THIS IS KERRY ON DRUGS
Starve a Peasant, Feed a Terrorist
For those who oppose the federal government's disastrous war on drugs,
there are many things to dislike about the Bush Administration, not the
least of which is its shameless--and dangerous--use of the war on terror to
prop up the failed drug war and the accompanying $18 billion dollar
bureaucracy. And there is no indication that four more years of a Bush
presidency will offer anything but more of the same.
But anyone who thinks a vote for John Kerry means a vote for a more
liberalized approach to drug policy should think again. Candidate Kerry's
choice for Homeland Security Advisor (
http://johnkerry.com/features/rand_beers/ ), Rand Beers, is a seasoned drug
warrior who has already shown his loyalty to the well being of the drug
war, no matter how many lives it destroys, or how many narco-terrorists are
enriched along the way. There are currently several drug-warriors serving
in decision making posts within the Bush Department of Homeland Security;
ex-DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson (
http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=11&content=583 ) is now Under
Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. And another ex-DEA chief,
Robert Bonner ( http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=11&content=622
), is Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
Beers' drug warrior credentials go way back. As he put it in a 2002
deposition ( http://www.narconews.com/beersdeposition1.html ), "I first
began to work in the counter-narcotics area in 1988 when I was on the
National Security Counsel staff."
More recently, before he quit (
http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID030319-040543-3049r ) his Bush White
House position as Special Assistant (
http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/prsrl/ps/12749.htm ) to the President and
Senior Director for Combating Terrorism and joined the Kerry camp, he
served in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations' as Assistant Secretary
of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; the top
cop and chief apologist for America's w
ar on drugs in Latin America.
He is also one of the architects of "Plan Colombia," the multi-billion
dollar militarization of the drug war in Colombia (
http://reason.com/0004/fe.tp.the.shtml ) (which is now funded as part of
the "Andean Counterdrug Initiative").
As Beers continued in his 2002 deposition, "There was a series of strategy
developments dating back, in terms of my involvement, to a 1999 development
of a regional strategy for the Andean region. I was involved in the
development of that strategy, and I had bits and pieces to do with most of
the further development from a variety of different positions."
The effects of Beers' proud achievement are worth looking at closely.
In 1996-'97, the Clinton Administration decertified Colombia as a
"cooperating" nation in the drug war. To stave off trade sanctions against
lawful industries and a loss of U.S. foreign aid, Colombia began U.S.
backed coca-eradication efforts, including slashing and burning on the
ground and aerial herbicide spraying of coca fields.
In 2000-'01, the U.S. cranked up financial aid to $1.3 billion and sent
more CIA and Special Forcers "trainers" and civilian "contractors" to
assist in further eradication and interdiction efforts. It has thus far
been a smashing success...at destroying the livelihoods of subsistence
farmers, which bizarrely enough, Beers considers a victory in the war on drugs.
In 2001, Colombian peasants claimed that the herbicides the U.S. was
spraying made them sick; complaining of skin rashes and diarrhea. But Beers
had his own theory as to why already poor Colombian farmers were
complaining. "The individuals who are being affected by the spraying are
being affected economically," he told reporters, "If the spraying is
successful, it kills their incomes."
In its "Global Illicit Drug Trends, 2003 (
http://www.unodc.org/pdf/report_2003-06-26_1_executive_summary.pdf )" the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime credits U.S. eradication efforts
with a 37 percent decline in Colombian coca cultivation between 2000 and
2002. The same report says this reduction came after a five-fold increase
in Colombian coca production between 1993 and 1999.
At the same time as the 37 percent decline in Colombian coca cultivation,
the UN report continues, "Combining the three source countries (Colombia,
Bolivia and Peru) translates into an overall reduction of 22 percent of the
area under cultivation between 1999 and 2002." In other words, a reduction
of Colombian cultivation has led to increased cultivation in other areas.
In its 2003 narcotics control report (
http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2003/vol1/html/29832.htm ) on Peru,
where the U.S. is also underwriting forced coca eradication, the U.S. State
Department claims, "According to U.S. Embassy reporting, coca farmers
received approximately $126 million from buyers for their coca leaf output
in 2002. This total is only a fraction of the size of the total cocaine
economy in Peru, which may equal 1.2 to 2.4 billion dollars or more
annually (or 2 to 4 percent of Peru's GDP). Nearly all of the wealth
derived from the cocaine economy accrues to narcotics traffickers and other
So while Beers was happily killing the crops (both licit and illicit) of
Colombian farmers, narco-traffickers and the terrorists who feed off the
drug trade continued to eat well, simply moving their operations elsewhere
in response to eradication efforts.
The 2003 narcotics control report continues about Bolivia: "The successful
reduction of coca cultivation in the Chapare (down 15 percent) was offset
by a 26 percent increase in theYungas resulting in an overall increase of
And in Peru: "Due to the potential for social unrest, forced eradication
was limited to non-conflictive areas" which consisted of abandoned fields
and parklands while "...the extensive presence of high-density coca
cultivation in the Monzon and Apurimac/Ene river valleys remains a major
In the odd world of the drug warrior, this too is considered a victory. In
2001, General Peter Pace, then Commander of the U.S. Southern Command (the
U.S. military wing of the drug war) called Plan Colombia "successful" (
because drug producers are moving their operations elsewhere in Latin America.
We're just beginning to get a glimpse of the havoc this relocation of drug
production can wreak on the civil and economic health of other Latin
American countries, but Beers is ready to turn this, too, to political
In November of 2001 Beers took his "at any cost" defense of American
narco-policy to a new level by attempting (and failing) to connect
Colombian coca and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
Colombia's largest communist terrorist group, with al Qaida.
Beers gave a sworn deposition in a lawsuit filed by Ecuadorian subsistence
farmers in U.S. Federal Court against DynCorp--a private contractor
carrying out aerial eradication in Colombia. (Arias, et al. vs. DynCorp ,
The Ecuadorians claimed that herbicide sprayed over Colombia had drifted
across the border and damaged both their health and crops. Beers argued (
http://www.narconews.com/beersdeposition1.html ) that the case shouldn't go
to trial because the fumigation program is vital both to the national
security of the U.S. and the war on terror in Colombia, claiming "It is
believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaida terrorist
camps in Afghanistan."
The FARC--accurately listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State
Department--have become wealthy and powerful off the Colombian drug trade
through protection rackets for coca growers and traffickers, the production
and distribution of narcotics and control of local coca base markets.
Beers' theory seemed to be that starving coca growers also cuts off funding
for the FARC.
In a later supplemental declaration, Beers recanted the claim (http://www.narconews.com/beersperjury1.html ) of FARC terrorists training
in Afghanistan, "I wish to strike this sentence. At the time of my
declaration, based on information available to me, I believed this
statement to be true and correct. Based upon information made available to
me subsequent to the filing of the declaration, I no longer believe this
statement to be true and correct."
Exactly what "information" Beers had available at the time of his false
statements is a source of some mystery. "There doesn't seem to be any
evidence of FARC going to Afghanistan to train," a U.S. intelligence
official told UPI (
http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID020807-123019-5992r ). "We have never
briefed anyone on that and frankly, I doubt anyone has ever alleged that in
a briefing to the State Department or anyone else." According to a veteran
congressional staffer: "My first reaction was that Rand must have
misspoke... But when I saw it was a proffer signed under oath, I couldn't
believe he would do that. I have no idea why he would say that." The
"starve an Andean peasant to save an American cokehead" policy Beers
defends has done nothing to protect the national security of the U.S., but
rather is creating new political instability and terrorist alliances that
can only serve to help along narco-terrorism in the Andean Ridge. In Peru,
the communist terrorist group Shining Path, mostly crushed by Peru during
brutal civil war in the 1990's is reportedly making a comeback. Beers
himself, while still serving in the State Department told a 2002 Senate,
"In 2001 the Shining Path had a slight resurgence in areas like the
Huallaga and Apurimac Valleys, where cocaine is cultivated and processed,
indicating the remnants of the group are probably financing operations with
drug profits form security and taxation services." A February 8, 2002
Stratfor intelligence brief reported that, thanks to an expanding alliance
with Colombian drug traffickers and the FARC, "Shining Path is trying to
re-build its numbers and weaponry by working in the heroin trade. Peru is
poised to become one of the world's heroin producers.
According to the 2002 State Department narcotics control report (
http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2002/html/17944.htm ), "There have
been multiple reports of border crossings by the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC) into Peru. In 2002 there was the first report of gunfire
being exchanged between FARC forces and the Peruvian National Police.
The 2002 report continues, "Organized coca growers (cocaleros) in Peru
staged a number of large protests during 2002, which intimidated the GOP
into signing agreements to temporarily suspend coca eradication in certain
regions, as well as to include cocalero representatives in discussions on
revising Peru's counternarcotics law." It also describes a new Peruvian
political movement, Llapanchicc, formed in the Apurimac River Valley cocoa
growing region to defend indigenous farmers against forced eradication
U.S. drug policy has managed to create the first Peruvian indigenous
political movement with the defense of coca growing as its central plank.
Bolivia, which over the past decade vigorously eradicated coca with over $1
billion in support from the U.S., was considered the lone Latin American
success story by American drug warriors.
Until 2002, that is, when the drug war changed the political face of
Bolivia and Evo Morales, a Fidel Castro clone and the candidate from the
Movement Towards Socialism (SAM) garnered 22 percent of the popular vote in
the Presidential race with the backing of Bolivian coca growers, only 4
percent shy of the winner.
In 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled to
the U.S. amidst violent protest. While the civil unrest that led to his
leaving was partly due to income taxes and a natural gas export plan, it
was also partly due to what columnist Robert Novak called, "The backlash to
U.S.-sponsored coca eradication (
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20040105.shtml ) in
In any event, what is undisputed is that coca cultivation is back on the
rise in Bolivia, growing almost as quickly as anti-U.S. sentiment towards
forced eradication policies. (Cultivation is up 17 percent in 2002
according to the 2003 State Dept. narcotics control report.)
If policy makers were tasked with making a plan to ensure widespread
instability, corruption, lawlessness and a steady flow of illegal wealth
for narco-terrorists, they would be hard pressed to come up with a policy
more successful than that already in place in Latin America.
That American drug-warriors are already in place in the new Homeland
Security department should be worrisome enough. After all, American style
liberty and the bill of rights are generally viewed as pesky impediments to
the drug war mission, and counter-terrorism as secondary to the well being
of the bureaucracy.
But that the presidential challenger intends to place at the top of the
Homeland Security bureaucracy a key architect and defender of a failed,
cruel, destructive war on some of the poorest people on this planet is
especially depressing. Those trying to decide who to vote for based on what
the next four years of drug policy may bring will find themselves in much
the same position as a Colombian subsistence farmer--somewhere between a
rock and a hard place.