08/11/13 Ray Hill

Ray Hill the 30 year veteran of Pacifica re tsunami of drug war news + Ethan Nadelmann of Drug Policy Alliance on Democracy Now & Abolitionist Moment

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Guest: 
Ray Hill
Organization: 
KPFT
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / August 11, 2013

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CHILD: I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: 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!”

DEAN BECKER: 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.

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DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am Dean Becker, your host. We have a great show lined up for you today. We have with us in studio Mr. Ray Hill – the guy who really put together the idea to put us on the air, the guy who is still working hard for our rights here in Houston, here in Texas and across America for that matter.

The fact of the matter is things are changing, things are moving on a daily basis, a constant basis and we’ll be back shortly with Mr. Ray Hill.

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SPEAKER: The secretive unit of the Drug Enforcement Administration is training its agents to cover up how it gets information used to launch investigations of Americans. The technique for concealment is called parallel construction. Here’s how it sometimes works.

A drug dealer wants to move narcotics, weapons or cash into the United States and informants or perhaps an undercover agent learns of the plans and alerts the secretive DEA unit called the Special Operations Division. The intelligence could also come from a NSA wiretap or electronic intercept.

The Special Operations Division tells local or state police that they need to stop a certain truck at a certain place or time. Local police do that in a way that looks like a routine traffic stop but a drug sniffing dog is brought to the scene.

If police find drugs they arrest the driver. If the case goes to trial cops know they can never say where the intel came from. They are under direct orders to not disclose. Instead they might say the investigation came from the routine traffic stop – a plausible story that creates a new investigative story that won’t lead back to the secret source. That’s the parallel construction.

What concerns some former prosecutors and judges is that by hiding the origin of the investigation the DEA could be hiding evidence from the people arrested. This might jeopardize their constitutional right of fair trial.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy NPR. The first voice you hear is that of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

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ERIC HOLDER: Too many people in jail for too long and for not necessarily good reasons.

CARRIE JOHNSON: This is the nation’s top law enforcement officer calling for a sea change in the criminal justice system.

ERIC HOLDER: The War on Drugs is now 30/40-years-old. There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been kind of a dissemination of certain communities – particularly communities of color.

CARRIE JOHNSON: The Justice Department has had a group of lawyers working behind the scenes for months on proposals the Attorney General could present as early as next week to the American Bar Association.

Some of the items are changes Holder could make on his own like directing U.S. attorneys not to prosecute certain kinds of low-level drug crimes or spending money to spend more defendants into treatment instead of prison.

Almost half of the 219,000 people currently in federal prison are serving time on drug charges.

ERIC HOLDER: We can certainly change our enforcement priorities so we have some control in that way - how we deploy our agents, how we tell our prosecutors to charge – but I do think this would be best done is the executive branch and the legislative branch work together to look at this whole issue to come up with changes that would be acceptable to both.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, this is Dean Becker. You are listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network on Pacifica Radio. We’re in pledge drive but we do have in studio Mr. Ray Hill. How are you doing, Ray?

RAY HILL: I am well, Dean. Thank you, very much, for playing that cut from the Attorney General of the United States. You know when you and I say things like that we reach an audience and they’re all impressed and it’s all warm and fuzzy but when the Attorney General of the United States says something like that it’s time to get the loud speaker.

That was incidentally out of an interview with a NPR reporter. What it was is a trial flying in the media of lines that he is going to use tomorrow, Monday, at the National Convention for the American Bar Association.

When the Attorney General of the United States goes to the American Bar Association and opens the subject…now, when I first heard those words I was listening to the NPR news half asleep Thursday morning between 6 and 7 o’clock because I got to get over here at 7 o’clock to listen to Amy Goodman and I got to get BBC at 8 o’clock so my mornings are all news.

I was about half asleep. The alarm had gone off at 6 o’clock and I heard “We lock up too many people for too long a time for too little reason and it doesn’t work.”

Those are words that I have literally used in cliche for the last two years while I’m trying to build a movement to end mass incarceration. I have been in touch with the American Law Institute (that’s the law association for law professors) and they say, “We’re with you on this. We are ready and willing to write our second model of penal code to eliminate most of the War on Drugs legislation, eliminate all of the mandatory-minimum laws.”

And they went through a whole laundry list of things that need to be eliminated from American law because it is foolish, it is expensive and it does not work at all. In a very serious Pavlovian sense to lock people up for drugs is to condition them to believe that freedom means access to drugs. That’s not helping those with addictive problems who need treatment. It is only exasperating and exaggerating that problem.

Let me tell you – hearing those words from the Attorney General in advance to the speech he is going to give to the American Bar Association – Dean, that is a circle. We have come full circle. You and I have been talking about this for years. I remember when you first came into this station seeking access to time and I said, “If nobody wants it I’ll adopt him for part of the Prison Show.” And that‘s how you started.

Now you’re on the air all these years later and it’s time to talk to…can I talk to your listeners for just a minute?

DEAN BECKER: Please do.

RAY HILL: Listeners to Cultural Baggage, yesterday morning I was inside the Wynne Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They were having an anniversary meeting of their AA Club. I have 54 years, 7 months and 11 days of being completely drug and alcohol free. So that’s a big deal to those boys.

One after another came up and said, “We can’t hear KPFT anymore.”

Right now there is about half a dozen inmates on the Wynne Farm with old radios on the south side of the building that can hear the show and let me tell you they are bouncing off the wall because I’m talking about their problem.

Just like Dean and I have talked about the problem of the drug war all of these years those guys hear me talking about their problem trying to hear this show. They wait all week to hear this show. It gets a little better in the daylight than it does late at night when the Prison Show is on and they’re trying very hard to get news that they need.

Dean’s going to ask you for a few bucks. He’ll take 50 bucks and give you a book. I’m going to ask you for 10,000 dollars. That’s what it is going to cost to get a signal from this radio station – the only voice that anyone in prison can identify with…if you want to do something about the drug war you empower the victims of the drug war.

The warden ain’t going to let me come in there as an individual and let me talk to …I can come in there and talk to them about sobriety but I can’t talk to them about organizing their friends and family and supporters to come out here and do something about the changes that we know are coming because the Attorney General is talking about it.

It’s simply not available anywhere else on the dial. Nobody could do this. Nobody wants to do this. Dean would be without a voice

[telephone ringing] thank you very much for that call. Dean would be without a voice [telephone ringing] thank you for that call. Dean would be without a voice…people are calling – it is your turn. It is your turn to make a commitment to the free speech of this radio station to talk about issues that everybody else wants to silence.

There is hope now but we need to act as a community. Radio can be used to build community. If you don’t believe it ask the gay community in Houston. I built a community for them using KPFT airwaves.

We need to build a community of those of you who are affected and afraid of these drug laws. We need your support. It is important for you to support. You will feel better after you support.

Dean, I hope I haven’t got them too stirred up.

DEAN BECKER: Ray, I hope you have stirred them up. I look like a genius for having you come in to talk to my studio audience.

The fact of the matter is, folks, it was almost 12 years ago that I came in this station and said, “I got an idea. I want to help bring about a new awakening to help bring about the end of this drug war, to free the prisoners, to stop squandering our money.”

And it was Ray Hill who said, “This guy sounds like he might be on to something here.”

He put me on for 3 or 4 minutes every week and the fact of the matter is we have expanded. Just this week I got a call from a station, a college station in Maine who is going to start carrying Century of Lies.

The fact of the matter is, folks, this is an idea that is gaining traction, that needs your support.

RAY HILL: All of the sudden the Attorney General calls and we’ve got hope. It’s right before us. It’s going to be changed. Help us encourage, exasperate it, expand it. There is going to be change. We need your help so that we can help.

DEAN BECKER: Along with our U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s thoughts tonight following this show there’s going to be on CNN a segment featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is speaking very boldly of a need for change.

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DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy CNN, Pierce Morgan. It features Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

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PIERCE MORGAN: As CNN’s chief correspondent Sanjay Gupta joins me. Now, Sanjay, welcome to you.

SANJAY GUPTA: Thank you.

PIERCE MORGAN: You’ve been with us for a year. I want to remind you that in 2009 you wrote a Time Magazine article titled, “Why I would vote no on pot.” You’ve changed your mind.

SANJAY GUPTA: I have. As part of my thinking I have apologized for some of the earlier reporting because I think we have been terribly and systematically mislead in this country for some time and I did part of that misleading.

If you look at all the papers that are written in the United States the vast majority of them are about the harm. We fund studies on harm. We don’t fund studies on benefit nearly as much so it gives a distorted picture.

I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t look deep enough. I didn’t look at labs in other countries who are doing incredible research. I didn’t listen to the chorus of patients who said, “Not only does marijuana work for me but it’s the only thing that works for me.”

I took the DEA at their word when they said that marijuana is a Schedule I substance which has no medical applications. There was no scientific basis for them to say that.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, you’re listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network, Pacifica Radio. I’m Dean Becker. We have in studio Mr. Ray Hill.

Ray, you heard those thoughts there of Dr. Sanjay Gupta. What is your response?

RAY HILL: Of course we’re talking to your audience which … remember, everybody out there listening, every week when call your friends when it’s time for this program. Put out a flash. I put out a Facebook flash to all my listeners telling them to listen in over the internet and I appreciate you folks that are streaming this in London and in England and in South America and in Indonesia because you get these messages and you respond to them.

The important thing is that in the area of drug laws the cops lie, cheat and steal. They lie, they cheat and they steal. Medical professionals and apparently everybody except for Dr. Gupta have come to the conclusion is that their duty is to carry the company story. They take the government’s position on expanding the drug laws and they use that to continue the drug war so you can’t rely on that information.

The only information you can count on…now, Gupta was on CNN. Eric Holder was on NPR. Those are different voices saying different things on regular channels of communication.

Dean Becker has been bringing you the truth on radio station KPFT for 12 years and before he got her I spent the last 33 years trying to bring you the truth through the Prison Show. This is the only outlet that not only pioneers getting to the real information and giving you information you need to make your political decisions.

Damn it, do not forget my convicts who need this hope and most of them can’t hear it because we don’t have a decent signal in Huntsville, Texas. You’re sitting there. Get out that checkbook. Call the manager and say I’m giving you 10,000 dollars to get a signal from KPFT for Huntsville. We already have a license. We just have to change the frequency.

They need the money for the equipment – 10,000 bucks is chump change for the audience we would have in Huntsville. Show Dean Becker your support. Support Cultural Baggage. Support the truth about the scam of drug war enforcement.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. Again, folks, that’s Ray Hill – the patriarch of this station.

Ray, I wanted to come back to the thought about last weekend…

RAY HILL: Last weekend there was a conference held out at TSU. It was hosted jointly by the Law School and by the Texas Justice Coalition. We had many speakers that gathered in there. We spent all day discussing various aspects of what’s happening in Texas.

An underlying theme throughout was the need of sentencing reform. It came up and it came up and it came up. The racism that is evident in the criminal justice system was visited and re-visited.

The folks from the NAACP were there. It was wonderful to see Jorge there. Jorge is a former volunteer on the Prison Show and former editor of the ECHO Inside Prison. He’s a great journalist. He’s with the Texas Justice Council now doing wonderful work.

We talked about it. We chewed it up. Change is happening. The Attorney General, changes of reports on CNN which you’re going to hear of in the next show… all kinds of things that are going on that have not been going on before.

Listen, this is Ray Hill. Any of you who are old enough to remember what we used to think about queers in this society – we don’t think that anymore and you’re welcome.

It takes staff hours organizing and most of all the support of the public to make change. Change time has come for the people who have had the boot mark of the drug war on their neck.

DEAN BECKER: Damn straight, Ray. I’m so thrilled to have you here. The combination – the one-two punch that we give them here at KPFT I think has made a difference. I think that these local politicians and their citizenry have hear this, that we helped to swing this cat a bit.

RAY HILL: Yes, you have. Let me tell you Eric Holder’s first thing is about medical marijuana law reform. His second thing is about other drug reform. The third thing is about the elimination of mandatory-minimums. The next thing is about other ways to reduce the amount of time that people spend in prison for obscure things and ultimately gets down to it’s not a federal problem, it’s not a state problem, it’s an all problem and we need to reform the laws in every state. We need to reform the laws of the federal government. He needs to begin immediately to make administrative decisions about the enforcement of laws.

Cops are not going to be knocking on the doors of state licensed medical marijuana outlets. Federal cops are going to stop that. Eric Holder is going to make that announcement.

If you don’t believe me turn on any news channel tomorrow. It will be on the evening news.

DEAN BECKER: I’m looking forward to hearing that.

RAY HILL: Thank you, Dean, for having me as a guest on your show.

DEAN BECKER: Ray, it’s been wonderful.

We got have a “Name that drug…” I got to do the impromptu …It is my somber duty to report that the death toll from the drug formerly known as marijuana is 0.

My hat is off – big salute to Mr. Ray Hill for coming in studio.

You, my friends, need to do more than just call us. You need to contact your elected officials. You need to kick this impetus in the butt. You need to keep it rolling. I thank you for tuning in.

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DEAN BECKER: You’ve been listening to the pledge drive show for Cultural Baggage. We now have some segments that did not make it on the airwaves for you out there on the network.

The following segment courtesy of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now.

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AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Ethan Nadelmann into this discussion. He is the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Ethan, why are the revelations by the Reuters John Shiftman investigation so significant for your work?

ETHAN NADELMANN: I think what it plays into is that there has been this remarkable lack of oversight of DEA by congress, by other federal oversight agencies for decades. This year marks the 40t h anniversary of the DEA which Nixon created as a merger of police agencies, of drug enforcement agencies back during the earlier years of the drug war.

What you see is an organization with a budget of over 2 billion dollars. You see an organization getting involved in all sorts of shenanigans – hiring informants who end up to tied up with murderers, locking up some poor some low-level offender and forgetting about him in a prison cell…this case of Daniel Chung who was left in a prison cell for 5 days and forgotten.

Beyond that you have the agency serving as a propaganda agency with none of its statements being compared or held to any sort of scientific standards. You have an administrator who testifies before congress and is almost a laughing stock when it comes to talking about drugs.

I think that this report by Reuters I hope is a sort of wake-up call for people in congress to say now is the time to finally after really 40 years to say this agency really needs a close examination.

AMY GOODMAN: The Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to pay 4.1 million dollars in a settlement to a San Diego college student who nearly lost his life after being left handcuffed in a cell for more than 4 days without food or water. He ultimately drank his urine as he lay there yelling out to agents right outside.

His name was Daniel Chung. He was arrested for a 4/20 celebration of marijuana. He was never charged with any crime and ultimately he was released.

ETHAN NADELMANN: That’s the case I was mentioning before. One could say, “Oh, this was just an accident and accidents happen.”

But, of course, accidents like that should never happen when you’re talking about a police agency much less a federal police agency being allowed to just sort of forget about somebody. In the end the taxpayers bail out the DEA for almost killing somebody for no cause whatsoever.

Each year the DEA goes through its own little appropriation hearings in congress. Each year it gets approved and each year they just sort of get a ride. I think these things are piling up in a way that can no longer be sustained, should no longer be sustained.

AMY GOODMAN: So what has been, John Shiftman, the response to your investigation by the DEA, by the NSA, by the FBI and by others?

JOHN SHIFTMAN: I would think it would impact everyone because we’re talking about a principle of law here. Not to get too legal but if you’re arrested one of the fundamental rights that you have is to see the evidence against you.

When I was at the DEA doing the interview they cited the Ted Stephens case which involved prosecutorial misconduct in which the charges were thrown out because evidence was concealed.

They said that after that there had been a review of all the discovery procedures throughout the Justice Department including the Special Operations Division.

So I asked if I could see a copy of the review and they said, “No.”

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ethan Nadelmann, it’s all legal?

ETHAN NADELMANN: That’s what happens when any agency gets to just do what it wants to do for years and years without anybody looking over its shoulder.

This agency has also done things in the area of medical marijuana, scientific research, the scheduling process of drugs whereby they will go through an entire legal process through their own administrative law process hearing, they will have an internal judge, an administrative law judge come down with recommendations that are scientifically base, that are credible and then they will have the politically-appointed head of this agency overrule those recommendations for no purpose whatsoever.

Once again, congress is not asking any questions. It’s their job to - obviously the Obama administration’s job and Eric Holder’s job as well – but it’s ultimately congress’s as well that has to care about these things.

I’m hoping that it’s not just Democrats in the Senate but also Republicans in the House who will say this agency has gone too far.

Republicans have never been great friends of over-extensions of police power and I hope they can find some common cause with Democrats saying, “Wait a second, let’s call the DEA in here. Let’s look at what John Shiftman has found with his investigation. Let’s look at all these other patterns of abuse and misbehavior.”

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for being with us - John Shiftman for your reporting at Reuters and Ethan Nadelmann. Thanks so much.

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DEAN BECKER: From last week’s Criminal Justice Coalition meeting this is Dr. Theresa May, Probation Director for Harris County, Houston, Texas.

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THERESA MAY: When we get our kids (and young men, in particular) they have lost hope. Their mindset is different. The most common statement I hear is, “Dr. May, I just want to do my time. I just want to do my time.”

If they’re in and out of state jail we know that the recidivism rate is 70%. There is no parole for that. There’s no re-entry. That’s the highest failure population.

There’s a lot we can do to impact that but not without your help. We have to have help. We have to have young men start to believe they can change.

Those of you who are in the community can influence the young people in your community.

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

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org