The Other War

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Oct 8, 2001.

  1. By Scott Davison, Columnist
    Source: Times Record News

    The reactions to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have been many and varied. There was the understandable horror and shock of a nation taken completely by surprise. There was the typically American outpouring of generosity and sympathy. New York was inundated with money, blood and volunteers.
    The United States military has its response underway, and you can be sure the task is difficult. For the last eight years, our military's main function has been to distract the public's attention away from the excesses of a monumentally self-absorbed and hypocritical Commander-In-Chief.

    I have little doubt that our military will rise to the occasion, however, and deliver to the murderers exactly what they deserve. It won't be as one-sided a battle as the American public has gotten used to, but the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

    On the domestic front, on the other hand, I am not so optimistic. Attorney General John Ashcroft, with President Bush's backing, has been lobbying Congress for a wish list of new powers that should chill the marrow of anyone who treasures liberty.

    This is despite the fact that the FBI already has been granted sweeping anti-terrorist powers in 1996 in the aftermath of Oklahoma City, and more in 1998 after the embassy bombings in Africa. According to some published reports, information gathered by the FBI was either disregarded or was not disseminated to local law enforcement or airline security personnel.

    Most disturbingly, Ashcroft has continually referred to the War on Drugs as his model. You remember the war on drugs, don't you? That's the war that has locked up tens of thousands of Americans for the sin of possessing chemical substances that the government disapproves of, even if they have never harmed another soul.

    It's the war that has confiscated millions and millions of dollars worth of private property without a benefit of a trial, conviction and sometimes without even a single charge being levied against the property's former owner.

    The war on drugs has created paramilitary police units in black uniforms, often masked to hide their identity. These units are employed on raids into neighborhoods across the country, often brandishing warrants based solely on evidence provided by paid informants.

    Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, innocent people are killed in these raids. The police then issue a statement of regret, noting that mistakes happen in war, and it will all be worth it if just one less teenager fires up a joint at the next rock concert.

    It's the war on drugs that has made ruthless street gangs fabulously wealthy and emboldened them to gun down the competition.

    It's the war on drugs that has turned bank tellers, post office clerks, Amtrak employees, schoolchildren and teachers into a network of snitches, compelled by law or peer pressure to spy upon those around them and report unapproved behavior.

    It's the war on drugs that shot down a plane carrying innocent missionaries in South America and prompted a response from the authorities that amounted to a shrug of the shoulders and a muttered, "Oops."

    Because of the war on drugs, terminally ill patients are denied effective pain relief, and cancer victims can't use the proven benefits of marijuana to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy.

    The war on drugs has steadily increased the alienation of the police from more and more of the communities they serve. It has consumed tax money at a voracious rate and has diverted law enforcement resources at an alarming pace.

    What the drug war has not done, however, is stop a single American from snorting, inhaling, smoking, injecting or swallowing whatever substance he or she desires. And no amount of increase in laws, incarcerations, money or manpower will change that fact.

    So, Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Bush, I've got a better idea. Before you ask for sweeping new police powers to combat terrorism, why not end the war on drugs?

    Some $18.1 billion in federal money alone would become immediately available for use in the real war, the one against terrorists. Since this money has already been plundered from the citizens of the United States, no tax increase would be necessary.

    Best of all, tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel on the federal, state and local levels could then be reassigned from the pointless and destructive drug war. Instead, they could start looking for terrorists and investigating actual crimes.

    Yes, I know this would mean that no one would be monitoring dangerous activity, like the sale of grow lights and roach clips. On the other hand, while thousands of cops were busy in entirely futile attempts to keep John Q. Public from smoking a doobie, terrorists murdered thousands of innocent civilians on American soil.

    Just what will it take to change law-enforcement priorities in this country?

    Complete Title: The Other War: While Law Enforcement Focused on Drugs, Americans Became Terrorists' Victims

    Source: Times Record News (TX)
    Author: Scott Davison, Columnist
    Published: Saturday, October 6, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 The E.W. Scripps Co.

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