Tales of Bin Laden: New York Times Bites on Ill-Sourced Super Heroin Story Peddled by Unnamed Officials 10/12/01

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As the war propaganda machinery gears up, the New York Times is doing its part. Despite extremely flimsy sourcing, the nation's premier newspaper on October 4 ran a variation on the bin Laden-Taliban-drugs theme claiming that bin Laden was devilishly attempting to concoct a high-potency form of heroin with which to lay waste to Western Civilization. "Super Heroin Planned by Bin Laden, Reports Say," ran the headline.

Citing unnamed "American officials," who in turn cited "an informer" and "a foreign intelligence service" as ultimate sources, the Times breathlessly reported that "bin Laden or his network were preparing to become directly involved in the heroin trade by developing a super-potent form of heroin."

The move to "super heroin" allegedly came in retaliation for US cruise missile strikes against Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998 in the wake of the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, an act for which bin Laden was indicted in the US. The goal of the alleged project was to create a new form of heroin "that would produce greater addiction and havoc than drugs available in Western cities," the Times reported.

The Times did make a limited effort to confirm the story, but the fact that DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson could tell the newspaper only that the agency had "limited information" about the alleged plot did not prevent the paper from running with it. To its credit, however, the paper did note the "super heroin" announcement was made as US officials sought "to portray the governing Taliban officials and Mr. bin Laden as critical cogs in the world drug trade."

Hutchinson testified before Congress last week that the DEA had "no direct evidence" tying bin Laden to the Afghan opium trade.

At bottom, the Times reported an allegation made by an unnamed US government official with a political agenda, based on the unnamed official's unverifiable assertion of having received unverifiable information from two anonymous sources in the spook demimonde. This is a performance more worthy of the tabloid New York Post than the "grey lady" of American journalism.

As for "super heroin" and the chemists capable of producing it, the Times might want to look at Stamford, CT, the home of Purdue Pharma. That's the company that manufactures OxyContin.

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Issue #206, 10/12/01 Editorial: I Feel Safer Already | DEA Bans Consumption of Hemp Foods Effective Immediately | In First, DEA Raids California Medical Marijuana Doctor, Feds Want to See Patient Records 206/noindictments No Indictments in Missouri Jack-in-the-Box Killings -- Prosecutor Calls Victims Bums | Tales of Bin Laden: New York Times Bites on Ill-Sourced Super Heroin Story Peddled by Unnamed Officials | Dealing with Ecstasy: As Europe Embraces Harm Reduction, Acting Drug Czar Fumes Against It | Jamaica: Prime Minister, Ruling Party Call for National Debate on Ganja Decrim | Bolivia Negotiations Stall as Coca Growers Reject Government Proposal | Activists Propose Take-Out Cannabis Cafe in Brixton, Authorities Mum | Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed in Alaska, Again | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | Job Openings at MPP | The Reformer's Calendar

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