Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

May 12, 2006 - Rocky Mountain News (CO)

Column: Maybe The Terrorists Have Won Already

By Bill Johnson

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

I tend not to fall victim to paranoia, sometimes to my scary detriment. You just don't, I figure, raise your hand and twice volunteer to walk the ugly streets of Iraq if you suffer from such a malady.

So tell me, why is it this morning that I flat want to climb back into bed, and pull the sheets directly over my head?

This is how bad I've got it: I'm even thinking of calling Qwest, and I've struggled mightily to make our phone company go away the past few years, looking elsewhere for my phone and Internet service.

I've long considered the Denver-based telecom to be bad, slow and overpriced. Now I think I want them back.

What we think we know today is that Qwest, alone, at least had a backbone, refusing to fall to its knees before a government intent on collecting millions of our phone records. Like those calls I've made to my wife, kids and friends.So call me paranoid -- people have -- over news that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans not suspected of committing any crime, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and Bell South.

"Why do you care?" a friend said. "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about!"

If it weren't so warm today, I'd put the electric blanket on top of the sheets.

Why aren't we getting this?

On morning and afternoon talk radio, which in recent years has evolved - mostly for the worse - as our communal breakfast and lunch conversation table, they were still going on about illegal immigration. Goodness.

Never mind that the government has been compiling detailed records of calls innocent Americans have made across town and across the country to family, friends and business contacts simply by asking those three giant telecoms to turn the records over.

For all the concern this revelation caused locally, it might as well have concerned last night's Red Sox-Yankees score.

We could all give a damn.

What is worse, it now appears that the Bush administration has lied about the scope of the NSA phone surveillance program.

The president himself insisted late last year that the NSA's phone activities were focused exclusively on international calls, that "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

On Thursday, Bush did not confirm or deny that the NSA has collected many millions of domestic phone records - as reported by USA Today -- but he did assure us that our personal privacy is being "fiercely protected."

Say what?

He may as well have barked, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

And way too many of us, it appears, are perfectly content to do exactly that.

It's a huge example of how due process stands no chance against today's technology.

For a smaller, more local example, consider the case of Makenna Salaverry, Megan Malone and Somerset Tullius.

The three women appeared at a press conference Wednesday at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where they go to school, to announce that they are suing the school for posting their pictures online - postings that offered a bounty, to boot, for information leading to their arrests because they attended a pro-marijuana rally.

The women are alleging civil rights violations, claiming they never smoked marijuana, making it unfair to brand them as criminals on, of all places, the Internet.

The university, though, maintains it posted "no trespassing" signs in Farrand Field, so the women broke the law just by showing up.

The university's case relies solely on its pictures of the event, the posting of them on the Internet, and, later, relying on snitches to identify those depicted.

By this standard, should the surveillance cameras Denver police operate along Colfax Avenue in Capitol Hill capture me playfully patting my wife, I should fully expect to be hauled in for assault.

Silly, you say?

I suppose my expectation of privacy when I telephone my children in Virginia -- including the times I did so from the Middle East -- is silly, as well.

At what point will we finally say enough!

"Well, if it keeps me safe, if it prevents some crazy (terrorist) from blowing my (backside) off, it's a price we all have to pay," a friend only a few minutes ago told me.

It is why I fear that the terrorists won long ago. Perhaps it was the passage of the Patriot Act that triggered and, later, confirmed this thinking, the way it not long ago forced Joyce Meskis at the Tattered Cover bookstore to hire lawyers and actually go to court to prevent the government from learning what her customers were buying and reading.

It is virtually inescapable, the daily chatter about freedom, about defending it, about spreading it and democracy around the globe. Those in power utter this to us, almost reflexively now, as if a mantra.

Today, I truly wonder what that word means. I used to think that I knew: It's what they taught us in civics class.

Now, I barely recognize it.

I'm going back to bed.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact