Skip to main content

Editorial: Things That Happen Over and Over

Submitted by David Borden on (Issue #462)
Drug War Issues

One of the feature stories in the news this week was the annual ritual of the Thanksgiving "Turkey Pardon." This year "Flyer" and "Fryer," their names chosen in an online reader poll on the White House web site, got to live out the remainder of their natural lives on a farm in rural Virginia. The Turkey Pardon, a quasi-official act of the sitting US President, has happened reliably every Thanksgiving week for nearly 60 years.

David Borden
Another annual occurrence has been the current President's relative disuse of his power to grant clemencies and pardons. When I first commented on the Turkey Pardons, "Stars" and "Stripes" in 2003, Bush had yet to use the power at all. Now that is no longer completely true, but it is still close to being true. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Debra Saunders, the federal prisoner count rose steeply since 2003 -- from 150,000 to over 190,000 -- while the president has issued a mere two commutations and 97 pardons over his entire term. As a long-time vegetarian, I certainly don't oppose the turkey pardons. But when it comes to another long-time White House holiday tradition, Christmas pardons of people, George Bush has been a veritable Scrooge, if not a Grinch, and that should stop.

Yet another thing that happens over and over -- something no one would dare to call a tradition, yet whose reoccurrence is plainly inevitable -- is the accidental killing in drug raids of innocent or at least nonviolent people by paramilitarized police squadrons. What happens is that SWAT teams, many of which have more or less turned into drug squads, will use incredibly aggressive tactics like battering rams or stun grenades to break into homes of suspected drug offenders. The people inside, not expecting the intrusion and not understanding it to be any different from an attack, react with mere trauma most of the time, but sometimes by dying of heart attacks or by pulling out guns in self-defense and getting shot. Sometimes the people inside get shot whether they pull out guns or not.

Pardoning turkeys isn't enough -- because enough is enough.
A report by the Cato Institute this year examines the problem in detail. It has been growing. Atlanta's Kathryn Johnston was the latest victim. The 92-year old opened fire on three police officers after they forced their way into her home without knocking. The officers were wounded, but returned fire on Johnston, who was killed. People are justifiably angry, many regarding Johnston's use of her weapon as justified in the circumstances, albeit tragic in where it led. Police called the incident "tragic" but said they were executing a legal warrant after an undercover officer had bought drugs at her home. Time will tell if that claim is truthful or otherwise. But even if it is, how does it justify what happened?

Drug war killings by SWAT teams of people who are innocent or undeserving of it are only one of the many drug war outrages that happen over and over. In my opinion it is time to say "enough is enough."

As a first step, I ask that those of you reading this, who have other drug war outrages they care about, make posts discussing them to the comment section at the bottom of this web page. (If would be great if you could log in first too, so you won't be "anonymous" and people including us at DRCNet will know how to reach you. We're going to be doing some redesign work to make that easier during the next few weeks.)

Next week we will begin to talk about step two...

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

When I was prescribed an antibiotic this week, I was told Medicare doesn't pay for it. It is a new drug that cost $250.00. These real drug lords in the pharmaceuticals should be in prison for 60 years for price gauging and not treating the American people properly. These are the real criminals!

Fri, 11/24/2006 - 1:19pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Until you know what it cost to make and develop that drug, how much it cost to try to develop the ones that didn't pan out, and the profit they need to make to keep investors investing in those pharma companies, then I'd say you don't know what you need to yet.

Mon, 11/27/2006 - 4:07pm Permalink
DJR (not verified)

Here's another "connect the dots" drug war link that people don't mention that much when speaking about immigration reform.

The Problem:
Mexicans ( and other Central/South American countries) are coming to the US for jobs and the hope of a brighter future in supposedly unsustainable numbers.

Because Mexico's government and economy are unstable for businesses and individuals to fully invest with confidence.

Because the government is perpetually fighting drug cartels that have more revenue (bigger guns, better bribes, better salaries), less bureaucracy (quicker decisions) and greater loyalty from locals especially the poor, which is the majority of the country. This fighting causes instability for Mexico's infrastructure.

Why continue this fight?
Because US policy dictates so.

Decriminalizing and regulating the drug trade empowers the Mexican government, increases tax revenues and stabilizes the country. Initially, this new policy will ignite the "final battle" between the cartels and the government causing much despair. However, with aid from the US, this can be minimized and a market created for the safe regulation of these substances. Obviously, this is not the only economic and governmental reform that needs to be established for greater domestic and foreign investment in Mexico. But, it will lessen the most destabilizing force on the planet - death.

Fri, 11/24/2006 - 5:59pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I didn't think the law enforcement{gestapo} had to have search warrents? Yes enougth is enough, however its been enough since it started...forever. When enough come to our country and overflow it with big familys and our drug laws get worse ... They never seem to get better... the good old USA will become the same place they were trying to escape. After all someone is making money ...It's all about the money. If its not legal , someone very high up wants to keep it that way , Ollie North and the Contras are as real today as they we're in their hay day, Just a different name. The game is the same with added players all the time and noone wants to loose their place at the trough. Pat Schreer 4395 Conway blvd, Port Charlotte, FL 33952

Sat, 11/25/2006 - 7:03pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Your living in my old neighborhood, where my children still live and I am trying to have a house search and destroyed but I keep running into road blocks. I have called the law....Nothing! They won't even come out to investigate! My children live there, other children live there, I don't want them growing up with this type of enviroment. But yet....what can I do! I am one person and no one seems to have enough guts to obviously stand up to these people!!! There must be a way to destroy these little .....

Fri, 08/03/2007 - 10:55am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

i was resently arested with out being served a warrent and i did not have my miranda rights read to me, can they do this to me? do you have any statuation codes on this matter?nets

Fri, 12/29/2006 - 5:28pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.