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Law Enforcement: DEA Spent $123,000 on Administrator's Flight to Colombia

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #573)
Politics & Advocacy

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a fleet of 106 airplanes, but instead of using one of them, the agency spent $123,000 to fly Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart to Colombia last fall, the McLatchy Newspapers reported Monday. Oh, and it paid another $5,830 to a contractor to arrange the flight with an outside company.

Big Spender: DEA acting administrator Michele Leonhart
The trip came as the nation was sliding into its worst economic crisis in recent memory and the federal budget deficit was approaching heretofore unknown territory. It came just weeks before Detroit auto executives were royally reamed by Congress for flying to Washington in their corporate jets to beg for bailouts.

"Was it excessive? I guess you could look at it that way, but I don't think so," said William Brown, the special agent in charge of the agency's aviation division. He explained that the plane that would normally carry Leonhart was undergoing scheduled maintenance. "I understand the concern about costs for these things. But we do our best to keep costs under control. I think the DEA is very conservative compared to other agencies."

Typically, if a DEA plane is not available for official trips, the agency can borrow one from another federal agency. Although Brown had a week to prepare for the trip, he said he did not even consider that. "It would definitely be more cost effective for us to borrow somebody else's resource," he said. "But they're going to have to pay for it, as well."

Another option would have been a commercial airliner, but Brown said Leonhart and other officials were under "specific threat" in Colombia. But he refused to be more specific, and an unnamed US Embassy official in Bogota said he was unaware of any specific threats.

While the $123,000 flight was only a drop in the DEA's budget, it raised a red flag, said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "It looks bad," Ellis said. "Clearly, the DEA or any federal agency should be watching their budgets more closely in these difficult times."

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)

not even bad,bad-bad-bad......And they take away our flag my ass...They will do nothing about it

Fri, 02/20/2009 - 12:07pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In today's markets:

Four (4) full-time yearly salaries for starting teachers in Orlando, Florida.

Who are these obscene, vile parasites that pollute our streets?!

It's me and you, and our neighbors and their friends. We just need to be more honest with ourselves first.

Fri, 02/20/2009 - 2:20pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

This is rediculous for an agency with all those aircraft to use another source for their lil ventures. It is as if they have no worries about this mess the economy is in. Oughta take the lil devils and cut their salaries to what other people make and take away their "GOD" powers then see what comes of that.

Fri, 02/20/2009 - 4:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

People have trouble imagining our world being prohibition free. All you have to do is just ask most anyone if they think we should legalize drugs and they picture a world gone amok. When you compare legal drugs like alcohol and cigs to say, marijuana and shrums, they don't even consider the former to BE drugs. If as reformers we could describe the realities of the controls and benifits from replacing prohibition we would pave the way for reform. More education ?

Fri, 02/20/2009 - 6:48pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

"While the $123,000 flight was only a drop in the DEA's budget, it raised a red flag, said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "It looks bad," Ellis said. "Clearly, the DEA or any federal agency should be watching their budgets more closely in these difficult times." (Emphasis mine)

Billions for prisons. Billions for Byrne Grants that fund loose-cannon drug 'task forces', effectively answerable to no one, that have killed innocent kids. Billions for jet-setting bureaucrats to fly around the US to interfere in State elections in which drug law reform is making inroads. Billions for domestic LEOs' purchasing of armored personnel carriers with .50 cal. machine guns (who are they going to be used on, the Taliban?) Billions to spray poisons on helpless campesinos in Latin American countries and thereby earn their enmity. Billions to fund local anti-government factions (usually led by an ousted former sycophantic elite attempting tor regain power) in those foreign countries where Uncle's been shown the door in retaliation for past misdeeds and interference. Billions and billions and billions...

But no billions for Joe Sixpack, whose lost his job to China and who desperately needs unemployment insurance and other assistance to keep a roof over his kid's heads and food on their table.

Yepper, not a smart move at all, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. The DrugWar diverts funding from getting where it is so desperately required and funnels it into a black hole. It's long past time that drug law reformers pound this point home in the media, again and again and again. "Cause Joe Sixpack doesn't give two farts for lost civil liberties, but talk money, and watch the eyes light up.

Mon, 02/23/2009 - 9:12am Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

I have a financial genius friend who has, so far, successfully predicted everything that we are now seeing in the economy, at least 6 months in advance of it actually happening, he's named names, and even gotten the order of failures correct, tho many of them happened even faster than he'd predicted. This is what he, repeatedly, has to say about the bailouts:
"the big banks, insurers, and the Federal Reserve are blatantly protecting their cronies, and the economy isn't even a concern, They will gladly tank the economy for a decade or more to save their own accounts and make one another whole. They don't even try to hide it anymore."

That this carries over into Prohibition 2.0 is no surprise to me.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Tue, 02/24/2009 - 5:43pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I very much agree with the previous post that these people are obscene, vile parasites on our country and its' taxpayers. The entire political system is so transparently corrupt and selfish and uncaring about the American people that we should automatically vote against the incumbent in each and every election. The previous post explains it all. These people are blatantly protecting themselves and their cronies and to hell with the rest of America. Our great-grandchildren will still be paying the interest on all the money this administration is spending to prop up themselves and their buddies. This person, I hesitate to even refer to him as a man, will NEVER admit responsibility for his actions. No matter how much money he wastes, and it's already over 1 TRILLION dollars, he'll blame it on the previous administration. He is a vacuous, transparent, empty, corrupt suit that got elected by people who knew NOTHING about him and even less about the political system in general. In many, many cases, it was all about race and qualifications for the job weren't even an issue. I agree with the previous post, I'm Pro-choice on everything.

Fri, 02/27/2009 - 5:00pm Permalink

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