Congress Finally Questioning Wisdom of Our Rogue and Global DEA

Via the New York Times: U.S. Rethinks a Drug War After Deaths in Honduras

All joint operations in Honduras are now suspended. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, expressing the concerns of several Democrats in Congress, is holding up tens of millions of dollars in security assistance, not just because of the planes, but also over suspected human rights abuses by the Honduran police and three shootings in which commandos with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration effectively led raids when they were only supposed to act as advisers.

DEA's FAST program began under George W Bush. (Obama has extended it.) FAST stands for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team. In plain English, squads of commandos. It operates in Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize. Here's a powerpoint about it.

The Administration's total Drug War budget for 2013 is $25 billion. [More.]

The domestic law enforcement portion for 2013 is more than $9.4 billion.

Domestic Law Enforcement

Over $9.4 billion in FY 2013 Federal resources are requested to support domestic law enforcement efforts, an increase of $61.4 million (0.7%) over the FY 2012 enacted level.

Add in another $2 billion for international enforcement.


The FY 2013 Budget requests nearly $2.0 billion to provide international support, a decrease of $125.6 million (6.0%) from the FY 2012 enacted level. The Departments of Defense, Justice, and State perform a wide range of drug‐control activities primarily focused on or conducted in areas outside of the United States. These programs help facilitate the disruption or dismantlement of the most significant international drug organizations, and increase the demand reduction and drug enforcement capabilities of partner nations. Major efforts and changes are highlighted below.

Then there's Interdiction, which costs another $3.7 billion.

The Federal budget request for interdiction totals $3.7 billion in FY 2013, for an increase of $89.3 million (2.5%) over the FY 2012 enacted level. The Departments of Homeland Security and Defense perform activities designed to interrupt the trafficking of illicit drugs into the United States by targeting the transportation link; major efforts and changes are highlighted below.

There's another $2 billion in the drug budget for border control and security that goes to Homeland Security.

Who gets the most drug money?

  • Justice Department: $7.8 billion, with $3.5 billion for the Bureau of Prisons, and $2.3 billion for the DEA
  • Homeland Security: $3.9 billion
  • Defense Department: $1. 7 billion
  • State Dept: $686 million

Out of this $25 billion, treatment and prevention grants and programs through HHS gets $8.4 billion, the same as two years ago. According to the Administration, 40% is going to demand reduction and 60% to supply reduction.

And the budget has dropped for prevention spending:

Federal resources totaling $1.4 billion support education and outreach programs aimed at preventing the initiation of drug use.

Also dropping by $50 million this year: Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Prevention Grants

And not all the treatment money is going to drug treatment. Included in the HHS numbers are $542.4 million in grants to reduce homelessness.

You can download the 16 page highlights here.

Back to the DEA's FAST program for a moment. What does it do? It combines law enforcement, military and intelligence operations. From the Powerpoint, it sounds like a video game, only unfortunately, it's for real:

  • Mission Planning; Small Unit Tactics
  • Heavy/Foreign Weapons
  • Close Quarter Combat Shooting
  • IED and Demolitions Familiarization
  • Surveillance Detection
  • Counter-Threat Driving
  • Combat Lifesaving
  • Communication and NVG
  • Land Warfare; MOUT/SOUC
  • Escape and Evade Techniques
  • Airmobile/Maritime Operations
  • Convoy Operations
  • Counterdrug Tactical Police Operations

The intelligence component is called the Drug Flow Attack Strategy (DFAS:

DEA’s DFAS is used globally in order to develop sustained, intelligence-driven interdiction operations which disrupt and seize shipments of drugs, precursor chemicals, and operating capital. DFAS uses sequential operations and predictive intelligence in order to disrupt Drug Trafficking Organization activity and identify trafficker reaction.

The DEA, as I've written many times over the years, are our new global holy warriors. It's not just Honduras. The DEA had so much fun on its Excellent African Adventures, it's ramping up its African operations. (Some cables are here.)

If Honduras is what it takes for Congress to wake up and stop feeding the beast, that's great. But don't count on it. The DEA has 85 offices in 63 foreign countries and 10,000 employees. It won't go quietly into the night.

And neither with the drug smugglers. Remember the silly law to limit the sale of over the counter cold medicine to stop the production of meth in the U.S. It did nothing but drive the meth labs to Mexico and the cartels now ship the finished product right back to the U.S. -- in bigger amounts and in a more potent and dangerous form.

The Mexican Navy killed Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano (by accident, it turns out) this week. He's already been replaced by Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, described as "violent to the point of sadism" and more dangerous than Lazcano.

What has changed since 1984 and Smuggler's Blues except we've wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and become the prison capital of the world? The drugs are still here and as available as ever.

You see it in the headlines, you hear it every day
They say they're gonna stop it, but it doesn't go away
They move it through Miami and sell it in LA
They hide it up in Telluride, I mean it's here to stay
It's propping up the governments in Columbia and Peru
You ask any D.A., man, they'll say there's nothing we can do
From the office of the president right down to me and you
...It's a losing proposition, but one you can't refuse
It's the politics of contraband, it's the smugglers' blues

Regardless of what Congress does with funding, voters in three states, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, have the power this November to effect a small change in the war on drugs with the legalization of adult personal use of marijuana.

If you are in Colorado, please vote Yes on Amendment 64. No one should be stuck with a criminal record or lose student loan or other public benefits for smoking marijuana. The bill will also increase revenue and jobs. In Colorado, passage will produce $60 million in revenues and savings:

  • initially result in $60 million annually in combined revenue and savings for state and local governments, which could double to more than $100 million within the first five years of implementation;
  • save local and state law enforcement officials more than $12 million in the first year of operation;
  • generate $24 million annually in state revenue for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) capital construction program
  • create more than 350 new jobs, the majority of which will be in the construction industry.
The War on Drugs has been an Epic Fail on every level. At $25 billion a year, it is simply madness to continue it.
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  • Display: Sort:
    Something (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by lentinel on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 03:48:07 AM EST
    tells me that the twenty five billion spent shoring up this particular business enterprise could be better spent shoring up our decaying infrastructure.

    lol. That $25 Billion _is_ shoring up (none / 0) (#4)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 11:25:20 AM EST
    ... a decaying infrastructure.

    $25 billion huh? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 04:02:45 AM EST
    that would take a nice chunk out of the deficit, far more than what planned parenthood or PBS gets, combined. and those two entities actually contribute to society. eliminate the DEA, and hand the job back to the FBI and state/local agencies. better yet, de-criminalize pot, and there's 90% of your "war on drugs" gone, in one fell swoop.

    Those in power always seek to remain in power... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by unitron on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 08:24:14 AM EST
    ...and so when Prohibition was repealed we suddenly discovered the scourge of black jazz musicians using marijuana to seduce white girls and The Untouchables got a new gig and new bureaucratic turf to defend.

    Let"s (none / 0) (#6)
    by lentinel on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 02:11:38 PM EST
    not forget the marijuana crazed white boys going after the sistahs.

    i don't think harry anslinger was too (none / 0) (#8)
    by cpinva on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:30:36 PM EST
    concerned about that.

    Let"s not forget the marijuana crazed white boys going after the sistahs.

    I (none / 0) (#10)
    by lentinel on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 05:38:17 AM EST
    was just evening the score.

    The fact is, as you suggest, that pot was associated with black people - and Mexicans I believe - ergo to be verboten.

    As opposed to, say, gin.
    I'll have another martini my dear.

    We're in a transition where mj is being associated with sick white folks.

    So, maybe, that's what it will take to end this stupidity.


    au contraire (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by cpinva on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:33:34 PM EST
    The bottom line is, everyone, but everyone, knows this "war" has been, and is, a complete disaster.

    it has been quite profitable for a number of people. in fact, from the cartels to the enforcement/judicial/penal industry, they are all doing very well indeed. 1,000's of jobs, and billions of tax dollars. these people will not give up this cash cow without a fight, science be damned.

    The (none / 0) (#5)
    by lentinel on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 02:10:00 PM EST
    good thing about the fact that pot is still illegal is that it lets most of us know how it feels to be a criminal - on the wrong side of the law - afraid of the police - afraid of the government.

    It's well worth the twenty five billion these fleabrains are spending on it.

    I for one am extremely grateful.

    I wish I could remember (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:53:03 PM EST
    where I saw it but, it was an interview with a guy who, apparently, produced a documentary about our "War on Drugs." (I may have seen it on c-span)  I'm going to be looking for it because it seems to be a blockbuster.

    I know there have been many productions about this whole "prohibition" insanity, but, from the discussion I viewed, this one blows the issue out of the water.

    The bottom line is, everyone, but everyone, knows this "war" has been, and is, a complete disaster. This documentary shows, step by step, how it evolved into the colossal failure we have today.

    One piece of the conversation I found to be particularly interesting, and ominous, was the steady movement towards "privatizing" our criminal/justice system, especially our prisons. I don't think the public is aware of the fact that Governors are signing agreements with these entities, promising, and guaranteeing, a certain minimum number of bodies to inhabit these cages.

    It certainly goes a long way towards explaining why a statistically disproportionate number of inmates come from the minority sector.


    I was just reading about that this weekend (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 09:55:08 AM EST
    It's called "The House I Live In" and apparently Brad Pitt signed on as executive producer to give the movie a higher profile.