U.N. Report on Afghan Opium Harvest

We don't know if we buy the terrorism connection here or not. What is true is that the Taliban banned opium production and the farmers adhered to the ban. And that since the Taliban has been out of power, the farmers have resumed growing poppy with a vengeance, resulting in Afganistan once again becoming the world's largest opium producer:

Opium cultivation is spreading like a "cancer" in Afghanistan, a United Nations survey has found. Afghanistan produces three quarters of the world's illicit opium - the raw material for heroin - and two thirds of all opiate users take drugs of Afghan origin, according to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

The UN said yesterday that unless the problem was tackled the country could be over-run by violence, corruption and terrorism. High prices for opium had recruited more farmers, spreading poppy cultivation to 28 of Afghanistan's 32 provinces, from 18 four years ago.

....He added: "Out of this drug chest, some provincial administrators and military commanders take a considerable share. The more they get used to this, the less likely it becomes that they will respect the law, be loyal to Kabul and support the legal economy. Terrorists take a cut as well: the longer this happens, the greater the threat to security."

Sounds like the terrorists are at the bottom of the feeding pool--after the politicians and military leaders.

[link via Buzzflash]

The reason we say tread with caution here is the Bush Administration's plans for the Victory Act --linking drug crimes to terrorism, redesignating them as crimes of "narco-terrorism" and upping the already draconian penalties.

We don't doubt that some of the money earned from Afghan poppy farming finds its way into the hands of terrorists. But let's not paint with too broad a brush without something more. And let's be vigilant about keeping terror laws and drug laws separate, except in such instances where the two clearly are linked. We already have laws that penalize terrorism and laws that penalize illicit drug activity. We see no need to combine them.

We realize the U.N. rather than the Bush Administration is the genesis of this new report, but we don't put it past Ashcroft and Hatch to start quoting it as support for the Victory Act.

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