DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 165 Saturday March 18, 200

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 165 Saturday March 18, 200
Posted by FoM on March 18, 2000 at 16:49:22 PT
Colombia Aid Can Only Make Drug War Disaster Worse
Source: MapInc.
A few editorialists and columnists have come out against congressional plans to send $1.6 billion to Colombia, but few have done so with the clarity of Arianna Huffington. The money is supposed to be used to fight the drug war, but Huffington showed how the Colombian aid plan is really a very destructive form of corporate welfare. 
In a column from this week appearing in at least three newspapers, Huffington also illustrated the perversity of current priorities in the drug war. Please write a letter to one or all of the newspapers - San Francisco Examiner, Chicago Sun-Times, or Washington Times - where the column ran. Remind editors and readers that the plan to send more than a billion dollars to Colombia, like most plans in the drug war, will cause a great deal of trouble. Benefits will go only to those who already profit from the drug war. Thanks for your effort and support. Write a Letter - Make a Difference ------- It's not what others do it's what YOU do!  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID: (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO: Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA) Contact: letters EXTRA CREDIT: The Washington Times also ran Huffington's column under the headline "Latest Priority In The Drug War" URL: while the Chicago Sun-Times ran the story under the headline "Drug War Comes At High Price" on March 15. Please also send your letter to one or both. Source: Washington Times (DC) Contact: letters Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL) Contact: letters ARTICLE:Pubdate: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA) Copyright: 2000 San Francisco Examiner Contact: letters Website: Page: A 19 Author: Arianna Huffington MISGUIDED? $1 .7 BILLION FOR COLOMBIA IS NUTS: We're about to spend $1.7 billion to escalate the drug war in Colombia, while here at home we have 3.6 million addicts not receiving the treatment they need. On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on an emergency aid package initiated by the White House and enthusiastically backed by the House Republican leadership. It's a product of the drug war's perverse priorities and another example of the disturbing link between campaign cash and public policy. Let's start with the cash spread around to help grease the wheels for the aid bonanza. The Colombian government hired Vernon Jordan's old law firm --- Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, which he has since left - to stump for it on The Hill. Indeed, when the House Appropriations Committee met last week to consider the White House proposal, a member of the committee, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. D-Ill, noticed that an Akin, Gump lobbyist was in attendance. He must have gone away happy. The committee not only approved the president's $1.2 billion request but added another $500 million. The Colombians have other powerful allies in Washington. Most persistent has been a collection of multinational corporations with operations in Colombia --- including Occidental Petroleum, BP Amoco and Enron --- that has been lobbying both Congress and the administration for a big-buck package that would serve their business interests there. And speaking of business interests, more than $400 million of the aid will be spent on the purchase of 63 helicopters manufactured by two U.S. firms --- Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technology and Bell Helicopter Textron. In the last two election cycles, Textron and its employees donated close to a million dollars to both Republicans and Democrats, and United Technologies gave more than $700,000. "It's business for us, and we are as aggressive as anybody," one Bell Helicopter lobbyist told Legal Times, "I'm just trying, to sell helicopters," Underscoring the incestuous relationship between commerce and drug policy, Tom Umberg the architect of the administration's Colombian initiative, is moving from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy to the law firm of Morrison & Foster to represent Colombia and other Latin American countries on trade issues. Colombia is in the midst of a protracted three-way civil war, pitting the Colombian army, which has one of the worst human-rights records in the Western Hemisphere, against leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups, both largely funded by the drug trade. The army will receive the largest share of the U.S. money, prompting senior defense officials to express privately their fear that our military's expanding role in fighting the war on drugs could draw the United States into another Vietnam. Maybe that's why the Clinton administration decided to introduce the Colombian aid as part of a larger emergency-spending package, The potentially controversial measure is bundled with proposals only a coldhearted misanthrope would oppose. Along with the money for Colombia, the bill includes $2.2 billion for relief from natural disasters such as Hurricane Floyd and $854 million for military health care. It's an old legislative ploy designed to squelch debate and force politicians to vote for wasteful --- or even terrible --- measures just because they don't want to be painted as being against God, country and disaster relief. Jackson is one of the members who will nevertheless vote against the bill. "It's absurd," he told me. "There wasn't even any language added tying the aid to human-rights concerns. And (Rep.) Nancy Pelosi's (D.-San Francisco) amendment to spend equivalent amounts of money on the demand side was defeated during the Appropriations Committee mark-up --- even though treatment has been proven to be 23 times more cost-effective than eradication of crops and 11 times more cost-effective than interdiction." The cost of the helicopters alone would provide treatment for almost 200,000 substance user's or drug-prevention services for more than 4 million Americans. When Richard Nixon --- hardly one to be accused of being soft on crime --- declared a war on drugs in 1971, he directed more than 60 percent of the funds into treatment. Now, we're down to 18 percent. This despite the fact that drug czar Barry McCaffrey's budget is expected to rise to a proposed $19.2 billion next year. Since 1980, the emphasis has turned to interdiction, crop eradication, border surveillance and punishment. It's been a misguided use of resources. But putting $1.7 billion into Colombia, in the middle of a civil war, is more than misguided --- it's nuts. And if it's not voted down in the House on Thursday, it needs to be stopped in the Senate. Arianna Huffington's e-mail address is arianna Her new book, "How to Overthrow the Government," is published by Harper-Collins. MAP Posted-by: Don Beck SAMPLE LETTER: To the editor: Arianna Huffington correctly describes plans for $1.6 billion in alleged drug war aid to Colombia as "nuts." The aid package will not make drugs disappear from either the U.S. or Colombia. But the average American will experience no benefits - we're just along to foot the bill. Undesirable as that is, it doesn't begin to describe the situation for most people in Colombia, where an influx of war related resources can only result in intensified violence. The aid plan is attractive only to a few corporate profiteers and government officials in both countries. They appear ready to use more force to achieve their goals, whether those goals have anything to do with stopping drugs or not. Stephen Young IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide: TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE: Prepared by Stephen YoungFocus Alert Specialist  Focus Alert Archives: DrugSense Weekly - March 17, 2000, #141 MapInc. Archives: Related Articles & Web Site:Arianna Online Money - Arianna Huffington - Salon Magazine Economics's Crisis U.S. Is Setting A Trap for Itself In Colombia Articles on FARC & Colombia: 
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Comment #1 posted by Mark Tide on March 19, 2000 at 12:12:39 PT:
Let's All Help
At Arcata Journal, we've been lobbying our congressmember since January on this topic. It's very important to stop this next phase of war-mongering corporatization and repression. Please make good use of the good materials and help of MAP, and let your representatives and these media know we're serious about coming after these bad politics. The people of Columbia are depending on us to help them. Please play a role, by participating in this crucial effort.
Arcata Journal
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