By Guest · Jan 12, 2004 ·
  1. Guest

    With the American public's attention firmly directed toward the daily
    events of the Bush Administration's "War on Terror," the US-led and
    exported "War on Drugs" continues to exact crippling costs to
    taxpayers, minority groups, the environment, civil liberties and
    struggling democracies around the world.

    While terror alerts rise and fall and states struggle to fund their
    law enforcement budgets, the total number of marijuana arrests far
    exceed the total number of arrests for all violent crimes combined,
    including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated

    As the Drug War enters its 90th year, it continues to be characterized
    by contradictory laws, arbitrary enforcement, massive wealth and
    racial disparities, questionable covert operations and general media

    Here are 10 of the top stories from Drug War 2003:

    1) Afghanistan is now the world's leading supplier of opium for the
    heroin trade. Under the Taliban regime, which banned opium, annual
    production bottomed out at 77 tons in 2001, produced only in areas
    controlled by the Northern Alliance. American military, as part of its
    "War on Terror," allied with Northern Alliance warlords to overthrow
    the Taliban regime and keep Al Qaeda at bay. Afghan opium production
    has since skyrocketed to about 3,600 tons of opium this year, or 75
    percent of global production.

    Early in December 2003, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
    traveled to Afghanistan and publicly embraced warlords Abdul Rashid
    Dostum and Ustad Attas Mohammed, for calling off armed struggle with
    the fragile government in Kabul headed by Hamid Karzai. Abdul Rashid
    Dostum was rewarded by being named Deputy Secretary of Defense for the
    Karzai government.

    Dostum has been described as a "war criminal" by groups such as Human
    Rights Watch and Amnesty International, for killing thousands of
    civilians in the Afghan civil wars of the 1990s and for his merciless
    treatment of prisoners and, occasionally, his own soldiers.

    2) While the United States declared war on Iraq for supposedly
    harboring biological weapons, the US-funded War on Drugs in Colombia
    plans to use an untested pathogenic fungus fusarium oxysporum to
    wipe out coca. Critics say the plan proposes illegal acts of
    biological warfare, poses major ecological risks to Colombia one of
    the world's most bio-diverse countries and will increase suffering,
    by wreaking havoc with human health, water quality and food crops.

    3) On February 12, a federal jury in Philadelphia awarded $1.5 million
    in compensation to two narcotics agents John McLaughlin and Charles
    Micewski who claimed their boss the Pennsylvania attorney general
    retaliated against them because they uncovered a drug-trafficking
    ring that diverted profits to a CIA-backed Dominican presidential candidate.

    Pittsburgh's Tribune Review reports: McLaughlin and Micewski said they
    had uncovered a Dominican drug-trafficking ring operating in
    Philadelphia, New York and other Eastern cities that funneled drug
    profits to the Dominican Revolutionary Party, which they claimed was
    supported by the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department.

    4) Switzerland's Addiction Research Institute calls tobacco the number
    one killer addiction, responsible for 71 percent, or 4.9 million of
    the world's 7 million annual drug-related deaths. About 1.8 million
    deaths, or 26 percent, were attributed to the use of alcohol, while
    illicit drugs caused about 223,000, or 3 percent, of all worldwide
    drug-related deaths.

    5) The FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report reveals that police arrested
    an estimated 697,082 persons for marijuana violations in 2002, or
    nearly half of all drug arrests in the United States. This amounts to
    one marijuana-related arrest every 45 seconds.

    The total number of marijuana arrests far exceeded the total number of
    arrests for all violent crimes combined, including murder,
    manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

    Of those charged with marijuana violations, 88 percent were charged
    with possession only. The remaining 12 percent were charged with
    "sale/manufacture," a category that includes cultivation for personal
    and medical use.

    6) With America incarcerating the highest percentage of its own
    citizens of any nation in history, Former Reagan Attorney General Ed
    Meese suggests tapping prison labor as a way to slow the exodus of
    jobs overseas.

    September's issue of Fortune Magazine reports: Prominent conservatives
    have been encouraging prisons to put inmates to work for years. The
    benefits are difficult to ignore: Businesses get cheap, reliable
    workers; inmates receive valuable job training and earn more than they
    would in traditional prison jobs; and the government offsets the cost
    of incarceration and keeps jobs and tax dollars in the US.

    7) Two of America's leading conservative moralist pundits, William
    Bennett and Rush Limbaugh, are chastened by the exposure of their
    secret habits. Former chain-smoking Drug "Czar" and puritanical author
    of The Book of Virtues, Bennett was exposed for gambling away millions
    of dollars of his family's fortune in Las Vegas casinos in the past

    Limbaugh, America's Number One conservative radio talk show host, has
    rarely missed an opportunity to vilify drug addicts, even calling for
    an increase in the incarceration of white drug users to offset the
    nation's massive racial disparity in prison. He is currently under
    investigation for illegally obtaining up to 30,000 narcotic
    painkillers from his housekeeper and from doctor shopping. In his
    defense, (Ultra-Conservative) Limbaugh has retained the services of
    (Ultra-Liberal) defense attorney Roy Black.

    8) Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Washington's most
    stalwart ally in South America, is living in exile in the United
    States after being toppled in mid-October by a popular uprising, a
    potentially crippling blow to US anti-drug policy in the Andean region.

    Last year, Lozada asked President Bush for more money to ease the
    impact on displaced coca farmers. Otherwise, Lozada explained, "I may
    be back here in a year, this time seeking political asylum."

    The coca problem is intimately tied to issues of poverty and
    disenfranchisement. In Bolivia the backlash has strengthened the hand
    of the political figure regarded by Washington as its main enemy: Evo
    Morales, head of the coca growers' federation, who finished second in
    the presidential election last year.

    9) Attorney General John Ashcroft limits judicial sentencing
    discretion and the freedom of prosecutors to strike plea bargains in
    criminal cases. He insists that US attorneys must seek the toughest
    punishment possible in nearly all cases, using plea bargains only in
    special situations.

    10) RAID! On May 16, New York City police tossed a stun grenade into
    the home of 57-year-old Alberta Spruill, city worker and church
    volunteer, who died from a heart attack during the mistaken drug raid.
    On May 23, NYC police accidentally raid the home of teacher Joe
    Celcis. Police smashed open the door, handcuffed several people,
    pointed a gun in the face of a 12-year old girl and ransacked the
    house for 90 minutes before realizing they had the wrong address. On
    Nov. 5, cops in a Charleston, SC, suburb burst into the mostly white
    Stratford High School at 6:45 a.m. with guns drawn and ordered mostly
    black students to get down on the floor while cops searched lockers
    and book bags for marijuana; students who didn't move fast enough were
    handcuffed. No drugs were found in the 45-minute raid. Seventeen of
    the students are suing the school district.

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