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Shooting Down Innocent People in Airplanes Won’t Win the Drug War

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When the average person forms an opinion regarding the efficacy of our drug policy, are they taking into account the totality of brutal unforeseen disasters that regularly occur in the course of our international anti-drug crusade? Alas, the reality of the actual drug war (not the one the drug czar talks about) is considerably uglier than many among us realize.

That’s why this Wall Street Journal piece from Mary Anastasia O’Grady stands out as an example of what drug war reporting in the mainstream press ought to look like.

Innocents Die in the Drug War

Of all the casualties claimed by the U.S. "war on drugs" in Latin America, perhaps none so fully captures its senselessness and injustice as the 2001 CIA-directed killing of Christian missionary Veronica Bowers and her daughter Charity in Peru.  

On that day the Bowers family was flying in a single-engine plane over the Amazon toward their home in Iquitos. Mrs. Bowers was holding the infant on her lap when a bullet fired by the Peruvian Air Force, under direction of the CIA, hit the aircraft, traveled through her back and into Charity's skull. The plane crash-landed on the Amazon River. Mr. Bowers, his young son and the pilot survived. Neither the plane nor its passengers were found to be involved in any way in the drug business and initial reports said that the mistaken attack was a tragic one-time error.

Yet, as O’Grady explains, this was in fact the perfectly predictable consequence of an out-of-control drug interdiction program that basically shot planes out of the sky with no investigation and no oversight. The problem isn’t just that they killed innocent people, but that they created and maintained a policy that they must have known would produce that result. It’s the perfect exhibit in the total disregard for innocent human life that is central to the drug war itself.

To her credit, O’Grady is willing to make the connection between violence and prohibition:

Consider the fact that Mr. Clinton's justification for the Airbridge Denial Program was that drug trafficking was a threat to Peruvian national security. Of course it was: Prohibition naturally produces powerful criminal networks that undermine the rule of law.

Since then, U.S. interdiction has put the pressure on Colombia and the problem is now resurging in Peru. The latest reports are that Mexican cartels are teaming up with remnants of the Shining Path terror network to rebuild the business, proving once again the futility of the supply-side attack as a way of minimizing drug use in the U.S.

In other words, we get nothing in exchange for the death and destruction we’ve subsidized and sustained for all these years. Nothing, that is, except a bunch of dead innocents, a smoldering civil war below our border, a world-record prison population, and a shameless political culture that still swears this is the only way to deal with drugs.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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I urge everyone who read this blog post

to send a copy of the post, demanding that kind of reporting from their local paper and other media sources around their area. This is what I wrote my local news outlets:

I expect [fill in the blank with name of news organization] to publish this article or one similar. This is the kind of information the people need to read in order to make informed decisions on local, state, and federal candidates and issues. Unfortunately, it is also the kind of information that is sadly lacking in mainstream media, including that which you provide to our community.

The Murder of Ashley

always takes the cake for me, what a heart wrenching story:


The story brings me to tears! Just "collateral damage"!

Thugs Will Be Thugs

The report “found that CIA officers knew of and condoned the violations [of protocol], fostering an environment of negligence and disregard for the procedures,” and “there is evidence that CIA officials made false or misleading statements to Congress” in the aftermath of the downing of the plane.

Relevant documents must be declassified for public inspection.  Charges of criminal negligence or voluntary manslaughter, along with conspiracy to obstruct justice during the last seven years, need to be directed against the responsible CIA officials in the Bowers matter.  Whether the U.S. government does so or not will be a litmus test of its public accountability and its status as a democratic republic.

Failing the litmus test will send a clear message.  Only dictatorial, anti-democratic regimes give unchecked power to the types of thugs who use it to beat up or summarily execute the innocent, or for that matter, the guilty.  The fact that actions were carried out over Peruvian airspace employing Peruvian military pilots and aircraft means nothing.  There are better ways to make your point if you don’t want airborne drug couriers criss-crossing your country’s international boundaries.

Pilots who have flown drug cargoes over Cuban airspace tell of being intercepted by Cuban military jets that escort them out of the area by flying directly ahead of the smugglers’ aircraft, thereby sending heated jet exhaust backward into the flight path of the smugglers.  According to one smuggler, the interior cabin of the plane becomes so unbearably hot during such an operation that any desire to return to Cuban airspace for future drug runs quickly vanishes.  The objective is achieved without loss of life.  That the Cuban air force would seize the moral high ground in such matters is telling.


Where do yo come up with these stories?

I really like the technique for getting small planes out of the airspace! But, I think, whoever I was, I would try to show them a sign that I was a "missionary". I am a private pilot and if I was ever approached by military craft, I would immediately set down at the nearest airport to see what the problem was. That would likely been what happened if the missionaries were given the choice. But, shooting first and finding out later, seemed to be the tactics used by our government over Peru!


My source for the story is a friend who at one time was a staff psychologist in a state prison.  He got it from one of the inmates.

"The only right you really

"The only right you really have is to vote- to vote on a puppet! and then feel like a fool! i wish the government could pay for the crap they do but there is always an innocent scapegoat to take the fall! that´s why real justice is done by the people for the people not the gov vs the people!
The real idiots are those that believe in the government! and send their children to die for a government that turns it´s back on you as soon as you start claiming your rights. Ask the government how much money they saved taxpayers by arresting their pothead children! Prisons are not to re-educate you or rehabilitate you! it´s just to punish you cause their sick bastards! why should i be asked to believe a lie? wanna change the world!-
make politicians government agents to be held responsible for the mistakes they make, money they steal and the terrible example they set to the rest of the world! stop the double standard justice department! it´s a hoax. only rich people have rights while it´s the poor that make them rich!



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