The Associated Press has just dropped a bombshell on America’s longest running war and the headline says it all: “The US Drug War has Met None of its Goals”.Nicole Belle asks the important question:
The extensive piece reviews the last 40 years, starting with President Nixon’s official launch of the War on Drugs all the way to President Obama’s annual strategy released this week. [..]
The piece packs a punch from the start: “After 40 years, the United States’ War on Drugs has cost $1 trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence more brutal and widespread.”
In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:
_ $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse — “an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction” — cost the United States $215 billion a year.
_ $33 billion in marketing “Just Say No”-style messages to America’s youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have “risen steadily” since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
_ $49 billion for law enforcement along America’s borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
_ $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
_ $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
And for what? Drug use is no lower. Violent crimes related to drugs are up. And nearly half of our overly-crowded prisons are in there for drug offenses. There is absolutely nothing constructive to show for this 40 year boondoggle. Hell, we could have used that money to implement a Single Payer system, something we could see a very tangible benefit from in a short period of time.Game over, man. GAME OVER.
Can we declare defeat already and finally try to figure out the best way to have a sane national regulatory structure for taxing and distributing legalized drugs?
… Oh, I’m sorry, this is America, we don’t declare defeat. How’s Iraq and Afghanistan working out for us these days?
I hate to break it to you padre but, YES – YOU HAVE BEEN WASTING YOUR TIME , and YES, YOUR WORK IS MISGUIDED — just like everyone was misguided and wasting their time (and OUR MONEY) during ALCOHOL PROHIBITION.
(Former drug czar John P.) Walters insists society would be far worse today if there had been no War on Drugs. Drug abuse peaked nationally in 1979 and, despite fluctuations, remains below those levels, he says. Judging the drug war is complicated: Records indicate marijuana and prescription drug abuse are climbing, while cocaine use is way down. Seizures are up, but so is availability.
“To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven’t made any difference is ridiculous,” Walters said. “It destroys everything we’ve done. It’s saying all the people involved in law enforcement, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It’s saying all these people’s work is misguided.”
Recently we marveled at the right’s position against reading Miranda rights to terrorism suspects who are American citizens.
Yesterday Matt Yglesias made some broader points, which seem to cast this in a clearer light:
One really important thing that I think’s gone missing from the debate over Miranda warnings and terrorism suspects is that the orthodox conservative view is that Miranda was wrongly decided and ought to be overruled. Conservatives don’t think terrorism suspects should get Miranda warnings in roughly the same sense that conservatives don’t think terrorism suspects have a constitutional right to have an abortion. Ramesh Ponnuru confirms that here.
In fact more generally, I’m not aware of any significant controversy on any subject wherein conservatives side with the rights of criminal defendants of any kind. Which is just to say that the debate is tending to be miscast. The people who think criminals defendants should have meaningful, judicially enforceable rights think those same rights should apply to terrorism suspects. The people who don’t think terrorism suspects should have meaningful rights take a dim view of all such rights claims.
I really do hope that there are some eager, well-endowed, buttrape-prone demons waiting in hell for the state-sanctioned, jack-booted thugs who perpetrated this atrocity:
SWAT team breaks into home, fires seven rounds at family’s pit bull and corgi (?!) as a seven-year-old looks on.They found a “small amount” of marijuana, enough for a misdemeanor charge. The parents were then charged with child endangerment.So smoking pot = “child endangerment.” Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.
One thing that continually gets missed in the coverage of the new Arizona immigration law are the implications of the requirement that a police officer have a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is an illegal before asking for their papers.
So you see, there isn’t any independent cause of action against the police department for stopping someone and asking for their papers without reasonable suspicion.
The reason there is extensive case law interpreting what “reasonable suspicion” means is because defense attorneys routinely move to suppress any evidence procured by way of an illegal stop or frisk, at which point the police must articulate the basis of their reasonable suspicion. If they can’t do so to the judge’s satisfaction, the evidence is suppressed and the charges are often dismissed. Police quickly learn to follow the rules if they want their charges to stick.
In the immigration context, however, there is no evidence to suppress. Defense attorneys will not have an obvious mechanism for contesting the reasonability of the request for documentation. I can see an occasional civil rights complaint filed by the ACLU or a similar group, but I don’t see what circumstances would lead to any kind of routine judicial review of these decisions. The police will largely be on the honor system.
And that’s why this law is so problematic. It a recipe for police abuse, for unchecked racial profiling. And even if the police generally do a good job of controlling themselves, the mere spectre of such abuse will only drive the undocumented community farther underground. There will be no cooperation with the police. No reporting of crimes. More fleeing the scene of accidents. More children not getting medical care because their parents are afraid to take them to the hospital. It’s just really bad policy.
Reacting to the swift capture of the failed Times Square bomber, this quote from a top leader in the GOP just about sums up the contempt and insanity that drives the Republican Party today:
“Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still…” Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.)
First, as a practical matter, we know that the Mirandizing suspects does not undermine our national security interests. For decades, this wasn’t even a subject open to debate until Republicans decided last year this might be exploited politically to confused scared voters.
Second, on Fox News this morning, both Glenn Beck and Andrew Napolitano supported following the law and Mirandizing Shahzad. Congratulations, John McCain and Pete King, you’re now slightly less reasonable than Fox News personalities.
Third, as Matt Yglesias noted, reading a suspect his/her rights isn’t just some nicety: “[T]o give [a suspect] the death penalty, or indeed any penalty, you need to put him on trial. Which is to say you need to prove that the guy in custody is actually responsible for the crime. And the whole reason cops mirandize suspects is that if you don’t, you risk having your evidence thrown out of court. If you gather all the information before mirandizing, you could be throwing the whole thing into doubt. Which is why professionals give out the warning.”
And finally there’s this important contextual observation from Adam Serwer: “Yesterday, when the primary suspect in the attempted bombing of Times Square was a middle-aged white guy, Republican leaders were the picture of calm, sober leadership. High-ranking Republicans on committees related to national security like Pete Hoekstra and Peter King urged people not to jump to conclusions, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised New Yorkers for not succumbing to fear…. That was yesterday.”
“He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens,” the bombastic Fox News host said to the stunned co-hosts of “Fox and Friends”. “If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution.”
“We don’t shred the Constitution when it is popular,” Beck added. “We do the right thing.”
This is abominable:
A STREET preacher has prompted concerns over religious freedom in Scotland after being fined £1,000 for telling passers-by in Glasgow city centre that homosexuals deserved the “wrath of God” and would go to hell.
Shawn Holes admitted breaching the peace earlier this month by “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice”.
Always remember how valuable our freedom of speech is.
Well, not quite, but still good:
“That those in question would have their patriotism, loyalty and values attacked by reputable public figures such as Elizabeth Cheney and journalists such as Kristol is as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years. What has become of our civic life in America? The only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers — and on the integrity of our legal system — is shameful. Shameful,”
Walter Dellinger, former head of the OLC and senior partner of a firm that represented a Gitmo detainee pro bono at the behest of Bush DOD lawyers.
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