Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief re Wash state effort to legalize weed, Charles Minn producer "8 Murders a Day" movie & NY Post columnist Benny Avni
Century of Lies
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Wed, 03/09/2011 - 09:39
Century of Lies / March 06, 2011
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.
Alright, this is Dean Becker. You are listing to the Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network. I think we’ve got another great show lined up for you. A bit later we’re going to hear from Mister Charles Minn, who has produced a new movie, Eight Deaths per Day, about the situation in Ciudad Juarez. Understand that since that time they were doing the movie the number has actually gone up.
But first we have with us the former Police Chief of Seattle, a great spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mister Norm Stamper. How are you doing, sir? Norm?
Norm Stamper: Hello, good to be with you again.
Dean Becker: I missed the first of that. Good to have you with us sir. Norm, there’s so much going on in the Drug War it’s almost impossible, well, it is impossible to put it in an hour’s worth of shows each week. It’s really – the information flow is booming. The awareness is really escalating, isn’t it?
Norm Stamper: It is. I can remember as recently as just a few years ago people asking me at the end of my talks and so forth if the drug war is so demonstrably evil to ineffective, why isn’t really that more people don’t know about it? Why isn’t that we have not seen the kind of change that is needed?
I think that was has happened just very recently is that our – the drum beat of our message is educated and organized and mobilized and clearly that is happening.
Dean Becker: There’s, well in many states around this country, there’s an ongoing battle for recognition, of rights to use marijuana, medical marijuana or destruction of those rights in a couple of states, as well.
Now, your home state of Washington is no different. There’s been a series of exchanges there on the pages of the Seattle Times dealing with the Drug War and you had a recent one, Time for a Real Shift in US Drug Policy. Do you want to share that one with us, sir?
Norm Stamper: I would be happy and proud to do that. I think it’s possible that our state, here in northwestern part of the country, could become the epicenter of real change in American drug law.
We had a couple of initiatives in support of legalization of marijuana, for example, but just this past week the Seattle Times, a major US daily, up until a year ago opposed the legalization of marijuana, came out and supported it. In a very strong, very well argued statement the kind of statement that you can hardly walk away from or refute, if you happen to be on the other side of this issue.
The legislature is currently taking up a legalization piece of legislation that would in fact make marijuana available in a regulated and controlled fashion in the state’s liquor stores. Unlike the California initiative of last year, this particular piece of legislation has a very fine regulatory feature built into it. So, it’s certainly has got a chance of success.
Dean Becker: Now I’m looking also at the Orange County Register, Pot Legislation Effort Returns and there they reference our good friend, another member of our band of brothers Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Judge… oh, why am I drawing a blank here?
Norm Stamper: Jim Gray.
Dean Becker: That’s right Jim Gray. Thank you.
Norm Stamper: My pleasure.
Dean Becker: And he pretty much echoes or parallels what you’re saying that it is time to just reexamine the policy, right?
Norm Stamper: It is. Judge Gray has been as a Jurist in the state of California, courageous and outspoken and very well informed. He has written a couple of books and he is certainly listened to.
Now, Orange County is an interesting governmental jurisdiction. It’s clearly to the right of center politically, which actually in many respects makes it fertile ground for those who embrace state’s rights and individual freedom. So, it’s reasonable to assume that we’ll see a lot of activity in California. I’d be surprised if we don’t see another initiative in 2012 and I’d be even more surprised if that initiative is on the ballot, if it does not succeed this time around.
Dean Becker: Once again, we’re speaking with Mister Norm Stamper, former Police Chief of Seattle. Norm, here in a little bit were going to bring in another guest. I’m going to do something that I rarely do. But I want you and Mister Charles Minn, who’s produced a movie about eight deaths per day in Cuidad Juarez and I want to delve into that aspect of this here in just a moment. First off, I want to say this, that Gil Kerlikowske, did he replace you or was he there before you as Seattle Police Chief?
Norm Stamper: He was my successor.
Dean Becker: Your successor.
Norm Stamper: I was the Chief from 1994-2000 and he became the Chief, I think, in 2000 or 2001.
Dean Becker: Now, Kerlikowske our Drug Czar got wind of these editorials and op-eds that were in the Washington – Seattle Times, it is.
Norm Stamper: Yes.
Dean Becker: And he was sent on a mission to strengthen them out. He came last weekend, I heard it was a rather mellow meeting with not too much, you know, yelling and haranguing but the Seattle Times indicated that, you know, he seemed like a nice guy and they didn’t really much care what he had to say.
The stature, if you will, of these of what we call the “drug warriors” in the past, I like to call the “drug war addicts now,” I think it’s a much better phrase. Their stature and the people’s bowing down to their pronouncements is really fading down fast too, isn’t it?
Norm Stamper: I think it is fading fast. I think people are like Gil, for whom I have a lot of respect, are bleeding credibility. Gil for example, has said that marijuana has no medical value. He has said that it should remain a Schedule I drug.
He has said that marijuana is dangerous and when you make statements like that it— essentially unqualified statements certainly not based on science, you lose credibility and that is exactly what has been happening, especially in this last week.
Dean Becker: Yeah. Well you know, I just got chastised by Doctor Stanton Peele for saying alcohol’s dangerous. (Laughs)
Norm Stamper: Alcohol is dangerous. Cars are dangerous.
Dean Becker: Yeah.
Norm Stamper: Sex can be dangerous. Opiates can be dangerous.
Dean Becker: (Laughs)
Norm Stamper: I think it is important and I don’t mean to belittle critics, particularly recovering alcoholics, like yourself or I’m making that assumption.
Dean Becker: No you’re right on. You’re right on.
Norm Stamper: You mentioned that twenty six years ago your mouth had tasted alcohol for the last time.
Dean Becker: Yeah.
Norm Stamper: We certainly know of the inherent risks that are associated with behaviors and with the kinds of things that we ingest, inject and inhale and it’s just really vital, I think, that people recognize that the science that is so desperately needed in formulating public policy.
So, as long as we know that alcohol or pot or any other drug has the potential for abuse, has the potential to risk lives, then we create policies that take into account, which is why a regulated system of legalization is so terribly important.
Dean Becker: Yeah, I’ll tell you what, Norm, do hang with us here in just a moment. We’re going to come back and Charles Minn, the movie producer, is going to join in the conversation but first were going to play this little slice from the movie, Eight Deaths per Day.
Speaker: This is a human rights disaster. This is a war on the Mexican people waged by the Mexican government, I believe. What’s happening now is a kind of extermination of the poor in Mexico. I think it’s being caused by a lot of factors, not just an organized crime organizations but a kind of social disorientation that causes children to murder each other.
Charles Bowden: What’s going on in Juarez, is a war on the poor that’s created the most violent city in the world. And the war on the poor is being waged by the United States government and the Mexican government and their various agents.
Speaker: And it’s more of a disaster because it’s misunderstood misreport it is misreported. It’s misreported the Mexican press because they cannot bear to say what it actually is.
It is misreported in the US and the international press because they refuse to actually look at what’s going on in Mexico. They repeat almost like a mantra almost like a repetition of a nursery rhyme, this war and the fact that Felipe Calderón is a hero that he is bravely fighting drug cartels. None of this is true.
Dean Becker: Alright, once again that was a slice from a new movie its being released as we speak. Eight Deaths Per Day. It’s produced by Mister Charles Minn, are you there, sir?
Charles Minn: Yeah. It’s actually called 8 Murders a Day.
Dean Becker: 8 murder—thank, Thank you.
Charles Minn: Yeah.
Dean Becker: Didn’t bring my notes with me, 8 Murders a Day. Yeah, Charles, tell us about how this movie came about and where it was produced.
Charles Minn: Well, I directed a movie called A Nightmare in Los Cruses, which is about the worse crime in New Mexico history and a matter of fact is the forth coldest case in the United States. It was picked up by a Lionescape and going to be released in May.
Los Cruses is only forty five minutes from the El Paso/Juarez border and while I was making A Nightmare in Los Cruses, I was researching the violence in Juarez, to this day is unexplainable. It’s a very bizarre situation, a tragedy and the greatest human rights disaster in the world, in my opinion, where you have eight murders a day.
Basically, what’s happening in a nutshell is there eight dead Mexican people laying on the street every day with a hole in their head and there are no arrests, no investigations, no faces in the paper to shame the killers and this is happening day in and day out and nothing is being done about it. I literally summed up to you, what’s going on in Juarez Mexico, in about thirty seconds there. That’s exactly what it is.
Dean Becker: Yeah, and it just keeps escalating. What was it? Five years ago Calderón went into office and almost immediately declared this war, this escalation of the war, correct?
Charles Minn: Yeah, ten days into his term December, 11 2006 is when he declared war on the drug cartels. He had won a very close vote over López Obrador, a very controversial vote, I might add. He took the – he took office and then ten days later he declared war on the cartels and at the time it was applauded but now this strategy has obviously backfired it’s been misplanned and misplaced. At this point, I think a lot of his people are opposed to his policy.
Dean Becker: Yeah and it’s just 35,000 dead, the drug flow has not stopped. Charles Minn, We have with us, Mister Norm Stamper, former Police Chief of Seattle. Norm, we got cut off for a minute, I don’t know how much you got to hear. Charles was talking about the situation in Mexico that’s not getting any better. Your thoughts on whats going on in Mexico.
Norm Stamper: Well, I think that anybody with a head and a heart has got to be devastated by what’s been happening in that country, aided and embedded, if not actually lead by this country. I was able to hear, if you can hear a clip, yes I was able to hear that and it is at the top of my must see movie list, I’ll tell you.
Dean Becker: Yeah yeah for me too. Now Charles, you intend to circulate that around the southwest first, am I right?
Charles Minn: Yeah, well, it’s playing right now in Phoenix. It’s planning in Tuscan and we are going to be adding theatres very, very soon. Again, the name of the documentary is 8 Murders a Day. The website is 8murdersaday.com.
It was playing in El Paso and every show just about sold out there. So, I’m going to bring it back to El Paso this Friday, it looks like in the Plaza Theatre downtown. It has also played in Los Cruses and Denning and I’ll be adding the AMC in Phoenix this Friday.
It’s also playing in another theater in Pheonix, as we speak there in Tempe Arizona by Arizona State. It’s also playing at Harkens in Tucson and it’s also going to be playing at Indo Dallas this Friday at the Oasis Theater. So, slowly but surely this is movie is going to fins as many people as possible. This is the most serious, overlooked crisis in the world right now.
Dean Becker: The murder capital of the world.
Charles Minn: Yes, Juarez officially is. It’s worse that Bagdad. It’s worse than Afghanistan and this is US’s problem too. Don’t think for a second that this is Mexico’s problem. We’re supplying all the weapons and the all the cash to Mexico for the drugs
Dean Becker: Now, I want to read here from, I think it’s today’s Washington Post, perhaps yesterday. President Calderón came to the US, Washington DC, to visit with President Obama. Quoting here from the Washington Post:
Calderon says: “Either prosecute or ‘have the honesty’ to legalize.’ But what you cannot do is have this incoherent policy, because it causes terrible damage." I want to get your response first, Norm Stamper.
Norm Stamper: Well, we have, as I think as you mentioned in your earlier show, we have any number of Latin American government leaders past and present how have called into question prohibition as the organizing mechanism behind drug policy and have reckoned that it simply cannot work.
If we want to see those death toll numbers continue to rise, we’ll stay with our existing policy. If we want to turn that around, we will end prohibition and create a legalized, regulatory model, which is forty years over sure
Dean Becker: Yeah, President Nixon declared it almost forty years ago from this date.
Norm Stamper: Right.
Dean Becker: And again, reaching to Charles Minn your thoughts on Calderón’s thought that, you know, “have the honesty to legalize but at least not have this incoherent policy.”
Charles Minn: Do you mean legalize drugs?
Dean Becker: Yeah. Well, you know that’s a debate that’s going on a long time. I speak to a lot of college classes and every time I ask for a show of hands whether legal— drugs should be legalized, it’s always split. It’s always 50/50.
I’ve kind of gone back and forth on that just lately, only because nothing else has worked. Initially, I was vehemently against it. I don’t think drugs should be legalized but because of this problem of the violence that just won’t go away, I’m more open to it now than ever before.
Dean Becker: Well, that’s good news. That’s progress at least. You know, Norm and I are speakers for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and it is our, not contention, it is our very firm belief that the only way to destroy these cartels, to stop the madness, the killings and to in essence gain fiscal responsibility again, is to just keep trying to overcome the law of supply and demand. Go ahead, Charles.
Charles Minn: Well, I think legalizing drugs, again like I said, that’s been such a hot debate. On the flipside, you could look at maybe coming down a lot harder on the users, on the Americans who – I mean, it’s no secret that we’re the leading consumer of illegal drugs, that huger for drugs is intolerable,
It’s immeasurable how much drugs the United States uses. Any time that a person in the United States uses a drug, just remember that could be in exchange for an innocent dead Mexican person laying in the street with a hole in their head.
Dean Becker: No look, you’re absolutely right in that aspect of it but it is the mindset, it is the irrational belief system of what the ones that I call the “drug war addicts” those in the positions of power; the congressman, the judges, the district attorneys who believe it possible to overcome the law of supply and demand that they can force mankind to follow their moral strictures. Norm Stamper, your thought.
Norm Stamper: Well, of course Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has been against prohibition and has that name in its title because we understand that alcohol prohibition in this county, from 1920 to 1933, was a dismal failure. It led to unprecedented levels of violence. It created Al Capone, for gosh sakes, and not until we came to our senses and repealed prohibition did we actually see a reduction in the crime, the violence and the obscene untaxed laundered profits of that era’s drug dealers.
So, we have a wonderful model. It’s almost as if a close to perfect as we could possibly find, when we want to compare a drug and alcohol prohibition, of course, I view alcohol as a drug but that was the one that we experimented with for thirteen years. It was a failed experiment and we now have an imperfect system but we don’t have shooting one another, killing one another over a legal product.
Dean Becker: I look at it this way that it is the rebelliousness of it, the illegality of it that certain leads to be more available to our children and that perhaps entices adults use up their supply, to get rid of the evidence, to perhaps abuse it more than they might otherwise, if it were legal. Your response Mister Charles Minn.
Charles Minn: Well, I mean, again we’re – I’ve talked about this ad nauseum but just with so many people but I think you know legalization is drugs is something that, you know, if I had to tell you right now what I think, I would have to say I’m against it.
I don’t just don’t know if this is going to solve the real problem of Mexico. People say this is a Drug War but I believe this is a war on people. I do think there is something else here and I can’t quite measure exactly what that is because due to the lack of investigation, when you have 310,011 murders in a city just of 1.2 million and there is not investigation on just about all crime, it’s hard to gage on whether this is really a war on drugs.
Dean Becker: Okay.
Charles Minn: There’s another topic here, it’s not, if you legalize drugs, that sounds easy. Will the violence go away? Well, I personally don’t think it will.
Dean Becker: No, it will diminish and over time it will diminish even futher because those tens of millions, billions dollars in profits won’t continue flowing the pockets of Mister Shorty Guzman.
We’ve got another little slice from your movie, 8 Murders a Day. We’ll listen to that and we’ll come right back with Mister Charles Minn and former Police Chief of Seattle, Norm Stamper.
Charles Minn: Another victim was shot in the house next door. He lived in El Paso and Juarez on the weekends. A loved one also too afraid too show his face on camera, tells me, “Jesus dedicated his life to his family.
In fact, he volunteered to coach his son and a handful of shooting victims. They all suited up for the same baseball team, The Sultans. Coaches, players, fathers, sons, daughters, all victims of the ongoing violence in Juarez.”
Dean Becker: Alright Charles, respond to that little clip there, would you?
Charles Minn: Well, that was a clip in the beginning of the film about a year ago, January 31st 2010, to be precise, in the soccer parks section of Juarez. Fifteen students were gunned down in a party, in a birthday party that they were having and gunmen came up in three trucks and started shooting up the entire house. As it turned out, it was the wrong house and to no one’s surprise there’s been no arrest made in that.
So, that’s in the beginning of the film. I put that in the beginning if the film to kind of set the tone for 2010, which was a terrible year in Juarez. It was a record breaking year of over 3,100 deaths with led to the title of the film, 8 Murders a Day.
Right after that they built a soccer field as a far as a social program to symbolize peace. they built a soccer field because of that mass shooting at the birthday party that killed fifteen people and believe it or not, about a month ago the soccer field was the site of another tragedy.
They shot seven people in a soccer field, including two teenage girls that were spectators. So, now the gun using the social program locations as the site of another shooting and a tragedy and I think that’s just the gunmen poking fun at the Mexican government and Felipe Calderón, to tell them that, “Listen, we’re going to win this war. You’re not.”
Dean Becker: Yeah, that’s right they’re not going to give up as long as those profits are there. I’ll tell you what. We’ve got less than a minute to give you chance, Charles to point folks towards your website of your movie, 8 Murders a Day.
Charles Minn: Yeah the movie is – the documentary is called 8 Murders a Day. It’s about the violence in Juarez, Mexico. Again, it’s the greatest human rights dister in the world today where eight people are dying every day and nothing’s being done about it. Two babies have been murdered recently, a two month old baby was decapitated.
Dean Becker: Hm.
Charles Minn: If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will. The website is 8mudersaday.com.
Dean Becker: Alright, Charles Minn, thank you so much for being with us. Now Norm, it’s good to have a little disagreement once and a while and apparently we’re still on opposite sides of the fence from Mister Minn but I think if he delves a little further into this and perhaps join us calling in calling for the end of this prohibition. Norm, any closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Charles Minn: Well, just this one thought. I’m certainly going to go to Mister Minn’s website. I will certainly be seeing that movie. I can’t wait to see it but i would also encourage him to come to our website: copssaylegalizedrugs[.org] and also recognize that if students, for example, are saying we’ve got a 50/05 split support or opposition to the legalization issue. After they hear a typical LEAP speech that number typically goes from 50/50 to 80/20 in support of legalization and that’s helping to create what Dean is talking about, an understanding of the economics, as well as the morality on this issue.
Dean Becker: Alright, Norm Stamper, thank you so much. We’ll be in touch soon, my friend.
Norm Stamper: I look forward to it.
(Upbeat Latin music)
He once won a debate with the Drug Czar with a single word: recognize
When quizzed about the use of clandestine methodry,
He has a strong opinion: Hm, uh.
He is the most interesting man in the world.
I don’t always do drugs but when I do, I prefer marijuana
Stay informed my friends.
Dean Becker: Last week, on the pages of the New York Post, journalist Benny Avni published a column, which basically called for the end of the Drug War. Benny you close out your— that piece I was talking about you’re saying, “The ultimate take on legalization that would lower profits and take violence out of the drug trade.”
It seems to me that too many politicians have this dream of ending drug use, drug addiction and yet they pay no attention to the tens of thousands of deaths down there in Mexico. Your thought there sir?
Benny Avni: We pretty much farmed out this war. Basically, the way the people in Mexico see it and perhaps rightly so, as they are fighting our war for us, while they’re paying the ultimate price.
The US is paying a lot of money for this. We just apparently we’re very close on an agreement of adding allocated the last $90 million of the Merida Initiative, which is $1.8 billion. We’re paying a lot of money for this but the ultimate price, which is blood, is paid by Mexicans. Ever since the president of México launched the war on drugs, there have been 35,000 deaths.
Let’s say that, as president says, that most of them are people who are part of the drug trade and therefor supposedly deserve to die but even if 5% or 10% of these do not, by the time Calderón gets out of office, we’ll probably be like around 50,000 deaths. Mexico lots a lot of people in this Drug War. Some of them are innocent and therefore the numbers are so staggering that you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth it and especially it being fought, in a way that gives us very little chance of winning.
Dean Becker: President Calderón has come to the United States to visit with President Obama and he was quote recently as saying that the US should either “prosecute or have the honesty to legalize.” But what he talking about is, “What you cannot do is to have this incoherent policy, because it causes terrible damage.” Your thought sir?
I totally agree with but I – one of the problems is that we have to be realistic. I don’t think the US and by the way Mexico either is politically in the situation where people will legalize. That’s on of he problems is that we don’t legalize. Whether I want it or you want it or we all like it, it’s all up in the air.
Basically, the political landscape, so far, is not conducive to that. So, whether there will be legalization one day that will be fine but right now there’s no legalization and that is part of the problem.
The question is if the us really wants to fight this war it needs to allocate much more resources than we do currently and the reality is we are not going to. It could be that the best way to handle this is to basically declare victory and forget about it.
Dean Becker: Indeed. Declare victory and forget about it. Once again, that was Benny Avni of the New York Post. Alright, friends as always I remind you there is no truth, justice, logic, no scientific fact, medical reason, no reason for this Drug War to exist.
Please visit our website: endprohibition.org.
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.
Drug Truth Network programs, archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.
Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com