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The Week Online with DRCNet
(renamed "Drug War Chronicle" effective issue #300, August 2003)

Issue #205, 10/5/01

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Editorial: What Is It About Opium?
  2. Politicians Exploiting Drug-Terror Link
  3. Interview: John C. Thompson, Mackenzie Institute, Toronto
  4. Drug War Budgets Unaffected by September Attacks
  5. Wisconsin Lawmakers Seek Tougher Ecstasy Penalties, Would Make Possession a Felony
  6. Supersnitch Scandal: Mistakes Were Made, Says DEA Chief Hutchinson -- But No One Made Them
  7. Violence in the Chapare, Bolivia -- Two Sustain Bullet Wounds
  8. ALERT: Senate Judiciary Committee Voting on John Walters Nomination Wednesday
  9. Other Alerts: HEA, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana
  10. Salvia Divinorum Defense Fund Established
  11. Errata: Who's a Drug-Runnin' Terrorist?
  12. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)


1. Editorial: What Is It About Opium?

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 10/5/01

What is it about opium? To listen to drug warriors these days, it is the lifeblood of terrorist organizations around the globe. Ohio Rep. Rob Portman lamented that Americans who spend money on heroin (made from Afghani opium) are financing the Taliban, who in turn protect terrorists like Osama bin Laden. Therefore, say Portman and his ilk, reducing drug demand and disrupting drug trafficking organizations is part of the war against terrorism.

Translation: Anti-drug agencies and their supporters are afraid of seeing their budgets cut in favor of other law enforcement priorities. And, they're anxious to get themselves back in the headlines. So it's business as usual for the drug warriors -- stretch the facts as much as necessary, ignore the key issues, and hope no one notices -- or if some people do notice, hope that no one else notices them.

In reality, the resources being poured into the drug war can only come at the expense, not the benefit, of all other budget priorities, law enforcement or otherwise. Certainly, some drug traffickers will turn out to have ties to terrorist groups; but that doesn't mean that indiscriminately targeting all users and sellers of all drugs, is even a remotely efficient way of tracking down or dismantling or disempowering perpetrators of terrorism.

Not to mention that most heroin reaching the US now comes from Latin America, not Asia or the Middle East -- another fatal flaw in Portman's logic. And would an attack on opium cultivation and distribution do anything other than move the supply and supply lines from place to place? That's all such operations have ever done before. Such displacement might take some cash out of the hands of one set of enemies, but could just as easily put it in the hands of another. And eradicating the opium trade from the war-shattered land of Afghanistan, where it is one of the primary sources of income, is an even less realistic than usual drug war strategy.

But there's a larger issue at stake, which drug warriors hate to talk about, at least in a context like this. Why is that opium destined to be processed into heroin is a funding source for crime and terrorism, but opium intended for pain medicines or anesthesia isn't?

Are they two different types of opium? No. Are the drugs highly different? No, heroin and morphine, for example, are essentially similar. Not that any of that would make any difference anyway.

The only difference between opium for heroin and opium for pain meds is that pain meds are manufactured, distributed and taken legally. Heroin, on the other hand, is illegal.

In other words, the reason that opium grown to ultimately be processed into heroin provides easy money for terrorists, is heroin is illegal. And the converse is also obvious: Legalization of drugs would eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars a year of illicit profits, some of which accrues to perpetrators of terror and other violence. While the connection between drug prohibition and terrorism can be overstated; it is clear that ending prohibition is one of the steps that must be taken to make the world a safer place. It is equally clear why drug warriors don't like to talk about this.

Ignoring these undeniable facts is hard to excuse under ordinary circumstances. To still do so now, when Americans are filled with pain and fear and are seeking real answers, and to do so for political and budgetary gain, is a profound failure to lead. What is it about opium, and other such drugs, that our leaders refuse to think or speak rationally about them, at the most important times?


2. Politicians Exploiting Drug-Terror Link

Undaunted by a paucity of evidence, politicians and pundits eager to smash terrorism are drawing a polemical link between the Osama bin Laden network and illicit drug profits -- and taking a few swipes at the drug culture while they're at it. Not that dopers should feel special. Opportunistic politicos have used the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington to rail against all their favorite bogeymen, from pacifism to "nihilistic modernism," from abortion and the ACLU to the failure to invade Baghdad in 1991.

But the rhetoric is beginning to take on an ugly new turn as some politicians take to implicitly blaming domestic drug consumers for the attacks. Reviving unpleasant memories of William Bennett and Darryl Gates, who went as far as suggesting all drug users should be taken out and shot (this would have included Gates' own son), US congressmen and British prime ministers alike are pointing the finger at drug consumers.

One hotbed of finger-pointing is Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) 48-member Task Force for a Drug Free America. (See http://www.drcnet.org/wol/204.html#politicos and http://www.drcnet.org/wol/040.html#battle for DRCNet's earlier coverage of the task force.) In remarks last week, Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH), who will co-chair the panel along with fellow drug warriors Rep. John Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), came close to accusing drug consumers of being unpatriotic.

"By Americans spending money on their drug habits, we are helping to support the Taliban government, which protects terrorism," Portman said. "By stopping these drug traffickers, we are stopping the flow of cash used to fuel these terrorist cells," he added. "The role that we have to play here is to be sure that US money, through people using illegal drugs in the United States, is not being used to subsidize terrorism," Portman said.

Portman, however, did not address a number of relevant facts. For example, Americans who use drugs other than opiates are clearly not putting money in Kabul's coffers, since Afghanistan's primary drug crop is opium. US marijuana smokers, for example, may be enriching Mexican syndicates and the farmers of British Columbia, not to mention their fellow countrymen, who produce about half of the marijuana consumed in this country, but they are not enriching the Taliban. Likewise for cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and the whole panoply of uppers, downers, laughers and screamers which constitute the drug consumer pharmacopeia.

As for Afghan heroin, little of it shows up on American shores. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, "Most of the heroin seized by the DEA now comes from Colombia and Mexico. Previously, Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin dominated the US market, but these types are no longer available in sizeable quantities in cities along the East Coast, where, historically, there had been the greatest demand for heroin. In 1998, the DEA Heroin Signature Program indicated that 65 percent of the heroin seized in the United States originated in South America and another 17 percent came from Mexico. Further evidence of increasing amounts of Mexican heroin was substantiated in a 1998 independent study that indicated that 29 percent of the heroin used in the United States comes from Mexico."

Last but not least, legally used drugs made from opium, such as morphine, codeine or other opiates prescribed for pain -- or used as anesthesia in operations -- are not believed to enrich Afghani terror-mongers.

Portman's wide-of-the-bow shot at drug users, however, comes as no surprise. The Cincinnati Republican has made drug fighting a major part of his public image for years. He authored the Drug-Free Communities Act, which helps sustain federally-funded "grassroots" anti-drug groups, which have been actively fighting illegal drugs on the domestic front for several years. He is also a founder and current president of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati.

In his address to Congress this week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined the "blame the users" chorus. "The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for with the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets," Blair emoted. "Ninety percent of the heroin on British streets originates in Afghanistan," he said.

That figure is probably close to the mark, but like Portman, Blair has morphed the bin Laden-drug connection into a Taliban-drug connection. Lacking evidence to tie bin Laden directly to drug trafficking, DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson was forced to resort to similar rhetoric to argue the drug-terror connection.

"Although DEA has no direct evidence to confirm that bin Laden is involved in the drug trade, the sanctuary enjoyed by bin Laden is based on the Taliban's support for the drug trade, which is a primary source of income in Afghanistan," Hutchinson told Congress this week.

While he had to stretch to turn bid Laden into a drug threat, Hutchinson was eager to offer his agency as a crucial part of the "war against terror."

"As the tragic events in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, so horrifyingly demonstrate, terrorist violence is indeed a threat to the very national security of the United States," said Hutchinson. "Accordingly, the degree to which profits from the drug trade are directed to finance terrorist activities, as well as the extent to which both types of organizations rely upon the same money-laundering and smuggling facilitators or systems, is of paramount concern to the DEA."

Further blurring the distinctions between illicit drug markets and terrorism, Hutchinson added that, "We see in [international drug trafficking] groups a merger of international organized crime, drugs, and terror."

Hutchinson's comments before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, were as interesting for what they did not mention as for what they did. Although Hutchinson noted that "Afghanistan has been at war since 1979, the year the Soviet Union invaded" and "due to the warfare-induced decimation of the country's infrastructure, narcotics are the primary source of income in Afghanistan," he spoke not a word about the US role in Afghanistan's disintegration or the making of Osama bin Laden.

In its largest covert operation ever, the CIA funneled $3 billion dollars through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency to Islamic radicals from around the Moslem world, including bin Laden's organization. This CIA effort resulted in the decade-long war to throw out the Russians, during which US policy-makers turned a blind eye to opium production among their allies. Those same warlords, creatures of US largesse, then drove the country so much further into the ground with their civil wars in the 1990s that the Taliban looked like a good option to Afghans. (Those same warlords, by the way, now constitute the Northern Alliance, which hankers for a new round of US financing to drive the Taliban from power and reseat itself in Kabul.)

The drug warriors are on the march, with "terrorism" as their new mantra. If they would rather blame drugs than the past errors of US foreign policy, that is understandable. But there is little evidence to suggest that it will lead to more effective drug policy or anti-terrorism policy.


3. Interview: John C. Thompson, Mackenzie Institute, Toronto

John C. Thompson is director of the Mackenzie Institute, a Canadian think-tank concerned with organized violence and political instability. While normally working on such Canada-centric issues as the ties between Tamil refugees in Canada and the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Thompson came to the attention of the drug reform movement in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, when Ottawa Citizen reporter Dan Gardner quoted him on the links between illicit drug profits and terrorism. DRCNet spoke with Thompson this week to explore those links.

Week Online: Your institute has come under attack from some corners as being "right-wing" or anti-immigrant. How do you respond to those criticisms?

John C. Thompson: We are a group that provides research and comment on anything to do with political violence and instability. In doing so, we make enemies. We have reported on the Tamil Tigers, who are busy here raising money to finance their civil war in Sri Lanka. Their supporters do not like us. Similarly, we have criticized the Mohawk Warrior Society, which is much liked by some of the radical left. So, yes, I've been called a right-winger. I've also been called a Jew-loving race traitor, so go figure.

WOL: The term "terrorism" is getting thrown around quite a bit these days. Who is a "terrorist"? Do all guerrilla armies or national liberation movements that use violence qualify as "terrorists"? What about national governments?

Thompson: Trying to use exact definitions in this area is dangerous, the boundaries are wide and mushy. The term is normally reserved for small groups that use violence for political purposes, but you also have to recognize that terror is used as an instrument of statecraft. I prefer to use the term "insurgent" instead. In the 1980s, I was sympathetic to the Contras in Nicaragua, and I would spend countless hours arguing about whether they were "freedom fighters" or "terrorists." In my book, if you commit acts of terror, you're a terrorist.

WOL: How do these armed political groups finance themselves?

Thompson: Take the Tamil Tigers -- there is nothing they don't do. They use legitimate means, such as charitable organizations to which you can donate money, voluntary donations when the bucket is passed, they sell their atrocity photos, their t-shirts, their posters. Then there's the "war tax" on merchants. And such groups can even solicit government funds for cultural groups in places like Canada, some of which money may be being diverted. Then there is the illegal side -- drugs, guns, fraud, extortion, counterfeiting. You name it, there's an insurgent group somewhere using these criminal means to finance their activities. Remember, the Chinese triads and the Italian-American Mafias started off as political groups, insurgent groups, and have devolved into merely criminal organizations.

WOL: What is the role of funds from the illicit drug trade in funding political violence?

Thompson: In the case of Osama bin Laden, although we don't know precisely his involvement in the opium and heroin trade, we do know that Afghanistan is one of the main heroin production areas in the world. I estimated that Islamic radical groups may get 25-30% of their funding from the drug trade, but that is really a finger-in-the-wind guess. In other areas, the connection is both more clear and more direct. In the Golden Triangle, another huge opium production area, both the Burmese government and opposition groups such as the United Wa Army are involved. The PKK [Kurdish liberation group] was heavily involved in hashish, from production to distribution. And Hezbollah in Lebanon was also into hash. The Kosovo Liberation Army made a bundle facilitating smuggling in and through the Balkans. Guns and drugs out, stolen cars in. In the African wars of the last decade, contraband diamonds have been the big money-maker. And in Colombia, cocaine fuels that conflict.

And that raises an interesting point. In Colombia, the FARC has for the past three years had the opportunity to try and arrange peace, but they don't seem to be interested in anything but the status quo. Eventually you compromise your ideology to stay with the money from drugs. I will mention once again the Triads and the Mafia, both of which were once flawlessly ideological revolutionary movements.

WOL: Could ending drug prohibition help decrease political violence and instability?

Thompson: I'm afraid of the social pathologies that could result from legalization, but I think so. Look at what happened with cigarettes in Canada. When the government raised taxes on them so high, they became a contraband commodity. In 1993 in Canada, taxed cigarette prices were three times those in US. Canadians went into cigarette smuggling wholesale, helped by the Mohawk Warriors [on reservations straddling the US-Canada border]. By the next year, when the government announced a cigarette tax cut, 40% of all cigarettes in Canada were illegal cigarettes. That generated something like $2.5 billion in free money, a lot of which went to the Warriors, whose hold on the reservation became almost absolute. The Warriors talked about all the good things they were doing, but their kids were smuggling across the river instead of getting real jobs. When the Canadian government revoked the cigarette taxes, that changed almost overnight.

That's what got me thinking narcotics. I don't like narcotics and I don't like the people who use them. But drying up the flow of money by regulating the trade could only help. We've watched how narcotics distribution networks work up here, and it's really free money for a lot of unsavory people. It has opened up conduits that could be used for other purposes, including terrorism. There is also a historical argument: If you look at the American Mafia, it suffered through lean times in the 1930s and 1940s, after the end of Prohibition. They never regained the influence they had during Prohibition. Under Prohibition, Al Capone ran Chicago. With all the money derived from illicit drug profits, you can finance all kinds of trouble.

WOL: Marijuana cultivation in British Columbia is creating billions of dollars in profits. What impact would ending prohibition have on the British Columbia marijuana industry?

Thompson: It would damage the British Columbia economy in general, but in would also damage the organized crime elements -- the bikers, the Asian gangs -- that have gotten involved because of all the profits. Those growers out there don't want to see pot legalized. And when it comes to legalization, I'm sure the average cartel guy is more conservative than the Republicans.

WOL: In the wake of the September 11 attacks, there has been much talk of tightening US borders with Canada and Mexico or, alternatively, of a continental security zone, the so-called "North American shield." What is your take on these proposals?

Thompson: Trying to beef up the US-Canada border would be counterproductive because so much legitimate commerce crosses that border. With the current crackdown at points of entry, auto plants in Detroit are idled because they can't get their parts from Ontario. Meanwhile, on the quiet back roads, the smuggling continues. What would be more useful would be for the US and Canada to harmonize their admission requirements, who gets visas and work permits and the like. We're lucky the whole crop of September 11 hijackers didn't come through Canada. As for the North American shield, if you include Mexico, you have a Fortress America where the roof is sound, but the basement is leaky. Maybe we should be helping the Mexicans get things under control -- there is evidence that some terror groups, such as the Basque ETA, operate there. Perhaps that is the sort of assistance the US should be providing Mexico. And as Mexico's economy picks up, you'll have to help in other ways.


4. Drug War Budgets Unaffected by September Attacks

Representatives of two groups closely concerned with federal anti-drug funding have told the Substance Abuse Funding News that the $19.2 billion 2002 federal drug budget will not be reduced or reallocated in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Although Congress has authorized an emergency $40 billion appropriation to make war on Osama bin Laden and earmarked an additional $15 billion to bail out US airlines, the anti-drug budget remains untouchable -- at least this year.

Sue Thau, policy analyst for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and Jenny Collier, director of national and state policy for the Legal Action Center, told the industry newsletter that chairmen of key congressional appropriations committees have reassured them the drug budget will remain intact. The Legal Action Center (http://www.lac.org) is a law and public policy organization concerned with ensuring non-discriminatory access to drug treatment.

CADCA (http://www.cadca.org) is the umbrella organization of more than 5,000 "grassroots" community-based anti-drug organizations funded by foundations and the US government. CADCA member organizations are among the recipients of grants from the Justice Department's Drug-Free Communities Act program, which includes $50.2 million for 2002. CADCA has been accused in the past of acting as a non-governmental propaganda arm supporting current drug policies, including the ban on medical use of marijuana.

While both Thau and Collier told SAF News the unchanged drug budgets were good news, they and similar groups, such as the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors and the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, wanted more funding. They also expressed concerns about the federal drug budget for 2003. Thau told SAF News the weakened economy and President Bush's proposed new round of tax cuts could threaten funding next year.

The "upside," said Thau, is that the sense of national emergency in the wake of the attacks is causing Congress to move swiftly on appropriations bills related to the attacks which have drug funding embedded within them. The Transportation Department appropriations bill, which contains $26 million for workplace drug testing and $32 million for anti-drunk driving and anti-underage drinking campaigns, is likely to pass quickly because it contains the airline bail-out funds. Similarly, the District of Columbia appropriations bill, which bars local funding of needle exchange programs and any effort to lessen marijuana penalties, is likely to pass quickly because it now contains $16 million for emergency planning and security programs for the capital city.

Bill McColl, director of national affairs for The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation (http://www.drugpolicy.org), told DRCNet that while this year's drug budget was "probably a lock," people on the treatment side of the issue may be in for a surprise next year. "These attacks might reinforce the law enforcement side of anti-drug spending," said McColl, "but people on the treatment side should be careful. Even though treatment is far more effective than law enforcement, it is more likely to be cut in the current atmosphere," he said. "Are these law enforcement agencies using this as an excuse to request more?" he asked. "You bet they are."

McColl, too is eyeing the 2003 drug budget. "This could be the time to start talking about priorities," he said. "Our longtime goal has been to influence the appropriations process, and we will be working on that next year."


5. Wisconsin Lawmakers Seek Tougher Ecstasy Penalties, Would Make Possession a Felony

Under current Wisconsin law, simple possession of MDMA, or ecstasy as it is commonly known, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. That's not tough enough for state Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh) and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), who have introduced a bill to make possession of the popular recreational drug a felony.

Under the bill offered by Underheim and Erpenbach, simple possession of ecstasy and a number of other so-called club drugs, including GHB and ketamine, would become a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Penalties for the distribution of Ecstasy and other club drugs would also increase, to come in line with penalties for heroin and cocaine. Under the proposal, sale of up to tens grams is worth up to 7 ½ years in prison; sale of more than 10 grams could merit up to 22 ½ years. Mandatory minimum sentences kick in at the sale of more than three grams, which calls for a six-month minimum stay behind bars, and range up to a 10-year mandatory minimum for sale of more than 400 grams. (The legislative analysis and full text of the bill are available at the Wisconsin legislature web site -- http://www.legis.state.wi.us -- by searching on Assembly Bill 464 or AB464.)

The move comes after 11 months of increasing concern among Wisconsin officials, which garnered its latest burst of media attention only three weeks ago with a "Raves, Ravers, and Club Drugs" conference in Waukesha attended by social workers, health professionals, and school and law enforcement officials. The conference, and the dire warnings of attendees, received extensive coverage in newspapers covering the state's two most populated areas, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Capital Times in Madison.

"It's life-threateningly scary to me," Jim Haessly, director of student services for the Waukesha School District, told the Journal Sentinel.

"It's here, and it's big time," Kathy Sorenson, program director of Project HUGS in Madison, a group that counsels families of kids with drug and alcohol problems, warned the same paper.

Haessly and Sorenson had been listening to the likes of Madison Police Detective George Chavez, a local law enforcement rave guru, who painted lurid pictures of all-night dance parties with heavy drug use drawing revelers from hundreds of miles away and enticing unwary teens through the lure of the Internet, according to local press accounts.

Raves there certainly are in Wisconsin and drugs may well be consumed at such events, as they are at many public events, but despite the official angst, there are few hard numbers to demonstrate that ecstasy is a significant public health or law enforcement problem. According to a report from the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, "Crime and Arrests in Wisconsin: Preliminary Report, 2000," club drug possession arrests, predominantly ecstasy, accounted for little more than 1% of all Wisconsin drug arrests. Club drug sales arrests, 205 people in 2000, accounted for fewer than 1% of all drug arrests. Of some 25,000 persons arrested on drug charges in the state last year, fewer than 600 were arrested for club drugs (http://oja.state.wi.us/static/pdf%20files/publications/crime00/ucrprelim99.pdf).

As for health effects, the number of Wisconsinites who have actually died after taking ecstasy appears tiny. The Journal Sentinel, in its sensationalistic article on the rave conference, could point to only one ecstasy-related death in the state, that of 16-year-old Brett Zweiful of Madison, who died last year after attending a Madison rave. But that didn't stop the paper from asserting that "ecstasy-related deaths are more prevalent in other parts of the country," then recycling the long-exposed lie that club drugs caused for 234 Florida deaths from 1997 to 2000 (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/138.html#floridacount).

An aggressive push by law enforcement and the drug treatment complex, abetted by a supine mass media, thus laid the groundwork for Underheim and Erpenbach's bill. Underheim told the Journal Sentinel that Detective Chavez and Dane County (Madison) District Attorney Mary Ellen Karst proposed the tough new law, telling him that existing penalties were not sufficient for the damage the drug could allegedly do.

Underheim apparently bought into that thinking completely, then added his own uniquely reversed race-spin. "There should not be a distinction between the dangerous drugs taken by suburban kids and the dangerous drugs used by kids in inner city Milwaukee," he told the newspaper, using time-honored code words for white and minority youth. "The law enforcement community is working aggressively to deal with the problem," Underheim added. "This bill would give law enforcement more tools they need to control the use of this drug."

It would also force more recreational ecstasy users into drug treatment, if Detective Chavez has his way. "Kids who can pay the [old] fine -- who's going to want to sit through treatment," he complained to the Journal Sentinel.

The legislation is currently moving through committees in the state Assembly and Senate.


6. Supersnitch Scandal: Mistakes Were Made, Says DEA Chief Hutchinson -- But No One Made Them

DRCNet has reported on several occasions on the strange odyssey of Andrew Chambers, the St. Louis native who went from being the Drug Enforcement Administration's star informant to one its biggest embarrassments. Over a 16-year career, Chambers received more than $2 million in DEA funds -- his reward for helping to arrest more than 400 people in 31 different cities. He also committed perjury on the witness stand dozens of times, lying about his arrest and conviction record, his tax payments and his level of educational achievement. According to a DEA internal investigation obtained by the St. Louis Post, some DEA agents and supervisors knew of Chambers' mendacious ways, but failed to reign him in (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/185.html#deasnitch).

Now, DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson has announced that no DEA employees will be disciplined for letting Chambers get away with serial perjury. In an interview last Friday, he told the St. Louis Post that no agents would be punished because it was "a failure of policy versus a failure of personnel." Hutchinson also pleaded that the 9,000-strong agency had been duped by the crafty Chambers. "Chambers abused his position with us, and we didn't have the systems in place to keep the checks and balances on that," he excused.

According to the agency's own records, however, it did have the ability to have high-level headquarters officials wage a two-year court battle to keep Chambers' criminal record and his repeated lying about it on the stand secret.

Hutchinson told the Post that the agency had made reforms in the wake of the Supersnitch scandal: The agency has now set up a central registry to track snitches who testify in more than one place, said Hutchinson, and all agents have been ordered to turn over complete records on their informants to both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Hutchinson also defended the use of informants, saying they were "crucial" not only to the war on drugs, but now to the war on terrorism. "You've got to use informants, otherwise you can't get the job done," he said.

A DEA press spokesman in Washington confirmed Hutchinson's announcement to the Post. "A thorough investigation has been completed, and there are no findings that require disciplinary action," he told DRCNet.

Dean Steward is not satisfied with the results. He is the Los Angeles public defender who broke the scandal by pursuing a three-year battle with the DEA and the Justice Department. "I'm stunned that so much government wrongdoing meant so little to the government," he told the Post. "Had this been a major corporation, heads would roll," he added.


7. Violence in the Chapare, Bolivia -- Two Sustain Bullet Wounds

(The following bulletin was received from the Andean Information Network.)

At approximately 7:00am on Thursday, October 4th, members of the Joint Task Force shot two coca growers 50 meters from an eradication camp in Cinco Esquinas, near Santa Rosa. Further investigation will determine the specific circumstances of these shootings.

  • Rosalia Merida de Mejia (66 years old): A bullet entered the left side and exited the right side of her neck.
  • Claudio Llave Pina (32 years old): A bullet entered the back of his right shoulder and exited the front.
Both patients are receiving medication attention in the Villa Tunari hospital and are under observation to determine whether they need to be transferred to Santa Cruz or Cochabamba for specialized treatment. Medical certificates from the Ministry of Justice's forensic specialist confirm these injuries.

This new use of excessive force in response to active campesino resistance to eradication continues to heighten tensions in the region. Negotiations between coca growers' representatives and the Bolivian government slowly progress in La Paz and Cochabamba. The government has agreed to pay idemnization to the families of a number of coca growers killed or wounded by security forces since 1998. It is important to note, though, that economic compensation should not replace investigation and prosecution of those responsible within the civilian court system.

Institutions like the Catholic Church and the Human Rights Ombudsman's office express concern that the escalating violence could impede a peaceful resolution to the present conflict.

For further information, contact the Andean Information Network at [email protected], visit http://www.scbbs-bo.com/ain/ or write to Casilla 4817, Cochabamba, Bolivia.


8. ALERT: Senate Judiciary Committee Voting on John Walters Nomination Wednesday

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the John Walters drug czar nomination on Wednesday morning next week (10/10/01). If your state has a Senator who sits on that committee, then your help is urgently needed. Please call or fax your Senator and ask him or her to vote "no" on this bad appointment.

Previously we have asked people to visit our web site to send e-mail to the Senate. At this stage, we really need phone calls or faxes. Below you will find a list of Judiciary Committee members by state. Please look through this list and see if your state is represented on it, and if so, please call your Senator today or on Monday to voice your opposition to the John Walters nomination for drug czar. Following is the list of Senators with their phone numbers, followed by our original alert on this subject; look up your state on the list, or visit http://www.senate.gov to find local contact info or fax numbers.

ALABAMA: Senator Jeff Sessions (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-4124
Birmingham: (205) 731-1500
Huntsville: (256) 533-0979
Mobile: (334) 414-3083
Montgomery: (334) 265-9507

ARIZONA: Senator Jon Kyl (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-4521
Phoenix: (602) 840-1891
Tucson: (520) 575-8633

CALIFORNIA: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-3841
San Francisco: (415) 393-0707

DELAWARE: Senator Joseph Biden (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-5042
Wilmington: (302) 573-6345
Milford: (302) 424-8090

KANSAS: Senator Sam Brownback (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-6521
Topeka: (785) 233-2503
Overland Park: (913) 492-6378
Wichita: (316) 264-8066
Garden City: (316) 275-1124
Pittsburg: (316) 231-6040

KENTUCKY: Senator Mitch McConnell (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-2541
Paducah: (270) 442-4554
Bowling Green: (270) 781-1673
Louisville: (502) 582-6304
Fort Wright: (859) 578-0188
London: (606) 864-2026
Lexington: (859) 224-8286

ILLINOIS: Senator Richard Durbin (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-2152
Chicago: (312) 353-4952
Springfield: (217) 492-4062
Marion: (618) 998-8812

IOWA: Senator Charles Grassley (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-3744
Cedar Rapids: (319) 363-6832
Council Bluffs: (712) 322-7103
Davenport: (319) 322-4331
Des Moines: (515) 284-4890
Sioux City: (712) 233-1860
Waterloo: (319) 232-6657

MASSACHUSETTS: Senator Edward Kennedy (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-4543
Boston: (617) 565-3170

NEW YORK: Senator Charles Schumer (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-6542

NORTH CAROLINA: Senator John Edwards (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-3154
Raleigh: (919) 856-4245

OHIO: Senator Mike DeWine (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-2315
Xenia: (937) 376-3080
Cincinnati: (513) 763-8260
Cleveland: (216) 522-7272
Columbus: (614) 469-5186
Marietta: (740) 373-2317
Toledo: (419) 259-7536

PENNSYLVANIA: Senator Arlen Specter (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-4254
Philadelphia: (215) 597-7200
Pittsburgh: (412) 644-3400
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951
Erie: (814) 453-3010
Allentown: (610) 434-1444
Scranton: (717) 346-2006
Wilkes-Barre: (717) 826-6265

SOUTH CAROLINA: Senator Strom Thurmond (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-5972
Columbia: (803) 765-5494
Aiken: (803) 649-2591
Charleston: (843) 727-4282
Florence: (843) 662-8873

UTAH: Senator Orrin Hatch (R)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-5251
Salt Lake City: (801) 524-4380
Cedar City: (435) 586-8435
Provo: (801) 375-7881
Ogden: (801) 625-5672
St. George: (435) 634-1795

VERMONT: Senator Patrick Leahy (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-4242
Burlington: (802) 863-2525 or (800) 642-3193
Montpelier: (802) 229-0569

WASHINGTON: Senator Maria Cantwell (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-3441
Seattle: (206) 220-6400
Spokane: (509) 353-2507
Vancouver: (360) 696-7838
toll-free statewide: (888) 648-7328

(Wisconsin residents should call both of your Senators:)

WISCONSIN: Senator Herb Kohl (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-5653
Milwaukee: (414) 297-4451 or (800) 247-5645
Madison: (608) 264-5338
Eau Claire: (715) 832-8424
Appleton: (920) 738-1640
LaCrosse: (608) 796-0045

WISCONSIN: Senator Russell Feingold (D)
Washington, DC: (202) 224-5323
Middleton: (608) 828-1200
Milwaukee: (414) 276-7282
La Crosse: (608) 782-5585
Wausau: (715) 848-5660
Green Bay: (920) 465-7508

Our original action alert follows:

--------- http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/walters ---------

Wrong Man for the Job: Oppose John Walters Nomination

The Judiciary Committee of the US Senate is next week voting on the nomination of John Walters for the office of Director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (the "drug czar"). DRCNet strongly opposes this nomination, and asks you to contact your Senators and ask them to vote NO on it. Please visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/walters/ to send e-mail or faxes to the Senate. Even more importantly, when you are done, please call your two Senators on the phone as well -- you can reach them via the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and use the tell-a-friend form on our site or forward this alert to spread the word.

John Walters hold views on drug policy that verge on the fanatical. Perhaps most disturbingly, Walters has enthusiastically praised the Peruvian military's practice of shooting down aircraft suspected of being used by drug traffickers. Earlier this year, two American missionaries were killed in such a shoot-down, inevitable casualties of an extraordinarily reckless and immoral practice that violates international law.

In 1996, Walters testified before Congress in opposition to the Sentencing Commission's recommendation to lower federal crack cocaine penalties to the same level as powder cocaine. Walters has dismissed the problem of racial bias in drug enforcement as an "urban myth," despite overwhelming evidence that such bias is rampant; for example, African Americans make up only 13% of the nation's drug users, yet account for more than 70% of incarcerations for drug possession. His recommendation on cocaine penalties was made despite a consensus among serious observers of criminal justice that powder cocaine enforcement is also carried out in a racially discriminatory fashion.

As Deputy Director of ONDCP during the previous Bush administration, Walters favored incarceration over drug treatment and education. He has lobbied Congress for stiffer penalties for nonviolent drug offenders, and opposed state laws exempting medical marijuana users from criminal penalties.

In 1996, Walters coauthored a paper entitled "The Clinton Administration's Continuing Retreat in the War on Drugs." In truth, however, the Clinton Administration escalated the drug war, imprisoning more people for drug offenses than during the preceding Reagan and Bush administrations combined. To characterize the harsh Clinton drug war record as a "retreat" is to elevate partisan politics over truthful discussion and to show a deep disrespect to the American people on an issue of the greatest importance.

In short, the Walters drug record is one of propaganda, extremism and disregard for issues of racial equality. John Walters is unfit to lead the nation on drug policy, and should be rejected by the US Congress. Whether we can defeat his nomination or not, raising our voices in protest now will put pressure on the administration to moderate its drug policies.

The Walters nomination has been criticized by mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and the Economist, even by the conservative flagship magazine National Review. Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/walters/ to access this and other information and to send a message to the Senate against this retrograde nomination -- and please call or fax your two US Senators and urge them to vote against the confirmation of John Walters as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Visit http://www.senate.gov to find out how to reach them, or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Time is of the essence!


9. Other Alerts: HEA, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana

Click on the links below for information on these issues and web forms to help you contact Congress:

Repeal the Higher Education Act Drug Provision
http://www.raiseyourvoice.com

Oppose New Anti-Ecstasy Bill
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/ecstasywar/

Repeal Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/justice/

Support Medical Marijuana
http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/medicalmarijuana/


10. Salvia Divinorum Defense Fund Established

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is currently considering whether to outlaw the plant Salvia Divinorum. To prepare an immediate response, the Alchemind Society's Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) has established the Salvia Divinorum Defense Fund, for the purpose of initiating a number of new projects aimed at protecting Salvia Divinorum's fragile legal status.

Visit http://www.alchemind.org/salvia_defense_fund.htm to learn more.


11. Errata: Who's a Drug-Runnin' Terrorist?

In our article last week, "While Reformers Brood, Politicos Make Drug-Terror Connection," the Week Online devoted a parenthetical paragraph to pointing out various connections between drug trafficking and armed political formations. In mentioning the situation among paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland connected to the drug trade, DRCNet erroneously mentioned the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

The RUC is the official police force for the province and has not been linked to drug trafficking. DRCNet instead meant to list the Ulster Defense Forces (paramilitary Loyalists), who have been linked to Scottish drug traffickers.


12. The Reformer's Calendar

(Please submit listings of events related to drug policy and related areas to [email protected].)

September 27-28, Washington, DC, "National Mobilization on Colombia, featuring workshops, meetings, lobbying and nonviolent demonstrations. Sponsored by the Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Colombia Human Rights Committee, Colombia Support Network, Global Exchange, United Church of Christ and Witness for Peace. Visit http://www.ColombiaMobilization.org for info.

September 28, 4:30-6:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, "Open the Can" Drug War Vigil. At the New Bernalillo Courthouse, 400 Lomas NW. For fuhrther information, call (505) 342-8090.

September 29, noon, London, England, Cannabis Peace March & Rally, marking 73rd anniversary of cannabis prohibition in the United Kingdom. At Speakers Corner, Hyde Park (Marble Arch Tube), leaves 2:00pm via Park Lane & Piccadilly to for rally at Trafalgar with speakers. For further info, call 0207 637 7467, visit http://www.cannabiscoalition.org or e-mail [email protected].

October 1-3, Ottawa, Canada, "Women's Critical Resistance: From Victimization to Criminalization," at the Government Conference Centre. For information or to submit a presentation proposal, call (613) 238-2422 for information or write to Kim Pate, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, 701-151 Slater St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P5H3.

October 2, 6:00-7:00pm, El Paso, Texas, November Coalition Public Meeting. At Doc's Bar-B-Que, 9530 Viscount, call (915) 204-2844 or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

October 3, 7:00-10:00pm, Washington, DC, Hemp Car Homecoming Benefit. At the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW, (202) 588-9118, admission $5.

October 5, 8:30am, Tulsa, OK, forum with Ethan Nadelmann. At the University of Tulsa College of Law, breakfast at 8:15 in the Midcourt Room. For info, call Sue Lorenz at (918) 631-5622 or (918) 631-2431.

October 5, 8:00pm, Tulsa, OK, presentation by Ethan Nadelmann, as part of Shabbat evening services. At Temple Israel, 2004 East 22nd Place. For further information, contact Jeanne Jacobs at (918) 747-1309.

October 6, 8:00 pm, Iowa City, IA, "The Law's Treatment of the Disadvantaged: The Politics of the American Drug War." At the University of Iowa College of Law, call (319) 335-9093 or e-mail [email protected] for further information or to reserve a space.

October 6-7, Phoenix, AZ, "Freedom Summit," annual libertarian seminar. At the Embassy Suites Hotel, visit http://www.freedomsummit.com for further information.

October 7-10, St. Louis, MO, American Methadone Treatment Association Conference 2001. For further information, e-mail [email protected] or call (212) 566-5555.

October 26-27, Cortland, NY, "Thinking About Prisons: Theory and Practice." At SUNY Cortland, call (607) 753-2727 for info.

October 24, 7:00-8:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, November Coalition Wednesday Community Meeting. At the Peace and Justice Center, 144 Harvard SE. For further information, call (505) 342-8090.

October 26, 4:30-6:00pm, Albuquerque, NM, "There's Something Fishy About The War on Drugs." At the New Bernalillo Courthouse, 400 Lomas NW. For further information, call (505) 342-8090.

September 28, 5:00-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, "Never Stop Dancing: Harm Reduction in Gay Clubs and Parties," forum addressing the cultural significance of the gay club/party subculture, the changing landscape of drug use, emerging health challenges associated with the party scene, and an overview of new interventions to increase safety. Presented by The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation and the Electric Dreams Foundation, at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street and Geary. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org/safecircuit/ for further information.

November 8, 9:30am, Philadelphia, PA, "Drug War Reality Tour: The Philadelphia-Plan Colombia Connection." Hosted by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Politics of Recovery Committee. Meeting at 2825 N. 5th St., visit http://www.kwru.org or call (215) 203-1945 for further information.

November 10-11, Washington, DC, Students for Sensible Drug Policy 3rd Annual Conference, at The George Washington University. Call (202) 293-4414, e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.ssdp.org for further information.

November 13, 6:00-8:00pm, New York, NY, "Women, Prison and Family." At Audrey Cohen College, 75 Varick St., for information call (212) 343-1234.

November 14-16, Barcelona, Spain, First Latin Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm. For further information, e-mail [email protected], visit http://www.igia.org/clat/ or call Enric Granados at 00 34 93 415 25 99.

December 14 & 15, 8:00pm, Philadelphia, PA, "Corner Wars," play by Tim Dowlin, hosted by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. At the Tomlinson Theatre, 13th & Norris, Temple University Main Campus. Visit http://www.kwru.org or call (215) 203-1945 for tickets or for further information.

February 28-March 1, 2002, New York, NY, "Problem Solving Courts: From Adversarial Litigation to Innovative Jurisprudence." Panelists include former Attorney General Janet Reno, Rev. Al Sharpton and Mary Barr, Exec. Dir. Conextions. At Fordham University Law School, take the A, B, C, D, 1, and 9 subway trains to 59th Street/Columbus Circle and walk one block west. For further information, call (656) 345-5352 or e-mail [email protected].

March 3-7, 2002, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 13th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm and 2nd International Harm Reduction Congress on Women and Drugs. Sponsored by the International Harm Reduction Association, visit http://www.ihrc2002.net or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

May 3-4, 2002, Portland, OR, Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, focus on Analgesia and Other Indications. Sponsored by Patients Out of Time and Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, for further information visit http://www.medicalcannabis.com or call (804) 263-4484.

December 1-4, 2002, Seattle, WA, Fourth National Harm Reduction Conference. Featuring keynote speaker Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former US Surgeon General, at the Sheraton Seattle. For further information, visit http://www.harmreduction.org or call (212) 213-6376.


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PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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