The former Republican Congressman from Georgia released a statement on his presidential campaign website about the July 29 Prince George's police and sheriff's raid on the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo.
The raid, he wrote, "illustrates how the drug war threatens the liberties of all Americans."
He said he believed that law enforcement has become more arrogant and less accountable, usually with very little public attention, and promises that as president, he will improve the situation.
"As president I will ensure that federal law enforcement agencies set a good example for the rest of the country," he said. "In a Barr administration, government officials will never forget that it is a free people they are protecting." [Washington Post]
I'm still getting used to hearing words like these from former drug warrior Bob Barr, but I'll take it. Barr, despite his unfortunate history, is now speaking out against abusive drug war policing with a vigor unmatched, or even attempted, by the major party candidates.
Unfortunately, we can be reasonably sure we wonât hear a word about this from Obama or McCain. Sure, it is an ugly national controversy with a fairly obvious right and wrong side. And yes, a careful statement promising to defend the rights of innocent, everyday people against government abuse would be politically safe, in and of itself. After all, there's nothing anti-police about standing up for professionalism in law-enforcement.
But implicit in all this is the central question of how far we as a society are willing to push the limits of peace and freedom in the name of a war on drugs that has already exhausted many of us to the point of unrestrained bitterness. It's a conversation that can't be avoided once Cheye Calvo's name is spoken and one which the major party candidates remain hesitant to explore. Their silence becomes increasingly hard to explain as it becomes steadily more apparent each day that the drug war blood bath sometimes doesn't discriminate as well as it's supposed to.
(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)