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Irony Alert: Drug Czar Complains About Media Bias

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In August, The Washington Post ran a superb op-ed from LEAP members Peter Moskos and Neill Franklin, which called for full drug legalization. The piece was so good that it actually upset the drug czar.

From an October 3rd address at the 2009 International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference:

But I must underscore how important your help on this issue is – on the streets, within the criminal justice system, and in the court of public opinion.  Recently, Peter Moskos and Stanford Franklin, members of a group called "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition," published an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for the legalization of drugs.  They claimed that legalization would increase officer safety.   
Chief Laine, as President of IACP, responded with a letter to the editor.  The Washington Post did not print it.  This letter, which I am holding in my hand, should have been printed.  As Russ appropriately put it, "The simple truth is that legalizing narcotics will not make life better for our citizens, ease the level of crime and violence in our communities or reduce the threat faced by law enforcement officers. To suggest otherwise ignores reality."

Wait, did Kerlikowske just name-drop LEAP at a major law-enforcement conference? Really? Might as well tell us their url while you're at it, boss. Thanks. I'm surprised, honestly, because mentioning LEAP to a big group of potential future LEAP members strikes me as kind of a bad idea.

I can't think of a better measure of progress in the drug war debate than to find the drug czar uttering the words "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition" at a police chief's conference and insinuating that The Washington Post is treating drug warriors unfairly. That's just beautiful.

As the media's longtime love affair with drug war propaganda appears on the verge of collapse, you can't blame the once-proud drug war cheerleaders for lamenting the unfamiliar territory they now find themselves in. But I hope the drug czar and his friends realize that there's a lot more to this story than the fact that LEAP has a fantastic media department. The inescapable reality here is that the drug war's apologists have been spouting the exact same nonsense for several decades now and the returns are diminishing. On the rare occasion that they think of anything new to say, it's a lie.

Meanwhile, the movement for reform is bringing new arguments to the table on a daily basis and it's not just that we're clever, but rather that the drug war itself actually causes new and worse problems constantly. We'll never run out of material. The urgency of our cause becomes more apparent and our credibility continues to grow because the problems we describe are plainly visible to the naked eye. Our job is merely to lay the blame for something everyone already agrees is a disaster.

It took the drug czar's office many years of profound dishonesty to destroy its reputation with the mainstream press, so if Gil Kerlikowske doesn’t like the way his side is being treated in the press, maybe he should be blaming John Walters and not The Washington Post.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Its time for these police

Its time for these police and politicians to wake up, and smell the reefer. No longer should they fear being ostracized as soft on crime. The public knows the science, they know its facts and its falsities. The days of reefer madness is far behind us, yet the old men in Washington still hold on to their propagandizing ways to literally scare up the old/conservative vote. We the people, are the ones you, the politicians and law enforcement are trusted to protect....and serve. You have failed miserably. Like any task, if you first don't succeed try again, but with a different plan as to not keep repeating mistakes.

The last one...

I hope ol' Gil is the last czar. I'll bet he knows that he'll be the last. Tough job, who'd want it.He must do it for the respect it garners.

Indeed, the irony is so thick that it is choking me


Thanks for posting this. I believe it highlights not only the wonderful job that LEAP (and Tom Angell) do, but a sea change in the debate over our drug policies. What a wonderful problem to have.

I hope that LEAP has added him to their Christmas card list.

Aaron Houston

Cry wolf too many times.....

It was just a matter of times before MSM and other news outlets started saying what we know to be true. Drugwarriors have made themselves look bad with the repeat of "The big bad wolf" cry. Keep up the good work people.

And it's not bought with our money...

The years of media bias were bought and paid for, through tax breaks to networks and producers for anti-drug messages. That's why sit-coms did an anti-marijuana episode at least once per season, and why the A-Team's evilest enemies were always drug cartels. Also, advertising dollars don't just buy the air-time for the ads. Media avoid offending major advertisers, so the money spent on ineffective anti-drug ads also buys the news bias. But the media know that there's a lot of opposition, so they play both sides of the fence using niche media marketting tactics. Most of the pro-pot stuff is on the cable channels, major network local stations are still the bread and butter of t.v., so that's where they need the tax breaks and government subsidies disguised as public service advertisements.
All this paid for by the tax payer, whereas the legalization movement is funded by private doners and generally run by working class people. Given those odds, what the legalization movement has achieved since the early 90s is phenomenal. Holy [email protected]^%, I think we're winning.

"Holy [email protected]^%, I think we're

"Holy [email protected]^%, I think we're winning. " You are correct in that assumption. slowly but surely, the truth is rising... L.E.A.P is responsible for most of the leverage in the fight against the 'war on personal freedom'. Everyone should smile a little more...

legalize freedom

I happen to agree that the Post article treats drug warriors unfairly. I think that cops, in most cases, put their own stupid lives in danger, and that too many of them get away with murder. In my experience, it's much more dangerous to be a suspect or an acquaintance of a suspect than it is to be a cop. But the conclusion, that it's the war, not the drugs, causing the damage, however arrived at, is undeniable.


The Drugfuehrer mentioned only "legalizing narcotics", almost sounds like weaseling out of having to say anything about cannabis. He should be challenged to debate the question: Will legalizing cannabis destroy the demand for narcotic "drugs" (and taxbonanza tobackgo too)?

Can you support it?

The simple truth is that legalizing narcotics will not make life better for our citizens

Not worrying about going to jail for private behavior (not unlike drinking alcohol) would greatly improve the lives of citizens. Diverting current Drug Wars monies into building schools and paying teachers would greatly improve the lives citizens. Freeing police officers to focus their attention on crimes with actual victims would greatly improve the lives of citizens.

ease the level of crime and violence in our communities

Drugs don't cause crime or violence. The prohibition of drugs does. If drugs were priced like other commodities, addicts wouldn't have to steal or prostitute themselves to support their habits. The black market, with all of its internecine battles, would disappear. People would buy their recreational drugs from retailers in shops, not clandestinely on street corners or alleys.

or reduce the threat faced by law enforcement officers.

I find it hard to conceive of how avoiding confrontations with heavily-armed drug gangs could not improve officer safety.

To suggest otherwise ignores reality.

Prohibitionists have been ignoring reality for more than a century. They're hardly in a position to tell anyone else what's real.

The light hasn't starting shining here...

I live in east Texas. As was shown to be the case by an article posted on "Drug War Rant" last week about the *amazing* bust of two hydrpontic (sp.?) pot plants by Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss, the drug war is in full force here with no signs of abatement. Just this past week, a guy was stopped outside of Lufkin, Tx. for the crime of not having a bumper on his pickup truck. The cop requested to search the vehicle, and when the driver refused, the cop brought in a drug dog and arrested the guy on failure to have a bumper (which isn't a crime by the way) and possession...of one Vicodin tablet, which the driver asserts was from a prescription provided him by a doctor. Another local police department, along with the county sheriff has stated recently on the news that they are going to form a cooperative joint venture between the local law enforcement agencies to stop the spread of dangerous drugs such as marijuana.

It is indeed encouraging to see progress being made in a large number of areas of the country against Nixon's war against "those damn hippies", aka the war on drugs. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of places where the propaganda remains unquestioned. I try to do my part, but what I say usually falls of deaf ears. How does one go about educating a population that seems to pride itself on ignorance?

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