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  1. Motorhead
    Walter Cronkite: The Truth About the War on Drugs
    by Walter Cronkite (02 Mar, 2006) Well-known and respected journalist Cronkite comments at the Huffington Post website
    [​IMG][SIZE=-2]Walter Cronkite[/SIZE]As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement: "And that's the way it is."

    To me, that encapsulates the newsman's highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue.

    Sadly, that is not an ethic to which all politicians aspire - least of all in a time of war.

    I remember. I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost - and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along.

    Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.

    I am speaking of the war on drugs.

    And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.

    While the politicians stutter and stall - while they chase their losses by claiming we could win this war if only we committed more resources, jailed more people and knocked down more doors - the Drug Policy Alliance continues to tell the American people the truth - "the way it is."

    I'm sure that's why you support DPA's mission to end the drug war. And why I strongly urge you to support their work by giving a generous donation today.

    You see, I've learned first hand that the stakes just couldn't be higher.

    When I wanted to understand the truth about the war on drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war in Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.

    Allow me to introduce you to some of them.

    Nicole Richardson was 18-years-old when her boyfriend, Jeff, sold nine grams of LSD to undercover federal agents. She had nothing to do with the sale. There was no reason to believe she was involved in drug dealing in any way.

    But then an agent posing as another dealer called and asked to speak with Jeff. Nicole replied that he wasn't home, but gave the man a number where she thought Jeff could be reached.

    An innocent gesture? It sounds that way to me. But to federal prosecutors, simply giving out a phone number made Nicole Richardson part of a drug dealing conspiracy. Under draconian mandatory minimum sentences, she was sent to federal prison for ten years without possibility of parole.

    To pile irony on top of injustice, her boyfriend - who actually knew something about dealing drugs - was able to trade information for a reduced sentence of five years. Precisely because she knew nothing, Nicole had nothing with which to barter.

    Then there was Jan Warren, a single mother who lived in New Jersey with her teenage daughter. Pregnant, poor and desperate, Jan agreed to transport eight ounces of cocaine to a cousin in upstate New York. Police officers were waiting at the drop-off point, and Jan - five months pregnant and feeling ill - was cuffed and taken in.

    Did she commit a crime? Sure. But what awaited Jan Warren defies common sense and compassion alike. Under New York's infamous Rockefeller Drug Laws, Jan - who miscarried soon after the arrest - was sentenced to 15 years to life. Her teenage daughter was sent away, and Jan was sent to an eight-by-eight cell.

    In Tulia, Texas, an investigator fabricated evidence that sent more than one out of every ten of the town's African American residents to jail on trumped-up drug charges in one of the most despicable travesties of justice this reporter has ever seen.

    The federal government has fought terminally ill patients whose doctors say medical marijuana could provide a modicum of relief from their suffering - as though a cancer patient who uses marijuana to relieve the wrenching nausea caused by chemotherapy is somehow a criminal who threatens the public.

    People who do genuinely have a problem with drugs, meanwhile, are being imprisoned when what they really need is treatment.

    And what is the impact of this policy?

    It surely hasn't made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people...disproportionately people of color...who have caused little or no harm to others - wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.

    With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort - with no one held accountable for its failure.

    Amid the clichés of the drug war, our country has lost sight of the scientific facts. Amid the frantic rhetoric of our leaders, we've become blind to reality: The war on drugs, as it is currently fought, is too expensive, and too inhumane.

    But nothing will change until someone has the courage to stand up and say what so many politicians privately know: The war on drugs has failed.

    [​IMG]That's where the Drug Policy Alliance comes in.

    From Capitol Hill to statehouses to the media, DPA counters the hysteria of the drug war with thoughtful, accurate analysis about the true dangers of drugs, and by fighting for desperately needed on-the-ground reforms.

    They are the ones who've played the lead role in making marijuana legally available for medical purposes in states across the country.

    California's Proposition 36, the single biggest piece of sentencing reform in theUnited States since the repeal of Prohibition, is the result of their good work. The initiative is now in its fifth year, having diverted more than 125,000 people from prison and into treatment since its inception.

    They oppose mandatory-minimum laws that force judges to send people like Nicole Richardson and Jan Warren to prison for years, with no regard for their character or the circumstances of their lives. And their work gets results: thanks in large part to DPA, New York has taken the first steps towards reforming the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws under which Jan was sentenced.

    In these and so many other ways, DPA is working to end the war on drugs and replace it with a new drug policy based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

    DPA is a leading, mainstream, respected and effective organization that gets real results.

    But they can't do it alone.

    That's why I urge you to send as generous a contribution as you possibly can to the Drug Policy Alliance.

    Americans are paying too high a price in lives and liberty for a failing war on drugs about which our leaders have lost all sense of proportion. The Drug Policy Alliance is the one organization telling the truth. They need you with them every step of the way.

    And that's the way it is.


Comments

  1. Mr. Giraffe
    Excellent stuff.

    The more, the merrier!
  2. Motorhead
    Celebrity Mouth: Fox Bloviator Attacks TV News Legend Walter Cronkite over Drug War [SIZE=-2]3/3/06 [/SIZE]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]commentary by Drug War Chronicle editor Phillip S. Smith, psmith@drcnet.org[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Walter Cronkite, the legendary CBS news anchor widely dubbed "the most trusted man in America," has joined the legions of those who have earned the scorn of Fox News television host and commentator Bill O'Reilly -- and it's all about drugs. Or is it? While Cronkite's views on drug policy were what set O'Reilly off, the talk show host strayed far from the issue, touching on everything from Cronkite's age and mental condition to the evils of secular humanism.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [​IMG]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-2]Bill O'Reilly[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Cronkite appeared on O'Reilly's radar when he penned a fundraising letter for the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonpartisan group seeking a more sensible and human approach to drug issues. "Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home," Cronkite wrote. "While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens. I am speaking of the war on drugs."[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]In the letter, Cronkite explained his reasons for opposing the current drug war policies. "And what is the impact of this policy? It surely hasn't made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people... disproportionately people of color... who have caused little or no harm to others -- wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]"With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition," he added. "Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort -- with no one held accountable for its failure."[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]For O'Reilly, attacking drug reform as part of the culture wars is a favorite past-time, and he was on Cronkite like a hungry dog on a favorite bone. On the February 24 edition of the Factor, O'Reilly began by portraying Cronkite as "a very far-left guy" who lives "in the same left-wing precinct" as Bill Moyers and Tom Brokaw. Not to put too fine a point on it, Cronkite is "more far-left, he's always been that way, but he masked it."[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]It sounds like O'Reilly is still sore at Cronkite for telling national TV audiences the Vietnam War was a failure back in the late 1960s. The fact that Cronkite is trying to help a group that has also received funds from current conservative bete noire George Soros probably doesn't help either. In addition to funding drug reform, the Hungarian-born currency speculator and financier who helped open up the East Bloc as the Soviet Union crumbled worked hard to defeat President Bush in 2004, infuriating O'Reilly and his cultural conservative colleagues, some of whom refer to him as that rarest of all creatures, the "left-wing billionaire."[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]"Anyway," O'Reilly continued, "he wants to legalize drugs." Of course, Cronkite didn't say that, but for the talk show host it's "truthiness" rather than truth that counts. Worse, said O'Reilly, Cronkite "lied" by saying the war on drugs had not made our streets safer.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]"That's not true, the war on drugs broke the back of the crack that was out of control in major cities all across the country," he claimed.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]What really happened to the "crack wars" is a matter of serious debate, with the role of law enforcement being only one of many factors. Researchers also point to learning curves -- a crackhead is not a very enticing role model -- and the consolidation of markets as key factors. And, of course, the crack trade is still going strong.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]O'Reilly also attacked Cronkite for suggesting we have locked up millions who have done no harm to others. "Listen, violent crime is induced by hard drug use, Walter," O'Reilly lectured before adding, "I don't want to be too tough on you, you're 90." But then it was back to full O'Reilly attack mode for the grand finale: "This is the kind of crazy thinking that the secular progressive movement embraces. Now Walter Cronkite, the most trusted news broadcaster in American history... [is] embracing every left-wing, crazy theory there is and now says drug dealers cause little or no harm to others. I mean, it's staggering. It is staggering!"[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Actually, drug-related violent crime is much more likely to be related to drug prohibition than the psychopharmacology of illicit substances. And police arrested more than 1.5 million on drug charges last year, half of them for marijuana, and, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were about half a million people behind bars on drug charges on any given day last year. O'Reilly would have us believe that they're all machine-gun toting Pablo Escobars, but for every drug kingpin, there are hundreds of low-level drug offenders doing years in prison for nonviolent, consensual crimes. Ask the kid from Washington, DC, doing a mandatory minimum five-year sentence for a few dollars worth of rocks. Ask the poor white guys in the Midwest doing three- or five- or ten-year sentences for a few flecks of methamphetamine. Ask the college student doing 30 days for a joint (and losing his financial aid) because he got caught in the wrong county.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]It's not that O'Reilly hasn't had the opportunity to know better. In fact, dope is one of his hot-button issues, sure to get his fans all riled up as they ponder the decline of Western, Christian civilization. He has had DPA representatives on his show on several occasions, but doesn't seem able to hear what they have to say. In February 2003, he had on drug education specialist Marsha Rosenbaum, but used her mainly as a foil for his outrage over parents who had allowed teens to drink at a party they supervised.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]A year earlier, in a bizarre segment with DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann, following the drug czar's cue, O'Reilly tried to paint marijuana and Ecstasy users as supporting terrorism. When Nadelmann explained that neither drug had much to do with Afghanistan or Al Qaeda and that Ecstasy was being manufactured in Holland, O'Reilly objected -- as he so often does when facts get in the way of his world view.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]"No, but it's not run by the Dutch, it's run by Middle Eastern guys," O'Reilly exclaimed, challenging Nadelmann to a $100 bet when he scoffed. The next night, he gloated he had won the bet. "OK, here's what the Office of the National Drug Control Policy says, and we quote, 'Drug Enforcement Agency reporting demonstrates the involvement of Israeli criminal organizations in Ecstasy smuggling. Some of these individuals are of Russian and Georgian descent and have Middle Eastern ties.'"[/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]So the presence of Israeli mobsters in the Ecstasy trade constitutes "Middle Eastern ties" that link ravers to Al Qaeda. Only in Bill O'Reilly's world. You know, the one where respected American newsmen and left-wing billionaires team up to wage "crazy" wars on the drug war, and undoubtedly, Christmas, too.[/SIZE][/FONT]
  3. Mr. Giraffe
    Quelle surprise!

    If O'Reilly's attacking it, it's gotta be right.
  4. Alfa
    It takes a lot of balls for someone in Cronkite's position to speak out like that. I hope this letter gets as much attention as possible. Please keep this thread updated!
  5. Sickman
    Well as the old saying goes, even a broken clock is right two times a day
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