=ny-health-headlines
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