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More on the Drug War Budget

I've been following the amounts we spend on the war on drugs for a while. (More here.) Here's today's sequel.

Our Justice Department thinks that technology is hampering its ability to wiretap our phones. So it wants more money. From the DEA's 2012 Budget: [More...]

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Obama's 2011 National Drug Policy Unveiled: Hype v. Reality

On Saturday, I wrote about the Obama Administration's new Southwest Border Drug Control Policy. Here is the 2011 National Drug Control Policy. The Administration wants us to believe it is focused on prevention and treatment. And Sections 1-4 of the Action List do address treatment and prevention. The devil is in the details.

Obama has no intention of reducing the crack/powder disparity further than the 18:1 ratio passed by Congress. Or reducing any other mandatory minimums for drug crimes. Or reducing any current federal drug penalties. Under the action section, "4.2.D. Foster Equitable Drug Sentencing", in red letters, is the word "Complete." [More...]

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Obama's 2011 Southwest Border Drug War Policy Released

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano and Obama Drug Czar R. Gil Kerlikowske this week released the Administration's 2011 Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy. (Full report here.)

The increased use of privacy-invasive technology predominates throughout. As does the sharing of information with Mexico (hardly a wise idea given the corruption that continues to exist in their police and military).No wonder they call it the war on drugs, it reads like a military/CIA manifesto: [More...]

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Global Commission Report: War on Drugs A Failure

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has just released a report finding the War on Drugs is a failure. The report is available here.

The report says some drugs should be legalized and calls for the decriminalization of drug use. Who's on the commission? Among others: Former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, the former President of Colombia Cesar Gaviria, the current Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the former leaders of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.

The BBC reports:

Their report argues that anti-drug policy has failed by fuelling organised crime, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and causing thousands of deaths...."Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won," the report said.

[More...]

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Hillary Hosts Mexican Drug War Meeting: More Doomed, Expensive Policies On Tap

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a working lunch with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa today in Washington, the third such meeting of the Merida High-Level Consultative Group on Bilateral Cooperation Against Transnational Organized Crime. (More on Meridia here and here.) Also in attendance:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of National Drug Policy of the United States Gil Kerlikowske, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg, Acting Under Secretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the Treasury David Cohen, and Ambassador of the United States to Mexico Carlos Pascual.

The two governments issued this press release on the meeting and outlined the joint activities for the coming year. Congress has authorized $1.5 billion for Meridia since 2008, most of it for training the Mexican military and law enforcement. (As of December, 2010, $400 million had been provided. Today, the U.S. promised another $500 would be provided in 2011.) [More...]

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Hearing on Prescription Drug Abuse: Obama's Got a New Plan

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing yesterday on the menace of prescription drug abuse. Who testified? Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske (written testimony here) and DEA chief Michelle Leonhart (testimony here.) What did they say? Aside from providing a bunch of questionable statistics, the Obama Administration, through the DEA, is planning on ratcheting up the war on pain medication. The plan will be unveiled as early as next week, as the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy. (You can get the gist from the proposed 2012 budget for drug control policy which the White House summarized here, here and here.)

Here's the 227 page, $15.5 billion 2011 Federal Drug Control budget, which covered Obama's 2010 National Drug Control Strategy. The DEA's 120 page proposed 2012 budget submission and justification is here. There's 2,044.7 million for domestic enforcement, $322 million for diversion, $433 million for international enforcement. [More...]

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Brit. Officials Declare War on Drugs a Failure

In Britain, MPs and members of the House of Lords, have formed a new "All-Party Parliamentary Group " on Drug Policy Reform, and requesting new policies for drug issues. They say the policies should be guided by scientific evidence. They argue:

Despite governments worldwide drawing up tough laws against dealers and users over the past 50 years, illegal drugs have become more accessible. Vast amounts of money have been wasted on unsuccessful crackdowns, while criminals have made fortunes importing drugs into this country. The increasing use of the most harmful drugs such as heroin has also led to “enormous health problems”, according to the group.

The current policies have failed. But other countries, such as Portugal, have had success. The difference: [More...]

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U.S. Using Drones in Mexico for War on Drugs

The New York Times reports the U.S. is employing unmanned drones in Mexico to track the cartels.

The Pentagon began flying high-altitude, unarmed drones over Mexican skies last month, American military officials said, in hopes of collecting information to turn over to Mexican law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. and Mexico have also agreed to open a second "counternarcotics “fusion” center" to better share information.

In addition, the United States trains thousands of Mexican troops and police officers, collaborates with specially vetted Mexican security units, conducts eavesdropping in Mexico and upgrades Mexican security equipment and intelligence technology, according to American law enforcement and intelligence officials. [More...]

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Obama Pledges Expanded Information Sharing In Mexican Drug War

President Obama met with Mexico's President Calderon today. Here's the transcript of the press conference. First, Obama promises continued and increased cooperation in fighting Mexico's drug war.

So we are continuing to speed up the delivery of equipment and training that our Mexican partners need to keep up this fight. As President Calderón cracks down on money laundering in Mexico, we’re putting unprecedented pressure on cartels and their finances here in the United States. And we thank our Mexican partners for their close cooperation following the murder of one of our immigration and customs agents, Special Agent Jaime Zapata.

I reiterated that the United States accepts our shared responsibility for the drug violence. So to combat the southbound flow of guns and money, we are screening all southbound rail cargo, seizing many more guns bound for Mexico and we are putting more gunrunners behind bars. And as part of our new drug control strategy, we are focused on reducing the demand for drugs through education, prevention and treatment.

President Calderon praised the increased information sharing between law enforcement in the two countries and said it will continue. [More...]

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Obama's Drug Control Budget

Here's the White House statement outlining funds in the budget for the War on Drugs. Is there more prevention, alternative incarceration and re-entry funding? Yes. And we appreciate it.

But, it's still top-heavy on enforcement. While it says the DEA gets $24.8 million less this year, it points out that last year's amount included supplemental funding for the Southwest Border. So it probably isn't a decrease at all. And those African vacations keep on coming. Today the feds indicted 7 in Liberia and Romania as part of a reverse sting by DEA agents. (DEA agents posed as drug sellers.)

The men allegedly "agreed to receive and store multi-ton shipments of Taliban-owned heroin" and "sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban," while the two Americans -- identified as Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach -- allegedly agreed to sell the missiles, the statement said.

The U.S. Attorney's press release is here. Once again, it sounds like the drugs weren't intended for the U.S., but needing jurisdiction, the DEA talked the men into sending some here, with the promise of huge profits. Why are we flying these men from Liberia and Romania to New York to prosecute them? The cost of the prosecution, defense and their incarceration if convicted will be huge. [More...]

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Former Mexican President Vincente Fox Calls for Drug Legalization

The former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, tells Time Magazine he's changed his mind about the war on drugs, and now believes all drugs should be legalized.

"Prohibition didn't work in the Garden of Eden. Adam ate the apple," says Fox, 68, looking relaxed in a polo shirt — in contrast to his stressful last days in office. "We have to take all the production chain out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of producers — so there are farmers that produce marijuana and manufacturers that process it and distributors that distribute it and shops that sell it ... I don't want to say that legalizing means that drugs are good. They are not good but bad for your health, and you shouldn't take them. But ultimately, this responsibility is with citizens."

[More...]

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UK Former Defense Minister Urges Legalization of Drugs

Prohibition was a failure. The War on Drugs is a failure. Maybe it's time to try a new approach.

Former UK Defense Minister Bob Ainsworth says it's time to legalize drugs. The methods of the past, including prohibition, don't work. They fail to keep the public safe.

The war on drugs has been "nothing short of a disaster" and it is time to study other options, including decriminalising possession of drugs and legally regulating their production and supply. "We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists."

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The Nation: Dare to End the War on Drugs

In the Dec. 27th issue of the Nation, the cover story is "Dare to End the War on Drugs." It's about the need to rebalance our drug policy. Almost the entire issue is devoted to the topic. If you care about our failed war on drugs, this issue seems like a winner.

Nearly forty years after President Nixon declared a "war on drugs," it is painfully clear that the nation's approach to drug policy is counterproductive and cruel. Shifting our priorities toward a more sensible approach—one that offers treatment rather than punishment for addicts, and that recognizes the deep injustice of mass incarceration—seems like a daunting task. But as the writers in this forum suggest, we have all the answers and resources we need. If ever there was a time to say enough is enough, it's now.

Participants include: [More...]

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Top Doctor in Britain Calls for Decriminalization of Drugs

Sir Ian Gilmore, the outgoing President of Britain's Royal College of Physicians has called for the decriminalization of drug use in a parting e-mail to the organizations 25,000 members. He said decriminalization has the potential to both reduce crime and improve health.

He endorsed a recent article in the British Medical Journal by Stephen Rolles, from the think tank Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which argued that the policy of prohibition had harmed public health, encouraged organised crime and fuelled corruption. Sir Ian told the BBC: "Everyone who has looked at this in a serious and sustained way concludes that the present policy of prohibition is not a success.

[More...]:

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Obama Yields to Demands for National Guard Along Border

After meeting with Republicans toay, President Obama will ask Congress to fund sending 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the Mexico border in a greater effort to crack down on illegal trafficking organizations.

McCain says it's not enough. He wants 6,000 deployed.

The cost of the 1,200 troops: $500 million. What's it for?

[I]ntelligence and intelligence analysis, surveillance and reconnaissance support.

We already authorized $1.3 billion in Merida funds for the war on drugs in Mexico. Even though it hasn't been fully distributed , Obama is planning on asking for another $390 million.

Throwing more money into the failed policies of the past 40 years will do no good. The cartels will become stronger.

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