01/30/11 - Brendan Kiley

Brendan Kiley, reporter for The Stranger in Seattle - Drug War = Corruption, Violence and Doom + Makenzie Allen of LEAP has his question answered (in part) by President Obama

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Guest: 
Brendan Kiley
Organization: 
The Stranger
Download: Audio icon COL_013011.mp3
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Transcript

Century of Lies / January 30, 2011

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The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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Indeed, it is the Century of Lies. I am Dean Becker. Here in just a moment, we’ll have our guest, Mister Brendan Kiley.

I just wanted to, before we begin this, talk about the fact that Brendan has focused a lot of time, effort, energy and publications of his discoveries and the head – the bold heading on this piece that caught my attention, he’s been writing since then of course, but it is titled:

Corruption, Violence, and Doom, The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine, Part IV: Drug Prohibition, Human Suffering, and How One Act of Congress 100 Years Ago Set Us on a Global Road to Hell.

You’ve been hearing that from me now going on about ten years but he’s summed it up pretty darn good! Brendan, are you with us?

Brendan Kiley: Yes, sir. Hi!

Dean Becker: Hey, Brendan. Yeah, this is a great piece of work. It’s a – I was going to print the whole thing out and my printer ran out of ink, it is a huge piece.

Brendan Kiley: (Laughs)

Dean Becker: But what I’ve got here, you know, talks about here, you’re taking first off with a Seattle drug dealer who’s freebasing heroin and this particular guy says, “Yeah, maybe we should legalize it.” Another guy doing cocaine says, no, he doesn’t want his children to have access, as if they – they already don’t have access, but—

Brendan Kiley: Absolutely.

Dean Becker: It is a real conundrum, this “belief” system that holds the Drug War together, isn’t it?

Brendan Kiley: It certainly is. I mean, the whole thing, as I am sure your listeners are aware, not the whole thing but much of it gets accelerated in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Act that was passed by the US Congress.

Their goal, their stated goal, was to make life better for the citizens of the United States by keeping opiate products and coca products away from them. What has happed is the opposite of that. Obviously, we’ve created a huge black market drug industry, totally unregulated and where people business disputes with machetes and guns, instead of courts and lawyers.

It’s also a created enormous problems for other countries. Notably, Mexico is in the news these days, where the Drug War has destabilized the government and to – in a degree to which Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas could have probably have only dreamed about but the Drug War and US drug prohibition policy has really cause tens of thousands of deaths and really destabilized local, state and federal governments there.

Dean Becker: You know, you talk about early on in your piece that the Coast Guard used to be you know search and a rescue and they got involved in intercepting the drug trade and you quote one of the folks here, a customs, who saw all the money and all these toys that the Coast Guard was getting and wanted some too but they couldn’t even take care of their boats.

They were always broken and you talked about the fact that even with these major busts you hardly got the big players, you got the poor fisherman, poor Columbians, poor Hondurans and a few middle of the roaders, you know, I guess white folks smuggling three hundred pounds or something, right?

Brendan Kiley: Right. Right.

Dean Becker: I guess the question there is the numbers keep increasing. What is it 1.8 million drug arrests every year? And somehow they think that gives – well it does in Congress, give them credence that somehow they are doing a good job but the truth be told, the people that are making the billions and even the millions hardly ever get busted. They’re living lives of luxury in Bogotá and maybe even DC, right?

Brendan Kiley: Well, it’s true and even the people at the top of the chain, I mean, we’ve seen over the decade Pablo Escobar gets brought down. Does it end the cocaine trade? Of course, it doesn’t.

Everyone involved is ultimately replaceable, from the lowest level mules to the highest level drug kingpin. So clearly, the arrests and enforcement of prohibition has not stopped anyone’s access to drugs, hasn’t stopped the violence and it hasn’t helped the health and welfare people in the United States and the citizens in almost every country of the globe, who have been affected in some way by the black market drug trade.

Dean Becker: Yeah, yeah, just last week the US State Department issued another warning, as if people should not go to Mexico, as if they haven’t done that every two months for the last—

Brendan Kiley: (Laughs)

Dean Becker: Several years but it’s really a despite situation, I mean, the unemployment numbers are rising in Mexico.

Brendan Kiley: Uh huh.

Dean Becker: It’s luring younger and younger teens to join forces with the barbarous cartels. Law and order is a thing of the past in Mexico. There’s no prosecution of any crime these days. Your thoughts?

Brendan Kiley: Interestingly, drug probation maybe in its way is maybe increasing tourism to Mexico. With US Alcohol prohibition and the passage of the Volstead Act.

So, that gets passed in 1919. I’m looking at some data here only 14,130 American tourists formally to visas to visit Mexico. The next year, the year after prohibition sets in, thirty times as many tourists, that’s 418,000 compared to 14,000, went south of the border to drink to gamble and to go to brothels. Prohibition increases tourism and increases the level of violence and criminality into countries where people have easier access to drugs that they can’t get at home.

Dean Becker: Right and now with Mexico’s “decrim” status on possessing lower amounts and one thing that a lot of folks kind of take out of the picture that really belongs is that you can go to Mexico. Sometimes, you don’t even have to see a doctor but you can get all kinds of prescriptions that you would have a heck of a time getting in the US.

Brendan Kiley: Well, it’s true and again that reiterates that there are people I interviewed for these stories who, like former Police Chief Norm Stamper and other folks at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition that it said is, if we legalize and regulate the drug market it will give the US government for the first time in hundred years to exercise some level of control over the market.

At this point, they have abdicated all control over the market by insisting that it be a black market and have nothing to do with the legal mechanisms of United States other than arresting and prosecuting people who are involved with it.

Dean Becker: You know the complications, the blowback, the spinoff from this policy of drug prohibition is ever expanding and I want to play this little clip for you. It’s locally produced, just to show how keeps expanding.

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The following segment comes to us courtesy of KHOU Television, Houston:

News Announcer: They are pills and powders labeled as bath salts and other ordinary products. Users though, call it legal cocaine and it has led to several deaths. Now Texas law makers are trying to make it illegal. 11 News reporter Tiffany Craig joins us now. Tiffany, this is dangerous stuff.

Tiffany Craig: Sure, this dangerous stuff that you can easily buy at head shops and even convenience stores. We first told you about it earlier this month and soon Texas could join other states that have made it illegal.

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Dean Becker: Now Brandon, I hope you were able to hear that there talking about those “bath salts” that people snort and pretend it is cocaine or something else.

Brendan Kiley: Right.

Dean Becker: And the story even went further to talk about ta gentleman that had troubles with it and committed suicide.

Brendan Kiley: Uh huh.

Dean Becker: You know, not from the use of the product but just for getting caught with it or something. I’m not sure but they’re saying that’s reason to make this another Schedule I product, I suppose. The truth be told that you know, education would work a whole lot better and if I dare say, maybe real cocaine would work better than “bath salts,” you thoughts there, sir?

Brendan Kiley: I think it’s certainly true. I think your first point was education. I figure an analog in countries where they are more robust in their sex education programs, a lot of them in Northern Europe. You actual see the onset of sexual behavior and the onset of the loss of virginity comes later in the education system where there is more comprehensive sex education, instead of where there is more abstinence only sex education.

So, often times education but the fear is that the education will convince people to have sex or convenience to have drugs. Yet, there is demonstrated evidence that education can actually can retard the age at which people start having sexual relations or experimenting with drugs.

The other point is that it’s just like a balloon effect. You squeeze down in one place and it puffs up in another. There’s a story from just a couple of months ago in my home state, in Washington state, of a real crackdown of availability of prescription pills like hydrocodone and those kinds of opiates.

What is report as being a result of that is a higher use of heroin among high school students that don’t have access to these prescription pills that they used to use. So, by making one thing illegal you certainly do not eliminate people’s desire and ability to get a hold of other psychoactive substances.

Dean Becker: Alright, once again we’re speaking to Mister Brendan Kiley, based at The Stranger in Seattle. He’s a reporter for them. Okay, Brendan we first got together talking about the Levamisole, the dog deworming, cancer causing agent that’s in much of the cocaine.

We were taking about – I was talking about that maybe the cocaine would be better than the bath salts and the truth be told I don’t care how much money you’re paying, how connected you are, you never – no one had done cocaine, pure cocaine in the US here in the last hundred years because because it never reaches that 100% purity level and then they mix in the Levamisole. Tell us about what you found in that study.

Brendan Kiley: Well of course, there is powerful economic encentive to cut cocaine and other drugs when you have an unregulated market where there is no type of quality control.

So, Levamisole was discovered in 1966. It has been used and still is used to deworm, livestock, cattle, pigs, horses and that king of thing. In humans, it can cause a problem called Agranulocytosis, a catastrophic and sudden immune system crash.

There have been deaths and many hospitalizations across the United States from people who are getting deathly ill from something as simple as a pimple. These are cocaine users who have Levamisole in their systems and Levamisole and suddenly small cuts become life threating infections.

So, the question that started this whole series off is why are people cutting cocaine with Levamisole? It’s an odd cutting against for a couple of reasons. It’s more expensive than other common cutting agents, like four or manitol or whatever.

Two, it makes some of the customers very, very ill which you think would be bad for business.

Three, it’s being cut in – before it hits the United States and typically the smuggler like to ship a very pure product. Less, bulk less volume means less chance of detection.

Law enforcement was finding cocaine tainted with Levamisole in Columbia, in Bolivia and in Peru. The question is why are they using this expensive – relatively expensive cutting agent that is making people sick and cutting it “in country” where smuggler run a higher risk or detection?

After interviewing probably over a hundred people from drug dealers, drug manufactures, federal law enforcement, local law enforcement, epidemiologists, physicians, harm reduction people, people at think tanks in DC, all kinds of people who in some way intersect with the drug trade: nobody could explain.

So, that sort of gave birth to the whole series, trying to figure out what should seem like a fairly simple question and turned into one that was extremely complicated and really has to do with the Drug War itself and the economic incentive to put weird stuff in the drugs and the products that you selling.

Dean Becker: Brendon, we have just a couple of minutes left here and I wanted to talk about, you know, you close the piece and my printer didn’t get to last page.

Brendan Kiley: Sure.

Dean Becker: I think it said something like, “I think it is time to close this house of horrors.”

Brendan Kiley: Yes.

Dean Becker: As how you ended it. Let’s talk about why it is a house of horrors, more of the components that make it that way.

Brendan Kiley: Yeah, the article is again, saying the mystery of the tainted cocaine is just a speck in a giant monstrous mansion of the Drug War. It’s a giant monstrous mansion because it has been deleterious to almost every country in the world.

Again, you have a black market where people settle the disputes with violence instead of the law. You have a system that – drug prohibition actually makes drugs more dangerous because you create an economic incentive to cut your drugs because there is no quality control.

So, then you have in countries sometimes weaker governments or sometimes with better or higher unemployment or better climate conditions for producing drugs like Columbia, like Mexico. You can have a vast destabilization and a fast plague of violence that comes out of the black market. It is really all about the drugs begin on the black market instead of legal and regulated like other products that we have in the United States.

Dean Becker: Yeah, I think when you wrote this the member that was being used was 30,000+ dead in Mexico and I think it’s now growing to be more than 34,000. You talk about [in the article]:
“We will always have drug users, drug abusers, and drug producers—just like we'll always have casual drinkers, alcoholics, and distilleries. We cannot change that. What we can change is the level of violence and cruelty associated with the drug trade”
Dean Becker: That’s some very powerful words. I urge folks to check it out. Share your website with the listeners please, Brendan.
Brendan Kiley: Yes. It’s www.thestranger.com and you can find the whole series at www.thestranger.com\cocaine.
Dean Becker: Brendan, I am sure we’re going to have to continue this down the road there’s no way that I can cover that – I don’t have the last several pages so I can’t even ask you the questions.
Brendan Kiley: That’s okay. There is so much more to write and learn about this that I’m sure that we’ll have stuff to talk about in the future.
Dean Becker: Well, you bet we will. Once again folks, Mister Brendan Kiley. My hat’s off to you for some fine reporting, sir. We’ll be looking forward look forward to doing this again.
Brendan Kiley: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Dean Becker: Alright, sir.
Brendan Kiley: Bye.
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Dean Becker: Recently YouTube asked their participants to submit questions to the president following the State of the Union message. It turns out that 99 of the top 100 questions, dealt with the subject of drug policy.

The first among those first 100 questions was by a former Law Enforcement officer, a man now with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mister MacKenzie Allen. Here is his question:
MacKenzie Allen: Good evening, Mr. President. My name is MacKenzie Allen. I’m a retired law enforcement officer and member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).
The so-called “War on Drugs” has been waged for forty years at a cost of a trillion dollars and thousands of lives, with nothing to show for it but increased supplies, cheaper drugs, and a dramatic increase in violence associated with the underworld drug market.
Sir, do you think there will or should come a time for us to discuss the possibility of legalization, regulation, and control of all drugs, thereby doing away with the violent criminal market as well as with a major source of funding for international terrorism?
Thank you so much for your time, Mr. President.
Dean Becker: And here is Obama’s response to Mister MacKenzie Allen’s question.

President Barak Obama: Well, I think this is an entirely legitimate topic for debate. I am not in favor of legalization. I am a strong believer that we have to think more about drugs as a public health problem.

When you think about other damaging activities in our society – smoking, drunk driving, making sure you're wearing seat belts –

MacKenzie Allen: Um hum.

President Barak Obama: Typically, we've made huge strides over the last twenty or thirty years by changing people's attitudes. On drugs, I think that a lot of time we've been so focused on arrests, incarceration and interdiction that we don't spend much time thinking about ‘how we shrink demand’. This is something that within the White House. We are looking at very carefully.

MacKenzie Allen: Any ideas?

President Barak Obama: Well, some of this requires shifting resources, being strategic. Does it really make sense for us to focus on interdiction? We have to go after drug cartels that not only are selling drugs but also creating havoc, for example along the US-Mexican border.

MacKenzie Allen: Um hum.

President Barak Obama: But are there are ways that we can shrink demand. In some cities, for example, it may take six months for you to get into a drug treatment program.

MacKenzie Allen: Right.

President Barak Obama: Well, if you're trying to kick the habit and somebody says to you, “Well, come back in six months,” that's pretty discouraging.

MacKenzie Allen: Yeah.

President Barak Obama: So, we need to do more to see how many resources that we can put on that end of it and make sure that and we – and also need to look at what we're doing with non-violent first time drug offenders.

Are there ways we can make sure we're steering them in the straight and narrow without automatically

MacKenzie Allen: Right.

President Barak Obama: resorting to incarceration and drug course and thing like that. These are all issues worth exploring and are worth a serious debate.

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Dean Becker: And here to address the President’s response is the author of that original video, MacKenzie Allen.

MacKenzie now, you’ve had a chance to see or listen to the President’s response, what is your initial reaction?

MacKenzie Allen: Well first of all, let me say I was glad he chose to respond to the question. I was somewhat skeptical. I wasn’t keeping my hopes up because I realized this was a very difficult topic for someone in his position to address but I think it is critical that our government does in fact address it.

Clearly, it’s important to a large segment of the population. Let me say first of all because I’d like to be clear about this that neither I nor LEAP, as an organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, condones or supports or encourages the use and certainly not the abuse of drugs in any way shape or form. That is not our purpose and it is certainly not my purpose as a retired cop.

It’s simply that this country has been pursuing a policy regarding drugs for four decades or more that is clearly futile. It is a supposed war on drugs that is unwinnable and it’s just simply time for us to take a breath and look at other options and we believe that legalization, regulation and control of all drugs is the right path to pursue.

Dean Becker: Now within you question, you talked about forty years of truly mayhem that has ensued in this Drug War. He didn’t address any bit of that and he seemed to focus on the need to reduce demand.

MacKenzie Allen: I do agree with the President that this is in fact a health and education issue. You know, I’m old enough to remember growing on in the forties and fifties when doctors in white lab coats with stethoscopes around their necks were on TV hawking cigarettes. They were pitchmen for cigarettes.

Because of a massive public education campaign and every increasing restrictions on tobacco advertising, we have in fact reduced the use of tobacco in this country. I mean, sadly we still spend tax dollars supporting tobacco farmer thirty to forty years later, which to me is a big question.

So, I think the President is absolutely correct that it’s a health issue. It’s an education issue and we do need to do a lot more in that regard but I agree with you. He ignored the fact – he said we to need to some – we need to put a [unintelligible] on interdiction. I am paraphrasing now, but to basically go after the cartels. But that really begs the issue we will never get rid of the cartels when there is this kind of money to be made.

Can you imagine if all of a sudden tomorrow of next week, all the tobacco was illegal? Can you imagine the black market and the amount of money involved in that kind of a black market?

It’s bad enough they make billions of dollars as it is. Could you imagine if it were illegal? So, now instead of controlling it and knowing where the money is coming from and going to, now it’s going to the criminals. We saw it in prohibition in the twenties and thirties with alcohol, I mean, you don’t need a better lesson that that.

You can’t legislate what humans are going to ingest. You can try to educate you can make it as non-poisonous and non-damaging as possible. You know, human being have ben intoxicating themselves sine the first hominid picked up fermenting fruit and got high on the alcohol.

It’s not saying that its right and again, I want to emphasis we’re not condoning this. I might be the only guy in America who has not tried marijuana I haven’t even smoked a cigarette. I have no axe to grind in this particular thing other than as a cop and an American citizen.

We’re going about this and endangering people and people are being slaughtered and the drug cartels are becoming more and more ruthless. You are talking about a gargantuan amount of money. You are talking about a half trillion dollar market. You can buy sovereign governments for that and in many cases they do. Not to mention the fact that we are supporting international terrorism through the opium and heroin trade.

Dean Becker: MacKenzie, you and I and other speakers for LEAP, have sat down and cogitated on this for years and sometimes decades to form an opinion that is well, I won’t say contrary to that of elected officials but it begs the question:

Why are not these elected officials and people as smart as Obama not able to wrap their heads around the fact that it is the policy that creates the mayhem that ensures the overdose deaths and more street corner shootouts? Why cannot they see the fallacy in their current opinion?

MacKenzie Allen: You know, Dean, I’m not entirely sure they don’t and I think you’re absolutely correct to identify Obama’s intellect. I mean, as a far as I’m concerned in general he’s smarter than any twenty guys in the room, he’s an extraordinarily bright man.

I think he also, in fairness and I say this considering both sides, he has a reality that just need to live within. There are certain things that are going to be political expedient and other that will not that is where leadership comes in.

Again, trying and see it form his side, you’ve got to pick your battles. You can’t go to the wall for every issue that comes up. We of course, believe that this is a very serious issue and it is I mean look at our southern border.

We have a sovereign country in our southern border that is basically engaged in open warfare. It is in part spilling over and in part being supplied by our border space in guns. So, obviously I’m speaking about the violence that spills but he’s an entire nation at war on our border. I think that that’s important enough to make us examine this issue, even though you do have to pick your battles.

Dean Becker: Well in fairness, Obama did say it’s time to re-examine this policy, did he not?

MacKenzie Allen: He did and I don’t know if those were his exact words but I know what you’re referring to. He did make that allusion and I respect him for that I think he went as far as he probably could, given his political predicament. I don’t mean – I’m not talking now about reelection. I’m talking about the fact that he has a lot of people to please but getting back to the crux of this whole thing.

The example that comes into my mind and the I like to use is if tomorrow morning we outlawed French fries by lunch time there would be a black market in French fries. So, what do we do outlaw French fries or so we educate people why eating French fries soaked in trans fats are bad for their health and have some control in that regard.

Dean, we all have to understand that this is a very complex problem. This is a not a bumper sticker fix problem. There is no quick solution to this or easy solution everything is going to be fraught with difficulty, some foreseen, some unforeseen.

But my question is how many decades do we pursue a clearly failed policy? At what point to do you stop digging that particular hole?

Dean Becker: Yeah, alright friends we’ve been speaking with Mister MacKenzie Allen, former law enforcement officer and a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Their website: leap.cc.

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(Music)

How can you stop drug users from using?
How do you keep the sun from growing weed?
How can you end drug prohibition?
It makes the world go round.

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Let us celebrate day 340,346 of being led to salvation by our dear Drug Czars.

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(Marching band music)

It’s time to lock up Willie
Mayor Bloomberg, Tim Lincecom
It’s time to lock up Bill Gates
Obama, Gore, Clinton
Soon there’ll be a hundred million
Of us toking up in jail
Goodbye Constitution
Farewell freedom, oh so fair

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(Crime fighting music)

Prohibition’s filled the world with vice and crime
It’s left a trail of death, graft and slime
It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop
Everybody knows this but the cops
Prohibition don’t prohibit worth a dime.

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Dean Becker: Yup, prohibition don’t prohibit worth a dime. I think everybody’s getting that. Everybody is beginning to understand that and what we have to do is wake up to that reality and do something about that reality.

You know, those who know the truth and you know, fail to speak that truth, who dare not stand, you know, call this Drug War what it is a scam-sham flim-flam are part of the problem and that includes many of you my dear listeners.

You know the truth. I know it’s tough to speak up at work or school or in the community but the truth be told, I think the majority of people out there understand this truth and they might join forces with but it’s up to you to do your part.

As always, I remind you that there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this Drug War to exist. We have been duped! It’s possible the drug lords control both aspects of this.

Please, visit our website: endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco!

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For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker. Asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs, archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com