06/19/11 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

LEAP Conference on 40 years of drug war, with Neill Franklin, Director, Terry Nelson, Eric Sterling, Leigh Maddox + Drug War Facts w/Mary Jane Borden

Audio file

Cultural Baggage / June 19, 2011


RICHARD NIXON: I am glad that in this administration we have increased the amount of money for handling the problem of dangerous drugs seven-fold. It will be 600 million dollars this year. More money will be needed in the future.

I want to say, however, that despite our budget problems, to the extent money can help in meeting the problem of dangerous drugs, it will be available. This is one area where we cannot have budget cuts because we must wage what I have called total war against public enemy number one in the United States – the problem of dangerous drugs.



LINDY: It’s a no-knock raid.
Don’t be afraid.
We’ll shoot your dogs in front of your kids ‘cuz we are the SWAT.

We’re here for your pot
and all the cash that you’ve got.
We are adrenaline junkies taking orders from the top.

(music continues)

DEAN BECKER: The song, “No Knock Raid” by Lindy. This is the 40th year of Nixon’s Drug War and the cartels, banks, big pharma, Budweiser and the prison guard’s unions are filled with glee that you are filled with fear.

LINDY: The KGB and the DEA will make you disappear like in Guantanamo Bay
In the middle of the night, you’ll have nothing to say
If we get the wrong address it doesn’t matter anyway

We’ll still get our checks We’ll still have our fun
Yeah, we are the SWAT. We are adrenaline junkies ‘til the drugs are all gone

It’s a no knock raid.
Don’t be afraid
Paramilitary police state operate

It’s a no knock raid.
Don’t be afraid.
You do the time for your victimless crime.

And it’s a no knock raid.

It’s a no knock raid
Don’t be afraid.

VICTIM (in background): You killed my dog?! You killed my fucking dog?! OH MY GOD!!


DEAN BECKER: Oh my God, indeed. 40 years of drug war and what have we wrought? What benefit have we derived? Well, that’s been the subject here for years – now, hasn’t it?!

This is Dean Becker and you’re listening to Cultural Baggage on Drug Truth Network. This week we are going to listen to some experts about this drug war. Where it’s been. Where it’s going and where it ought to go.

Let’s start with an OPED from a former President, Jimmy Carter. It was in the New York Times. The OPED was titled, “Call Off The Global Drug War.”

“IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade.  …

The commission's facts and arguments are persuasive.  It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment "with models of legal regulation of drugs ...  that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens." For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won't turn to the United States for advice.  Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations.  At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million.  There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe.  Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole -- more than 3 percent of all American adults!”

President Carter closed out his OPED with this thought,

“…make drug policies more humane and more effective, the American government should support and enact the reforms laid out by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. “

The day before the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s declaration of the world’s first eternal war, my band of brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition held a conference regarding the release of their own report about the need to end the drug war. It’s available on their website, leap.cc.


NEILL FRANKLIN: This is Neill Franklin, Executive Director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. It’s been four decades, 40 years since, in 1971, June 17th that Richard Milhous Nixon officially launched the War on Drugs.

In our organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, known as LEAP, which is an organization of crime fighters, judges, prosecutors, corrections’ officials, federal agents and police officers who have spent their careers on the frontlines of the war on drugs.

We have done an analysis of these four decades of this failed policy, compiled a report and that report was delivered at noon today to the Office of National Drug Control Policy - to the assistant of that director, Gil Kerlikowske

We will open it up with Terry Nelson.

TERRY NELSON: I’m Terry Nelson, retired GS-14 air/marine group supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security. I spent 32 years in the Drug War and the last 13-14 years of it in Central and South America working transit zones. I have experience in Colombia, Peru, Venzuela and Equador as well as (?) countries in Central America and Mexico. Puerto Rico and the entire Carribean basin was my area of expertise.

I came to the conclusion that we are never going to win this fighting the way it is. We need to change our policy if we are to make any progress.

NEILL FRANKLIN: We would like to now move to Norm Stamper.

NORM STAMPER: I was a police officer for 34 years; the first 28 in San Diego, the last 6 (from ’94 to 2000) as Seattle’s Police Chief. And, like Terry, at a point in my career, in fact it was quite early, I had an epiphany and came to the appreciation that police officers could be doing better things with their time and that we were, in fact, causing more harm than good in executing this drug war.

So, my position, reinforced by association and contact with LEAP members throughout the country, has been that we need to end prohibition which is the organizing mechanism behind the drug war. Replace that system which is guaranteed to produce violence and tragically, at least with the respect to my own institution, corruption as well. And replace prohibition with a regulatory model which is what I support and strongly champion.

NEILL FRANKLIN: And now we are going to move to Eric Sterling. And, Eric, go ahead and introduce yourself and give your synopsis.

ERIC STERLING: This is Eric Sterling. I am former counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime. For 9 years I was a Captain in the War on Drugs helping congress oversee federal drug policy and writing infamously harsh drug laws of the 1980s.

After looking professionally at War on Drugs for over 30 years what I am most struck by is that the term that President Nixon introduced, the War on Drugs, undermined our ability to think creatively about how to address the drug problem.

We are locked in a paradigm from the metaphor he used, “War on Drugs” and it means that partisan political conflict has disabled our national vertical leadership from being constructive in solving what is such a serious problem.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Next we have Sean Dunagan.

SEAN DUNAGAN: My name is Sean Dunagan. I was an analyst with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for 13 years. I just left DEA earlier this year. In that time I worked in Guatemala City for a few years and, most recently, in Monterey, Mexico(?).

And, over the course of those 13 years, it became increasingly apparent that our prohibitionist model has only served to make the problem worse by turning a multi-billion dollar industry over to, you know, armed, violent, trans-national criminal organizations.

Particularly with regards to Mexico, as we’ve seen, we have built in such a tremendous profit motive to the trade in illegal drugs that we are now funding a de facto civil war throughout Mexico which has claimed more than 15,000 lives last year.

So, I certainly agree with the conclusions we’ve came to in this report. After 40 years of the drug war, and approaching the problem as a war, it’s just demonstrably failed and it’s really time to take a look at some policy alternatives that will address the problems of addiction without destroying our society the way the Drug War has done.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Next we will have Leigh Maddox. Leigh, you can go ahead and introduce yourself, please.

LEIGH MADDOX: Thank you, Neill. Hi. My name is Leigh Maddox. I’m a retired Captain with Maryland State Police and currently a Supervising Attorney with the University of Maryland, School of Law and Special Assistant State’s Attorney. I also serve as a board member and speaker of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

My journey to my current position of endorsing the report that we generated and delivered today came over a series of many, many, many years and seeing many, many, many friends killed in the line of duty as a result of gun involvement in our failed drug policies.

I served and help to found the Maryland Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors and I had a stretch where I worked very closely with surviving families and co-workers of police officers killed in the line of duty. I have come to the conclusion that the violence that is being directed both at our law enforcement community and at our general communities all across our country is an abomination and something that needs to change.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Leigh, thank you very much. Again, I am Neill Franklin, the current Executive Director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, retired Major of the Maryland State Police, former Major with Baltimore Police Department and also a member of a third agency. I resigned from law enforcement one year ago to take over the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

What I have seen from my position on the frontlines and what has gotten me to this position of wanting to end prohibition of drugs in this country after spending so much time in narcotics enforcement and criminal enforcement and spending so many years on those frontlines…What moved me from that position to where I am now was the death of a very close friend, a former narcotics agent with the Maryland State Police. His name was Ed Toatley and that was back in October of 2000.

It made me pause for a moment and see just how damaging, how these policies affected the lives of people. Because not only did I see deaths of police officers and started paying attention to them but I also started to see the violence within our communities that led to the many deaths of innocent civilians within our communities.

And I know of many personally in the Baltimore area and when you multiply that by the 200-plus cities, communities and major urban areas across this country, the numbers add up very quickly.

It’s not just in the United States but it’s also an international issue as well. And the time has come to for us to end the most disastrous public policy since slavery because the prison industrial complex is also a main issue. Here as we are, again, 5% of the world’s population here in the United States but, here in this land of the free, we have 25% of the world’s prisoners and most of those prisoners are black and brown people.

It’s time for a new policy. It’s time to get rid of the current policy and build a new policy from the ground up and that means an end to prohibition – regulation, any control, legalization.

So, if you have copies of our report that was prepared for today, that we delivered to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I recommend strongly that you read it completely from cover to cover. I can assure you that you will be moved to where we are at this point with drastic need to change our policy – to end prohibition – to end the War on Drugs.


DEAN BECKER: At this point Neill opened the conference to questions from reporters. The first question came from our good friend, Phil Smith, with the Drug War Chronicle.


PHIL SMITH: I’m looking back at alcohol prohibition and I saw a diminution in organized crime but not a complete elimination of organized crime at the end of alcohol prohibition. What, realistically, can we expect in terms of reducing organized crime if we were to end drug prohibition?

NORM STAMPER: I think you’re absolutely right, Phil. You’ve got a situation in which greedy and evil people are making an awful lot of money. They are not just going to go away. And my response to that is that if we were to end prohibition today then we would direct the full might of American’s law enforcement agencies in the tracking of these individuals. They ought not be allowed to escape accountability for what they have done - the violence that they’ve perpetrated, the enormous sums of money that they’ve sucked out of neighborhoods and communities.

But they are not going to just go away and I think law enforcement has a responsibility to go after them. Having said that, much as was the case when we repealed alcohol prohibition, we will see a major reduction in the amount of violence, by definition, the amount of violence that’s been associated with prohibition.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Terry Nelson will take that too.

TERRY NELSON: The crime and violence cannot be solved, cannot be mitigated and reduced until drug gangs and cartels are out of the mix. The corruption of governments in Central and South America will not cease as long as there are obscene profits from the prohibition of drugs flowing into the pockets of the cartel members. They are already investing huge amounts of the illegally gained wealth into shopping malls and commercial centers in Mexico.

So, given the opportunity, I believe that most of them would be willing to give up a life of crime and hiding out in the shadows and worrying about ‘they’re going to die the next day’ and run their legal enterprises very similar to what the ones in the United States did at the end of alcohol prohibition.

ERIC STERLING: Neill, this is Eric Sterling, can I make a response please?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yes, please.

ERICE STERLING: I think that the question about what the crime problem is going to look like at the end of prohibition is a very important one. And it points out that those of us who are arguing for the end of prohibition are not making empty promises such as a ‘Drug Free America” and we’re not proposing thoughtless approaches such as “Zero Tolerance.”

The post-prohibition environment is going to involve control and regulation of the distribution and use of drugs and that’s going to require enforcement as every legal industry requires enforcement against those who break the rules - whether it’s security industry, the banking industry, the practice of medicine or dentistry or anything else.

What we can say, I think fairly confidently, is that the concealment of money, the enormous power that criminal organizations have will diminish. But those organizations are not going to simply walk away. There’s going to be a need for enforcement against these groups who will try to maintain their involvement and their profits in the drug trade.

Those of us who advocate for an end of prohibition are not proposing some kind of nirvana in which there are no police and no crime. What we are really calling for is a strategy that’s based in reality – reality of the market place. And a strategy that recognizes what police can accomplish in cooperation with the rest of society. That’s going to be a big job but it’s a job that is not possible when trying to fight against the laws of the marketplace.


DEAN BECKER: Next up, I got a chance to ask my question.


DEAN BECKER: Since the release of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy report well over one thousand positive editorials and articles have been published, broadcasters have followed suit as well, yet the Drug Czar’s office has attempted to negate the intellect of all these current and former presidents, esteemed U.S. officials and others who would basically, in one word response, that all these officials are “misguided.” When will there ever come a day for a debate, a showdown for this issue rather than a one word response?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, I’ll weigh in a little bit on that, Dean. It is the responsibility of this administration to do the right thing. To bring the right people to the table who have the expertise and to figure out, in detail, what an end to prohibition will look like and how it should work.

NORM STAMPER: Neill, if could say something about this debate. The debate is already engaged and when the head of ONDCP simply says his opponents are simply misguided, that kind of name calling demonstrates that they are not really going to debate on a serious level. And then what has to happen is this nation’s news media has to look at a response like “misguided” and say “What do you mean? Paul Volcker, misguided? George Shultz, misguided? The former presidents of Switzerland, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico…all misguided? What do you mean?”

It is going to be a debate, not going to be Neill Franklin vs. Gil Kerlikowske touring the country one-on-one, going from news studio to news studio. It’s going to be a very different kind of debate in which the news media are going to look at the substance of the arguments of people such as the leadership and the speakers of LEAP in this call and this press conference and the other work that they do and hold it up against the press releases on the controlled, kind of media feeding that we get from the government and they will say journalistically we have to go further. We want an answer more substantive then, “They are misguided.”

And, that’s going to happen because the American people as we are seeing are demanding change as well. Change…the debate is going to be taking place in.sort of simultaneously in many different venues. So I am not pessimistic, I’m optimistic. And even though they may not come down and debate us on the sidewalk, they may not answer our reports directly, they are going to be forced increasingly to explain their position and the weakness of their arguments if they are going to be exposed in that front.


DEAN BECKER: I want to thank Neill Franklin, Terry Nelson, Eric Sterling, Leigh Maddox and all the good folks in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – my band of brothers – for having the courage and the wisdom to speak so knowledgeably about the failure of this 40-year-old War on Drugs.

Again, please be sure to check out the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition report on the failure of this drug war. It’s available on their website, leap.cc.


(Game show music)
DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.
Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international greed and corruption, stilted science and immense, unchristian moral postulations of fiction as fact…

Time’s up!
The answer: The United States immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific and plain F-ing, evil addiction to drug war.

All approved by the FDA, absolved by the American Medical Association and persecuted by congress, the cops and in obeyance to the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels. 550,000 billion dollars a year can be very addicting.


MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, editor of Drug War Facts. The question for this week asks, “Who declared war on drugs?”

“America’s public enemy number one of the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”

According to a recent report by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, President Richard Nixon spoke these words on June 17th, 1971. Ironically, a New York University Law Review article noted,

“When President Nixon first declared a national war on drugs, the policy focused on treatment rather than incarceration. The Nixon era marks the only time in the history of the War on Drugs in which more funding went towards treatment than toward law enforcement.”

The review said that there were about 174,000 state prison inmates in 1972. Nixon’s declaration was just the first according to a Ford Law Review article.

“President Ronald Reagan officially launched the War on Drugs on June 24th, 1982. The creation of the Whitehouse Office of Drug Abuse Policy. First lady, Nancy Reagan, joined the movement announcing the “Just Say No” campaign in 1982.”

State prison inmates in 1982 approximated 300,000. The NYU article suggests that,

“With the Obama administration comes hope for scaling down the War on Drugs but the collateral consequences remains for those who are presently incarcerated. Current Director of the Whitehouse Office of Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, has chastised the phrase “War on Drugs” as soliciting an inaccurate representation of the War on Drugs as a war on Individuals.”

In 2010 there were 1.4 million state prisoners – 1.2 million more than on June 17th, 1971.

These facts and others like them can be found in the United States in the Prisons and Jails chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have question for which you need facts please email them to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So remember, when you need facts about drugs and drug policy – you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.


DEAN BECKER: Thanks Mary Jane. Thanks to all the good folks at LEAP as well. Please be sure to check out this week’s Century of Lies which features another conference in regards to the 40-year anniversary of this drug war. It’s put together by the Drug Policy Alliance, features Mr. Ethan Nadelman, some congressman, some actors from “The Wire”.

I recently began another attempt to get somebody from the Drug Czar’s office, the ONDCP, to join us here on the Drug Truth Network…they’re tap dancing like you’ve never seen. They cannot be a guest on this show. Logic and rationality is not their stong suit.

Again, I remind you, because of prohibition – you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.