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Obama Compares Drug War to Alcohol Prohibition

Via NORML's Russ Belville, CBS's Bob Schieffer asked President Obama about the drug war violence in Mexico and got this surprising response:

President Obama:  Well, what’s happened is that President Calderon I think has been very bold and rightly has decided that it’s gotten carried away. The drug cartels have too much power, are undermining and corrupting huge segments of Mexican society. And so he has taken them on in the same way that when, you know, Elliot Ness took on Al Capone back during Prohibition, oftentimes that causes even more violence. And we’re seeing that flare up.

I honestly cannot believe the president is looking towards alcohol prohibition for a little perspective on our present predicament. Everyone knows that story. Elliot Ness didn't defeat those cartels. Legalization defeated them.
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At least, there is another politician that realizes how much this prohibition looks like the one of the late 1920's! And, he is the top dog!!! We need to keep up with the good information the public is getting from our side! We could bring this drug war business to a halt!

Obama is Touting the Violence as Success

And Pete Guither at DrugWarRant is fantasizing that this is a sign of hope for drug policy reform.

Obama is not seeing the prohibition policy failure. Elliot Ness is a hero to law enforcement and Obama is just licking some law enforcement dick by mentioning Ness.

Pete Guither is doing reform a disservice by IMPLYING that Obama is doing some backdoor effort to get an anti prohibition debate going. He and other commentators did the same disservice for reform throughout the presidential campaign. They would take vague innuendo by Obama and mischaracterize it to mean reform. This gave Obama a lot of drug reformer support that he should not have gotten. Now Obama is escalating and militarizing the drug war while Pete again deludes people raising audaciously false hopes by mischaracterizing of what is going on.
Don't be fooled like Pete by smooth tongued fascists.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton have all sworn to "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare" which are guarantees articulated in the United States Constitutions. But their co-sponsorship in 2005 of S-103, "The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005" has achieved just the opposite. It has grown dangerous Mexican drug cartels across America and provided them with the financial to corrupt the Mexican military to the point of being able to recruit dangerous military professionals and purchase state of the art U.S. military munitions that our government has sent to Mexico to fight the war on drugs. S-103, "The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005" today directly threatens America's "domestic tranquility" by weakening our "common defense" with policies that significantly damage the "general welfare" of all Americans.

Don't be so positive, aahpat

Obama knows how alcohol prohibition ended, so does the public. Any mention of it in the same breath as cannabis prohibition is not helpful to the drug warriors. Obama is a wily fellow I think, I honestly don't know where he is coming from on weed or illegal hard drugs. The astonishly inarticulate and mild comment from his press secretary Gibbs re legalizing cannabis is not at all what I'd expect from an ardent drug warrior, that's for damn sure.
The biggest question for me is what O would do if a state legalized recreational weed (2010 yes!), and I'm cautiously optimistic on that score.
mlang has the right idea, let's keep presenting good information about this war on users of selected drugs, people are finally listening. Keep the pressure on!

I Don't Operate on Blind Assumptions

And wishful thinking. I base my positions on facts and reality.

A lot of people were duped into supporting Obama and into not confronting him about drug policy during the campaign when drug reform commentators took Obama's vague and ambiguous comments and translated them into definite support for reform. Just as you are trying to do now. I will not accept that kind of fuzzy thinking. I will not operate under such false pretenses.

tarnished Sterling...

Eric Sterling has condemned the videographer that filmed Ashley Biden taking it up the nose. Where's Eric's condemnation for Joe Biden, a man hugely responsible for many young men sent to prison for non-violent drug offenses that end up taking it up the ass?

Too many drug policy reformers, like Sterling, are under the spell of Obama pixie dust. To think Obama is anything but a true drug warrior is delusional. Obama disses a large constituency - recreational cannabis users - that helped him take the White House, and Biden's daughter snorts coke for all the world to see (or will soon see), and we're cautioned to leave it all alone and play nice?


Come On Guys

Obama knows that legalization ended the violence, not Elliott Ness. He's not looking at alcohol prohibition for perspective, he's just talking about it.

Major drug policy reform is obviously not something he's willing to tackle, but why would you expect he would? Why do you look upward for signs of reform? Drug policy reform is NEVER going to come from the top. There's far too many vested interests for that to ever happen. It's going to take a large, long, and focused social movement. Historically, how many major reforms have ever come from above? Very few. Change comes from the bottom, when large groups of people organize and take on the power structure. Picking apart little statements like the one above is a pretty useless exercise, in my opinion.

And if you want my .02, here's the problem with the drug reform movement. It continually casts legalization or drug reform as a domestic issue, when it's anything but. You're ignoring the gigantic elephant in the room, foreign policy and international implications. The US has a long history of supporting counter insurgencies that use drug trafficking as a means for monetary funds, if it supports a larger foreign policy goal. How about Manuel Noriega, or Massoud? How about all the CIA connections and the accusations of spying in foreign countries under the guise of the War on Drugs? This isn't conspiracy theory, these are things in the public record and have been written on extensively. How many countries sovereignty have we tried to undermine under the guise of the global War on Drugs? Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Mexico for starters. Just think for a second about where the US is fighting the global War on Drugs. Think about the leaders and social movements present in some of those countries and how the US power structure feels about them.

Of course there's many many domestic issues when it comes to the War on Drugs, but that's only part of the picture. I'd say it's pretty likely that many politicians know legalization is the actual answer to many domestic problems, but does it fit the greater agenda? This is a globalized world and the War on Drugs has global implications. By all means, rail against the War on Drugs. It's immoral, I'm 100% with you. I believe in legalization 100%. But keep in mind, when you're talking about ending prohibition you are very much intertwined with US foreign policy as well. And to an empire (don't believe it's an empire? just look up a map of global US military installations), it's ALL about foreign policy.

There's a real chance for marijuana law reform right now, and that's a start. Keep at it and stay focused. Thanks.

I concur!

The war on drugs is a public safety, public health, national security, economic and social justice issue well beyond the limited pot reform agenda that too many people fixate upon.

I wish more people would realize that pot reform is of interest mostly to people with an interest in pot and that holds back the effort from the broader drug policy issues that far more greatly impact the daily lives of average Americas outside the pot interest community. It is not pot interest people who will cause the politicians to change the policy it is the broader public that will demand changes that impact their personal interests. When reformers can convince the broader public that it is in THEIR interest to reform the drug laws they will move the politicians quickly to do it.

The public interests are national security and public safety. Not justice for pot smokers. As Obama's drug warrior stance poignantly proves not even justice for poor black kids will change this war policy. It will take proving to America that it is in their national security, economic and public safety interests to end the drug war. Pot reform alone, as an issue, cannot do that. the entirety of dysfunctions of the drug war can and will do it.

Obama's "rigorous drug control agenda"

Testimony of The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske

April 1, 2009

APRIL 1, 2009

"Let me assure you that I know President Obama is committed to developing and implementing a rigorous drug control agenda, while bringing ONDCP back to its original leadership position. I am also grateful for the strong support of Vice President Biden. Our Vice President has long been a leader in protecting communities and families from the harms of illegal drugs. His continued dedication to solving the drug problem will be a key resource for ONDCP's success.

Upon confirmation, I will immediately coordinate with my colleagues in the federal government, as well as our counterparts at the state and local level, to ensure that the national drug control strategy is:
• Balanced and comprehensive, based upon the best possible understanding of the drug threat, and incorporates a science-based approach to public policy;
• Vigorously implemented through development of a national drug budget that contains proven, effective programs; and
• Rigorously assessed and adapted to changing circumstances, "

maybe we'll jump directly to legalization of all illegal drugs..

I would have dismissed the possibility out of hand just last year. Things seem to be changing so rapidly at the moment, I'm not as sure. But I still think it's far likelier that any legalization will begin will cannabis and move one state at a time, as it did with medicinal cannabis. I would not be surprised if serious change regarding hard drug begins with doctors being given the right to write prescriptions for addicts, so they can obtain their drugs at market and not black market prices, which would prevent many burglaries and robberies and murders too. Of course I could be wrong, everyone including aahpat can be wrong, but I think the majority would want to evaluate that before moving further in reforming laws on hard drugs.

I don't understand, aahpat, is it your position that there should be no cannabis only legalization referendums in 2010, since that would be unduly focusing on cannabis to the detriment of changing laws regarding all illegal drugs?

I find Kerlikowske's statement more ambiguous than you do aahpat

because he talks about a science based approach to public [drug] policy. Well, the science is clear: alcohol is far more dangerous than cannabis. You have your preferences for what all drug war reformers should unite and do, I have mine: this is a good time for as many people as possible to remind Obama's team that the science is clear on alcohol vs. cannabis. Make them respond. Don't ask them if they support legalization again, they'll just say no again, ask them if they really believe cannabis is more dangerous than alcohol! The drug war has a number of Achilles' heels, one of them is the mind boggling hypocrisy of alcohol supremacism over cannabis.
You take it for granted that we're being stabbed in the back by Obama regarding medicinal marijuana dispensary raids. Time will tell about that and everything else.

I Am Not Willing

to be twisted around Kerlikowske's little finger with yet more of their manipulated and ambiguous rhetoric.

"I know President Obama is committed to developing and implementing a rigorous drug control agenda,"

That is the operative assertion in the quote. It is consistent with the following;

A three part animation of a direct and in context quote of Drug Warrior President Barack Obama defining his War on Drugs policy.

I think that too many drug policy reformers are growing complacent lulled by the ambiguous and manipulated rhetoric of the Obama administration. Fooled into audacious false hopes by the intentionally misleading innuendo of yet another drug warrior administration.

Patriot Act Might Be Used To Prosecute Pot-Growers As Terrorists

The USA Patriot Act's mention of incidental criminal networks-opened the door for police under the Act’s anti-terrorism provisions to broadly use wiretaps and spy on U.S. Citizens.

The Patriot Act equates illegal activity with supporting terrorism. The Act defines supporting "terrorist activity” as any criminal activity that "participates" in "World Markets" that terrorist may use or depend on for their support. For example someone distributing illegal-drugs could be charged with supporting a “Criminal Market” that terrorists use—based on the premise both criminals and terrorists use the same world networks and organizations to "Market" illegal-drugs; and have interests in criminal activity." That criminal/terrorist-activity link by the Patriot Act is—logically flawed when you consider that a common car thief could be charged with supporting terrorism by selling a stolen car on a "criminal market" a terrorist used—among many non-terrorists. Such flawed logic could as easily be used by government to charge a “common criminal’s illegal activity” supported a lawful “Market” terrorists are dependent on for support. Brilliantly the “Patriot Act” spins full circle to include all commerce as being “One Market” to charge “common criminals” with supporting terrorists: brilliant because all legal and illegal “markets” are linked at some point by commerce.

As the drug-war heats up on the U.S./Mexico Border expect this illogical premise of the Patriot Act might be pushed by U.S. Government as a Flagship to prosecute “ordinary American criminals” for supporting “markets” terrorists may depend on for support.

While there are narrow illegal-markets where such prosecutions may be justified, Americans should be careful that U.S. Government does not expand this concept similar to (RICO) to be all inclusive of commerce. U.S. Government before tried to merge lawful and unlawful commerce to forfeit innocent owners’ property.

You may read that “Government Concept” in United States v. 92 Buena Vista Ave. (91-781), 507 U.S. 111 (1993) at:

U.S. Police using the Patriot Act’s low probable cause requirement can too easily wiretap and spy on innocent U.S. Citizens they believe might be involved in ordinary crime. Congress should let provisions of the Patriot Act due to Sunset in December 2009, EXPIRE.

I don't think anyone's grown complacent,aahpat

The victories we've won lately (like a president who doesn't think harm reduction is a dopester plot) or apparently won are only a spur to further effort. Now there ARE naturally differences of opinion, most active reformers don't want to impeach Obama as you do.
But I really appreciate your prodigious writing for reform and the many good points you are forcefully making, such as how making drugs illegal leaves distribution in the hands of people who often have no scruples when it comes to children. It also exposes children and others who are only looking for weed to hard drugs, with the dealers having every business reason in the world to offer free samples of the hard stuff in the hopes of getting new customers.

They don`t care

About anyone , let alone a few kids , if they did this War would have been over long ago. We have old people suffering, the population being lied too for , What , 85 to 86 years and still the way to salvage the economy and help the poor countries with their farming (without killing them) and their way of life for hundreds of centuries is right in front of everyone , and no one says anything. Well Have they done their JOB . I guess so . It`s so well done most of the ones that truly understand the evil of it are already unable to fight them . Retaliation will be swift and even the Doctors aren`t safe .

Organized Crime before and after Prohibition

One of the most common misconceptions among the drug legalization people, that would be you guys, is that legalization is a cure for organized crime. The most common example you cite is alcohol prohibition in the 1920's. The facts are that yes, prohibiton enriched criminal syndicates and increased corruption and crime. but equally revealing is the state of organized crime before and after prohibition. In the years leading up to prohibition, the national homicide rate increased more rapidly than it did during prohibition. Criminal networks were already frimly established in the nation's cities and organized crime was on the rise. And after prohibition, the mafia continued to thrive, and even expand operations to Cuba. The height of the american mafia was in the late 50's and early 60's, well after their bootleg dollars had run dry. Of course prohibition made the problem much worse, but organized crime thrives with and without liquor/drug laws. And if organized crime continues without drug laws while durg abuse skyrockets, it just isn't worth it to have more drug addicts at the cost of outselling criminals. So Eliot Ness did do this country and service by locking up Al Capone and other bootleggers, because when prohibition ended, had they not been in jail, they would have reverted to their traditional fundraising methods.

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