Editorial: Stopping Bongs, Not Bombs (Evidently) 4/7/06

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David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 4/7/06

David Borden
Americans hold a diversity of opinions on how best to fight the "war on terror." But we're just about unanimous in wanting to see it go well -- we want the next attack on our soil (and attacks elsewhere) to be prevented. We have differences in our views on immigration and the flow of the undocumented crossing our borders. But most of us, whatever we think about illegal immigration, would prefer to see actual "bad guys" -- people who are willing to kill other people and have a high probability of doing so -- get nabbed rather than get through.

How comforting, then to know that the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division (ICE, formerly the INS) has every danger to America as well under control as it possibly can, and has enough resources to spare to also raid Florida head shops (sarcasm). It's a higher priority, and rightfully so (additional sarcasm) to have at least some Homeland Security agents spend their time confiscating bongs, rolling papers and pipes, instead of doing a little more investigating of terror cells or searching a few more of the crates entering our wide-open ports.

I'm not surprised at all, and that's not cynicism talking. I am not surprised because I have heard firsthand reports about the situation. Last year I had a conversation with a former employee of the Customs office in a major US city that is a hub for international travel. Not surprisingly, the office was extensively involved in fighting drug trafficking, but too extensively -- even the counter-terrorism division, where this person worked, focused primarily on drugs.

To be fair, that was before 9-11. Surely they got their priorities back on track after the shocking attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, no?

No. The counter-terrorism division of this Customs office continued to focus primarily on drugs. Even after 9-11.

In my opinion, that demonstrates extraordinarily poor judgment, as does the choice by the ICE agents to spend their time looking for bongs, not bombs. Homeland Security does not exist to confiscate bongs. Homeland Security is supposed to be looking for bombs.

I do not, however, believe that all these agents and their supervisors are stupid. I believe that drug-fighting is so alluring to a large number of our police and investigators that they just can't help it. Even if they're supposed to be working on something other than fighting drugs, if they can find an excuse to drop what they're supposed to be doing and go fight drugs, they will! (If I'm right about that, it's another good reason to legalize drugs.)

The 9-11 Commission discussed this problem in its July 2004 report (https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/347/report.shtml). Evidently southern Florida's Homeland Security officials didn't bother to read it. Or maybe they just forgot. Or maybe they didn't want to hear it.

Too bad for America.

-- END --
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Issue #430 -- 4/7/06

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Editorial: Stopping Bongs, Not Bombs (Evidently) | Feature: Measure to Make Drug Czar Research "Frankenstein Fungus" to Destroy Drug Crops Heads to the Senate | Feature: Pittsburgh Needle Exchange Under Attack, But May Come Out Ahead | Feature: As the Well Runs Dry, Texas Drug Task Forces Ride Off Into the Sunset | Offer: Important New Legalization Video Available | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Law Enforcement: NYPD Shuts Down Chelsea Clubs Over Drug Violations | Search and Seizure: Cops, School District to Pay Students $1.2 Million in Goose Creek Raid Settlement | Paraphernalia: ICE Raids South Florida Head Shops | Pain Medicine: Ohio Doctor Freed on Bail During Appeal of Drug Trafficking Conviction | Pregnancy I: Cocaine Use is Not Child Abuse, New Mexico Appeals Court Says | Pregnancy II: Expectant Mothers Who Expose Fetuses to Drugs Can't Be Convicted as Drug Dealers Under Fetal Rights Law, Texas Appeals Court Rules | Medical Marijuana: Reagan Aide Lyn Nofziger Dead at 81 -- Supported Patients' Rights | Europe: Italy Sets Quantity Guidelines for Tough New Drug Law | Latin America: Pro-Coca Upstart Poised to Win First Round of Peruvian Presidential Election | Web Scan: WOLA at House Andes Hearings, Mycoherbicides Again, Broken Windows Debunked, CBC on Coca and Peru's Election, Denver Post, Meth Legalization | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunities: System Administrator and Grassroots Organizer at MPP | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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