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Using Terrorism Fears to Boost the Drug War

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. Using Terrorism Fears to Boost the Drug War
    Wed, Aug 27, 2003

    It was bad enough that the government used tax payer dollars to produce ads calling marijuana users terrorists. Now things are more serious and the government is trying to create laws based on this weak link between drugs and terrorism.

    Senate Republicans have been discussing new legislation that would expand the Justice Department's already overbearing PATRIOT Act powers to investigate suspected terrorists and drug criminals. The most recent drafts of the legislation - misnamed Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003, or the VICTORY Act (....that should be a small r and where did the Y come from??) - would provide extra penalties for drug sellers alleged to be directly or indirectly funding terrorist groups and would dramatically expand the government's power to seize records and conduct wiretaps in connection with "narcoterrorism" investigations.

    According to the Washington Post, several of the measures are similar to proposals made during the early debate over the PATRIOT Act. Now known as one of the biggest threats to civil liberties in the U.S., the PATRIOT Act has since been pushed back by about 150 communities, as well as the legislatures of Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont. The House recently voted to cut off funding for a type of "sneak-and-peak" search warrant authorized by the law.

    Despite the backlash, Attorney General John Ashcroft is currently touring the country touting the benefits of the PATRIOT Act, including promoting the proposed drugs and terrorism legislation yet to be officially introduced. This latest effort to conflate drugs and terrorism represents a major expansion of laws that allow the government to conduct surveillance, asset forfeiture, racial profiling and other powers under the guise of terrorism threat. Already, anti-terrorism powers granted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 have been stretched to pursue defendants for crimes unrelated to terrorism, including drug violations, credit card fraud and bank theft according to a report by internal investigators at the Justice Department. According to the Washington Post, the 60-page report identified dozens of cases in which department employees have been accused of serious civil rights violations involving enforcement of anti-terrorism powers, otherwise known as the PATRIOT Act.

    The Drug Policy Alliance worries that non-violent drug offenders not involved in terrorism will be deemed terrorists under the law and that the federal government will eventually turn its “drug users are funding terrorism” propaganda campaign into even harsher penalties for drug users. In addition to relying on fear of terrorism to promote its drug policy the government is perpetuating another myth commonly found in the drug debate: blaming problems caused by the illegality of drugs on problems caused by drugs. Since illicit drugs can only be obtained and used within the underground market, the problems of crime, ill health and death will remain until drugs are made a public health concern. It is not nonviolent Americans that are responsible for terror funding, but the drug war itself, which creates the illegal markets that generate those funds. Blaming Americans for funding terrorism is like blaming alcohol consumers in the 1920s for Al Capone's violence.

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