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December 30, 2005 - Santa Maria Times (CA)

OpEd: America's Failed War On Drugs

By James Murr, Santa Maria resident

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The Santa Maria Times continually reports on law enforcement making arrests for possession of controlled substances.

While the U.S. major media sensationalizes the war on drugs, prosecutors and judges sentence addicts to long prison terms where there is little or no rehabilitation. Lawmakers everywhere don't want to appear soft on crime, so draconian laws are written and rewritten.

The war on drugs is another failed war in our time. This war was declared in 1971 by President Nixon and is the most expensive social experiment in history. It's historical cost would include all federal, state and local law enforcement, the prosecutors, defending attorneys and prisons.

The failed war on drugs is out of control. There exists a complete disconnect between the realities of drug traffickers, and those who enforce the drug laws. We associate drug running with gangs and cartels. However, gangs have major competition from the U.S. government. Basically, the CIA traffics drugs while the DEA and local law enforcement arrest all non-government smugglers.

In 1950, the CIA began trafficking opium from the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia to the Corsican Mafia. The exchange for food and weapons was flown to indigenous locals and anti-Communist Chinese attacking targets in Southern China.

For decades the CIA's "Air America" used drug trafficking to carry out clandestine Southeast Asian wars, and Corsican heroin was smuggled into Europe and the U.S. A very good book on the topic is Alfred McCoy's "Politics of Heroin."

The CIA was cut off from the Golden Triangle when Saigon fell in 1975. The CIA turned to flying opium from Pakistan to Hong Kong. This became the principal pipeline to purchase weapons for the warlords and Al-Qaeda, who were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from December 1979 to February 1989.

President Reagan launched an illegal clandestine war in Central America, which violated the Boland Amendment in force from 1984 to 1986. A Marine named Oliver North was one architect of the illegal war funded by drug trafficking. He recruited what became known as "Contras" from Nicaragua.

The CIA used Southern Air Transport for trafficking cocaine into the U.S. They supported the Contras who operated their own CIA protected drug pipelines directly into the U.S.

"The Iran-Contra Final Report" identified the cocaine trafficking by the CIA and the Contras under presidents Reagan and Bush. Many indictments and convictions occurred. On Dec. 24, 1992, President Bush pardoned all administrative staff, CIA agents and military officers who were indicted or convicted in the illegal Contra war and drug trafficking.

In the early 1980s, the CIA drug money-laundering bank, Nugan-Hand, was exposed in Australia. The bank was owned and controlled by the CIA. A former U.S. general was the branch manager in Hong Kong, and William Colby, former chief of the CIA, was the bank's general counsel.

The CIA switched to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International for money laundering from their drug trafficking. The CIA, under Richard Helms, was exposed in 1988 when the Bank of Credit and Commerce International was investigated by prosecutors as a major criminal enterprise. The CIA was caught using the bank. Crimes committed by our government are hidden as classified secrets, and the war on drugs is reduced to a case study in hypocrisy.

This U.S. Gulag is a dumping ground for the lower classes. Prison is social control that enforces class warfare upon the lower classes. Rarely do the elite rich like Rush Limbaugh go to jail for using and trafficking narcotics, whereas locals in Santa Maria are regularly sentenced to hard time.

We must end the cynicism, hypocrisy and the war on drugs by decriminalizing substances. Shutting off supply has failed, so it is time to switch to cutting off demand. We must separate money from international gangs by having pharmaceutical companies make the drugs. Drugs must always be dispensed by pharmacists. With money out of the equation, the underground drug trafficking would not be financially sustainable.

Education and treatment have proven extremely effective in reducing the use of the drug tobacco, and should be used for all harmful drug abuse. Medical and mental-health communities can work with the physical and mental problems of the individual. The medical community will effectively treat substance abusers, and the government has no right to review these doctor-patient relationships.

The current experiment on the supply side has been a colossal failure.

Local Santa Maria substance abusers need treatment and compassion, not incarceration.

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