Category Archive 'War on Drugs'
20 Feb 2012
One of my commenters responded to my expressing support for legalizing drugs:
Lets assume your motive is constitutional and not because you are a drug user. I think then we can agree on a few things:
1) Most of the drugs that are now illegal are harmful and possibly fatal to use as prescribed. I doubt you believe crack is good for you so I’m going to assume you agree with this.
2)If someone forced my to take crack (or cocaine or heroin etc) they would be assaulting me perhaps even guilty of attempted murder. Again it is a no brainer so I will assume you agree.
3)A child under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to things an adult can consent to. If someone gives my child drugs and my child cannot consent legally then they are “forcing” my child into a harmful/deadly act. Again, a no brainer. About now you are beginning to see where I’m going with this and are looking left and right for a way out.
4)Anyone who tries to kill/assault/attack my child has stepped over a deadly line and I have a constitutional right to protect their life and use deadly force. I assume suddenly you aren’t agreeing with libertarian interpretations of the constitution and want to disagree with me even if it forces you to flip-flop on your beliefs. So that’s it! I will agree to accept that drugs should be legal and we have a constitutional right to put poison in our body if we choose AND you agree that I have a constitutional right to protect myself and my minor children and I can constitutionally use deadly force . Yes! I am saying legalize drugs and tell parents they can shoot anyone selling, sharing or giving their child drugs. All in all I think it is a good compromise, what do you think?
Like most people who attended college when the Baby Boom generation was young, I did heaps and piles of all kinds of drugs. I’m now getting on in years and am long past all that. I have long since quit smoking, and am obliged to watch my diet fairly carefully. I wish I could do all the things I used to do at age 20 in exactly as carefree a fashion now as then, but there is no possibility of such a thing at all. I do get plenty of drugs, though. I have several prescriptions for regulating blood pressure and so on that I have to take every day.
I have enough experience of life to know perfectly well that some people will kill themselves using drugs recklessly and excessively. But I also know that actually an even larger number of people will inevitably proceed to ruin their lives and kill themselves with alcohol.
We recognized, long ago, that alcohol prohibition didn’t really stop people from drinking. It merely created a hugely profitable black market and caused a nationwide wave of crime and violence. Legal alcohol is associated with harm, but in fact produces much less harm.
The question of your children is a red herring. Has anyone recently forced any of your children to eat free pâté de foie gras or nefariously and at gun point made them consume Godiva chocolates?
If you raise your children properly and they do not inherit special weaknesses and neuroses, they ought to be able to drink alcohol and use drugs responsibly and without major untoward consequences at appropriate ages and occasions like most people.
If drugs were not especially forbidden, there would no drug dealers for you to shoot.
20 Feb 2012
James Delingpole is not only sound on Anthropogenic Global Warming pseudo-scientific fraud, he is able to articulate the fundamental moral problem with drug prohibition quite succinctly.
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul decried the “war on drugs” Thursday night, telling supporters in Washington state that people should be able to make their own decisions on such matters.
Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana
“If we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if we’re allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we can’t put into our body whatever we want?” Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore.
Yep. Go on… friends. Tell me: why not???
In a follow-up post, Peter Robinson quotes Milton Friedman in support of Delingpole.
04 Feb 2009
Andrew Stuttaford comments on Michael Phelps’s apology for pot smoking.
In the meantime, I merely note that this broken wreck of a man’s failure to win any more than a pathetic fourteen Olympic gold medals (so far) is a terrifying warning of the horrific damage that cannabis can do to someone’s health—and a powerful reminder of just how sensible the drug laws really are.
Meanwhile, Radley Balko, at Reason Online, offers his own alternative version of Phelps’s letter of apology.
08 Aug 2008
Prince George County, Maryland police violated a warrant they were serving for the questionable arrest of the wife of the mayor of Berwyn Heights by staging a SWAT team raid and carrying out an utterly unnecessary forced entry. Two friendly Labrador retrievers were shot dead, and two respectable people were manhandled and manacled for hours.
Baltimore Sun story.
The training and culture of law enforcement has gone outrageously astray in this country.
Remember the federal officers who came to collect Elian Gonzalez equipped with machine guns, wearing tanker helmets and loaded down with paramilitary gear?
Preposterously excessive force, a systematic kind of cringing cowardice expressed by the mentality that sends paramilitary SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons to kick in doors and make arrests of people who’d come down to the police department if contacted by telephone, the overly-prudential point of view that insists on strip searches and manacles for non-violent middle-class members of the public has become typical of today’s police.
It’s been going on for decades. I can remember marveling in Brookfield, Connecticut, years ago, stopping one evening at a fast food joint and seeing a local cop on his dinner break toting around one of those 9mm Beretta semiautomatics and five, count them, five! extra 15-round magazines on his belt. Has anyone ever actually fired upon a police officer in the 200+ year history of Brookfield? I wondered at the time. And was there currently reason to expect a Zulu impi to come over the hill and attack? Why would a local cop possibly need to be carrying 90 rounds of ammunition? That many cartridges are heavy.
I decided back in the early 1990s to get a Connecticut pistol permit. The process required me to stop by the local Newtown police station to pick up a form. Imagine my surprise, when I found the police barricaded away, inaccessible to the dangerous public of upper middle-class suburban Fairfield County, behind locked doors. One communicated with a secretary in a booth protected by bulletproof glass, passing papers back and forth in one of those sliding bank trays. Obviously, Newtown’s police officers led a life of constant fear.
I grew up in a family with many members who were working or had worked in law enforcement. The kind of men who became policemen in the old days were not afraid of criminals. They knew that they were tough and they knew just how uncommon men like themselves were. They knew most criminals are cowardly scum, and incompetent screw-ups to boot. The human being who will initiate violence is rare, and the human being who will initiate violence against a man in authority recognizably skilled at violence is even rarer.
The kind of men who used to become police officers were adequately armed with a .38 revolver or even just a nightstick. My father, working as a Marine Corps MP, and armed only with a nightstick, placed a dozen men under arrest and marched them off to the brig. He told them he knew perfectly well there were enough to them to overcome him, but he promised that he’d kill the first one or two who tried. They submitted to arrest.
The Texas Rangers used to boast of a necessary ratio of “one riot, one Ranger.” And the Pennsylvania State Police long had the same policy of sending a single State Trooper to suppress a civil disturbance or quell a mob.
Today, they send jack-booted Storm Troopers armed with machine guns to bring in 8 year olds.
Contemporary law enforcement culture is a disgrace and a genuine public hazard and it needs to change. They should dissolve every single SWAT team, get rid of every single item of paramilitary equipage, and—of course—end drug prohibition and the accompanying crime epidemic providing most of the excuse for the militarization of US law enforcement.
01 May 2008
Albert Hoffman – 100 Birthday Commemorative Blotter Acid by Wes Black
The Guardian reports the sad news.
Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the hallucinogenic drug LSD, has died aged 102.
Hofmann, known as the father of LSD, died yesterday at his home in Burg im Leimental, Basle, Switzerland.
His death was confirmed by Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village where Hofmann lived following his retirement in 1971.
The California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (Maps), which republished Hofmann’s book on LSD, said on its website that he had died from a heart attack.
Dieter A Hagenbach, a friend of 40 years, last spoke to Hofmann on Saturday. “He was in good spirits and enjoying the springtime,” said Hagenbach.
Born on January 11 1906, Hofmann discovered LSD - lysergic acid diethylamide, which later became the favoured drug of the 1960s counterculture – when a tiny quantity leaked on to his hand during a laboratory experiment in 1943.
He noted a “remarkable restlessness, combined with slight dizziness” that made him stop his work. “At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxication-like condition, characterised by an extremely stimulated imagination,” Hofmann wrote in his book LSD: My Problem Child.
“In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight too unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours this condition faded away.”
A few days later, Hofmann intentionally took a dose of LSD and experienced the world’s first “bad trip”.
“On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror,” he said.
“My surroundings had now transformed themselves in more terrifying ways. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me.” ...
Hofmann and his scientific colleagues hoped LSD would make an important contribution to psychiatric research. The drug exaggerated inner problems and conflicts and it was hoped it might be used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
For a time, the laboratory where he worked, Sandoz, sold LSD 25 under the name Delysid, encouraging doctors to try it themselves. It was one of the strongest drugs in medicine, with just one gram enough to drug an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people for 12 hours.
The US government banned LSD in 1966, following stories of heavy users suffering permanent psychological damage, and other countries followed suit.
The president of Maps, Rick Doblin, said he had spoken to Hofmann on the phone recently “and he was happy and fulfilled. He’d seen the renewal of LSD psychotherapy research with his own eyes.”
“Don’t Eat that Hot Dog!”—1960’s Anti-LSD Propaganda short
And he only lived to 102!
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
06 Apr 2007
Arianna Huffington has an interesting, and oh, so valid criticism of all of the contenders for the democrat party nomination.
There is a major disconnect in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House.
While all the top candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed War on Drugs, a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.
Consider this: according to a 2006 ACLU report, African Americans make up 15 percent of drug users, but account for 37 percent of those arrested on drug charges, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: America has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70 percent) are black or Latino.
Such facts and figures have been bandied about for years. But what to do about the legion of nonviolent—predominantly minority—drug offenders has long been an electrified third-rail in American politics, a subject to be avoided at all costs by our political leaders, who fear being incinerated on contact for being soft on crime.
Supporting ending Prohibition did not win Al Smith the election in 1928, but Smith’s politics certainly played a key role in the national political realignment which swept FDR into power and gave the democrat party political dominance from 1932 to 1966.
I think Arianna is on to something.
16 Jan 2007
Anne Applebaum, writing at Slate, has the solution for ending the Taliban’s ability to fund itself, and gain Afghan rural support, via the covert trade in opium.
She’s perfectly right.
22 Nov 2006
An Open Letter to Drug Czar William Bennett from the late Milton Friedman.
92 Year Old Lady Shot By Police
22 Nov 2006
Another atrocity produced by our absurd drug laws. It sounds like the lady died bravely defending her home.
ATLANTA — Police who shot and killed a 92-year-old woman after she wounded three officers were looking for a man who sold drugs to undercover agents at her home earlier that day, authorities said Wednesday.
The agents got a search warrant after buying drugs Tuesday afternoon from a man in Kathryn Johnston’s home, Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher said.
Johnston’s niece, Sarah Dozier, said her aunt likely had reason to shoot the three plainclothes investigators as they stormed her house.
“My aunt was in good health. I’m sure she panicked when they kicked that door down,” Dozier told WAGA-TV, adding that there were no drugs in the house. “There was no reason they had to go in there and shoot her down like a dog.”
Police insisted the officers did everything right before entering the home, despite suggestions from the woman’s neighbors and relatives that it was a case of mistaken identity.
Johnston was the only resident in the house at the time and had lived there for about 17 years, Dreher said. The officers “knocked and announced” before they forced open the door and were justified in shooting once fired upon, he said.
Rev. Markel Hutchins, a civil rights activist and spokesman for the family, said he could understand why Johnston would have a gun because she lived in a high-crime area. “She was afraid,” Hutchins said. “This is a horrifying situation in a neighborhood where crime happens often. This incident is a result of a mix-up.”
As the officers approached the house around 7 p.m., a woman inside started shooting, striking each of them, said Officer Joe Cobb, a police spokesman.
One was hit in the arm, another in a the leg and the third in the leg, face and chest, with the chest shot striking a bullet-resistant vest. The officers were taken to a hospital for treatment, and all three were expected to recover, police said.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said his office is conducting its own independent investigation into the shooting, but said a preliminary review shows the officers had a legal right to search the home.
Hutchins said he would try to meet with Police Chief Richard Pennington and would meet with lawyers.
21 Aug 2006
More than 5000 current and retired law enforcement officers have joined Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization founded to fight for the abolition of the United States’ current illiberal, ineffective, and socially destructive drug laws.
The enforcement of drug prohibition in the United States costs tens of billions of dollars per year, creates a black market fostering violent crime, and results in the incarceration of enormous numbers of American for victimless crimes. Because of the War on Drugs, the United States has the largest prison population in the world, more than 2,090,000 persons. The US imprisons a larger percentage of its population than any other country in the world. Belarus comes in second.
LEAP has produced an eloquent video which I highly recommend.
25 May 2006
In the waning decades of the 19th century, Western societies experienced a wave of panic over the idea that various intoxicating substances offered pleasures so exquisite and seductive as to overcome the will and corrupt and enslave their users. One intoxicant after another became the target for prohibition efforts by ameliorist do-gooders.
All forms of prohibition make whatever is banned more desirable, and result in black markets. Black markets provide an opportunity for large profits by criminals, and typically lead to violence as rival gangsters fight over territories. The association of large profits with victimless forms of crime commonly results in the corruption of law enforcement.
Theodore Dalrymple draws on his medical experience as usual, in today’s Wall Street Journal, to debunk opiate addiction.
In 1822, Thomas De Quincey published a short book, “The Confessions of an English Opium Eater.” The nature of addiction to opiates has been misunderstood ever since.
De Quincey took opiates in the form of laudanum, which was tincture of opium in alcohol. He claimed that special philosophical insights and emotional states were available to opium-eaters, as they were then called, that were not available to abstainers; but he also claimed that the effort to stop taking opium involved a titanic struggle of almost superhuman misery. Thus, those who wanted to know the heights had also to plumb the depths.
This romantic nonsense has been accepted wholesale by doctors and litterateurs for nearly two centuries. It has given rise to an orthodoxy about opiate addiction, including heroin addiction, that the general public likewise takes for granted: To wit, a person takes a little of a drug, and is hooked; the drug renders him incapable of work, but since withdrawal from the drug is such a terrible experience, and since the drug is expensive, the addict is virtually forced into criminal activity to fund his habit. He cannot abandon the habit except under medical supervision, often by means of a substitute drug.
In each and every particular, this picture is not only mistaken, but obviously mistaken. It actually takes some considerable effort to addict oneself to opiates: The average heroin addict has been taking it for a year before he develops an addiction. Like many people who are able to take opiates intermittently, De Quincey took opium every week for several years before becoming habituated to it. William Burroughs, who lied about many things, admitted truthfully that you may take heroin many times, and for quite a long period, before becoming addicted…
Why has the orthodox view swept all before it? First, the literary tradition sustains it: Works that deal with the subject continue to disregard pharmacological reality, from De Quincey and Coleridge through Baudelaire, Aleister Crowley, Bulgakov, Cocteau, Nelson Algren, Burroughs and others. Second, addicts and therapists have a vested interest in the orthodox view. Addicts want to place the responsibility for their plight elsewhere, and the orthodox view is the very raison d’être of the therapists. Finally, as a society, we are always on the lookout for a category of victims upon whom to expend our virtuous, which is to say conspicuous, compassion.
The myth of addiction has a powerful appeal to the human imagination, and is enormously useful in exculpating personal misbehavior. But a society which holds more than a million people in prison for victimless crimes is paying a terrible price in order to cling to its illusions.
29 Apr 2006
Reuters reports that bot houses of Mexico’s Congress have passed legislation decriminalizing possession of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.
Possessing marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico if the drugs are carried in small amounts for personal use, under legislation passed by Congress.
The measure given final passage by senators in a late night session on Thursday allows police to focus on their battle against major drug dealers, the government says, and President Vicente Fox is expected to sign it into law.
“This law provides more judicial tools for authorities to fight crime,” presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said on Friday. The measure was approved earlier by the lower house.
Under the legislation, police will not penalize people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine.
Settlement in Mexico by Baby Boomer retirees is likely to increase dramatically, significantly benefiting the Mexican economy.
04 Apr 2006
A 37 year old Briton has shattered all previously known records of indulgence by seeking treatment after doing an alleged 40,000 hits of MDA (Ecstasy, to you) in the course of the last nine years. The poor fellow “suffers from severe physical and mental health side-effects, including extreme memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations and depression. He also suffers from painful muscle rigidity around his neck and jaw which often prevents him from opening his mouth.” But he also smoked so much dope, it’s pretty hard to tell what it was that messed him up.
03 Mar 2006
O, my Beloved, in order to vindicate the justice of the Islamic cause, and in order to reveal the greatness of God, and to make known to the entire world the wickedness and cruelty of the Franks, Time Magazine (blessings and peace be upon it!) informs the world of the struggles of the brave jihadi Mohammad al-Qahtani. (Identified by the intelligence forces of the Great Satan as having been intended to be the 20th hijacker on September 11, 2001, travelling on Flight 93. But who was prevented by the enemies of God from entering the United States, was deported, and then re-captured by the infidels in Afghanistan a few months later.)
Brother al-Qahtani has obtained legal representation by infidels made mad by God and compelled to battle against those who would protect them from the vengeance of the Faithful.
Consequently, in accordance with Allah’s will, the mujahid Mohammad al-Qahtani now proclaims that all of his earlier statements and confessions (providing intelligence and identifying Al Qaeda personnel) were lies extracted from him by such brutal tortures as intrusions into his personal space, the pouring of water he declined to drink upon his head, and worst of all (Have pity, O Believers!): the hanging ‘round his neck of images of beautiful women clad only in swimming suits!
So ever may the Faithful be permitted to confound the unbelievers and thus bring them ever nearer to their appointed destruction. Allahu Akhbar!
84 page Interrogation Log—Detainee 063 23 November 2002—11 January 2003
17 Feb 2006
Guillermo Christenson replies with devastating results to Paul Pillar’s recent attack on the Bush Administration in Foreign Affairs:
CIA officers on the cusp of retirement often enroll in a seminar that is supposed to help them adjust to life after the agency—teaching them, for example, how to write a resumé. I’ve begun to wonder if part of that program now includes a writing seminar on how to beat up on the Bush administration. The latest such blast comes from Paul Pillar, who, over the course of his long career, was arguably a central player in the CIA’s analysis of the Middle East, in particular Iraq. But now Mr. Pillar has decided to disclose to the world, in a recent article in Foreign Affairs, that he thought all along that the war was a bad idea, and that the president and his advisers ignored his intelligence.
Why Mr. Pillar would even attempt to argue that the White House ignored the CIA’s intelligence is beyond me—as innumerable investigations have demonstrated, all of the “intelligence” within his responsibility was 100% in agreement that Iraq posed a serious danger and that it had an active program for acquiring WMD. Over the course of a decade and a half, and thousands of pages of intelligence analysis, it is hard to think of anyone in the government who was more directly involved in reaching the wrong conclusions about what was going on in Iraq than Mr. Pillar himself.
But let’s put all that aside for the moment and conjecture that Mr. Pillar actually did change his mind about all that work he’d done, and that he really did think the intelligence didn’t support the case for war. If that was truly so, no one was better positioned to make the case against war within the government than Mr. Pillar himself. He could have personally drafted a National Intelligence Estimate, or any number of other types of memoranda, for senior readers in government, recording for all in black and white what was really going on in Iraq. He could, furthermore, have shared that analysis with every single member of Congress by writing less-classified summaries of the conclusions, as is often done.
So why did Mr. Pillar fail to take these steps? Again, as the person in charge of assessing Iraq, if he really believed that Iraq posed no threat to the U.S., we’re owed an explanation of why none of the consequences of going to war—economic costs, military and civilian casualties—were important enough for him to do something about it when it mattered. According to Mr. Pillar, it was only a year into the war that such an analysis was even undertaken, and then only at the request of the administration. The other major intelligence estimate performed before the war was the 2002 NIE on WMD, “infamous,” as Mr. Pillar calls it, because it was so wrong.
The fact is, no other issue in the history of the CIA is as deserving of the title “Mother of all Intelligence Failures” as the debacle over the CIA’s analysis of Iraq. Take your pick of the many studies that have tried to understand why the intelligence was so inaccurate, but the basic conclusion underlying all of them is the same: The CIA’s analysis and collection on Iraq was flat-out wrong over the course of many years—first in missing the fact that Iraq had WMD before the Gulf War, and then, well, you know the rest.
Paul Pillar was right in the thick of the process and substance that reached those conclusions. Had he actually written a warning to the administration against going to war before the war, his conclusions could not have rested on any of the CIA’s intelligence analysis, but instead on his own political views against the administration—something which he has made no bones about in discussions with think-tank audiences long before he left the agency. This, incidentally, is prohibited behavior according to the professional practices of the CIA, the equivalent of betraying attorney-client confidentiality.
Not merely content to have played a leading role in the Iraq intelligence failure, Mr. Pillar is now following in the footsteps of others like Michael Scheuer, in undermining whatever credibility and access the CIA still may have with policymakers. By violating his confidences, Mr. Pillar is ensuring that those who succeed him—those who are, I hope, trying to fix the many problems facing the CIA —will be even less likely to see any real impact from their work because the president and his advisers will be loath to trust them.
For decades, there has been a common understanding that CIA analysts play a role roughly analogous, for policymakers, to experts whose opinions are sought in confidence, such as lawyers or accountants. Presidents and their advisers have felt comfortable in relying on analysts, in theory at least, for unbiased information and conclusions—and for keeping their mouths shut about what they learn. Presidents, secretaries of state, and others have given the CIA access into the inner sanctum of policymaking in the belief that the CIA would not use the media or leaks to influence the outcome.
For a CIA officer to discard this neutral role and to inject himself in the political realm is plain wrong. It will end up making the CIA even less relevant than it is today—if that is possible.
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