Monday, December 03, 2007

Rolling Stone: How America Lost the War on Drugs

This is a pretty good overview of the "War on Drugs" since the 80's. It's long, but worth the read:

All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs - with very little to show for it. Cocaine is now as cheap as it was when Escobar died and more heavily used. Methamphetamine, barely a presence in 1993, is now used by 1.5 million Americans and may be more addictive than crack. We have nearly 500,000 people behind bars for drug crimes - a twelvefold increase since 1980 - with no discernible effect on the drug traffic. Virtually the only success the government can claim is the decline in the number of Americans who smoke marijuana - and even on that count, it is not clear that federal prevention programs are responsible. In the course of fighting this war, we have allowed our military to become pawns in a civil war in Colombia and our drug agents to be used by the cartels for their own ends. Those we are paying to wage the drug war have been accused of ­human-rights abuses in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. In Mexico, we are now ­repeating many of the same mistakes we have made in the Andes.

The problem with our strategy in fighting the "War on Drugs" is that it is fundamentally unsound. The common thread, regardless of the administration in charge, is the emphasis on the supply side of the equation. Has this strategy been the best use of our tax dollars? Using our military to cut off the drug supply may be politically palatable, but not really effective. Our plan of stopping suppliers by military force isn't just applicable abroad, we do it here as well.

It's clear that when small town PD's utilize tactics that might be taught at Fort Benning, there has been a shift in law enforcement techniques that lean towards militarization. If you watch footage from Iraq on night time raids of suspected terrorists homes by our army, you won't find it much different than something a SWAT team would do in serving a warrant.

That may change if more and more innocent people become casualties of the drug war. 92 year old Kathryn Johnson was killed a year ago in a botched police raid:

It was one year ago this week that narcotics officers in Atlanta, Georgia broke into the home of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston.

They had earlier arrested a man with a long rap sheet on drug charges. That man told the police officers that they'd find a large stash of cocaine in Johnston's home. When police forced their way into Johnston's home, she met them holding a rusty old revolver, fearing she was about to be robbed. The police opened fire, and killed her.

Shortly after the shooting, the police alleged that they had paid an informant to buy drugs from Ms. Johnston's home. They said she fired at them first, and wounded two officers. And they alleged they found marijuana in her home.

We now know that these were all lies. In fact, everything about the Kathryn Johnston murder was corrupt. The initial arrest of the ex-con came via trumped-up charges. The police then invented an informant for the search warrant, and lied about overseeing a drug buy from Johnston's home.

Ms. Johnston didn't actually wound any of the officers. They were wounded by fragments of ricochet from their own storm of bullets. And there was no marijuana. Once they realized their mistake, the officers handcuffed Ms. Johnston and left her to bleed and die on the floor of her own home while they planted marijuana in her basement.

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Conservative Belle said...

Since I don't have your email, I'm just posting this O/T tidbit here.

I was just listening to a bit of Laura Ingraham's radio program this morning. I heard her say "Ron Paul is fascinating." I thought you might like that.

I really respect and enjoy Ingraham.

Randolphus Maximus said...

I respect her opinion very much though I don't always agree with her. I remember when she had a show in the morning on FOX News called "Watch It" or something like that years ago. I'm glad she's back on there subbing for O'reilly occasionally.