Magnetic Pull of Wars

Magnetic Pull of Wars
Posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 06:52:52 PT
By Howard Rosenberg, Times Television Critic
Source: Los Angeles Times
 "Frontline" stands alone on television as a place inquiring minds can go regularly for smart, tough documentaries that demystify hard-news issues affecting the health of the entire planet. It wears this mantle honorably on PBS.   More evidence arrives in four hours of "Drug Wars," a collaboration with National Public Radio that examines a multibillion-dollar cancer that has widely metastasized deep within the world economy. 
  A stunning two-parter produced by Martin Smith and reported by Lowell Bergman--the former "60 Minutes" producer-investigative journalist played by Al Pacino in "The Insider"--this is surely the most exhaustive and perceptive work on the topic ever to travel the airwaves. To its great credit, it does not isolate international drug trade from the social, cultural and political influences that shape it.   It tracks, step by step with laser vision, this nation's failed 30-year campaign against drug use, locating threads connecting Colombia, Mexico and trafficking inside the U.S. and drawing them together like a corset. Its many fascinating talking heads include first-time TV interviews with kingpins of Colombia's once-powerful Medellin cartel, in addition to a broad array of humanity with connections to all aspects of the drug issue.   What's more, with narrator deluxe Will Lyman on hand, "Drug Wars" is magnetic television, told as a slowly crescendoing horror story that should open eyes instead of weighing down lids.   Presented chronologically, it opens in the Nixon years, when marijuana is initially regarded in the U.S. as much less a crime byproduct than as part of a hippie-esque cultural revolution. Heroin becomes another matter. Following reports of its widespread addiction among U.S. troops in Vietnam, the Nixon administration opts for controversial methadone programs.   "For the first and only time in the history of U.S. drug policy," we hear, "treatment supplanted law enforcement for most of the attention and most of the money."   As the 1972 election approaches, though, Nixon is aware that he can win more voters by stressing drug law enforcement over treatment, and someone here recalls him saying while in a chopper over Brooklyn: "You and I care about treatment. But those people down there, they want those criminals off the street." The statement is symbolic at this critical crossroads.   Nixon is soon preoccupied by Watergate. But a recurring theme across these four hours is the conflict between advocates of treatment, education and prevention as a solution for U.S. drug worries, and the stronger lobby for law enforcement.   Halfway through Part 1 comes the first mention of cocaine, which in the 1970s, we hear, had been integrated into the nation's entertainment and other pop cultures. In fact, cocaine was seen as harmless even by Colombian drug producers and transporters, says Carlos Toro, once a prominent cocaine smuggler.   "I mean everybody was using it," he says. "But we saw cocaine just like we saw Colombian coffee."   Also woven through the narrative are conflicts between U.S. anti-drug policy and its Cold War policy in Latin America, as the name of Oliver North and reports of alleged CIA drug smuggling surface ominously.   The advent of crack is the thundershot ending Part 1. Crack, the cheap, smokable cocaine so potent that it's said here to equal "a thousand Christmases" or "a hundred orgasms at one time." Crack, the high of highs that makes servants of its users.   "I didn't care about anything, nobody, it was just crack," says a recovering addict, echoing a mantra that resonated so painfully in HBO's brilliant miniseries, "The Corner."   Much of Part 2 directly ties U.S. crack problems to deeply rooted corruption in Mexico's government and law enforcement.We hear stories of sophisticated money laundering and intrigue right out of John Le Carre. We hear of anti-drug activity taking a back seat to commerce regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement that President Clinton signed into law in 1994.   And so it goes, with powerful drug cartels giving way to a Rolodex of 300 Colombian gangs that we hear move 90% of U.S. cocaine and 70% of its heroin, mainly through Mexico.   "Drug Wars" ends grimly, without even a fissure of light at the end of its long, winding dark tunnel of violence, heartache and dirty politics. It's ugly, but you're smarter for watching.   * "Frontline's" two-part special, "Drug Wars," begins tonight and concludes Tuesday--both nights at 9 on KCET-TV and KVCR-TV. Note: 'Frontline's' stunning two-part series shows how U.S. is losing it.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Published: October 9, 2000Author: Howard RosenbergCopyright: 2000 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comAddress: Times Mirror SquareLos Angeles, CA 90053Fax: (213) 237-4712Website: Articles & Web Site:Drug Wars Web Site Launches Monday at 9 p.m. EDT Politics, Policy and Pot Drug Wars Chronicles 30 Years News and PBS Frontline Special Report Frontline Series in Collaboration with NPR 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #15 posted by FoM on October 10, 2000 at 13:43:40 PT
Thanks Dr. Ganj!
Hi Dr. Ganj!You made me laugh! Thanks! They didn't show the program on the satellite but it says Frontline will be tonight so I really hope so. Peace, FoM!PS: Out of Meth! LOL!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by Dr. Ganj on October 10, 2000 at 00:18:30 PT
Frontline Got It Right!
Wow, that was too real. So much money. It's all about money.Okay, be sure to watch part 2 tomorrow night.Oh, as an added bonus, on the History Channel, they too have their own drug series. It's a four parter, but it's being aired rather late- I guess for only the tweekers out there. :-)If you are out of meth, or quit, or have to work in the morning, or can't figure out how to program your VCR, or don't have a VCR, then you can buy the entire series and watch it at your leisure while enjoying your favorite drug(s). See link below.I like to sleep, so I'll just buy the tapes.Cheers,Dr. Ganj
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 20:05:33 PT:
Video's From Frontline's Special Drug Wars
Hi Everyone, These are the video links so far. You'll need Real Video. I hope many were able to see the program. The program on The History Channel was good. I now have a face to the name Cliff Schaffer. He was in the program on The History Channel!Frontline PBS: Drug Wars:Index of /wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/video Drug Wars - Active Now!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 18:11:53 PT
I'm not getting it!
Thought I'd let you all know. They aren't showing the program on Direct TV at least on mine. I went to The History Channel and am watching the other program. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by Dr. Ganj on October 09, 2000 at 16:15:28 PT
Frontline Tells The Honest Truth Tonight!!
This is the real truth folks! Watch this! It airs at different times, depending on where you live, so check your local listings.After these shows, and the elections this November, maybe we'll start treating drug use differently-with acceptance instead of a police state policy. Drug use will always be with us, it's how we react to it that must change.Dr. Ganj
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 14:02:22 PT:
Getting Close Now
Thanks OPU & Kaptinemo,Maybe tonight during the program, if you have your computer where you watch tv, we could post how we feel it is going during commercials. Just an idea but that way our thoughts are fresh in our minds. I haven't posted but a few of the articles. Unless a super article comes out prior to the show we could just use this thread. If not that's fine too. I'm actually a little nervous and I'm not sure why. I think it is because I have such high hopes for the program.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by kaptinemo on October 09, 2000 at 13:46:21 PT:
Thank you, OPU!
I haven't been able to look at a TV Guide yet, so I had no idea when it was on. I don't want to miss either of them.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by Occassional Pot User on October 09, 2000 at 13:31:44 PT
Watch the History Channel specials at 1am!
P.S. Note that after Tuesday evening's PBS special the next day you can just watch the show's at their regular time on History Channel (9pm).ENJOY!---------------Tuesday , October 101:00AM - 2:00AM Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way Marijuana In a series tracing the history of drug use, we begin our trip tracing the rise of marijuana and synthetic amphetamines. Marijuana, from the Indian hemp plant, has been used worldwide as a source of rope, cloth, and paper; its medicinal qualities were first documented 4,000 years ago in China. But it's best-known as the drug of choice of the 1960s. WWII U.S. troops were given an estimated 200 million amphetamines to fight drowsiness and battle fatigue and they're still used to fight depression. [TV PG ] Wednesday, October 111:00AM - 2:00AM Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way Opium, Morphine and Heroin An examination of the history of the poppy plant and three of its deadliest derivatives. In ancient times, the poppy was considered divine, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, its addicting and lethal qualities caused unprecendented national outrage, social upheaval, and even sparked two wars. Used by the upper classes as patent medicines, heroin became the bane of society when the working class began to use it. In 1914, Federal law banned heroin and opium, and restricted morphine to medicinal use. [TV PG ] Thursday , October 121:00AM - 2:00AM Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way Cocaine Derived from South America's coca leaf, cocaine was touted as a cure-all in the late 19th-century and was the secret ingredient in many medicines and elixirs such as Coca-Cola. But cocaine's allure quickly diminished as racism entered the picture--the concept of the "cocaine-crazed Negro" even led police to strengthen the caliber of their guns from .32 to .38. We'll see how, though it it was outlawed in 1914, its popularity soared in the 1980s and '90s and gave birth to a deadlier form--crack. [TV PG ] Friday , October 13 1:00AM - 2:00AM Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way LSD, Ecstasy and Raves How did the psychedelic drugs LSD and Ecstasy journey from a scientific discovery to a popular recreation to banned drugs? Mental health professionals once believed that LSD could treat schizophrenia or alcoholism. Meanwhile, Ecstasy, the "penicillin for the soul", was used in marriage counseling. Now, continuing the cycle of the hallucinogen, some of the latest derivatives in this category of drugs, the "rave" drugs such as GHB and Ketamine, are about to be banned. [TV PG ] 
History Channel tv listings
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by kaptinemo on October 09, 2000 at 13:08:58 PT:
FoM, I'm on pins-and-needles, myself
Like I said, I've been waiting for this for years. One of our biggest problems has been that the varied media loci have viewed this matter solely through the eyes of the antis. Who were very quick to use the 'Cheech-and-Chong' stereotype against us. (It's certainly no accident that MISTER McCaffrey used exactly that stereotype to smear the Prop215 initiative back in 1996-97. The negative connotations that accompany it, in the ideas of the politically active conservative minority, is a particular 'hot button'.) They ignored us, not because we were wrong; we obviously aren't. They ignored us because we were small with a voice to match. A shouted lie is easier to hear - and pass on - than a whispered truth.But now, the ONDCP has been caught in the same kind of scandal involving money that nearly all high-level Klinton Administration cronies have. The media smells blood, and they are closing in.As I've said before, I have no illusions at all as to *why* the media is doing this; they had the same chance 4 years ago when Prop215 was passed. They could have unleashed a firestorm of criticism which quite possibly would have sunk the ONDCP. Because when Barry and company had the temerity to threaten doctors with loss of licenses for recommending cannabis, they directly treaded upon the First Amendment. The holiest of holies to the media. To their everlasting shame, they didn't. Then many of them took Barry-ola; just like a 20 dollar hooker, many of them were bought *cheap* and did literary 'tricks' for the ONDCP. Many of the media prostituted themselves before their very natural enemy, the government. As far as I'm concerned, this is the chance for many in the media to expiate themselves for their craven behavior.But I'll settle for the double-s***storm that's about to come flying out of the ol' boob tube tonight and land (plop!) right on Barry's lap. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by ras james on October 09, 2000 at 12:24:26 PT
the hindu sadhus teach that "cannabis sativa is the creator's mind." zen masters teach that "buddha does not run from men; men run from buddha." some run to alcohol and others to cocaine. the I-man gives all praise and thanks to JAH RASTAFAR-I for the "tree of life" aka cannabis sativa.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 11:34:33 PT:
National Public Radio Online - Drug Wars
The United States has spent the past 30 years fighting the so-called war on drugs. Americans have paid a heavy price both financially -- the drug enforcement budget is now $40 billion -- and with their civil liberties with laws that turn "innocent until proven guilty" on its head. During the week of October 9th, NPR News airs a series from correspondent Deborah Amos, War on Drugs, on All Things Considered that explores why, after three decades of effort and billions of dollars in expenditures, America's war on drugs has no victory in sight. Coverage includes a look at Mexico, money laundering, corruption and drug treatment. The series is produced in partnership with PBS/FRONTLINE. On Oct. 9 and 10, FRONTLINE presents the first television history of America's war on drugs as told from both sides of the battlefield in a special four-hour report. Part I recounts the origins of the anti-drug campaign, from the Nixon administration's drug control efforts to the rapid rise and fall of the Colombian drug cartels. In Part II of Drug Wars, FRONTLINE examines the impact of crack cocaine on America's city streets and the U.S. criminal justice system. The report also investigates Mexico's role in supplying drugs to meet American demand.© National Public Radio, 2000
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 10:58:25 PT
Can't Wait!
Hi kaptinemo! I don't like to wish time away but I can't wait for tonights programs. I have high hopes no pun intended! 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on October 09, 2000 at 09:23:08 PT:
The proverbial double-whammy
I've been waiting for this for years.Finally, the one force the antis couldn't control has awakened. They tried to browbeat it, and it shrugged it off. Then the antis tried to buy it, and some woke up and pointed the finger and raised the alarm. The media. The media has finally awakened. And this dragon won't be satisfied until it has a bloody chunk out of what had the temerity to try to put a bit in its' mouth and ride it.Sadly, it's never been enough to simply be correct about something; the old business about 'if a tree falls in the woods..." bit just goes to prove that somebody better be there to listen to it fall. In this case, the public has heard practically *nothing* from our side, because we've been drowned out by the antis's propaganda machine blasting out its bilge for so long, people have no concept that there *is* another side, another viewpoint...another alternative. But those normally apathetic members of the public tuning in to these programs tonight will get a chance to hear us, for once.The public'll finally hear us...and then they'll have questions. Questions that we've been asking for *years*, but the antis fobbed us off, casting aspersions as to our motivations, calling us all manner of epithets rather than address us directly. Questions that have bite; questions that directly impinge upon the entire rationale for the WoSD and all the "Billions and Billions!" (Sorry, Carl) wasted upon it. Queries that, just by being asked, slash the antis to the bone, because it questions their entire rationale for existence. (For example, questions like "Did we always have drug laws?" "Why didn't we have them before?" "Did the supposed drug problem get better when laws were intoduced?" "Did we have less drug addicts after the laws were enacted?" "Did anyone back then object to the laws?" "Why did they?" Such seemingly innocent questions are a fusion-bomb laden minefield for the antis, as they have never had to *justify the history* of the DrugWar.)I smell twenty metic tonnes of crow being cooked just for the antis. They certainly have made as if they have mouths wide enough, from the way they talk. Now we'll see if they don't choke on their own medicine.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 08:17:34 PT:
Link To History Channel's TV Program Schedule
Hi Everyone, It appears that The History Channel and Frontline PBS will be airing their shows at the same time. I can't tape one and watch the other with Direct TV but it is airing in the early hours of the morning tomorrow so I'll try to tape it then and I wanted to pass on this information. The History Channel will be on Marijuana tonight at 9 pm ET
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 09, 2000 at 07:18:23 PT:
Television Review
Ambitious Look at 'Drug Wars' Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Mark Jurkowitz, Globe StaffPublished: October 9, 2000Copyright: 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.Contact: letter globe.comAddress: P.O. Box 2378, Boston, MA 02107-2378Website: into the second half of ''Frontline'''s two-part documentary on the war against drugs, a street dealer named Paul captures its unmistakable message with one word: ''politics.''After a three-decade battle against the drug trade waged by presidents from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton, drug busts have swelled the US prison population to nearly 2 million, such nations as Colombia and Mexico have been corrupted to their core, and the flourishing narco business is now estimated to be a $400 billion enterprise. In its sweepingly ambitious four-hour examination of the subject, ''Frontline'''s ''Drug Wars'' (tonight and tomorrow from 9 to 11 p.m. on WGBH-TV, Channel 2) succeeds by making a painstaking case that the government's tactics of attacking supply rather than focusing on treatment and education have bogged the nation down in a quagmire that makes Vietnam look like a surgical strike.Even the old warriors agree. At the end of the series, former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Bob Stutman looks into the camera and says that beating drugs by enforcement is ''an unobtainable objective.''One organizing principle for watching the four hours of ''Drug Wars'' is to heed Paul's mantra of ''politics.'' Viewed as the kind of epic narrative that ''Frontline'' tries to present, the drug war's ill-fated course seems to have been charted by a series of pivotal moments driven by political considerations.Nixon's early emphasis on drug treatment was superceded by his desire to run a law-and-order reelection campaign in 1972. Jimmy Carter endorsed the decriminalization of marijuana, but a vocal ''Parents Movement,'' united by fears of teenagers using pot, helped reorient his administration toward a get-tough policy. In Ronald Reagan's tenure, the war on drugs was undercut seriously by the war against communism. The 1986 overdose death of college basketball star (and Celtics draft pick) Len Bias triggered a political frenzy that led to everything from the arming of forest rangers to the toughest criminal sentences in history. (Not long after, a blustery Bill Bennett became the nation's drug czar and tried to make the issue a moral crusade.) And Clinton's desire for a deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement interfered with meaningful efforts to attack Mexico's drug industry.Trying to compress 30 years of collective public policy failure into four hours of television seems an invitation for some journalistic license in ''Drug Wars.'' In particular, the dramatic juxtaposition of the 1976 teen pot-smoking party that spawned the Parents Movement and the collapse of Carter's sensible ''public health'' approach to the problem feels a little too pat. The other unavoidable problem in trying to piece together an oral history from the drug kingpins, the pols, and the cops is that viewers can't be quite sure which of these parties might be taking greater liberties with the truth.But all that pales in light of the impressive breadth of ''Drug Wars,'' which manages to interview what seems like every crucial player in the business, including Jorge and Juan David Ochoa, leaders of the infamous Medellin cocaine cartel. In one understated but remarkable scene, an interviewer attempts to get a reluctant Juan David Ochoa to estimate how much money he's made in the business. Later, a smuggler named Steve provides a riveting, detailed explanation of exactly how you move three tons of cocaine from Colombia to California.''Drug Wars'' is at its best simply hammering home the folly of US policy, whether it be through footage of American servicemen in Vietnam using their weapons as marijuana pipes or by quoting cocaine runner Carlos Toro's mocking assessment that the ''DEA was just like the sun. ... We have to live with it, but we are not that afraid of it.''At the conclusion of ''Drug Wars,'' when Clinton drug czar retired Army General Barry McCaffrey trumpets progress and unleashes yet another US effort to attack cocaine production in Colombia, one cannot help but recall the famous warning to those who ignore the lessons of history.This story ran on page E1 of the Boston Globe on 10/9/2000. © Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company. 
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: