01/07/09 - Brian Bennett

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Brian Bennett discusses the history of the drug war + Fred Burton, VP of counterterrorism at Stratfor & author of "Ghost - Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent", Sigifredo Gonzales, sheriff of Zapata county and Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth county both call for a look at legalization & Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Audio file

Cultural Baggage, January 7, 2009

Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

It’s not only inhumane it is really fundamentally un-American….. ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’ ‘NO MORE’ ‘DRUG WAR’

My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Today, we’re going to hear the voices of several people I recorded at the premier of a movie last week at Victoria, Texas. The name of the movie, ‘Drug Wars: Silver or the Lead’ We’re going to hear from a couple of West Texas Border County Sheriff’s. We’ll also hear from an anti-terrorism expert. But first up, we’re going to TRUTH from the history from a Mr. Brian C. Bennett.

Today, we’re going to take a good hard look at this thing called drug war and joining us to talk about this subject is Mr. Brian C. Bennett, who has a wonderful website with lots of information for you folks. We’ll get into that a bit later. But first… Welcome, Brian.

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Thank you, Dean. It’s always a pleasure to be on your show.

Dean Becker: Well Brian, today we’re going to carry some audio I captured, in Victoria last week, dealing with the subject of the bloody mayhem, going on in Mexico, now spilling over into our borders. It just is not working out, is it?

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: No, not at all and unfortunately it’s been that way for the better part of the last 150 years, basically.

Dean Becker: As I understand it, you’ve been delving into the early history…

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: I have. It’s one of the, I think there’s three prongs that we have to use to approach what‘s going on, especially in terms of trying to convince people to listen and pay enough attention and begin to act on some of these things.

The first prong is that, our government has been collecting data for at least forty years and that’s the base line of my sight, is to show all that data and let people have a look at everything in totality instead of just hearing little snippets that we’re given every once in a while, by the drug czar.

The second phase of it, is to take a look at the historic records that we have so that we can show people that there‘s absolutely nothing new about anything that’s going on in the drug war including all this craziness with the border and Mexico.

So, what I’ve done is, I’ve started looking at The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, dating back into the mid 1800’s. Just finding articles about drugs and drug related things so I can put those on my sight and show people that, ‘Hey, this is something that’s just the same nonsense just over and over and over again. It’s clearly not working. We have absolute evidence that it doesn’t work. So it really is time to try something different.’

Dean Becker: Even the Texas Sheriffs down there in Victoria were saying, ’Yeah, maybe it’s time to look at legalization.’ So, when you get that type of law enforcement officer saying, ‘Hey, this ain’t working out.’ these yeah-who’s, in Washington D.C., need to scratch their heads and figure a better way. Right?

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Oh, absolutely and it’s one of the really great things about the organization LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), which obviously you’re very familiar with (being a member of it) is that, these are people who are out there charged with ---- fighting against the drug war, seeing it in the front lines, knowing that it’s not working and being asked, day by day, to put their lives at risk for something they know is not worth it and is not likely to lead to any kind of success.

So absolutely, the law enforcement community brings the highest levels of credibility to the people, in arguing about this issue. What we’re doing basically is saying that, ‘Ok, here’s something that people want to do. They want to do it to themselves. There’s no reason in the world for them to get involved in trying to stop it.’

‘They want these products and they’ve created a market that is basically unfettered, untaxed, unregulated. It’s free for all, for criminal type people to go and get vast quantities of money for, in reality - very little risk, and then once you begin to increase the risk level on these people, they naturally will use some of the money they’ve been accumulating to help reduce their risk.’

That plays out in forms such as corruption, in which we have been in, like the Mexican military escorting the drug smugglers and also their ability to acquire vast amounts of fire power, that your average Border Patrol Agents certainly can’t be carrying with them and short of unleashing our entire military force at the border against Mexico, which incidentally would not work, there’s precious little that can be done in terms of trying to subdue these people through violent means.

Dean Becker: Well, we’ll have plenty about that situation in Mexico later on in the show but you, as I said earlier, have been delving into the history of this. You did find instances of drug problems prior to prohibition. Let’s talk about that.

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Oh, tons and that’s one of the interesting things that I like to do, is to present both sides of the fence with these issues that, ‘Hey, a lot of the stuff that we believe and that we repeat, basically has no more merit to it than Mythology.’ As I was able to start finding a lot of these old newspaper articles, I’m talking tens of thousands of articles and I’m just basically using everything from before December 31, 1937 as my accumulation.

I pick that particular point because in 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was put into force and that was supposedly going to take care of the marijuana problem. So, I thought by using that as kind of an ironic end point and just looking at everything that had occurred before that, I would find some interesting things and challenge a lot of our suppositions, and it’s true.

So, what I found in terms of ‘drug overdose death’ is that, believe it or not, deaths from overdose was surprisingly frequent. But the interesting thing on that, far more interesting, is that most of it was done through suicide. There were people that were killing themselves on purpose, using morphine and opium and other types of substances. So, it’s not true that there weren’t large numbers of deaths from drugs before prohibition happened.

But it is true, that there were few deaths that were caused by taking drugs of unknown strength and unknown quantity. There were, however, deaths of that nature, too. We have those deaths now, primarily because the cutting agents that are used in the drugs are unknown, so people can end up taking what they think is a normal dose and overdosing because they’ve simply got too much drug.

That also did happen before the 1914 passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act and the most frequent way that happened was from people taking basically, snake oil. The people that were peddling the various kinds of medicines that contained dangerous ingredients and the public were not informed about the levels of those dangerous ingredients. So, they ended up accidentally overdosing.

So, the notion that legalizing drugs is going to put an end to overdose deaths, is not true. What is true though, is that the number of deaths that are caused by drug overdose, even in our current situation - where you have no idea what it is that you are actually taking, the actually numbers of people dying from these things are extremely low.

Even back then that was true. You can’t say that there were no deaths from overdose, ’cause there were. But, you can say that the number of deaths caused by overdose were very, very, low. That remains true even despite the fact that today, it’s completely Russian Roulette. You have absolutely no idea what you’re getting if you use these drugs.

Dean Becker: I close out this particular program with a phrase, “You don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.” I mean, that’s the whole point. You get the hotshot, just at random and you kill yourself just pouring the normal little pile in the spoon.

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Absolutely, yes. That’s something that we can change now, that we might not have been able to change back in the past. They tried to address the issue of patent medicines and unknown ingredients, etc. by passing the Pure Food and Drug Act in, I think it was, 1904.

So, from that point to this point we know very clearly that, ‘Yes, these drug are dangerous. Yes, you can get addicted. Yes, you can overdose. But, for the most part, if people are given the information that they need to make a good decision, for the most part, they will make good decisions. If we change the prohibitory regime and start saying, ‘Well, maybe we shouldn’t try and punish these people.

We should give them the information that they need, that if they’re going to go do this, at least we can make it as safe as possible. Let them know exactly what it is that they’re buying, what they’re taking and how to use it, in a manner that’s not going to kill them.’

Pretty much like doctors do. Doctors use morphine and even much more powerful opiate preparations on human beings all the time and manage not to kill them. So, clearly it’s possible to use these drugs responsibly and not die as a result of taking them.

Dean Becker: Couple years back I had a Dr. Joel Hockman. He’s head of the American Pain Doctors Association, I think that’s the name of the group.
He said that, I think it was for the year 2005, that, ‘Those using opioid prescriptions properly, under a doctors care, there were zero deaths that year.’

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Oh, I believe it. Absolutely. It’s clearly a case of knowing what it is that you’re taking. It’s impossible to do something responsibly if you don’t know what it is that you’re doing.

The only way forward on this, is to give people the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and that is exactly the job that you’ve taken on and that is certainly the focus of my work; is like, give people the information they need to make good decisions for themselves.

If they’re doing whatever their doing to themselves, we’re really not in a position to create laws to interfere with that and doing so has proved incredibly disastrous, to our entire society in almost every facet that you can name.

Dean Becker: Well, not to mention the whole world. (chuckling)

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Oh, absolutely. Yes, yes. We’re not content just to do this to ourselves, we’re out there doing it around the world. In fact, there’s one thing I’d like all of your listeners to do, is to go visit the DEA website sometime and don’t really focus on what they’re telling you because obviously, what they’re telling you is their vested self interest.

But, take a look at map that they have, that shows all the sights around the world where there is a presence of the Drug Enforcement Administration. An American law enforcement organization with locations throughout the World.

What would we do if say, Saudi Arabia became powerful enough to go and fight against alcohol, the way we once did, and established offices around the world? Would we want to have offices of the Saudi Arabian Alcohol Control Agencies here in our America? On our land? Arresting our people? Killing our People? Destroying farms?

That’s what we do.

Dean Becker: (softly) Yeah. Well, you know we have this situation in Bolivia, where they finally got sick of that DEA presence and they kicked them out.

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Absolutely and Hallelujah. I’m so glad that there are people that are strong enough and intelligent enough to take that stance and say, ‘No, thank you. You take your drug war and you go wage it on your own people. Stop waging it on ours.‘

Dean Becker: Friends, we’re speaking with Mr. Brian Bennett. He has a wonderful website with so much information. So much that you can use to educate yourself; to protect yourself; to move forward and perhaps, become an advocate for the end of prohibition.

Brian, let’s talk about your website. You’re going to be posting some of this information you gleaned from the past here?

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: Oh, absolutely. I’m always adding new stuff to the site. It’s a huge site which, my intent from the beginning was to try and create an overwhelming amount of information that people could use to go out there and challenge, some of, what our politicians and leaders have been telling us for the past several decades.

It’s not true. Much of what they’re telling us is extraordinarily blown out of proportion and I will continue to wage the fight to get the truth out there where people can get at it. The internet has been a wonderful way to do that. It’s all out there for free. I’m not asking anybody to do anything other than go look at it, understand it and go tell everybody else that you know and I will continue to add as much as I can.

This chunk of data that I’m working with now is; it is really luminous and I’m doing it naturally as I can, in my spare time and I’ve already got some data, of this nature, up there. What I’ve done previously was gone and looked at the National level reporting in news magazines and gleaned, just the headlines, from news magazines going back to the turn of the 20th century.

Basically I was putting out, ’Here’s the headlines that are saying the same things over and over again.’ and I have one page that’s dedicated to headlines declaring, ‘Success in the drug war’ and a corollary page that has nothing but headlines saying, ‘Oh well, we’re not winning.’ Just by showing people that it’s the same thing over and over again, I’m hoping that they’ll catch on.

Most days, it’s going to be a little bit more in-depth. I’m actually going to be pulling quotes, extracts, from these articles and parking them in there together and basically addressing some of the different angles. Like the effect on children, drug education, etc.

I’m finding all these things. In the case of drug education, I’ve actually found instances going back to the late 1800’s where drug education for students became mandatory. Well, how’s it working? (long pause) It’s not. The reason it’s not working is because we’re spending too much time on emotionalism and scare tactics and too little time on the truth.

Dean Becker: Exactly. Brian, let’s give them your website, please.

Mr. Brian C. Bennett: It’s www.briancbennett.com or you can get there by going to www.drugwarstats.com. Either one of those links will get you to the front page. It’s huge. There’re several thousand pages in there and I cover every bit of that, that the government has available.

It’s still the only place on the world wide web where you can find all the government’s data and all the pictorially represented.

It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By It’s Side Effects!"

Dry mouth, constipation, rash, increased heart rate, blurred vision, glaucoma, urinary retention, chest pain, vomiting, arthritis, myalgia, epistaxis, pharyngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis and respiratory infections.


Time’s up! The answer: From Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals:

Spiriva. To breathe easier.

This is Terry Nelson, speaking on behalf of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

In more than three decades of service to my country and it’s citizens, I have witnessed the destruction of families when one or more of the families’ breadwinners were sent to prison. One of the greatest issues we have facing our society today, is the break-up of the family unit.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that when the government puts the wife or husband in jail, that the family is no longer a functioning unit and depending on their financial situation, the children will suffer because the remaining parent will have to seek additional sources of income to support the family. He or she will also have to take the added responsibility of the care of the children.

The current drug policy of the United States breaks up hundreds of thousands of families each year. There are 1.96 million children who have a parent or other close relative in jail or prison on any given day, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and five million more have parents who have been incarcerated or are on probation or parole.

“The link between the generations is so strong that half of all juveniles in custody have a father, mother or other close relative who have been in jail or prison.”, said Allen J. Beck, the Chief of Correction Statistics at the Bureau. “About 40% of the 1.8 million adults in jail and prison have a parent, brother or sister behind bars.” Mr. Beck said. According to a May 2006 study, 25% have lived in a foster home or institution during their developmental years.

Considering that an estimated 18% of all arrests are for non-violent drug offences, you can quickly see that the current drug policy is responsible for many of our children growing up without adequate parental mentoring and supervision.

While all of those arrested do not spend years in prison, the families are still stigmatized by the arrest and incarceration of their family members and are likely to loose their respect for law enforcement.

The current drug policy of drug prohibition is not working and will not work. A policy of education and treatment for those who are addicted to drugs, is a much more morally responsible policy. LEAP calls for a system of legalization of all drugs and the implementation of a system of regulation and control and we all know that to regulate and control many a thing, it must be legal.

It’s time for a change. If you want to know what you can do to help, go to www.wecandoitagain.com and fill out the form and send it to your legislators. Let’s work together to stop this craziness and build a better future for ourselves and our children.

This is Terry Nelson at www.leap.cc. Singing off.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

These men and women have served in the trenches of the drug war as prosecutors, judges, cops, guards and wardens.

They have seen first had the utter futility of our policy and now work together to end drug prohibition. Please visit leap.cc

Alright. As promised, here are some of the interviews I conducted last week in Victoria.

My name is Fred Burton. I’m the Vice-president of counterterrorism for Stratfor; Strategic Forecasting in Austin, Texas.

Well, I’m a former US counterterrorist agent going back many, many years and in essence, it’s Stratfor, our company is producing a weekly update on cartel violence as well as the deteriorating security situation in Mexico and the ‘spill-over’ violence into the United States, which most people fail to recognize is the actual impact and the ‘cause and effect’ from what’s happening in Mexico into our Homeland Security.

I’ve worked for republicans and democrats and I’ve spent a lot of time in Washington and I have yet to see one administration take a lead role and want to do something about our border security and to me, that’s where the ball has been dropped. Especially when you look at the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and yet, our Southern border is not secure.

When you look at it from a National Security problem; what most of Americans don’t realize is that, this is a Homeland Security, National Security issue. Meaning, not only is the spill-over crime and violence an issue. Meaning the cross-border abductions, the street crime, but the impact to the youth of our country, from the cartels, and there’s no end in sight.

Meaning, it’s like a water balloon in Mexico. As the Calderón administration oppresses and surges in one side of the country in Mexico, you see the cartel drug runners moving to the other side and so we, at Stratfor, see a couple of troubling trends.

1. You have the trend of the increase in uptake of violence coming from Mexico into the Continental United States.

2. We see the flight of cartel high value targets, cartel bosses, South into Guatemala and so forth.

So, in essence, this is a problem that’s going to take the National Security assets to try and deal with and what I mean by that is, we need the entire intelligence community focused on this problem. As long as we have the demand in the country, the drug runners are going figure out a way to get the drugs in.

In essence, we need Washington to take a look at this as a National Security problem. I mean, if you can get in a thousand pounds of cocaine in certain areas, how many pre-cursors of ’A weapon of mass destruction’ can you get into the United States?

So in essence from a counterterrorism perspective, it’s just not about drugs, too. It’s about special interest aliens; human smuggling, the smuggling of prostitutes; the transit of stolen weapons South, from the United States into Mexico; the transit of stolen weapons and Texas leads the Nation of that, into Mexico.

We need a concerted effort and we also have a tremendous corruption problem, on both sides of the border, which a lot of people don‘t like to talk about but, we need to talk about it as a Nation.

Dean Becker: OK. Once again, that was Fred Burton, Vice-President of counterterrorism for Stratfor stratfor.com. He’s also author of a book, "Ghost - Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent" Fred’s going to be our guest next week for a more extended conversation on this program.

Next up, we hear from Sigifredo Gonzales. He’s the sheriff of Zapata county, Texas.

Sigifredo Gonzales: I’ve been sheriff in Zapata county for 14 years now, a little over 14 years. What I do is enforcement of 997square miles with 60 miles of river with the Republic of Mexico and we enforce all types of civil and criminal law.

Dean Becker: Now Sir, I keep hearing horrible stories coming out of Mexico and how the cartels are gaining well, if not gaining strength they’re certainly showing their capabilities. Is that impacting your community?

Sigifredo Gonzales: Oh, most certainly. There’s been times when we have receive reports of people being kidnapped in our communities. Where people are being taken back to Mexico.

In ---- and I speak for the whole border area, being chairman of the South-western Border Sheriff’s Coalition, where we have people shooting at our officers from the Mexican side with machine guns when we go out there to the riverbanks to investigate an incident that may have happened. So, our officers are being threatened constantly and daily by cartel members in Mexico.

Dean Becker: I work with a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and we have agreed on the fact that, what we have done for 94 years, since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act, is to empower the cartels; to enrich the gangs that play in our neighborhoods, through the sales of drugs.

Perhaps we could think about regulating it and taxing it for adults. What’s your thought?

Sigifredo Gonzales: On narcotics?

Dean Becker: Yes, Sir.

Sigifredo Gonzales: Well, that’s something that must be debated also. I think there are a lot of pros and cons on everything. My personal opinion is, it should be look at before you make any type of decision.

My name is Arvin West. I’m the sheriff of Hudspeth county. Which is out in West Texas. Primarily what we do is do our best to try to secure the border.

Dean Becker: Now, we’re here in Victoria attending the premier of a movie: Drug Wars: Silver or Lead. Tell us about your understanding of what that means, the silver or lead.

Arvin West: Well, the silver and lead is either you…. If you want the money, you’re going to join forces with these guys or if you don’t, you’re going to get the lead and the lead being, they’re going to kill you.

Dean Becker: Now the situation… you know Houston, they just learned yesterday that young black kids are dying there at a faster rate then anywhere on the planet. Not primarily, but certainly because of the drug war and I was wondering about your thoughts on, ‘Does that impact your community? Are the gangs on the rise? Is it hard to deal with?’

Arvin West: I’m pretty fortunate because I live in a rural community, rural area. The thing that we do see is what gets past us, that make it to these inner cities; to these big cities. That’s the way these people operate. They’re trying to recruit these younger gang members or gang bangers, so to speak, and that’s just another form of them to keep ‘em in line.

Dean Becker: Could you tell us about your part in the movie and your feeling upon seeing it released?

Arvin West: My part of the movie, back in January of 2006, we would have the military incursion. Where the Mexican Military was assisting the drug runners; with the narco-traffickers with the drugs coming across. We’re the ones who took the photographs of ‘em and had to stay at a great distance from ‘em because of the fire power that these guys have gotten matched up to ours.

You’ve heard the phrase, ‘Our firepower is like water guns compared to theirs’ and then that’s very true. The movie that they’re going to watch tonight or show tonight, is hitting the nail right on the head. What you see in the movie is what took place in Nuevo Laredo a couple years back. What you see in the movie is exactly what’s happening today in Juárez, which is right across from El Paso, Texas, just down the road from us.

Dean Becker: Now, I work with a bunch of folks, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and we’re trying to force the government to reexamine this policy because we’re feeding Osama’s ‘cash cow’, we’re enriching the terrorists, we’re giving reason for these violent gangs to exist.

I know as a Law Enforcement Officer, you enforce the law. You do as you’re instructed to do, by the DA and other authorities. But, perhaps that we should stop? Perhaps we should look at this situation?

Arvin West: Let me tell you. First of all, I enforce the laws of the Federal Constitution as is stipulated by the United States. The DA doesn’t dictate to me what laws. The laws are on the books. It’ll be either through state legislation or through federal legislation. That’s the job that I do. That’s my job.

As far as the legalization of this, I think it needs to be looked at. I really do. I think that you have to weight the both pros and cons of this. But I also think that this needs to be left to the American public and not our congressman, not Washington D.C. nor Texas legislature, for that matter. This is something that needs to be done collectively by the American people who make a wise decision on this and look at both sides of this.

Dean Becker: OK. So we’ve got Border County Sheriffs in Texas saying, ‘It’s time to examine our policy. To perhaps consider legalization, regulation, taxation. Actual control of these so-called controlled substances.

I’ve got a 10 minute video out on YouTube featuring these interviews and more, including with the producer / director of the movie, Mr. Rusty Fleming as well as interviews with reporters from The Victoria Advocate, who sponsored this premier. It’s part of their ongoing series, the Fatal Funnel, which talks about the intersection of a couple of highways coming from Mexico and wrapping around Victoria.

You can find that video by going to youtube.com/fdbecker.We’ve got about 55-56 video’s up there and I think you’ll find this one at the top. Drug Wars: The Movie Premier. I’d also like to request that anybody out there that’s a long term Drug Truth Network listener, go to hightimes.com and post a comment to the story they have there, about The Drug Truth Network. Heck, if enough folks post, maybe they’ll put me in the magazine. Who knows?

Well, that’s about it. Ya’ll got to do your part to end madness of drug war and again I remind you, ‘That because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.’

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.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.www.marijuanafactorfiction.org