War on Drugs On The Wane?

War on Drugs On The Wane?
Posted by CN Staff on June 10, 2002 at 08:43:09 PT
By Gil Klein, Media General News Service 
Source: Times Dispatch
With the war on terror driving the federal government, the war on drugs is taking a back seat. Some analysts warn of gaps in the drug interdiction effort as the Coast Guard redeploys to protect American ports from potential terrorist attacks.The FBI is transferring 400 narcotics agents to hunt for terrorists. Since Sept. 11, the Customs Service has shifted its primary mission from detecting smuggled narcotics to stopping terrorists and weapons at U.S. borders.
Some on Capitol Hill are asking whether in the rush to combat terrorists, law enforcement officials are bypassing the anti-drug campaign."More people are killed in drug-related occurrences than have been in all the terrorist acts combined - not even close," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, said during a Senate hearing last week. "Now, that doesn't mean we shouldn't focus on terrorism. What I'm trying to get a handle on here is whether we're doing this on the fly."Now, President Bush has proposed putting the Coast Guard and the Customs Service into the new Homeland Security Department with the main goal of fighting terrorists. What effect that would have on drug interdiction will be seen.The nation's drug czar said Bush's plan to consolidate border control operations could improve the efficiency of drug control efforts. The Coast Guard, the Border Patrol and the Customs Service already work closely together in the field. This plan will enable them to coordinate their efforts more effectively, John P. Waters said.Within hours of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the focus of federal law enforcement agencies shifted dramatically. Ships and planes that had been searching for drug traffickers patrolled U.S. ports and guarded against another aerial attack. FBI agents began tracking potential terrorists.Not all legislators agree with Biden that the war on terror has hurt the drug war."I think it has helped the war on drugs," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. "We have so dramatically increased our border surveillance for terrorism, it has created an unintended consequence of capturing illegal drugs coming across the border."Before Sept. 11, the Coast Guard devoted about 1 percent of its time to protecting ports. Just after the attacks, that jumped to nearly 60 percent. While the emphasis on port security has eased slowly, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. James Loy called homeland defense the service's "new North Star."One congressional staff member with expertise in the Coast Guard said Congress expects too much. Homeland security is supposed to be the Coast Guard's top mission, he said, but it is told not to dilute the other missions of drug interdiction, search and rescue, marine fisheries protection and stopping illegal immigrants.At the same time, he said, Congress has turned down requests from the Coast Guard commandant to expand the size of the force. Yet legislators have told the commandant not to work the force so hard because trained veterans are starting to leave in greater numbers.The Coast Guard still confiscates large amounts of cocaine and marijuana, he said, but it is working on old intelligence information that is beginning to atrophy.Bush proposed a $282 million increase in the Coast Guard's 2003 maritime security budget and promised more help for drug interdiction. If the president's proposal is approved, it would be the largest budget boost the service has ever received.Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas congressman who heads the Drug Enforcement Administration, sees the shift of FBI agents away from narcotics as possibly benefiting his work - if Congress gives him more money to make up the difference."We can be more effective in carrying out our counter-narcotics responsibility if we strengthen the role of an agency that is singularly focused on the drug mission, and that's the DEA," he said.He is working with FBI Director Robert Mueller to learn what holes have to be filled by the FBI's drop in narcotics investigations, he said.The DEA coordinates with the Coast Guard to intercept drug traffickers at sea, Hutchinson said. So getting the Coast Guard back to its full interdiction mission is essential for the DEA to do its job.In the interim, he said, ships from European allies have "filled a gap that was critical" by helping the DEA with drug interdiction in the Caribbean Sea.Hutchinson insists the war on drugs is essential to the war on terrorism because terrorists fund their operations with drug money."The drugs-to-money-to-terror relationship is historic, it is current, and it is threatening to our future," Hutchinson said. "Armed groups use illegal drug profits to fund their terrorist activities and to enforce control over the local population in many parts of the world."The Taliban, he said, built its financial base from heroin trafficking in Afghanistan. About 70 percent of the world's opium came from Afghanistan before Sept. 11. Now, he said, the United States has the opportunity to eradicate poppy production in Afghanistan by buying up the crop and offering economic alternatives to Afghans who grow poppies.Mueller suggested the loss of 400 FBI narcotics agents would not damage the war on drugs. He said it would be "critically important" to end the overlap with the DEA. The number of agents serving on anti-drug task forces would be reduced but not eliminated, he said."We believe we could take 400 agents who are currently investigating drugs and reassign them to counter-terrorism," he said. "The FBI will still be devoting nearly 1,000 agents to drug-related cases."But narcotics experts on Capitol Hill worry an important link between the FBI and DEA could be lost. Narcotics traffickers often are part of syndicates that deal in an array of crimes. The FBI, with its broader crime-fighting mandate, could pass information to the DEA, whose mission is focused just on narcotics.Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said local law enforcement officials in Florida are concerned they will be losing the FBI's help not only on drug cases, but also on white-collar crime and organized crime."You can't offload all of that crime investigation onto local law enforcement," Nelson said. "They just don't have the resources."Note: U.S. redeploying its resources to fend off terrorist attacks.Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)Author: Gil Klein, Media General News Service Published: June 09, 2002Copyright: 2002 Richmond Newspapers Inc. Contact: letters timesdispatch.comWebsite: Articles:FBI Shakeup Would Mean More Drug Duties for DEA Forces Traffickers To Change Tactics Prohibitionistís Burden
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Comment #4 posted by Industrial Strength on June 10, 2002 at 21:08:46 PT
So you think trancendentalism is actually civil disobedience or did Thoreau do something that im not aware of? But capitalism is capitalism, and under capitalism you have the choice of going to that corner market if the big store doesn't suit you. That is the very nature OF capitalism, and without it, you would have to either grow that produce yourself or envision and put into practice a system that works better. Perhaps your rant was best aimed at globalization?
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Comment #3 posted by Lehder on June 10, 2002 at 18:42:10 PT
Culture Jamming
Once you experience even a few of these "moments of truth,"
             things can never be the same again. Your life veers off in strange
             new directions. It's very exciting and a little scary. Ideas
             blossom into obsessions. The imperative to live life differently
             keeps building until the day it breaks through the surface.             When it happened to me I was in my neighbourhood
             supermarket parking lot. I was plugging a coin into a shopping
             cart when it suddenly occurred to me just what a dope I was.
             Here I was putting in my quarter for the privilege of spending
             money in a store I come to every week but hate, a sterile chain
             store that rarely carries any locally grown produce and always
             makes me stand in line to pay. And when I was finished
             shopping I'd have to take this cart back to the exact place their
             efficiency experts have decreed, and slide it back in with all the
             other carts, rehook it and push the red button to get my damn
             quarter back.             A little internal fuse blew. I stopped moving. I glanced around to
             make sure no one was watching. Then I reached for that big
             bent coin I'd been carrying in my pocket and I rammed it as hard
             as I could into the coin slot. And then with the lucky Buddha
             charm on my keyring I banged that coin in tight until it jammed. I
             didn't stop to analyze whether this was ethical or not - I just let
             my anger flow. And then I walked away from that supermarket
             and headed for the little fruit and vegetable store down the road. I
             felt more alive than I had in months.             Much later I realized I had stumbled on one of the great secrets
             of modern urban existence: Honor your instincts. Let your anger
             out. When it wells up suddenly from deep in your gut, don't
             suppress it channel it, trust it, use it. Don't be so unthinkingly
             civil all the time. When the system is grinding you down, unplug
             the grinding wheel.             Once you start thinking and acting this way, once you realize
             that consumer capitalism is by its very nature unethical, and
             therefore it's not unethical to jam it; once you understand that
             civil disobedience has a long and honorable history that goes
             back to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Henry David
             Thoreau; once you start trusting yourself and relating to the
             world as an empowered human being instead of a hapless
             consumer drone, something remarkable happens. Your
             cynicism dissolves.,6761,157939,00.html 
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Comment #2 posted by Industrial Strength on June 10, 2002 at 17:32:15 PT
so much ignorance
Where to begin?
"More people are killed in drug-related occurrences than have been in all the terrorist acts combined - not even close," No, thats drug prohibiton occurrences.
"The Taliban, he said, built its financial base from heroin trafficking in Afghanistan. About 70 percent of the world's opium came from Afghanistan before Sept. 11", um, the Taliban faught opium production with US taxpayer dollars before 9/11. You all know this...Agh, why cant reporters bother to check their facts???
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Comment #1 posted by Letsgetfree on June 10, 2002 at 10:06:59 PT
WE BETTER POUR BILLIONS MORE INTO THE WOSD BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! What a BS story trying to make people think that some how the Narcs arn't going after drugs. Have you heard about the DEAth raids on medicine shops? ya the WoSD is wanning, just like global warming isn't happening
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