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.
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