CULTURAL BAGGAGE 9/07/04

Hosted by Dean Becker

Engineered by Steve Nolin

Transcript by Kelly Findley

War OF Terror, War on Drugs

 (Intro)

 My name is Dean Becker; Steve Nolin is our engineer.   We invite you to join us as we examine the unvarnished truth about the drug war.  This week as we approach the third anniversary of the debacle of September 11th.  We値l take a look at the war of terror and the war on drugs and their interaction and their symbiotic nature.  Among the guests you値l hear today are Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, you値l hear from John Connors US Representative.  We値l hear from Canadian Barrister, Eugene Oscapella about the war on terror.  We値l her from Cele Castillo a former DEA agent and author of 撤owder Burns We値l here from Al Giordano from South America and narconews.com.  And well hear from judge James P. Gray whose now running for a US senate seat in California. But first up lets hear from the senior editor of Reason Magazine Mr. Nick Gillespie.

Becker: 鄭s we approach this anniversary of September 11th I see many parallels between the war on drugs and the war on terror and I知 wondering if you see much the same

Gillespie: 填h, yeah there are a couple different ways that these things intersect but just let me just point to two.  One is that the war on drugs and the war on terror are both what I call structuring events in American life in that they end up becoming background to every thing that we do in society in ways that are similar to the cold war.  Were for instance the drug war is built into grammar school curriculum, it痴 built into video games, were we use to have at the end of video games a message would come out and say real winners don稚 use drugs.  And almost every moment and ever aspect of American life   some there is a moment were people stop and deliver some kind of anti drug message. Something similar is going on with the war on terror where it like a kind of tamped down or junior varsity version of the cold war has become a structuring event where everything we do whether we池e talking about a going to a football game or taking an airplane ride or leaving the country, you, you have to pay attention to the war on terror. So in that way I think there are some similarities, in a more concrete way one of the ways in which these have intersected is that a number of drug warriors, people who have been in high governmental positions in terms of fight the drug war, have shifted into the homeland security apparatus and for instance Asa Hutchinson the former head of the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, is now under secretary for boarder and transportation security within the department of homeland security and another ex DEA chief Robert Bonner is commissioner of the bureau of customs and boarder protection there and John Kerry, the democratic candidate for president, has already told us that he wants Rand Buors to become his homeland security advisor, Buors is a drug warrior who was involved in both the Clinton and the Bush administration. (3:35)

Becker: Well that brings us full cycle to the original reason I called you, there is an article in Reason magazine, 典his is Kerry on Drugs and it speaks about Rand Buors and Kerry痴 history in supporting of further war in Columbia.  And so forth.

Gillespie: That痴 right. Well you know you shouldn稚, I mean this is one of, if you care about the drug issue, if you care about drug legalization, if you care about fairness towards people who use drugs and medical marijuana and things like that, this election is particularly frustrating because you don稚 have, between the major parties you don稚 have a clear choice of the person who will be better about the drug war than the other and this also goes back to the Clinton administration.  The Clinton administration was as bad as the first Bush administration on the drug war. And in many ways the George W. Bush痴 administration is merely following up on a number policies that have been put into place by the Clinton administration including domestically going after medical marijuana, clubs were they have been made legal through state law.  John Ashcroft is doing nothing that Janet Reno didn稚 do when he痴 threatened cannabis clubs. And then Internationally in terms of foreign policy the Clinton administration put into play play in Columbia, which was a crop eradication and coca reduction program that has had very little effects on other than to really hurt subsistence farmers and the Bush administration has perceived that as well and Rand Beers, who has again been named as Kerry as his advisor of homeland security, was one of the architects of that plan. 

Becker:  The other day I read that John Edwards is suggesting to double the investment in the anti drug campaign in Afghanistan from 120 to 240 million dollars as one of their solutions.

Gillespie: Right.

Becker: And I知 wondering if that isn稚 an indication that they just don稚 see the full picture yet, that they池e actually funding the terrorist by increasing the prices.

Gillespie: Yea that痴 right, I mean one of the things that is particularly frustrating about foreign policy when it deals with the drug war is that there痴 a sense of somehow by doubling down or tripling down on the amount of prohibition that you will some how break the back of international drug traffic where as in fact all you do by making it more difficult, in order to grow or trade drugs, is that you make it more profitable for the black market which increases the violence and increases the degradation that goes along with any illicit trade, weather your talking about illicit trade in spices or in drugs. And there is absolutely no recognition of that fact on the Kerry team.  And of course we致e had four years of the Bush administration to show that they are not interested in that either.

Becker: Nick if there is one thought that you would like to relay to my listeners about this situation, what might that be?

Gillespie: Well it痴 extremely frustrating in the current political climate among major parties there are virtually no voices that actually, first make the case that people should be allowed to ingest what materials they want and then live with the responsibilities for those choices, but there is nobody saying that. And even if you don稚 believe that, if you believe in cost benefit analysis of public policy there is nobody out there making the common since case that the war on drugs both in it痴 domestic and foreign versions is absolutely destructive of everything that it seeks to make better it increases crime, it increases violence, is increases addiction, or more importantly perhaps not that it increases addiction, but it increases the difficulty in seeking treatment if you have a substance abuse problem. So it痴 a complete failure and yet there seems to be very little interest among the major parties in addressing this issue which again has become a structuring event of our time so that we you can稚 even watch a kids tv show with out getting some kind of BS drug war propaganda involved in it.

Becker: nowhere is the symbiotic nature of the war on drugs and the war on terror more obvious than in Afghanistan and here with our weekly Poppygate report is Glen Greenway.

(INTRO) Poppygate: bizarre news about the US policy on controlling heroin, featuring Glen Greenway. 

Greenway:  In June president Bush called Afghanistan the first victory in the war on terror.  The LA Times reported last week that 200 thousand acres of opium were cultivated in US occupied Afghanistan last year, approximately the size of New York City. Drug experts believe terrorist groups earn money from the US/Afghan opium crop and channel 120 million dollars a year to Islamist groups in Uzbekistan and Chechnya.  Chechen terror attacks in Russia have claimed the more than 400 victims during the last 2 weeks alone including at least 150 children. Radio Free Europe, Reuters, and the Baltimore Conical have all recently reported on the growing problem of child abduction in US occupied Afghanistan.  Children from all over the country are being kidnapped and taken abroad for sexual servitude, slave labor and illicit organ donation.  Columnist Jane Stillwater puts it this way Since the American take over Afghanistan the major crops there are now opium, human organs, and children.  As always this is Glen Greenway reporting for the drug truth network.

Becker: Paper ballots, electronic voting machines will it make any difference in this coming elections.  Let ask Al Giordano.

Giordano: What people in Latin America are all wondering is well will Bush try to steal the next election too, and if he does try to steal it, what will the response of the American people be?  Will they take it lying down like they did in 2000 like Al Gore and the Democratic Party did in 2000 or will they stand up and fight the Libyan and Latin American style pro-democracy tactics and strategies to win back your democracy.

Becker: Okay we heard from south of the boarder, now lets here from Canada and Eugene Oscapella a Canadian Barrister who presented a report on terrorism to the Canadian Senate.

Oscapella:  I guess the big points and something we can稚 forget is that terrorist need money and they get money through the drug trade, but the reason the drug trade is so profitable is because we persist with this whole issue of prohibition.  The drug trade would not be financing terrorist if it weren稚 for prohibition.  That痴 a very important point that we sometimes risk losing in the debate about drugs and terrorism.  It痴 not drugs that finance terrorism.  It痴 drugs under a system of prohibition; our governments have decided to prohibit drugs.  When you prohibit them it creates a very lucrative black market and that is what is financing the terrorist.  So ultimately we致e got to move away from prohibition if we want to seriously get rid of some of the financing that is helping terrorist groups around the world.  Now on the whole issue of the similarities between the war on drugs and the war on terror, if you look at both of them the standard governmental response has been to go after drugs and to go after terrorism through police action or military action.  In other words using violence to combat these things.  We rarely ask why people use drugs; instead what we do is we punish them.  We use the might of the law, the might of law enforcement or criminal justice system to go after these people and we are doing exactly the same thing with terrorism.  In a lot of cases we池e not asking ultimate the question that we need to ask if we want to protect our selves ultimately from further terrorist acts and that痴 why do people commit terrorist acts.  Ultimately at some point we have to ask and at some point you need use force obviously in the immediate aftermath of an act like that, but at some point you also have to ask, just as we need to ask about drugs, why do people use drugs, we need to ask why do people get mad at us, why do people want to kill us. Because unless we ask that we are not going to solve anything.  So it痴 a failing to look at some of the underlying causes, I think, that hurts us on both these accounts.  In both cases what we are seeing now with the war on drugs and the war on terror is use of extraordinary police powers, you know, new powers of search and seizure and new intrusions on the privacy, that probably aren稚 going to do that much good at the end of the day.  Again there is going to be room for debate on this, because obviously people are all very concerned about this issue.  Intruding on peoples privacy, you know, more search warrants, more backing of people at boarders, doesn稚 necessarily, that痴 not going to stop people from getting in because you just need one chink in the armor for somebody to slip through and that will happen.  Ultimately we have to go back just as we have to with drugs and start asking why people want to target us.

Becker: You talked on the ability of government to intrude on our rights there have been many instances already where people of Muslim descent were pick up on pretty thin evidence and have now been set lose after many months in prison.

Oscapella: and a lot of trauma

Becker: Yes, and this parallels a lot of the times that people spend in prison awaiting a trial for drug sentencing when, for example, the Dallas sheet rock scandal, It was a total fraud and your thoughts in that regard.

Oscapella: Well unfortunately when we cast the net to widely we hurt a lot of people. That痴 what we致e done with the war on drugs and we致e villiafied drug users and we致e demonized them.  We致e demonized the whole sort of drugmilia and this whole anybody whose associated with it.  Even just the fact that they are arrested is bad enough; they are tarred and feathered in the public eye.  And the same thing is happening with the war on terrorism, as soon as someone is picked up then, they, of course, we don稚 think about innocence at that point, we think about guilt.  We think they must have done something or they wouldn稚 have been picked-up.  And unfortunately often we are targeting people who are completely innocent.  And it痴 one of the problems just as we致e had over kill with the war on drugs, were having over kill with the war on terrorism.

 The wars of eternity must be kept alive at any cost the war of terror is the war on drugs with afterburners.  Untrustworthy snitches lead to chemical weapons and eternal wars causing endless and needless hardship disease and death.  The government attack on the evil ones, mostly people of color, reported to posses these weapons of mass destruction, which threaten our very society.  Freedoms supposedly fought for are eroded, denied and held in obience till that magical day when all druggies, terrorist, and evil ones are dead.  And no one will ever again use drugs or make a chemical compound not approved by the president.  Then we will once again ring the bell of liberty for all.

 It痴 time to play name that drug by it痴 side affects.

            Chest pain, fever, gastrula ineristitus, rectal hemorrhaging, vaginal hemorrhaging, ulcerated stoma Titus, pancraitus, pneumonia, amnesia, decreased libido, neuropath, deafness, Thrombotrsitepedea, paralyses and slow death.

Times up!

You should have gotten this one it痴 the worlds number one selling drug to cut down on cholesterol: Lipitor

Another FDA approved product.

 Head of the congressional black caucus, US representative John Conniers

Conyers: The point is that if we really stand any of these constitutional phrases that ring across this country and down through history.  We have to bring some moral high ground and some integrity to the table.  We can稚 keep talking the talk and not walking the walk.  And of course more and more people are realizing that around the world. If there are a half a dozen nations in the family of nations on the planet, that would take President Bush痴 word at anything.  I would sure like to know who they are.

Becker:  The man who has been selected to do the most in this battle against terror is the new designate to head up the CIA, Mr. Porter Gaust.  Is he qualified, well lets ask him.

Gaust:  I couldn稚 get a job with the CIA today I知 not qualified.  I don稚 have the cultural background probably, and certainly don稚 have the technical skills, so.  The things that you need to have.  I don稚 have

Becker:  So is there a direct tie between the war on drugs and the war of terror.  Lets ask US Representative Henry Hyde.  Here testifying before a US congressional committee on terror

Hyde: DEA had received multi source information that Bin Laden has suspected involvement in the financing and facilitation of heroin trafficking activities.  According the United Nations office of drugs and crime: opium production accounts for over 50% of Afghanistan痴 gross domestic product.  Generating an estimated 2 billion dollars annually in economic activity.  The Afghan government believes that 30% of families are involved in some form of opium cultivation and production. 

Becker:  Doesn稚 that give you just a warm and fuzzy feeling?  Erik Sterling president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation sees thing just a little bit differently.

I spoke to you recently about the fact that I see many parallels between the mechanisms of the war on drugs and the war of terror and one that I find especially egregious is the situation of snitches.  Untrustworthy snitches like Mr. Shalaby who led us into the Iraqi war.

Sterling: There are very big differences regarding informants in criminal cases who are trying to avoid mandatory minimum sentences and may and lie and implicate others.  That kind of snitching is a result of the way the war on drugs is being fought.  The use of intelligence sources, or you can call them informants is critical to the war on terror and must be encouraged.  There is always the challenge of making sure that your sources are dependable.  There is the challenge analyzing what you hear to know what the motives of your informants are.  Major, major problem in espionage is counter espionage.  It is counter intelligence where there is a deliberate effort to spread miss information to intelligence agencies.  To try to draw parallels between intelligence gathering that is necessary to find terrorists who have perpetrated heinous acts or who are planning others is completely different than the way in which snitches operate in the criminal justice system.  I don稚 think there痴 a comparison.

Becker: All right, well fair enough.  Do you see any direct parallels between the two wars of eternity.

Sterling: One has to distinguish between the drimaostibal danger that terrorists create practically every day.  I mean you can look at the situation in Russia as we speak.  You can look at the situation in Israel you can see bombing attacks in Indonesia or in Morocco, in Argentina, in France, as well as the United States.  Terrorists are a real threat.  Drug users are not a real threat.  War on drugs is a political construct and a cultural construct.  It is completely different.  The war on drugs because of its cultural power has been used as a place to experiment, or seek special law enforcement techniques.  And the emotional power is now attached to our war against terrorism as a result of 9-11.  It meant that members of congress and government agency are willing to exceed the constitutional traditions and restrictions in new approaches to try an apprehend terrorists.  That痴, I think, the extent of the parallel.  You know one of the questions, obviously, is to what extent is there a connection between terrorist and the illicit trafficking drugs.  Are terrorists financing themselves through drug sales.  And it is of course hypothesized that this is some new phenomenon, so very new danger.  When I was in Peru more than 20 years ago.  I Sindero Luminoso, The shining path gorillas, were financing themselves through taxes on the coca growers.  Just as today the FARC in Columbia and the right wing paramilitary CAUC financed themselves taxing coca growing.  Prohibition gives opportunities to raise money and terrorists need money.  But it looks like most of the evidence is that terrorists get their money from kidnapping, from other kinds of fraud.  Even from cigarette highjacking.  After 9-11 most of the reports showed that the Al- Queda terrorist got their money from a whole variety of crimes none of which was drug trafficking.

Becker: the one thing that still concerns me, I appreciate this discussion but it seems to me at times that this is just another means of creating a pork barrel that much of this work is unneeded and just an unnecessary expense to the taxes payers.

Sterling: Dean, I agree, there痴 no question that lots of what痴 being done in the name of homeland security is pork barrel or war profiteering if you want to call it that.  Lots of pointless expenditures are being made by government agencies and there are numerous business lining up eagerly to become contractors to do one pointless thing or another.  And that is not unlike what happened, you know, during the hay day of the war on drugs in the 1980-90痴.  Where people eagerly sought to make a profit off the war on drugs.  There is a similarity, which is that, the over the top thinking that we saw regaurding the war on drugs.  Anything is justified if it will save one child from becoming a drug addict.  It痴 the same kind of anything is justified if it will stop one terrorist without sort of having a real since of what is the real, cost what is the real benefit.  We don稚 have an infinite number of resources we can sort of dedicate to this.  We have to do it intelligently.  And there is a way in which there is a panic, like the war on drugs, that sort of influences how decisions are being made.

Becker: US representative Dan Burton

Burton: I don稚 think that Al Capone would have been the mince to society that he was if he couldn稚 sell alcohol on the black market and he did and we had a horrible, horrible crime problem.  Now the people who are producing drugs over in southeast Asia and in Columbia and everyplace else.  They don稚 do it because they like to do it; they do it because they are making money.  And the problem in my opinion is that at some point we have to look at the overall picture.

Becker: So do we have the proper people in place to look at the big picture to manage this war of terror?  Lets ask Judge James P. Gray who is currently running for a senate seat in the state of California,

Gray:  Our present attorney general, the leader of the department of justice, John Ashcroft, is one of the most dangerous people in our country today.  What he is doing with regard to the constitution should cause concern, deep concern for everyone in the United States of America. 

Becker:  For those listening in California you can learn more by visiting ajudgejimgray.com

 (Music) There痴 a lot of flag burners who have got to much freedom, and want to make it legal for policemen to beat them. Because there痴 limits to our liberties at least I hope and pray that they池e aren稚 cause those liberal freaks go to far.

 Becker:  Best I can tell our choices this year for president are between a rock and a hard place.  Here to talk about that it former DEA agent and author of 撤owder Burns Cele Castillo

I have postulated this thought that many of the mechanisms of the war on drugs are the same in the war on terror, your thoughts please.

Castillo:  Absolutely, our government has recently accused anybody who now smokes marijuana supports terrorism.  And in fact, we have never really have a war on drugs, never will.  We have more drugs today than did 15 years ago and yet we spend billions of dollars to force country like Lima and Peru and we can稚 even make a dent and recently our drug war czar stated that we are not making any progress in Columbia.  We池e losing our civil liberties and real to the war on drugs and the war on terrorism is war against civil liberties and we are losing that everyday that we continue with this follies and the facts of the Iran contra investigation in the early 87痴 is very well known to be the cover up of the republicans.  So it痴 a farce it痴 going to get worse before it gets better, if it gets better.

 For more than 172 years one organization has been responsible for educating more US presidential candidates than any other.  Skull and Bones.  Purveyors of fine opium products since 1832.

 First rule of skull and bones, there is no scull and bones.  Both candidates running for president this year are members.  Eight major corporations on Wall Street are owned primarily by members of scull and bones.  Oil companies controlled by scull and bones includes standard oil trust, shell oil, Creole petroleum and Pennzoil.  Scull and bones members in the current Bush administration. William H. Donaldson, Robert McCally Jr., Rex Cordrew, Edwerd McNaily, James Bousberg, Evan Galvibreth, George Herbert Walker the 3rd, US ambassador to hungry, James McGregor, Victor Ash, Roy Austin, David Wiseman.  What seems to be clear is that this secret organization has its little hands in everything from Wall Street to the white house.  And this year it will win the election, regardless of what candidate we chose.  Many of these US politicians are much scarier than any terrorist.  Now as always I remind you, because of drug prohibition, you don稚 know what痴 in that bag.  Be careful.

 For the drug truth network and on behalf of my technical producer Steve Nolin, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage the unvarnished truth.  This show is produced at the Pacifica studious of KPFT, Houston. 

 (Music) Tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.