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Irony Alert: Drug Czar Complains About Media Bias

Submitted by smorgan on
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.

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