Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot Act Bill

Before the House voted to extend the Patriot Act, Henry Hyde slipped in a little-noticed new drug provision:

Offered by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), the successful amendment would make manufacture, sale, possession with the intent to sell Schedule I and II drugs, or conspiracy to do any of the above "narco-terrorism" if it "directly or indirectly, aids, or provides support, resources or anything of value to: (a) a foreign terrorist organization; or (b) any person or group involved in the planning, preparation for, or carrying out of a terrorist offense."

A "narco-terrorism" conviction would draw a mandatory minimum 20-year prison sentence, with the possibility of a life sentence. Under the provision, "the government need not prove that the defendant knew that an organization is a designated foreign terrorist organization,'" according to the House floor summary.

Who comes under the provision? It's not entirely clear, but it could be your corner street dealer who has no ties at all to terrorism.

Under this wording, the statute's reach is unclear. Could the urban teenager selling $10 rocks of crack on the street be charged as a "narco-terrorist" if the cocaine he was retailing was proven to come from a shipment ultimately controlled by the Colombian paramiliaries or the FARC, both of which reportedly earn fortunes in the business? Whether the crack seller is transformed into a "narco-terrorist" could depend on nothing more than the ambition and ruthlessness of a young Assistant US Attorney somewhere.

Just this week, Patriot Act was used to bust a marijuana smuggling ring.

Now, here's the important thing. The version of the Patriot Act that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee does not have this provision. The full Senate will vote on its version after the August recess. So get ready to send your Senators the message: Leave the narco-terrorim provisions out of the Patriot Act.

I have written before about the Administration's efforts to sneak what had been Patriot Act II and the Victory Act into other legislation on a piece-meal basis.

Let's hope members of Congress aren't asleep at the switch and starry-eyed with cookie-cutter patriotism when the provisions of Patriot Act II and Orrin Hatch's Victory Act hit their desks. Patriot II is especially dangerous since it is being divided into smaller units and introduced piecemeal, in an attempt to avoid the Patriot Act label and the certain opposition another big bill with that name would bring.

We don't need new drug laws:

I 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. There is no need to combine them.

All-Spin Zone is also covering this topic.

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    "your corner street dealer..."? Um, I've never heard a drug dealer referred to like this, except by his customers....

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#2)
    by TomK on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Does this mean Dennis Hasteret deserves 20 years in prison? What about using this act to prosecute CIA agents who fund illegal covert wars and totalitarian regimes that use terrorism with their own drug profits? Or, get this. The DEA possesses a lot of drugs. (In the words of Ali G, they could throw one hell of a party). Because the DEA possesses these drugs, prices on the street are higher. Because these prices are so high, terrorist groups can sell drugs for lots of money. So, the DEA being in possession of so many drugs aids the terrorists, and as such, they should all be locked up for 20 years. Maybe this bill would be a good thing...

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    TL: Someone have the section number and House Bill number, or a link to the provision? Only then could those of us who read TalkLeft (and there are many) and have some technical expertise read it in full. And only then could anyone try to give a serious answer to your question about who and what it would reach. I am sure, however, that it would be readily and arbitrarily abused by agents and prosecutors; that's obvious. After all, federal criminal law continues (and will continue) to be poisoned by unlimited "vicarious responsibility" provisions like "aiding and abetting" and "Pinkerton liability" that drag minor participants within the scope of overharsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Girlfriends and sisters of drug dealers are among the saddest victims, along with the "mules," messengers, and street-corner flunkies.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    i think what bothers me most about bills such as this is the re-defining of the word "terrorism". terrorism historically was defined as acts, committed against a civilian populace, instilling fear, to advance a political agenda. to quote stalin "the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize." the new definition asserts that all criminal acts are, by definition, terrorist, because they induce fear in the victim. hence, anyone committing a criminal act can be charged with being a terrorist, along with whatever act they committed. i could be horribly mistaken, but i suspect advancing a political agenda is the last thing on your average criminal's mind, as they go about their business. we have reached orwellian heights, in abuse of language, that i don't think orwell even foresaw. that is the true danger here, which seems to be overlooked by all the talking heads/pundits. comments anyone?

    Peter, it's HR 3199 EH You can access it at Thomas by typing in HR3199 and clicking on the final choice, the one that passed the House. It reads: `SEC. 1010A. (a) Prohibited Acts- Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (c), manufactures, distributes, imports, exports, or possesses with intent to distribute or manufacture a controlled substance, flunitrazepam, or listed chemical, or attempts or conspires to do so, knowing or intending that such activity, directly or indirectly, aids or provides support, resources, or anything of pecuniary value to-- `(1) a foreign terrorist organization; or `(2) any person or group involved in the planning, preparation for, or carrying out of, a terrorist offense, shall be punished as provided under subsection (b). '(b) Penalties- Whoever violates subsection (a) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not less than 20 years and not more than life and shall be sentenced to a term of supervised release of not less than 5 years. There's a definition section which includes: `(3) TERRORIST ORGANIZATION- The term `terrorist organization' has the meaning given the term in section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi)).'. And it says: `(d) Proof Requirements- The prosecution shall not be required to prove that any defendant knew that an organization was designated as a `foreign terrorist organization' under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#6)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    You mentioned the Patriot Act being used to surveille the Canada drug tunnel, but you didn't mention the affaire Marc Emery which has been scarcely mentioned in these parts but is a HUGE story in Canada last week from the CBC national TV news to all of the major national and provincial papers. Read some more about this here. This is about the DEA being in cahoots with other local right winger local cops going into Canada and prosecuting Emery, the biggest pot legalization advocate in Canada, under a "conspiracy" with US citizens to violate US marijuana laws for something (selling mail order seeds) which basically is not an arrestible offense in Canada. This story needs to be frontpaged and discussed here in MNSHO. It's easily as important and disturbing a development in both the US's heavyhanded war on drugs -- meddling in the democratic process in other nations seeking to liberalize our harsh laws which are tied into international treaties -- and in our hamhanded international diplomacy generally. Yeah, I know, it's just another "pot legalization" issue which for some reason lawyers and civil libertarians find it hard to stand up for, even when it is the point of the spear in the current system of institutional classism and hypocracy in the justice system (excuse for half of incarcerations, but arguably old school "population control"). (This story has not been frontpaged here and resulted in only one brief, non-recommended diary on Kos. While its' a HUGE civil liberties and int'l relations story in Canada, even from people who are not particularly warm and fuzzy to either drug liberalizers generally or Marc Emery specifically. I think that just shows the cultural egocentricity of Americans more than anything else...a story normally about "pot" and "Canada" is doubly trivial and irrelevant.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#7)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Well am I right when i said the government would use drugs to put people in prison for terror acts, see this is not about protection or safekeeping of our rights or defense of this land, or the preservation of life, its about control over the mass number of people inside the so called usa and outside this so called land of freedom, within 10 years you will see 20 million behind the bars of evil. Bush the new saddam and hitler.

    I wrote a about Marc Emery's arrest here

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#9)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Life sentences for possession? So much for that "land of the free" stuff.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#10)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Also, I find it difficult to believe that even the standard of proof the article mentions would be necessary. How much money did the government spend on their ad campaign to convince us that the guy down the hall who sells pot is really bin Laden in disguise? I wouldn't put anything past our budding police state and its frighteningly authoritarian "small government" "right wing" Republicans. As if any of this will have a goddamn effect on Osama's efforts to, like his late older brother, win a 1400-year-old religious feud and prove to the Shi'ites that he is the descendent of Mohammed who will bring about the apocalypse. Where do they find these morons?

    Hey so Rush Limbaugh is now a terrorist, huh? Well damn, he used to be a freedom fighter, like Bin Laden was. Come on people, Rush only bought up all those drugs to keep them off the streets. To keep us safe. He did it for the kids, man! And they call him a terrorist now... :(

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#12)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Better check, double check, triple check, my bags and pockets before going on to the NYC subway, not that I have anything to hide....but you never can tell how stuff happens.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#13)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Posted by TalkLeft at August 6, 2005 12:41 PM I wrote a about Marc Emery's arrest here Oh, I know, and I commented on it there too. That item was in a multi-item "on the web" "wrap up" and was about the initial arrest reports, but the story has ballooned in Canada over the past week, with a surprising outpouring of editorial and opinion in support of Emery and contra the US action, pinpointing the relevant issue of why US drug laws should be enforced in Canada while the Canadians do not wish that sort of regime on themselves. I can't imagine such support or coverage in our press. Thanks to the activists and the north-of-the-border blogosphere on this issue, the reformer's war room has spun the issue nicely. One of the most amazing developments happened just Friday, where the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported here that US DEA chief Karen Tandy admitted, nay CROWED, that the arrest was meant to cripple Emery in his role as Canadian Marijuana Party leader and point man for cannabis legalization, thus admitting the activists' point that the prosecution is a selective POLITICAL prosecution, which is another ground upon which extradition may be denied (as well as the other issues of "dual criminality", disproportionate sentences, etc.). There is another very good article on Emery the activist and muckraker from today's Toronto Globe and Mail (national paper) here. BTW, you cited to the Loretta Nall "US Marijuana Party" site earlier, TL...did you know that Nall and her org is supported by payments from Emery's seed/political sales, as are many other activists? I'd hope to see more about this case on this site as it progresses...

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#14)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:00 PM EST
    Squeaky, better check your wallet too. Cash frequently contains traces of cocaine.
    Um, I've never heard a drug dealer referred to like this, except by his customers....
    How would you know!?

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:01 PM EST
    Aha, yes, I see it. It's section 124 of H.R. 3199, which would add a section 1010A to Title 21 of the U.S. Code (the import-export and transnational chapter of the Controlled Substances Act). Anyone who wants to read it in full can find it here. It's even worse than I had suggested. It includes not only those who commit the listed offenses with "knowledge" or "intent" that the domestic drug crime will "aid" ("directly or indirectly") or result in money going to a foreign terrorist organization (such as a Colombian drug gang connected with the FARC) but also anyone who "attempts or conspires" to do so. And since in criminal law the judge can invite the jury to "infer" that a person "intends" the "natural and probably consequences of his or her voluntary acts" no real intent is required at all. And since the judge can also "instruct" a jury to infer "knowledge" if the defendant "willfully closes his or her eyes to a high probability" that the fact is true, even if the defendant does not actually know it, no real knowledge would be required either. In short, anyone participating in, agreeing to, or even trying unsuccessfully to commit any cocaine or crack offenses (other than simple possession) could be caught in this web of name-calling, propaganda and penalty-escalation at the whim of a federal prosecutor.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#16)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:01 PM EST
    narco enemy combatant.

    The drug laws of the last 50 years have been a huge success. We can now boast that we lock up as many people as China. I'm not smart enough to figure out how to get people not to take drugs. But these draconian laws have not solved the problem. The War on Drugs has just made billionaires out of criminals.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#18)
    by roger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:01 PM EST
    The war on terror was always about drugs. "I never think about Bin Laden". When was the last time that W publicly pronounced his name?

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#19)
    by aahpat on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:02 PM EST
    While I have not seen the specific provision I saw Mark Souder, Dennis Hasterts's point man on drug policy, say in an interview about a month ago that he wanted funds to train all Homeland Security "agents" trained in drug interdiction. About terrorism. "According to U.S. interagency estimates, the annual demand for heroin in the United States is approximately 18 metric tons, of which 75 percent is supplied by sources in Mexico and South America. Sources in Asia supply the remaining 25 percent..." United States-Canada Border Drug Threat Assessment National Drug Intelligence Center, December 2001 4.5 metric tons of heroin were coming across our borders that originate with central Asian sources, Afghan, back in 2001. Unfettered by the best border security in the western world. That amount has soared since. With impunity. (And we worry about fake passports?!) "Of the 36 groups designated by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations, 14 (or 39 percent) are connected to drug activities, testified Steven W. Casteel, assistant administrator for intelligence of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He said they range from Middle Eastern terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, the Shining Path in Peru and the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines." Hatch Links Drugs, Terrorism, 21 May 2003, The Daily Herald Clearly the corruption that led America to abandon the Volstead Act has adopted an international character and escalated to fund cross border anarchy. Add to this numerous reports dating back to the mid 1990'd asserting that alQaeda and other Middle Eastern extremist groups use herd drugs not only as currency and to facilitate international movement but also as an asymmetric weapon, flooding modern cultures to destabilize them. "Since the mid-1990s, the prevalence of lifetime heroin use increased for both youths and young adults. From 1995 to 2002, the rate among youths aged 12 to 17 increased from 0.1 to 0.4 percent; among young adults aged 18 to 25, the rate rose from 0.8 to 1.6 percent." 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Great Britain, Europe and Russia are all going nuts with the increases in addiction rates due to the high quality cheap heroin. In New England its "less than a six-pack of beer." "Heroin and its legal sister drug OxyContin are destroying families, and police predict the area is on the brink of a major crime wave. The price of heroin is at a record low, sometimes costing less than a six-pack of beer. But when the price goes up as expected, so will the number of crimes in every Essex County community, as addicts steal to pay for their addictions. "It's not a Lynn problem and a Lawrence problem," said Peabody police Chief Robert Champagne. "It's a Peabody, Salem, Marblehead and Danvers problem. It's everywhere. It's just that nobody knows. It's taboo" one of those things no one talks about."" US MA: The New Faces Of Heroin - Drug Use Escalates Among Teens 06 Jan 2005 The anarchy of black market heroin that is imposed by prohibition economics is a major threat to the national security, public safety, public health and democratic institutions of America and the free world. alQaeda's success strategy -silent jihad-

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#20)
    by aahpat on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:02 PM EST
    Here is, what I believe, is the real original intent of the creation of the modern drug war in 1970 by Richard Nixon in collusion with the Wallace right wing of the Democratic Party. How America's right wing has successfully subverted our democracy The castration of the Voter Rights Act This is how they neutered the VRA.

    Re: Narco-Terror Provision Added to House Patriot (none / 0) (#21)
    by LorettaNall on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:03 PM EST
    I expect a new term to be coined by those currently in power to be used against the rest of us who are trying to take some of the power back for ourselves. "Political-Narco Terrorism" Chances are good that I have not yet experienced what the US governemnt has in store for me because of my ties to Marc Emery. I know I haven't done anything illegal but the way they pull things seemingly out of their ass and then proceed to convict people of it doesn't give me a lot of hope.