2012 in review with Leonard Pitts, Michelle Alexander, Rev. Edwin Sanders, Dudley Althus, Jamie Hauss, Jodie Emery, Martin Lee and Dean Becker
Century of Lies
Sunday, December 30, 2012
The New Jim Crow
Sun, 12/30/2012 - 01:47
Century of Lies / December 30, 2012
DEAN BECKER: 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.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this Century of Lies – the last edition of the year 2012 and for some of you the first edition on 2013.
To kick things off from the January 22nd Century of Lies we have syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts.
DEAN BECKER: You and I have had a couple discussions over the past few years. Most recently, I think it was Friday, here in Houston they printed one of your more recent columns. They titled it “Helping to spread the word about the new Jim Crow.”
You’ve had the chance to speak with the author of that book “The New Jim Crow”, Michelle Alexander, and she’s studied this right down to the nubs hasn’t she?
LEONARD PITTS: Yes she has.
DEAN BECKER: Tell us about this most recent column. What brought you to put it together?
LEONARD PITTS: I want people to read her book. I think that it would be impossible for most fair-minded people to read her book and come away without feeling that we need to do something about the Drug War. Having spent I believe the estimate now is one trillion dollars, 40 million arrests and seeing the drug use in this country go up 2800% over those years that maybe it’s time we try something new.
So I wrote a column offering to give away copies of her book I bought 50 of them, asked her to autograph them and I wrote a column telling my readers that we would have a drawing and we would give them away.
I wanted to do that 1 to put 50 books into people’s hands and 2 that I felt that by doing that (buying the books and giving them away) that it would impress upon people how important I feel it is that they read it even if they don’t win the drawing.
DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is that your example has led me to the point that now I’m going to buy a copy of it and give it to our District Attorney here in Harris County with the prevision that she come back and we talk about it with her opponents running for that position.
LEONARD PITTS: I think it needs to be read by every law enforcement official in this country and if I had a way that I knew I could get it into their hands for sure I’d give copies to President Obama and Attorney General Holder because I think they need to read it.
DEAN BECKER: And now from the February 5th Century of Lies we have the author of the book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness,” Michelle Alexander.
MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Yeah. When I first started writing this book I was dismayed that so many of our nation’s civil rights organizations were not making ending the War on Drugs a top priority given the devastating consequences of the war in poor communities of color. Not just by imprisoning millions of folks but by branding them criminals and felons and rendering them permanent second-class citizens – stripped of their right to vote, automatically kept from jury duty and legally discriminated against. Denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement.
What I’ve been so gratified by is that over the years since I began writing the book and since it’s been released many leading civil rights organizations including the NAACP are devoting more time, attention and resources to the issue. The NAACP did adopt a resolution condemning the drug war and putting the organization officially on record as opposing it.
There are signs that things are moving in the right direction but I fear that there is still not enough being done at a grassroots level to mobilize public opinion because politicians today across the political spectrum still are very reluctant to publically reconsider drug war policies. Until we galvanize real momentum and put a lot of political pressure on these folks I think that all we’ll get from them is kind of shifting rhetoric on these issues but more of the same.
DEAN BECKER: You know he’s not alone among the pundits. Several noted columnists around the country, heck around the world, have made mention of your book and the truths contained therein but one of the more recent write ups was from nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts. He offered 50 copies of your book to his readers to encourage them to share this same information, right?
MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Yes. I was so thrilled by that. I had no idea that he was planning to do that – offer free copies of the book to those who were willing to actually read it. That was his caveat that people had to agree to actually read the book and be willing to take it seriously enough to read it and hopefully do something about the problems that are described therein.
I think one of the reasons that the book has created some shockwaves in many communities is because the data is just so jaw dropping. There are more African-American adults under correctional control today (in prison or jail, on probation or parole) than there were enslaved in 1850 - a decade before the Civil War began.
The stunning increase in black incarceration in the United States can’t be explained simply by crime or crime rates. It’s due in large part to a war that has been declared on poor communities of color – a war on drugs. A war that despite studies consistently showing for decades that people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites this war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color resulting in some states where 80 to 90% of all drug offenders sent to prison have been one race – African-American.
When we see the data and see how flimsy these excuses and rationale for the war have been over the years and the trillion dollars that have been invested in this war – dollars that could have been invested in education or job creation in the communities that needed it most – it leads one to wonder why in the world we would have chosen this path. Unfortunately we’ve chosen it because we’ve abandoned many of the ideals that we claimed to embrace. Mainly that we are actually on the same path that Dr. King and so many racial justice advocates were traveling a few decades ago. I think we’ve made a dramatic U-turn and the War on Drugs is a major part of that detour.
DEAN BECKER: Next up from the March 11 th Century of Lies show we have the Reverend Edwin Sanders.
By the way this was recorded at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University which archives all of my radio shows.
EDWIN SANDERS: Michelle Alexander has become such a vital voice in this movement that I think we are going to spend some more time talking about today and hopefully not just “we’ll talk about” but we’ll find this experience being one that will translate into a new level of activism in all of our parts.
There are a few things I want to say very quickly about what I’ve been doing in this regard over some time. There is an organization called Religious Leaders For a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy. A number of years ago we were blessed to have Howard Moody who was one of the pioneers in this area – who actually developed this organization called Religious Leaders For a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy.
What Howard Moody did was he actually effectively went into the theological faith in this country and was able to get a number of the leading voices in the United States to become a part of this whole agenda of trying to develop a new perspective for our clergy persons in the United States and beyond. One of the things is if you look at the organization as a…and I was blessed that Howard at some point decided to hand it over to Ed Sanders.
It was interesting to me because he had put together this phenomenal group of people who were a part of, I think, the foundation of helping us with theological perspective talk about this issue. One of the things I realized when I inherited what Howard had done was that Howard got all the superstars. He had all the people who were distinguished professors. He had all the people who served the major congregations. I always tell people, “My good friend Will Campbell says there are three kinds of churches. He says there are high steeple churches, there are low steeple churches and no steeple churches.”
Howard got all the high steeple churches and he had people whose names you would easily recognize but yet there was a way in which we realized as we began to go forward with this movement that, indeed, to be effective in this work there was a way in which we had to begin to make sure that there were people in the low steeple churches and the no steeple churches or the lower low-steeple churches to be able to hear and understand how important it was for us to be engaged in this movement.
DEAN BECKER: Next up from the April 15th Century of Lies we have Dudley Althaus with us, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, his beat – the drug war.
DEAN BECKER: Dudley Althaus, had an article published today with the title, “Legalize Drugs? Obama administration flatly says no.”
Why is he saying no, Dudley?
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Their contention is it’s not going to solve the problem. It’s not going to do anything to resolve the issues of rule of law and violence in the Americas. There’s a growing number of Latin American leaders that would disagree with that.
DEAN BECKER: There’s another story breaking today that in Guinea Bissau the military is overthrowing the government and it’s also reported that the military there is in charge of the import of 1,000 to 2,000 kilos of cocaine per day which will then be shipped to Europe. Your response to that, sir.
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Western Africa has been a major problem for the past decade actually with a lot of cocaine coming out of South America and leaping through western Africa and then into Europe to feed the growing European consumption of cocaine.
I think you have a number of small countries over there that have become narco-states, if you will.
DEAN BECKER: I think that same scenario is what is compelling these Latin American leaders to bring this subject to the fore out of fear that this may happen to their countries as well. What do you think?
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Yeah I think absolutely. That’s part of the problem. One of the main proponents of decriminalizing drugs right now, the most vocal proponents is the newly emplaced President of Guatemala, Perez, who is basically a very conservative former general who, in the past, has been accused of human rights violations in that country’s civil war.
He just took over the presidency and he sees that this is a real problem. It is a real threat to the state. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, of course, have had major problems with street gangs, the Zetas there for quite a few years. Now that Zetas have teamed up in Guatemala, especially with the Zetas and other Mexican gangs, this has become a major threat to these very fragile democracies of the region.
DEAN BECKER: There was a comment that the situation in Mexico is turning into the graveyard for America’s drug habit. Your response, sir.
DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Into the graveyard of America’s drug habit in that the gangs and a lot of this violence is being financed by U.S. consumption. I don’t say that’s probably true although, you know, consumption inside Mexico has grown quite a bit in the recent years…in the past 4,5 or 6 years.
A lot of the violence in some of these cities is actually over local drug markets. So, yeah, I think that that’s definitely in the past the U.S. consumption and the Mexican leaders will tell you, you know, will complain that U.S. consumption is the main factor behind all of this but it’s gotten more complicated than that in recent years.
DEAN BECKER: Here in just a moment we are going to bring you a segment from May 27 th featuring one of my band of brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Jamie Haas but first this:
[screams of terror amongst rattling chains and then, the dreaded slice of the guillotine]
“It’s time… to Face… the Inquisition.”
This is the Abolitionist’s Moment
Today, I want to read a quote from retired judge Dennis Challeen about sending the addicted to prison.
“We want them to have self-worth, so we destroy their self-worth. We want them to be responsible, so we take away all responsibility. We want them to be positive and constructive, so we degrade them and make them useless. We want them to be trustworthy, so we put them where there is no trust. We want them to be non-violent, so we put them where violence is all around them. We want them to be kind and loving people, so we subject them to hatred and cruelty. We want them to quit being the tough guy, so we put them where the tough guy is respected. We want them to quit hanging around losers, so we put all the losers in the state under one roof. We want them to quit exploiting us, so we put them where they exploit each other. We want them to take control of their lives’ own problems and quit being a parasite on society, so we make them totally dependent on us.”
The violin solo by Drug Truth Network guest, Professor Arthur Benavie, author of “Drugs, America’s Holy War.”
DEAN BECKER: Make them totally dependent on us, on our morals, on our good prison morals.
Alright friends we do have with us Mr. Jaime Haas, a man with a great deal of law enforcement experience. We’ll have him tell us about it. Hey, Jaime.
JAIME HASS: Hi Dean. Appreciate you having me on here.
DEAN BECKER: Well, no, no…glad to have you with us. Some of your writings in Huffington Post and Alternate caught my attention. You are with my band of brothers, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Tell the folks a little bit about your law enforcement experience.
JAIME HASS: I started with the federal government in 2002 with the U.S. [inaudible] Service. That agency was pretty much absolved in 2003 when the huge Department of Homeland Security was created. At that time I went to a uniformed position as a Customs and Border Protection officer in Charleston, South Carolina which is basically a sea port. You know, check in and inspect a lot of containers.
From there I became a criminal investigator special agent out of Baltimore (BRICE) and I spent about 5 months on the border in Laredo, Texas in 2009. I resigned in 2011 to try to get involved in the drug reform movement because I see what’s happening south of the border because of our horrific drug policies. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
DEAN BECKER: Well that’s sufficient, certainly. Now, the fact of the matter is, Jaime, your piece in the Huffington Post, “Drug Lords Demise Has Only Led to More Havoc in Mexico.” They talk about how they took out the big boss and everything is going to be OK. It doesn’t make a bit of difference does it?
JAIME HASS: Not at all. If anything it makes it worse.
I was in Laredo when Alturo Biltran, the drug lord who that article is about, he’s one of the kingpins in that whole south Texas corridor when I was there. Coincidentally they took him out, he was killed – a pretty big operation – as soon as I got back to Washington, D.C.
Ever since that happened there’s nothing but chaos. The Zetas and the Sinaloa cartels are duking it out for territory yet taking out the high-level leaders doesn’t do anything. It makes it worse because we all know that kids over there that’s what they aspire to be and there’s not much other opportunity. So it just reeks havoc, you know, taking out the leaders
DEAN BECKER: Well, at the heart of it there’s so little opportunity. Commerce is dying in much of Mexico in “mom and pop grocery store” whatever because of all the extortion, the lack of tourism and the fear, the violence has just driven the economy down into a hole, right?
JAIME HASS: Yeah, it sure has. And that’s one of the things that I argue the most. You remember LEAP as we advocate for ending all prohibition and I’m for that too but I specifically think cannabis is so important by itself because anybody can grow that on any patch of land in Mexico. They’ve been doing it forever. You know, a patch of ground and an AK-47 and you’re a smuggler.
They’re all fighting and competing over cocaine and crystal meth. A lot of these drugs the usage is on the decline so that’s why I think marijuana is such a big issue. I think that substance alone has drawn so many people in Mexico into smuggling and drug running in the first place.
DEAN BECKER: The next segment was recorded July 22nd. It features Jodie Emery, the wife of Marc Emery, the man who was sentenced to prison and is still in a U.S. prison for selling marijuana seeds to Americans from his desk in Vancouver, British Columbia.
DEAN BECKER: Please, Jodie, tell us about your husband. Where is Marc now?
JODIE EMERY: Right now he’s in a medium security federal prison in Yazoo City, Mississippi. That’s where he’s been since April of last year. He spent some time in the GEO Group private prison facility in Georgia prior to that and Seattle, Nevada as well.
DEAN BECKER: Seattle, Nevada…The fact of the matter is you live in Vancouver. This is quite a distance for you to travel, isn’t it?
JODIE EMERY: Oh, absolutely and Marc is a Canadian citizen as am I and Marc never went to the United States when he sold seeds at all. So the fact that he was able to be indicted on conspiracy charges within the United States for activities he carried out in Canada and then extradited to the United States and imprisoned for a 5-year plea deal when he was faced with 30 years to life – yeah, it is a great injustice.
If anybody wants to know what the story of this is you can go to http://freemarc.ca and that’s Marc with a ‘c’ or by googling him. He blogs from prison and I do weekly video updates where I let people know how he’s doing.
You’ll see that his latest blog at http://freemarc.ca and the front page of http://cannabisculture.com shows that we just received documents from the Drug Enforcement Administration admitting that millions of dollars went to drug reform activities and that’s where all the money went. You can read that blog right now online and you can see yourself how the DEA admits Marc did send money to political campaigns and activists around the world.
We knew that from the day of Marc’s arrest in 2005 when the DEA press release – which is also found on the front page of http://freemarc.ca, showed that it was not even about seeds. Seeds were never even mentioned. It was all about how Marc was the leader of a legalization movement and financed the marijuana movement with millions of dollars. So Marc did a lot that we couldn’t even cover even if we had an hour but if people want to find out more about who he is if they don’t know just read the Wikipedia entry. Google the name Marc Emery and you’ll find some fascinating information.
DEAN BECKER: You know, the fact of the matter is I am a recipient of Marc’s largess, of his commitment to change. The fact of the matter is back in ’05 I think it was things were not going well for me. I talked with Marc about I wonder if I can get internet access under the bridge and he sent me I think it was 5 perhaps more thousands of dollars to keep the Drug Truth Network rolling.
I’m not ashamed of that. I have often wondered if the feds here would come after me for having received that money but they’ve never said a word. But the fact of the matter is he has helped people all over this world.
DEAN BECKER: Next up from the September 30th Century of Lies show we have Martin Lee. He’s the author of “Smoke Signals: The social history of marijuana – medical, recreational and scientific.”
MARTIN LEE: Well, it is a social history of marijuana meaning it’s a character driven history which focuses on individuals. It talks about how the plant first came over to the Americas which was really through the slave trade. Seeds were brought over by African slaves to the Western hemisphere. How it worked its way up through the South America to North America. What happened to make it become illegal and how, most importantly, citizens banded together, starting in the 1960s, to oppose the prohibition of marijuana.
That movement that started in the 1960s has branched out and many fold ways and is now a mass movement today still fighting that same battle. Hopefully we’re at a threshold and something is about to change.
DEAN BECKER: I would think you’re right. It’s like how much snow can the mountain side hold before the avalanche happens? There just a whole lot of snow sitting on the mountain side waiting to go somewhere. Don’t you think?
MARTIN LEE: Yeah. It could happen all of the sudden, very quickly. Yes, given what we know about the history of prohibition and the history of marijuana in the United States, it might take a lot longer.
I’m reminded of what happened in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union when the Berlin Wall came all of the sudden tumbling down. When I was growing up the Berlin Wall seemed like a fixture. It just seemed like a given. It would never change. All of the sudden, practically overnight, such dramatic changes.
I think it could happen that way for marijuana prohibition in the United States and as the United States goes on issues so goes the world.
DEAN BECKER: Well, it is our drug war. I mean let’s face it. We may be able to join in just like the cartels pay people to join in their efforts.
DEAN BECKER: To close out the show here’s a segment I recorded at the Lone Star College in Kingwood, Texas. They invited me to come out as a LEAP speaker and I tore the drug war a new one. This is from November 4th.
DEAN BECKER: You know who controls the drug war, who desires an eternal drug war? It’s the police unions. It’s the private prisons. It’s the alcohol producers. It’s big pharma. It’s the prison guard unions. It’s the government agencies. It’s the treatment providers. It’s the testing facilities. It’s the military suppliers as police like to garb up like they’re soldiers. It’s the drug traffickers. Let’s don’t forget the bankers either.
There is a long list of people with money and authority who help to maintain this. It is my hope that you guys – you look like an astute group, you look like you understand this – maybe you’ll go across the street over there, you’ll go see Ted Poe. You’ll bend his ear every damn week because Ted knows the truth. Every politician knows this truth that I’m sharing with you. They know the vast majority of it and yet they’re afraid to act. They’re afraid to speak up because they made their bones by being tough on drugs.
They have to respect the position they hold whether it be DA, police chief, whatever job they have and those who came before them who wore the badge or held the title. They’ve got to stand up for their party – Democrats or Republican – because that’s how they all made their bones.
It’s going to be difficult to back down from this stance taken so they cling to this hysteria and propaganda like it was their baby, their heart, their life because in many ways it is. Many of these people’s reputation will be destroyed once this truth is fully revealed or acknowledged.
Becoming a pot smoking athlete. What’s his name here…
AUDIENCE: Michael Phelps
DEAN BECKER: Michael Phelps, Santonio Holmes was a MVP or Super Bowl MVP…but these people who excel despite smoking weed disprove the logic, the rationale, the laws against weed.
Here’s what you really need to know. This is all you need to know. We’ve spent 12 trillion dollars importing drugs into this country, going into the coffers of the Taliban and al Qaeda, Shorty Guzman and all of the cartels, 30,000 U.S. violent gangs which reap the biggest part of the profits. The gangs make about 100 billion dollars per year. But, since Nixon we’ve spent more than 1 and one-half trillion dollars trying to stop the flow of drugs and you see on that chart the money rises, the rate of addiction remains almost constant at one and one-half percent. It has been that way since the Civil War.
It is a pipe dream. It has no basis in reality.
DEAN BECKER: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Abolitionist Moment.
Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it.
It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop. We like it.
It’s left a trail of graft and slime. It don’t prohibit worth a dime.
It’s filled our land with vice and crime…nevertheless, we’re for it.
Franklin Adams, 1931
Through a willing or silent embrace of drug war we are ensuring more death, disease, crime and addiction.
Some have prospered from a policy of drug prohibition and dare not allow their stance taken to be examined in a new light.
But, for the rest, ignorance and superstition will eventually be forgiven.
What Houston has done, in the name of drug war, will never be forgotten.
Please visit http://endprohibition.org Do it for the children.
DEAN BECKER: So, as always, I remind you there is no justification for this drug war. Prohibido istac evilesco!
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.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org