------------------------------------------------------------------- Poor Police Work Alleged In Pot Case (The San Jose Mercury News says attorneys for medical-marijuana patient Peter Baez asked San Jose prohibition agents pointed questions Wednesday in an attempt to have the charges against the former head of a San Jose-based medical cannabis dispensary dismissed. San Jose police officer Tim Kuchac stated in an affidavit that he was part of the team that served the first warrant and noticed a computer that could have contained business records and other key evidence. In fact, he testified Wednesday, that was not true. He had never been to the center before signing the affidavit. "I was blown away," said defense attorney Gerald Uelmen. "I have very few instances in my life as a lawyer where I had a police officer admit on the stand to perjury.") Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 06:20:20 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Poor Police Work Alleged In Pot Case Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Peter Baez) Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Copyright: 1998 Mercury Center Author: Raoul V. Mowatt, Mercury News Staff Writer Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 POOR POLICE WORK ALLEGED IN POT CASE Attorneys for medicinal-marijuana advocate Peter Baez on Wednesday continued questioning witnesses in an attempt to scuttle the criminal case against the former head of a San Jose-based marijuana dispensary. During a day of testimony, San Jose police officers fended off questions intended to portray their March 23 raid of the Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center as sloppy yet overzealous. If defense attorneys can convince Superior Court Judge Diane Northway that the search was improper, they may be able to gut much of the case against their client. One of the officers conceded that his sworn affidavit contained a misstatement. Under questioning from both defense attorney Gerald Uelmen and prosecutor Rob Baker, Sgt. Tim Kuchac testified that it was simply a mistake. But Uelmen seized on that testimony to criticize the officer, saying it was symptomatic of other problems in the search. ``I was blown away,'' Uelmen said. ``I have very few instances in my life as a lawyer where I had a police officer admit on the stand to perjury.'' Baker, however, said the overall testimony showed the officers balanced concern for the center's patients with their need to investigate possible wrongdoing. Baez, 35, ran the now-defunct cannabis center for about a year. He and his colleagues had a cordial relationship with police until an investigation into one man's defense against illegal marijuana use raised questions about whether Baez was obtaining doctors' recommendations before selling the drug. The investigation that followed has led to seven felony charges against Baez: grand theft, maintaining a drug house and five counts of illegal marijuana sales. On Wednesday, Kuchac was asked about his affidavit, which came after the original search warrant had been served. His statement was used to obtain a warrant to seize a center computer. He testified that no important evidence was taken from the machine. Kuchac stated in his affidavit that he was part of the team that served the first warrant and noticed a computer that could have contained business records and other key evidence. He testified Wednesday that that was not true. He had never been to the center before signing the affidavit, he said. Under questioning from Baker, Kuchac testified that it was routine for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office to prepare affidavits for officers and that he inadvertently missed the discrepancy. But Uelmen put a more ominous spin on Kuchac's statement, saying that Kuchac needed to say he had been present to persuade a judge to expand the original search. Attorneys also finished questioning Sgt. Scott Savage, the lead investigator in the case. Savage testified that he had no vendetta against Baez, one of the defense's main contentions. Uelmen, a Santa Clara University law professor, asked Savage again about the timing of the raid. He and co-counsel Tom Nolan have contended that Savage waited to raid the club until then-Chief Lou Cobarruviaz had left office, saying Cobarruviaz looked favorably on Baez and medicinal marijuana. But Savage testified that he doesn't know if he knew when Cobarruviaz was going to step down and that there was no formal department policy on medicinal marijuana.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Fatal Error: The Pentagon's War On Drugs Takes A Toll On The Innocent (A lengthy account in The Austin Chronicle details the killing of an 18-year-old Texas goatherder, Esequiel Hernandez Jr., by camouflaged US Marines on a drug interdiction mission along the US-Mexico border. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed by Congress in 1878, made it a felony to deputize the armed services for domestic law-enforcement duty. Congress began chipping away at Posse Comitatus in 1982 - the same year then-Vice President Bush was put in charge of the War on Drugs - with a defense bill allowing the military to loan equipment and facilities to civilian law enforcement agencies. A 1989 bill went further, allowing military personnel to work in the field. And a 1991 act authorized the services to conduct armed anti-drug reconnaissance missions. The definition of these missions has been expanded in every defense bill since. The Pentagon spends about $1 billion a year fighting drugs. The United States has pursued violent regeneration through a series of "savage wars," of which the war on some drug users is but the latest.) Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 20:44:21 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US TX: Fatal Error: The Pentagon's War On Drugs Takes A Toll On The Innocent Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 Source: Austin Chronicle (TX) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.auschron.com/ Copyright: 1998 Austin Chronicle Corp. Author: Monte Paulsen FATAL ERROR: THE PENTAGON'S WAR ON DRUGS TAKES A TOLL ON THE INNOCENT On the day he died, Esequiel Hernandez Jr. took his goats to the river. He led them from their makeshift pens of wire and branch, then shooed them down the dusty lane. They wandered past the ruins of the Spanish mission, through the abandoned U.S. Army post, and down a stony bluff to the Rio Grande. When he reached the crest of the bluff, Hernandez stopped. Behind him lay the mud-red adobe homes and melon-green alfalfa fields of Redford, Texas. Before him stretched the Chihuahuan desert, Texas' vast gravel backyard, speckled with squat greasewood bushes and whip-like ocotillo plants. Except for Hernandez, whose goats brought him here late each afternoon, the residents of the little oasis rarely ventured into this no man's land. But on this, his final walk to the river, Hernandez spotted something in the desert. It looked small and shaggy. He'd lost a goat not long before. He suspected wild dogs had taken it. His herd was already at the river's edge, halfway to the gray-brown creature. It moved. He couldn't afford to lose another goat. He raised his ancient .22-caliber rifle and aimed into the desert. Twenty minutes later, Hernandez's 18-year-old body lay grotesquely twisted across a stone cistern at the edge of the village. He died trying to protect his goats. He was killed by a 22-year-old soldier trying to protect America's youth from drugs. When Esequiel Hernandez Jr. died, he became the first civilian killed by U.S. troops since the student massacre at Kent State University in 1970. His death led to a temporary suspension of troop patrols near the U.S.-Mexican border. And last month, the government paid his family $1.9 million to settle a wrongful death claim. At the same time, Clemente Manuel Banuelos became the first-ever member of the United States Marine Corps to kill a fellow citizen on U.S. soil. Four investigations and three grand juries probed the May 1997 shooting. Each concluded that because Banuelos followed orders, he was innocent of criminal wrongdoing. Those who issued the orders were never tried. Both young men became victims of the Pentagon's quixotic $1 billion-a-year war on drugs. Hooked on Drug Money Hernandez's days were numbered since 1989, the year then-President George Bush waved a bag of crack on TV. Seated in the Oval Office with pictures of his family behind him, Bush held up the clear plastic bag and told the nation that it was crack cocaine seized in the park located directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. U.S. presidents have been declaring "war on drugs" ever since the Nixon administration. Bush's remedies were much the same as those proposed by his predecessors: more cops, stiffer sentences. But because few police officers and no judges report to the White House, most presidents waged this war rhetorically. Bush changed that. He ordered the Pentagon to the frontlines of the drug war. For more than a century, stationing U.S. soldiers in American backyards was against the law. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed by Congress in 1878, made it a felony to deputize the armed services for domestic duty. Thus, since Reconstruction, not the U.S. Army but state-run National Guard units were called on to suppress labor strikes, race riots, student protests, and other acts of civil disobedience. Today, this separation of military and police powers no longer exists, though it is still touted in high school civics textbooks as a hallmark of U.S. society and democratic ideals. Congress began chipping away at Posse Comitatus in 1982 -- the same year then-Vice President Bush was put in charge of the War on Drugs -- with a defense bill that allowed the military to loan equipment and facilities to civilian law enforcement agencies. A 1989 bill went further, allowing military personnel to work in the field. And a 1991 act authorized the services to conduct armed anti-drug reconnaissance missions. The definition of these missions has been expanded in every defense bill since. Just two months after Bush waved his bag of crack, the Pentagon created Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6). Headquartered in a former Army stockade near El Paso, JTF-6 was initially conceived as a temporary operation, with duties confined to the U.S.-Mexican border. As it now approaches its 10th birthday, JTF-6 is one of the longest running task forces in U.S. military history. More than 72,000 soldiers have served in JTF-6 operations scattered across 30 states. Many JTF-6 missions do not involve combat troops. The Army Corps of Engineers, for example, has built hundreds of miles of fencing and roads along the U.S.-Mexico border. Others, such as the mission to Redford, have placed armed soldiers in American backyards. JTF-6 cannot launch a mission on its own. The work must be requested by a civilian law enforcement agency fighting drugs within one of the nation's 21 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. But the U.S. Border Patrol is JTF-6's main client. The two agencies have collaborated on an average of 157 missions a year. The mission to Redford, for instance, began with a request from the Border Patrol's sector headquarters in Marfa. Spanning 2,200 square miles of West Texas desert, Marfa is the most rural and least active of nine sectors along the U.S.-Mexican border. As a result, Marfa also has the fewest agents. So in 1996, the sector chief requested JTF-6's help. The request was approved by Operation Alliance -- JTF-6's civilian sister agency -- and the El Paso task force issued a call for military volunteers. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force quickly signed on. Like the Border Patrol, the California-based 1st Marines were regulars at JTF-6's desert headquarters. The 1st Marines participated in 119 missions prior to Redford, with 28 scheduled for 1997 alone. And like the Border Patrol, the 1st Marines were hooked on drug interdiction money. The division burned an extra $9.1 million worth of JTF-6 green during the four years prior to the Redford mission. Wrote the ranking general: "Unequivocally, my commanders depend on, and plan for, this annual infusion." Friendly Fire Late one afternoon in February 1997 -- the very same month that JTF-6 and the 1st Marines began planning the Redford mission -- Border Patrol agents Johnny Urias and James DeMatteo heard gunshots while patrolling the Redford riverfront. Urias and DeMatteo were at the landing used by Juan Olivas, Redford's part-time boatman. Olivas rows passengers across the Rio Grande for 50 cents a head. If a friend lacks the fare, Olivas has been known to take groceries in trade. The service isn't legal. Nor is it lucrative. For most of the year, the river is shallow enough to ford without getting a knee wet. The two agents were walking among the cottonwood trees by the river, Urias recalled, when they heard a "firecracker kind of pop at a distance." DeMatteo recalled "three popping sounds coming from out left." Unsure what was happening, they climbed back into their truck and drove slowly up the dusty lane to Farm Road 170, the two-lane blacktop that winds through Redford. Before they reached the village, a beat-up truck approached them from behind. It flashed its headlights. The agents stopped. So did the old white pickup. A boy hopped out and ran up to the Border Patrol vehicle. "I'm sorry that I was shooting," the agents recalled the boy telling them. "I thought someone was doing something to my goats. I didn't know you were back there." The tall, lanky teenager was Esequiel Hernandez Jr. Known as "Skeetch" or "Zeke" to his friends, and simply as "Junior" to the adults in the village, Esequiel was the sixth of eight children of Maria de la Luz and Esequiel Hernandez Sr. Esequiel Sr. farms a small tract of land in the oldest part of Redford, called El Polvo. It was named after a Catholic mission established here in 1684. The Franciscans called it San Jose Del Polvo, or St. Joseph of the Dust. The name fits. The Hernandez family draws its blood from this river, and this dust. High mountains let few raindrops pass into this part of the desert. But where the river floods, there are small strips of muddy soil. The adobe-and-cinder-block village of Redford stands in the desert above one such stretch of precious red soil, every inch of which is planted in alfalfa, melons, pumpkins, or other crops. Esequiel Jr. was a popular kid at Presidio High. He was the only boy to sign up for the folk dance troupe. He was a straight kid who didn't smoke, drink, or do drugs, according to his peers. His only brushes with the law were a result of his habit of driving without a license -- a common West Texas transgression. Esequiel wasn't college bound. The only visible indication of personal ambition was a large Marine Corps recruiting poster mounted on the wall above his bed. For the time being, he played cowboy. He rode horses in parades wearing an embroidered shirt and large white hat. When he wasn't on horseback, he helped his father tend the family's 43 goats. It was his chore to walk them to the river each afternoon. And he usually took with him a World War I-era .22-caliber rifle his grandfather had given him. The old gun was mechanically unreliable, but straight shooting. This, too, he hung on the wall above his bed. As the February sun crept behind the high, hard mountains to the west, Urias and DeMatteo studied the boy who had followed them down the dusty lane. No harm intended, they figured. No harm done. Urias left the boy with a friendly warning. "Use more discretion when shooting your weapon," he later recalled telling Esequiel. "Especially at night." Team 7 Takes the Field Corporal Banuelos first set foot in the Redford desert three months later. On the morning of May 13, 1997, as he scouted the stony bluff just downstream from El Polvo with his commanding officer, Capt. Lance McDaniel, Banuelos noticed an empty cardboard bullet box that had contained .22 caliber rounds. Unaware of the Hernandez's habits, the pair speculated that the box had been left by drug smugglers. McDaniel picked Banuelos to lead a four-man team that would surveil the Redford crossing. The 22-year-old corporal's team, called Team 7, was to watch the crossing at night, and radio reports of any illegal activity to the Border Patrol. During the day, Banuelos and his men were to retreat to a "hide site" in an arroyo just downriver. There the soldiers were to conceal themselves from the villagers. The assignment was a coup for Banuelos, who was not much older than Hernandez when he joined the Marine Corps. The boy from San Francisco had matured noticeably during his three years in service, earning an achievement medal rarely awarded such a junior enlisted man. And now, while still a corporal, he had been selected to lead an observation team at Redford. All the other team leaders were sergeants. If the mission went smoothly, Banuelos would soon be a sergeant, too. But mission No. JT414-97A, as the soldiers called it, was not going smoothly. For although McDaniel's senior officers at 1st Division HQ were hot to take JTF-6's money, their support for the captain's efforts to prepare for the mission was tepid at best. McDaniel was hamstrung at every turn by bureaucracy, paperwork, and the fact that 1st Division's command viewed the mission as little more than a free training exercise. That's the conclusion of an exhaustive report authored by retired Maj. Gen. John T. Coyne, from which many of the operational details described in this story were drawn. The Coyne report highlights how different police work is from military action, and harshly rebukes the 1st Division for failing to adequately prepare its soldiers for this policing mission. In one striking example, McDaniel's men were pulled away from a training exercise in order to participate in a dress uniform review. The officers' club mentality was visible in a statement from the man who ordered McDaniel's men to participate in the formality. Maj. Steven Hogg said he was comfortable with the order because he "was satisfied that Capt. McDaniel was hitting all the wickets." As a result of this type of bureaucratic interference, Capt. McDaniel was able to conduct only three days of training before his teams left Camp Pendleton for Texas. And because mission assignments weren't settled until the last minute, Team 7 never trained as a unit. Cpl. Roy Torrez Jr., Banuelos' second in command, hadn't received any field instruction since his basic Marine combat training after boot camp. Torrez, whose main job in the Marine Corps was driving a tow truck, was also Team 7 medic. He had completed a first-aid course in order to meet a quota at the garage where he worked. Like Torrez, Lance Cpl. Ronald Wieler had received no field training since basic. Wieler was a radio operator. Most of his preparation consisted of cutting rags and sewing his own camouflage "ghillie suit." Lance Cpl. James Blood, the team's junior man, did attend the three days of training. But Blood was assigned to another team during that time, and hadn't even met his teammates until the day before McDaniel and Banuelos found the empty bullet box by the river. Upon returning from that walk, McDaniel briefed his men at a Marfa base camp. The two-hour talk addressed safety issues, communication protocols, and the "rules of engagement." The soldiers were handed ROE cards that listed specifically what they could and could not do. They were told what to do if they encountered drug smugglers. But they neither discussed nor rehearsed what to do if they came across a civilian. Staff Sgt. Daren Dewbre concluded the briefing, warning the soldiers that drug gangs posed an "organized, sophisticated, and dangerous enemy." He told them that other teams had taken fire on previous missions. He told them that "the enemy" would employ armed lookouts -- and that some villagers were in cahoots with the smugglers. His briefing notes read: "Redford is not a friendly town." Men With Guns Redford is one of the most remote towns in the United States. It is also one of the oldest. And it's among the most often visited by soldiers. Located in Presidio County, eight hours west of San Antonio and five hours east of El Paso, Redford is in many ways more Mexican than American. Spanish is the language of choice. The most popular shopping center is in Ojinaga, a Mexican border town half an hour upriver. An American flag flies out front of Redford Elementary School. But its flagpole erupts from the center of the school's basketball court, leaving visitors to wonder whether the patriot who erected the pole was entirely familiar with the rules of the game. Directly across Farm Road 170 -- which until it was paved in the 1960s was called Muerte del Burro, or Death of the Donkey -- stands the Madrid library. In 1979, schoolteacher Lucia Rede Madrid started the small library in her husband's store. She loaned books to the kids in Redford, and also to Mexican kids from across the river. By the mid-Eighties, her library had swelled to an estimated 50,000 volumes, overflowing both the store and the attached stucco home. Lucia's "bridge of books" earned her two presidential medals, and made her the most famous person in Redford -- until Zeke. Three Days in the Desert Banuelos and his team were dropped off along Farm Road 170 late Saturday night, May 17. The soldiers leaped out of the Chevy Suburban wearing camouflage face paint and shaggy burlap "ghillie suits." They carried two five-gallon water cans, two radios, and assorted gear. Each carried his M-16A2 rifle. Team 7 walked half a mile to the observation post. The team they were replacing was dehydrated and nauseous after its three-day tour. The departing team commander told Banuelos: "Watch out for the goats." Banuelos, Torrez, Wieler, and Blood settled into the stony bluff above the river. A canopy of stars revealed itself overhead. They saw two vehicles cross the river that night, and radioed the Border Patrol both times. As dawn came Sunday, Banuelos moved his men to the arroyo. The day passed slowly, punctuated by fitful naps. The goats came in the afternoon -- dozens of them, scrabbling through the hide site, foraging among the greasewood bushes. Some came so close that one soldier feared they would gnaw on his leaf-like ghillie suit. Team 7 moved up to the observation post early that evening, some time between 7-8pm. This was a departure from mission JT414-97A's plan, which instructed them not to move until after dark. The soldiers reported more vehicle crossings that night -- pickups, Suburbans, and Blazers rolling back and forth across the river. But the Border Patrol only stopped one or two. On Monday the desert began to be very hot. At midday, the surface temperature of the Chihuahuan desert can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Snakes stay in their burrows to avoid being cooked. The soldiers had no burrows. They lay on hot stones, wrapped in their burlap suits. Each man had only three quarts of water per day. All they had to eat were fibrous goo bars called Meals Ready to Eat, like Slim-Fast shakes without the liquid. The goats returned in the afternoon. They stuffed their mouths with desert weeds. They gurgled as they drank deeply from the river. By that evening, Team 7 had begun to realize that El Polvo was a well-worn crossing, and that most of what was smuggled across wasn't drugs. Vehicles of every description arrived laden with tires, cement, furniture, produce, and other contraband. Torrez and Blood griped about how rarely the Border Patrol responded to their calls. "If they don't care," Blood recalled asking, "why do we need to be out here?" Wrong Place, Wrong Time In fact, they didn't need to be there -- at least not in May. A decade's worth of federal statistics prove it: More than 85% of all illegal drugs entering the United States arrive via official Ports of Entry monitored by the Customs Service. Most come concealed within legitimate cargo. Nearly 100% of all heroin shipped to the United States last year flowed through official ports, according to federal estimates, and 99% of the methamphetamine tumbled through those same ports. Ninety-seven percent of the cocaine blew in this way as well. Marijuana is the lone exception. Half the weed consumed in this country is grown here. Much of the rest comes across at places like El Polvo. Last fall, the Border Patrol caught a motor home stuffed with 2,700 pounds of marijuana. Its driver claimed he crossed at El Polvo. Large busts like this happen every fall. That's because marijuana is a crop. Most of it gets harvested and shipped across the border in the fall and winter. Only tourists and amateurs bother smuggling in May. If Congress were serious about employing the armed forces to stop the northward flow of drugs, it would post search teams at each of the 39 customs checkpoints along the 2,000-mile border. Three and a half million trucks rolled through in 1996. Customs was able to inspect but a quarter of them. The main reason these trucks go uninspected is because truckers -- and the corporations who hire them -- complain the wait at customs is too long. These corporations, which finance political life in America, complain to Congress that more searches would slow down the progress of the North AmericanFree Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But Washington wants it both ways. It wants to stop the flow of drugs and immigrants while increasing the flow of goods and services. Putting troops in places such as Redford is a compromise. It allows Congress to appear tough on drugs, while not hindering trade. Congress has strained to expand the military's role along the border ever since JTF-6 was created. Both the House and Senate versions of the 1989 bill would have given the military the power to arrest civilians. These provisions were killed as a result of strong opposition from the Pentagon, which trains soldiers to kill their enemies, not arrest them. Many, many military scholars warn that training the armed services to do police work will render them unprepared for actual combat. Timothy Dunn chronicles America's longstanding efforts to station soldiers along the Rio Grande in his book The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border. The El Paso-based professor explains how "complex international issues such as undocumented immigration and illegal drug trafficking are reduced to one-sided, domestic border-control problems, and framed as threats to national security, which in turn require strong law enforcement, or even military responses." Even as Banuelos was struggling to prepare his team for mission JT414-97A, U.S. Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was pushing a 1997 bill that would have put 10,000 troops on the U.S.-Mexican border. Traficant reintroduced the troop plan this year, and tore a page from Dunn's book when he said on the House floor: "The border is a national security issue, and, by God, the Congress of the United States better start securing our borders." The House passed the Ohio congressman's amendment in June, along with proposals for bigger fences, fancier technology, and more agents along the border. The Senate nixed the Traficant plan, but moved to swell the ranks of the Border Patrol from 6,200 to more than 20,000 agents. "It's an easy, simple, and politically safe target," says Kevin Zeese, who heads the nonprofit group Common Sense for Drug Policy. "Shout 'drug war' as loud as you can, and you sound like you are protecting America's youth." "Fire Back" Esequiel Jr. got home from school about 4 pm on the day he died. He thanked the driver of the big yellow bus and walked down the lane to his family's little rancheria. He studied his driver's handbook, then he helped his father unload some hay. After that it was time to walk the goats. Banuelos led his men out of the hide site even earlier that afternoon. It was three full hours before nightfall. They hadn't even seen the goats yet. They were hot, tired, hungry, dehydrated, and still dressed like shrubs. They looked forward to being relieved shortly after dark. As Team 7 crept toward the observation post, Banuelos spotted a man on a horse on the Mexican side. The corporal put his team in a halt. Just then, Esequiel and his goats crested the small bluff. The soldiers -- who had been warned to expect armed lookouts and "unfriendly villagers" -- saw a young man of Latino descent carrying a .22 rifle. Banuelos whispered into the radio: "We have an armed individual, about 200 meters from us." A time-stamped recording of the radio traffic showed it was 6:05 pm. "He's in front of the old fort. He's headed toward us. He's armed with a rifle. He appears to be in, uh, herding goats or something." Hernandez saw something move in the brush at the bottom of the far ravine. He had warned friends and family members of what he would do if he ever found the wild dog he believed had taken his goat. The goat-herder may have fired once, as Banuelos and Blood claimed. (One spent shell was later found in the rifle.) Or he may have fired twice, as Torrez and Wieler recalled. Or he may not have fired at all, as the lack of gunpowder residue on his hands later suggested. What is certain is that the four tired soldiers believed they had been fired at by a drug smuggler. None was hit. Banuelos ordered the men prone. Face down in the hot gravel, he told them to "lock and load." Hernandez stood on his toes. He peered across the desert. Torrez recalled he was "bobbing and weaving ... like when you look at something in the distance, you stand on your tippy-toes and try to move your head around to see." "We're taking fire," Banuelos radioed at 6:07 pm. Capt. McDaniel was working out in a gym at the Marfa compound when he heard the news. He sprinted to the nearby operations center. He and his fellow officers immediately began debating what actions were authorized under the JTF-6 rules of engagement. Banuelos and his teammates were still carrying the ROE flash cards they were given a week earlier. The first of six points listed was: "Force may be used to defend yourself and others present." The second and third points were: "Do not use force if other defensive measures could be effective," and "Use only minimum force necessary." But Banuelos didn't have time to re-read his card. Nor was he aware that McDaniel and the other officers were in the midst of an intense debate about what he could and could not do. At 6:11 pm, he radioed the operations center: "As soon as he readies that rifle back down range, we are taking him." Lance Cpl. James Steen was manning the radio in Marfa. He replied: "Roger, fire back." McDaniel exploded. He and the other officers in the operations center believed that Steen's authorization to "fire back" was wrong, according to written statements. Steen was pulled off the radio. Sgt. Dewbre took the chair. But the order to "fire back" was neither corrected nor withdrawn. Dewbre radioed at 6:14 pm: "Just give us an update." To keep the boy within his line of sight, Banuelos led his team down another stony arroyo and up the opposite bank. From the top of the next plateau, the soldiers could see in all directions. Banuelos told Dewbre: "We have a visual." Dewbre replied: "You're to follow the ROE." Banuelos did not acknowledge Dewbre's order. Nearly four minutes had passed since the incorrect order to "fire back" was issued. McDaniel and the other officers discussed whether or not Banuelos had heard Dewbre. But they did not re-transmit the instruction. Worse Than the Drugs The war that Esequiel Hernandez wandered into is not confined to the U.S.-Mexican border. The Pentagon spends about $1 billion a year fighting drugs. JTF-6 has conducted missions in 30 states and the Caribbean territories. An estimated 4,000 National Guard troops are involved in 1,300 counter-drug operations nationwide. And 89% of police departments now have paramilitary "SWAT" teams, which primarily serve drug warrants. In spite of all this, the drugs are winning. The availability and potency of hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine has skyrocketed over the past decade. At the same time, street prices have fallen. The United Nations estimates the annual revenue generated by the illegal drug industry at $400 billion. That's 8% of the total international trade, or about the same size as the global automobile industry. The war has not proved either as easy, simple, or politically safe as its proponents had hoped. Days after he waved the plastic bag of crack on TV, Bush was embarrassed by revelations that it was not "seized" in Lafayette Park -- but in fact had been purchased for $2,400 by an undercover agent who had lured a drug dealer there. The seller was baffled by the agent's request; on a DEA tape of the phone call, the 18-year-old dealer asked, "Where the fuck is the White House?" "We can't even keep drugs out of prison," says Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy. "To think we could keep them out at the borders is absurd." Common Sense for Drug Policy argues that drug abuse is a social problem that requires a combination of social, not military, solutions. The evidence bears them out. Where drug use has fallen, experts attribute the difference to lifestyle changes, not law enforcement. Reagan's Secretary of State George Shultz, right-wing economist Milton Friedman, and broadcaster Walter Cronkite all make the same case. They are among the hundreds of signers of a June 1998 letter urging the United Nations to abandon the War on Drugs. The signatories hailed from 40 nations, and included federal judges and Nobel laureates from across the political spectrum. Published in The New York Times and elsewhere, the letter was blunt: "We believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself. "This industry has empowered organized criminals, corrupted governments at all levels, eroded internal security, stimulated violence, and distorted both economic markets and moral values," the letter stated. "These are the consequences not of drug use per se, but of decades of failed and futile drug war policies." Death in the Desert Border Patrol agent Johnny Urias was picking up undocumented immigrants 15 miles away when he heard the 6:07 pm radio call: "They're taking fire from a man with a rifle at position three. ... Please assist position three." Urias and partner Rodolfo Martinez sped back to the Presidio station. They dropped off their suspects. They picked up M-16 rifles and protective vests. Two other agents arrived, and did the same. Within minutes, the four agents were speeding toward Redford, lights and sirens blaring. Urias radioed Banuelos, who told him that Hernandez was at the old fort. "He's armed with a rifle, a .22," the corporal said. Banuelos and his team were atop a plateau about two football fields away from Hernandez. They knew the Border Patrol was only minutes away. But Banuelos wanted to be closer. He handed the radio to Torrez, then waved for Wieler and Blood to follow him into the next ravine. From that moment on, Banuelos was out of radio contact with both McDaniel and the Border Patrol. The next arroyo was steeper than the last. Wieler stumbled several times. He scraped his hands on the sharp, loose gravel. He didn't understand what Banuelos was doing. He said later that he "would have stayed and let the Border Patrol handle the situation." Instead, he followed orders. Once atop the next plateau, the Marines moved toward the abandoned fort. Soon they were within 130 yards of Hernandez. They scurried forward one by one, in short rushes, crouching low among the waist-high greasewood bushes. Banuelos watched Hernandez through the scope on his M-16 as his men moved. At 6:27 pm, Banuelos believed he saw the boy raise his old .22 and aim toward Blood. (Neither Torrez nor Blood were watching Hernandez. Weiler initially stated he didn't see Hernandez move, then later testified that he did.) The corporal, an expert marksman, squeezed the trigger. The bullet entered Esequiel Hernandez Jr. beneath his right arm. It fragmented and cut two trails through his chest, destroying every organ in its path. Torrez looked up just in time to see the boy's feet fly in the air. Myth of the Frontier The books in Lucia Madrid's library tell many stories. They tell of the soldiers who came through Redford, and of the powerful men who sent them. But these books do not explain the shooting of Esequiel Hernandez. Enrique Rede Madrid still lives in the white stucco home where his recently deceased mother built the library. An anthropologist, he has spent much of his life resisting the military. Way back in 1967, he was the first student at the University of Texas to return his draft card -- a gutsy move for a young Chicano from La Frontera. He waged a three-year court battle challenging the constitutionality of the Vietnam War. Today, he translates books and works at a community college. Sifting through the artifacts of his life, Madrid pulls out newspaper clippings and photographs. One picture shows President Bush awarding his mother her medal of honor. Another shows her reading to a group of village children. At the center of that photograph is a squirmy little boy, hamming a grin for the camera. The boy is Esequiel Hernandez Jr. "Isn't it schizoid?" he asks, fingering his mother's silver and gold medals. Madrid speaks through a clenched jaw, as if he is holding back anger. "Two presidential medals and an M-16 bullet in a kid's chest. She received these medals for educating Esequiel. America has a schizoid mentality about the border," Enrique continues. "We address the problem with the wrong tool. It's a failure of our ability to test reality. ... A psychiatrist would call it a psychosis of some sort." Richard Slotkin, a historian who has spent the past 25 years studying the stories that Americans tell each other, calls it America's oldest and most powerful story: the myth of the frontier. Slotkin argues that "regeneration through violence" is the heart of the myth. The United States has pursued violent regeneration through a series of "savage wars" fought first against Native Americans, and later against competing settlers such as the Mexicans. This century, distant enemies such as the Soviet Union filled the savage shoes. These heroic tales of men with guns have been handed down through literature, culture, and ritual for three centuries. The repetition of this mythology is easy to spot in dozens of newspaper and magazine reports on Esequiel's murder. Rather than describing a quiet little village of alfalfa and pumpkin farmers, many thrilled readers with exaggerated descriptions of a rough-and-tumble Wild West border town populated with "drug lords" and "illegal aliens." Likewise, these myths are at the heart of the many Western movies filmed at the Contrabando Creek movie set, a faux village just downriver from Redford. "The reporter's role is to see the reality in terms of the established myth," Slotkin says. "The reporter goes back and tells the tale to a congressman, who is prepared to believe it because he already knows the story. It has the power of familiarity. It confirms what we've known all along." The war on drugs has invoked the myth of savage war to rationalize its illogical use of violence. "Here the myth of the frontier plays its classic role," Slotkin says. "We define and confront this crisis -- and the profound questions it raises about our society -- by deploying the metaphor of 'war' and locating the root of our problem in the power of a 'savage' enemy." Following Orders Cpl. Banuelos was standing over Hernandez's body when the Border Patrol arrived. Agent Urias recognized the boy he had warned only three months before. Hernandez had dragged himself 10 yards through hot gravel after he was shot. From atop the old Army watering hole, Hernandez could have seen the adobe home where he was born, the lush green oasis that fed his family, the cinderblock schoolhouse where he had dreamed of becoming a soldier, and the village graveyard, where he soon would be buried. A desert thunderstorm approached. More cops arrived. Texas Rangers. A justice of the peace. The district attorney. FBI. Marines. They trampled through the evidence for hours. Then the storm rumbled through. Hard rain washed over the body, the gun, the scene. Team 7 was driven back to Marfa, put in a motel room, given a six-pack of beer, and told to write statements. The story that emerged was that Banuelos was not "pursuing" Hernandez -- as prohibited by the rules of engagement -- but was "paralleling" the goat-herder out of fear that the boy was running a "flanking maneuver." Banuelos was frank and forthright about what he had done. He reportedly concluded one interview by stating: "I capped the fucker." The Texas Rangers investigated the shooting. The Justice Department investigated the shooting. JTF-6 investigated the shooting. And the 1st Marine Division investigated the shooting. All concluded that Banuelos followed orders. All concluded that he committed no crime. A county grand jury refused to indict Banuelos on criminal charges. A federal grand jury refused to indict him. And a second county grand jury, given substantially more evidence than the first, also refused to indict him. All concluded that Banuelos followed orders. All concluded that he committed no crime. Banuelos was under investigation for more than a year. But the orders that sent him to El Polvo in May -- the orders that put him in the field with an under-prepared team, and the incredible order to "fire back" -- these were never put on trial. And by agreeing to pay the Hernandez family a mere $1.9 million, the Navy and the Justice Department effectively closed the most viable legal route through which the family or the village could have put those orders on trial. Human rights activists fear that the settlement will clear a political path for JTF-6 to resume armed border patrols in the near future. And if they take such missions, future Marines will follow orders just as Banuelos did. In a response to the scathing Coyne report, Gen. C.W. Fulford Jr. noted that even the best trained Marines would likely behave much as Team 7 did. "Indeed," Fulford wrote, "it is probable that a superbly trained team of infantrymen would have immediately returned fire." Clemente Manuel Banuelos is no longer a member of the Marine Corps. His promising military career died the same day Hernandez did. The 23-year-old now struggles to support his young wife, Luz Contreras, in their modest Southern California home. He is looking for work as a physical therapist. Rounding Up the Goats On the day Esequiel Hernandez Jr. died, his father brought the goats back from the river. Hernandez Sr. was chopping wood when he saw the crowd of Border Patrol agents, sheriff deputies, and other authorities gather on the hill across from his adobe home. He drove the old white pickup over to see what was happening. Not knowing who he was, a deputy sheriff asked whether Hernandez might be able to identify the victim. The old man stared curiously at the soldiers, still dressed in their ghillie suits. The leather-faced father was then shown the lifeless body of his son. He wept, and wailed, in Spanish. The Hernandez family was kept away from the scene that night. Pushed back by sheriff's deputies, sobbing family members shared their grief and anger within the privacy of the Hernandez rancheria. Later, the old man went down to the river to round up the goats. Ten-year-old Noel went with him. After the goats were put away, Noel marched into Esequiel's bedroom and tore the Marine recruiting poster from his dead brother's wall.
------------------------------------------------------------------- "Right This Wrong" (A sidebar to the Austin Chronicle's article about drug warriors killing an 18-year-old Texas goatherder says a scathing 249-page report on the 1997 shooting, prepared by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, concluded that the U.S. Border Patrol helped aim the gun that killed Esequiel Hernandez Jr., and that both the Defense and Justice Departments obstructed Smith's investigation into Hernandez's death.) Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 11:09:07 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US TX: "Right This Wrong" Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 Source: Austin Chronicle (TX) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.auschron.com/ Copyright: 1998 Austin Chronicle Corp. Author: Monte Paulsen Note: This Is a sidebar to the excellent long piece entitled "FATAL ERROR: THE PENTAGON'S WAR ON DRUGS TAKES A TOLL ON THE INNOCENT" published in the Austin Chronicle. For more see the Drug Policy Forum of Texas web pages at: http://www.mapinc.org/DPFT/hernandez/ and use the MAP search feature on the page. You will find over 100 articles if you use the dropdown to select ALL News (1997-98). "RIGHT THIS WRONG" The U.S. Border Patrol helped aim the gun that killed Esequiel Hernandez Jr. near the Texas-Mexico border. That's the conclusion of a scathing report on the 1997 shooting by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio. Smith's 249-page report concluded that the surveillance mission was poorly conceived and hastily planned. The young Marine who killed Hernandez was untrained and misinformed. And there was shockingly little communication between local Border Patrol agents and the Marines ostensibly working under their supervision. "The Marines' unreadiness was compounded by a lack of training and support from the Border Patrol," Smith said in a prepared statement. "For example, the Marines were not told that innocent civilians in this part of the country often carry weapons and are wary of intruders. ... The Marines were not told that their observation post was located near a number of family homes, including the Hernandez home. They were not told that Hernandez regularly brought his goats to the Polvo Crossing area." Smith accused both the Defense and Justice Departments of obstructing his investigation into Hernandez's death. But Smith, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Border Patrol, fired his sharpest criticism at the border agents' bosses at Justice. "To this day, no Justice Department personnel have been held accountable for their negligence or wrongdoing in the Hernandez killing," the Republican representative said. "Attorney General Janet Reno should right this wrong immediately." Smith contrasted Reno's response with that of the Marine Corps, which released its exhaustive investigation into the shooting and disciplined four Marine commanders. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, parent agency of the Border Patrol, responded in a statement that it "strongly disagrees with any claim that the U.S. Border Patrol was directly responsible for this tragic incident." Two Texas grand juries investigated the shooting, but issued no indictments. The government paid the teen's family $1 million to settle a civil claim. The Pentagon has temporarily suspended armed military patrols on the Southwest border, but could resume them at any time.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot's Hazards (A letter to the editor of The Chicago Tribune from Peter B. Bensinger, the former head of the DEA, blasts the newspaper for its staff editorial saying there is "growing recognition that marijuana may have therapeutic value as medicine." The voters are inacapable of understanding science, and government agencies such as the "Federal Drug Administration" should be left alone to make such decisions because they are the only ones capable of understanding the science, are unbiased, and have only the best interests of everyone in mind. Sheesh.) Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 12:52:52 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: LTE: MMJ: Pot's Hazards Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/ Copyright: 1998 Chicago Tribune Company Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998 Author: Peter B. Bensinger, Former administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Section: Sec. 1 POT'S HAZARDS CHICAGO -- The editorial "Groundswell for medical marijuana" (Nov. 8) represents a serious misperception of what is best for America. The editorial reports that there is growing recognition that marijuana may have therapeutic value as medicine and that our government ought to move in this direction. Such advice does a disservice to the public and is very ill-advised. Why isn't marijuana medicine? Because federal law requires a substance must be shown to be scientifically safe and effective and must be approved for use by the Federal Drug Administration. Marijuana does not meet these criteria. Marijuana contains an unstable mix of more than 460 chemicals. Smoking marijuana produces 2,000 chemicals. Known carcinogens in marijuana include napthalene, benzene and nitrosamines. Are there other drugs available for chemotherapy patients? Yes. Marinol is a synthetic pill with THC-active ingredients. Zofran is another approved medication that has fewer side effects than marijuana, and it has been found to be more effective as an anti-nausea agent. Since when is burning leaves good medicine? Since when are the voters responsible for determining what prescription drugs get stocked in our pharmacies? In the early 20th Century, Congress passed the Food and Drug Act to protect the public from snake oil salesmen, many of whom, in fact, were selling opium and heroin and other products that failed to meet the medical claims advertised. Now very carefully we watch what type of beef, salad oil and pills are made available to the public. Does the public know if a new drug is safe for heart disease or arthritis? Scientists do, health experts do, the surgeon general does, the World Health Organization does, the Food and Drug Administration does. Marijuana does not qualify as safe or effective medicine in the views of any of these professional organizations. The fact that marijuana can pass in a referendum sponsored by the pro-marijuana lobby is no basis to establish it as safe medicine. If this were the case, then anytime someone wanted some smoking product to be made available and was able to muster an adequate voting block to pass a referendum, then we would have that new product on the shelf that could lead to short-term memory loss, reduced immune system efficiency, loss of motivation and vigilance, and at the same time could be as carcinogenic, dangerous and unproven as marijuana. The editorial board members have been leaders in molding public opinion and reinforcing the need for justice. The Tribune's leadership and its editorial opinions have been impressive. But I am disappointed that in this case, the views expressed on marijuana are neither helpful nor safe. Peter B. Bensinger Former administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
------------------------------------------------------------------- A Bad Season For Amateurs (According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that a new NIAAA survey of 14,000 American workers found inexperienced drinkers caused more problems than veteran drunks. The findings challenge popular wisdom blaming heavy boozers for an estimated $27 billion a year in lost productivity.) Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 18:47:04 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: A Bad Season For Amateurs Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Forum: http://www.sfgate.com/conferences/ Copyright: 1998 San Francisco Chronicle Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 A BAD SEASON FOR AMATEURS WE ARE grateful to the Wall Street Journal for an apposite report this week on the perils of drinking on the job, especially by inexperienced topers who cause more problems than veteran drunks. A survey of 14,000 American workers revealed casual drinkers are not only absent and late more often than their alcoholic colleagues, but they get in more work-related arguments, too, when tipsy or hung-over. The findings challenge popular wisdom blaming heavy boozers for the estimated $27 billion a year in lost productivity. ``It's subtle,'' says Thomas W. Mangione, director of the study. ``It is individual people who don't do this very often, but because there are so many . . . in aggregate it totals up to a very big problem.'' Mangione said the NIAAA survey supports other studies that found it was casual drinkers, not alcoholics, who cause most drunk-driving accidents and deaths. A timely caution for the holidays, when many amateur wassailers are tempted to dip too deeply into the office party punch bowl.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana - The Six-State Sweep (William Greider in Rolling Stone magazine says the American people want marijuana legalized for medical use. So why isn't Washington listening? Bill Zimmerman of Americans for Medical Rights says, "More than one-fifth of the American electorate has now voted in the majority to give patients the right to use marijuana. If the federal government doesn't respect that vote and change its attitude, we're fully prepared to go to the rest of America with this issue.") Subject: DND: US: MMJ: Medical Marijuana - The Six-State Sweep From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom O'Connell) Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 15:25:47 -0800 Newshawk: email@example.com (Tom O'Connell) Source: Rolling Stone (US) Copyright: 1999 Rolling Stone Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998 - 7 Jan 1999 Page 111 Author: William Greider Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.rollingstone.com/ Forum: http://yourturn.rollingstone.com/webx?98@@webx1.html MEDICAL MARIJUANA - The Six-State Sweep The American people want marijuana Legalized for medical use. Why isn't W A S H I N G T O N listening? NEWT GINGRICH AND THE Republicans were not the only losers in Washington, D.C., in this fall's elections. The War on Drugs took a big hit, too. Voters approved every pro-medical-marijuana measure put before them: in Washington state, Oregon, Arizona and Alaska. In two other states and the District of Columbia, technical matters have hung up electoral victories - legal snarls voided the Colorado win; in Nevada, voters will have to pass the measure again in 2000, when the state amends its constitution. In the District of Columbia, a medical-marijuana referendum promoted by ACT UP Washington and the Marijuana Policy Project won easily but not officially. Though ballots had already been printed, right-wing Republicans in Congress inserted a nasty little rider in the omnibus budget bill, passed in October, that prohibited District of Columbia election officials from spending any funds to tally votes and report the outcome. This is possibly the first time in U.S. history that the federal government has tried to stop voters from finding out how they voted in their own election. The medical-marijuana campaign, however, paid for an election-day exit poll that showed D.C. voters overwhelmingly ratifying medical uses of marijuana by sixty-nine percent to thirty-one percent. Altogether, with California's 1996 approval, voters in seven states and D.C. have now endorsed this drug-use reform. It's like a citizens' guerrilla army marching on the nation's Capitol from the West (with one squad attacking from behind enemy lines). Bill Zimmerman, a Los Angeles political consultant who is the national head of the movement, summarizes the political meaning: "More than one-fifth of the American electorate has now voted in the majority to give patients the right to use marijuana. If the federal government doesn't respect that vote and change its attitude, we're fully prepared to go to the rest of America with this issue." Most of the people working to legalize medical marijuana are neither hippies nor radicals. In Seattle the statewide campaign was led by a young hospice physician, Rob Killian, who sees cancer and AIDS patients wasting away and suffering every day--suffering that can be alleviated by smoking a joint. "I saw I had to prescribe marijuana for my patients, and I saw that it worked," Killian says simply. "All drugs have dangerous side effects, but as physicians, we are trained to administer pharmaceuticals in a safe, appropriate manner. My patients who are suffering and dying are not criminals." During the campaign, Killian debated with local prosecutors across the state but says he felt all along that he was "really running against the federal government." Or at least against organized conservative interests, which have portrayed medical-marijuana initiatives as being gateways to overall legalization. For instance, in the run-up to the election, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's famous fried-egg commercials ("This is your brain on drugs.. . .") were broadcast frequently. The measure's leading opponent was Brad Owen, Washington's lieutenant governor, who received a $190,000 drug-awareness grant from the Office of National Drug Policy. His efforts were also aided by money from presidential hopeful Steve Forbes, which was used to broadcast anti-initiative messages on radio stations. In the end, Washington voters legalized medical applications of the long-demonized drug by a margin of fifty-nine percent to forty-one per-cent. At press time, the initiative had carried thirty of thirty-nine counties in the state. In Arizona, where the issue won more narrowly, the "medical rights for marijuana" campaign was called The People Have Spoken. Arizona Voters had already approved the proposition back in 1996, but the state legislature overruled them. This year they went back to the polls and stuffed the legislature, fifty-seven percent to forty-three percent. "The opposition used every trick in the book and they still lost," says campaign leader Sam Vagenas of Phoenix. "They used schoolchildren as props at their press conference. Their group called itself Arizonans Against Heroin. It mentioned every Schedule One controlled substance -- heroin cocaine, LSD, PCP. Can you imagine voters looking at that? Yet fifty-seven percent of them saw through it." IF THIS YEAR'S OUTCOME TURNS out to be an important turning point, one explanation may be that the 1998 referendum propositions were different. They were designed be law-enforcement friendly, and they included new regulatory rules that avoid much of the legal ambiguity and conflict that followed California's decriminalization vote in 1996. One problem with the referendum passed by California voters was that while authorizing medical use of marijuana, it included no provision for addressing the overall legal status of the drug. Thus, police arrested some patients for possession. The Feds raided marijuana clubs set up to sell the stuff. At a Washington, D.C. press conference in late 1996, heavy hitters from Bill Clinton's Cabinet threatened reprisals against doctors who prescribed cannabis to their patients. Doctors might lose their licenses, officials warned, or become ineligible to receive Medicare reimbursements for their services. "You can imagine the impact this had on California doctors," Zimmerman says. "They were being threatened with losing their livelihoods." The new measures approved in states like Washington solve many of these problems for doctors and law enforcement officers. State-issued ID cards will be required for patients entitled to use marijuana. Doctors must provide a diagnosis justifying the prescription for victims of cancer, AIDS glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. The patient then takes that to state health agency and receives credentials to purchase the drug (though this process doesn't entirely settle the question of who can legally produce or sell it). "If federal agencies try to block implementation, as they did in California, they will have to take on state agencies rather than marijuana clubs," Zimmerman explains. Dr. Ethan Nadelmann is a leading authority on banned drugs and an architect of the medical-rights campaign, largely financed by George Soros' Open Society Institute. Nadelmann -- director of the Lindesmith Center, a drug-policy institute -- expects each referendum victory to produce more new ideas and practical solutions for regulating sales and use. Each victory also puts more elected leaders on the spot. "Those politicians who thought there was no cost to indulging in drug-war demagoguery may now find themselves in an argument with their own voters," Nadelmann says. "They don't want to face up to that, but the American people will no longer be duped by such inflammatory language." BACK IN WASHINGTON, D.C., the drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, responded in muted terms to this new setback for his war. He reminded everyone that state referendums do not change the fact that marijuana possession is against federal law. Still, the statement from his Office of National Drug Policy sounded almost conciliatory: "The U.S. medical-scientific process has not closed the door on marijuana or any other substance that may offer therapeutic benefits. However, both law and common sense dictate that the process for establishing substances as medicine be thorough and science-based." McCaffrey's opposition is not impressed. They speak in two different voices," Nadelmann says. "One ridicules medical marijuana, the patients and doctors. The other approach is to say, 'Let the science prevail.' Yet any time the medical-marijuana studies come up through their system of scientific review and gain legitimacy, they are cut off by political decisions." McCaffrey's spokesman, Bob Weiner, denies this, but he then argues that if research ever establishes marijuana's medical benefits, the results might take the advocates somewhere they don't want to go. "What they don't want to hear is that smoke is not a medicine and has never been approved as a way to deliver medicine," Weiner says. A better delivery method for medical pot, he playfully suggests, might prove to be suppositories. Independent scientific studies that seem to confirm benefits or refute negative complaints have had zero impact on drug-war politics so far. That's why grass-roots activists started the campaign. They see no prospect of the Republican Congress (or the Democratic president, for that matter) allowing the Federal Drug Administration or the National Institutes of Health to do a genuine, thorough investigation of what doctors and patients already know from their own experience. "When I started in this campaign, I began to meet patients with AIDS and cancer who told me marijuana saved their lives," says Zimmerman, who with two physicians co-authored Is Marijuana the Right Medicine for You?, a book published this year. "I was skeptical at first. Then I learned that one-third of cancer and AIDS patients drop out of their chemotherapy treatment because they can't stand the side effects. They were willing to risk death instead. A lot of these people told me how marijuana would instantly stop the pain and nausea. They returned to treatment and survived." One living example is Keith Vines, an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. "He was wasting away with AIDS, started using marijuana to stimulate his appetite, gained forty pounds and then was admitted to the drug-therapy program," Zimmerman reports. "Today he's fully functioning as a prosecutor. He attributes his life to marijuana." Law-enforcement officers are correct in their suspicions, of course. The medical issue will help to soften the image of pot, which, in turn, may create a political climate for relaxing the criminal laws aimed at the drug. Many advocates think that the consumption of cannabis, regardless of the user's purpose, should be regarded in the same way as the consumption of alcohol -- dangerous only if it is abused. Not all advocates entirely agree. George Soros has donated millions to campaigns against the nation's unduly harsh drug laws and for medical use of marijuana, but he is explicitly opposed to full legalization. Californians who voted for medical marijuana in 1996 were asked in a survey whether they favored legalizing pot: Sixty-one percent were opposed. Meanwhile, despite the grass-roots counterattack, the War on Drugs rolls forward at both state and federal levels, employing prison as its mightiest weapon against drug abuse. From 1991 to 1995, Nadelmann points out, the number of marijuana arrests doubled, more than half of them for possession alone. In 1996, 642,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses. This larger battlefield is much more formidable, but citizen guerrillas are also winning some victories here. In Oregon, for instance, the state effectively decriminalized pot in the early 1970s -- minor offenses were treated more or less like traffic tickets. Last year, however, the state legislature re-criminalized marijuana by a two-thirds majority. In the October elections, Oregon voters reversed the legislature's action -- approving a referendum that repealed the re-criminalization law. The vote was sixty-six percent to thirty-three percent. "What this says to me," Nadelmann reflects, "is that people feel we have over-criminalized marijuana. We're supposed to spend millions of dollars to go after small amounts of marijuana. The people in Oregon said, `No, we don't want that.' " THE REPUBLICAN FLAME-throwers in Congress, led by the lately departed Newt Gingrich, have always blamed the Sixties for whatever ails the republic -- the moral decay launched by drugs, sex and rock & roll. Wouldn't it be a hoot if the Sixties wins the pot debate just as Newt gets pushed offstage by his own conservative colleagues? Alas, the political struggle to establish rational laws on drugs and drug abuse is a long way from resolution. While state voters were introducing a touch of reason to the debate, the federal government was ginning up for another expensive attempt at drug interdiction. The new budget provides at least $690 million more for quasi-military efforts to block cocaine from entering the country through Latin American. That buys lots of high-tech hardware to police our vast borders -- surveillance planes, ships and helicopters -- but drug importers have always found a way around them. That money might have opened a lot of new treatment centers instead - a less sexy solution to drug abuse but one that demonstratably works. The government is not yet ready to declare such an armistice, but sane voices from popular campaigns -- and especially their score card of victories -- make it harder and harder for politicians to blink away the contradictions and injustices of the drug war. If the federal government does not rethink its hard-line policy against medical marijuana, then the campaign will move on to more states and collect more victories. Zimmerman says that Maine citizens are expected to vote on the issue in 1999. In 2000, Colorado and Nevada must vote again to complete adoption. The groundwork is being laid to put medical marijuana on the ballot in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Florida will be tough. In national polling on the subject, medical marijuana draws majority support in every region except one - the South. If it can win in Florida, the matter will be virtually decided. The issue, in other words, raises the same question that both parties are now pondering about national politics: Has the Republican "Southern strategy" finally run out of steam? Targeting Southern voters and states has proved a great success for the GOP, the key to its congressional majority. But it also has tripped the party into dominance by hard-right attitudes that moderate voters are now rejecting. Does it make sense to allow the nation's most conservative politicians to dictate their reactionary social values and public policy to the rest of us? Republicans will have to answer that question for themselves, but so will two other successful Southern politicians: Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Charles: Why Don't You Try Cannabis? (The Sun, in Britain, says Prince Charles put further pressure on the Government to legalise marijuana for medical use when he asked a multiple sclerosis patient, "Have you tried taking cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing for it." The patient said later, "He is a lovely man. He is really caring." Last night charity chiefs and medics backed the Prince. Rosemary Leonard, the Sun's doctor said: "This shows how well-informed he is." But Charles is not the first Royal to back the use of cannabis for pain relief. Queen Victoria used it to ease period pains.) Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 19:01:47 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Charles: Why Don't You Try Cannabis? Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: CLCIA http://www.foobar.co.uk/users/ukcia/groups/clcia.html Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 Source: The Sun (UK) Author: Charles Rae, Royal Reporter Contact: email@example.com Note: Our newshawk writes: Keep your letters short CHARLES: WHY DON'T YOU TRY CANNABIS? His Shock Advice To MS Girl At Care Home Prince Charles caused amazement yesterday by telling a multiple sclerosis sufferer she should try smoking cannabis. The Prince stunned wheelchair-bound Karen Drake when he asked if she had used the illegal drug. He said: "Have you tried taking cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing for it." Shocked Karen said later: "I was surprised, but I think I would like to at least try it." Charles made the controversial remark on a visit to a day centre for victims in Cheltenham, Gloucs. His backing for the drug puts further pressure on the Government to legalise it for medical use. Many MS victims take cannabis because they find normal remedies do not work. But they face prosecution if they are caught. Sufferers received new hope recently when a House of Lords committee called for trials into the medical merits of the drug. Many experts would like to see it prescribed by hospitals on a named-patient basis. Last night charity chiefs and medics backed the Prince. Rosemary Leonard, The Sun's doctor said: "This shows how well-informed he is." Spasms "MS sufferers have found cannabis helpful in relieving symptoms like incontinence and spasms, which can be painful. "It is being used by a significant number of MS sufferers. But there are concerns about the quality of cannabis some people are using. "What is desperately needed on this is proper clinical trials." A spokesman for the prince said: "He is aware of the issue of the use of cannabis for MS sufferers. He is very interested in health. It is one of his major portfolios." Karen, a divorced mum from Cheltenham, developed MS ten years ago. She got Charles to sign one of her paintings as they chatted at a Sue Ryder home on Sunday. Karen added: "He is a lovely man. He is really caring." Day centre leader Pam Neilens added: "The Prince makes everyone laugh and he makes all the patients happy." Charles is not the first Royal to back the use of cannabis for pain relief. Queen Victoria used it to ease period pains.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Ever Tried Cannabis? Prince Asks MS Sufferer (The version in Britain's Guardian) Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 05:31:53 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: Ever Tried Cannabis? Prince Asks MS Sufferer Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Source: The Guardian (UK) Copyright: Guardian Media Group plc.1998 Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org FAX: 0171 713 4250 Mail: 119 Farringdon Road London EC1 3ER Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ Author: Amelia Gentleman Related: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n1190.a08.html EVER TRIED CANNABIS? PRINCE ASKS MS SUFFERER Anti-establishment forces campaigning to legalise cannabis could be joined by an altogether more orthodox figure - the Prince of Wales has hinted that he approves of its use as an alternative method of pain relief. During a visit to a day care centre this week he suggested to a multiple sclerosis sufferer that cannabis might ease her crippling pain. Karen Drake, confined to a wheelchair by her illness, met Prince Charles at the Sue Ryder Home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, when he made the informal visit on Sunday. After asking after her health, the prince inquired whether she had experimented with alternative remedies. "He asked me if I had tried taking cannabis, saying he understood that, under strict medical supervision, it was one of the best things for it," she said yesterday. Ms Drake, aged 36, admitted she was was somewhat taken aback; she told him she had never tried the drug and pointed out that it was illegal. But she had felt touched by his concern. "I was surprised that he asked me, but it was nice of him to be so considerate. It showed that he had thought about the condition, and knew what was helpful. "I've never tried it in the past because it is not legal. But I'd give anything a chance if it worked." Yesterday a spokeswoman for Prince Charles declined to comment on remarks which she said had been made during a private visit. But she said: "Prince Charles is aware of the issue of the use of cannabis for MS sufferers. Health is one of his major portfolios, and I think people would be surprised if he wasn't aware of the debate on the treatment of MS sufferers." Prince Charles, who as an adolescent experimented with nothing stronger than cherry brandy, did not suggest the drug be decriminalised. Nevertheless, campaigners for legalisation seized on his comments. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, said: "It is splendid advice from a most unexpected source. "The Government is in a tiny minority on this issue, but I am encouraged to learn that the high level of popular support for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has reached Buckingham Palace." Rob Christopher, founder of the Free Medical Marijuana Foundation, which supplies free cannabis by post to MS sufferers, added: "Cannabis is a very effective way of controlling muscle spasms, improving bladder control, and as a relief from the pain - which can be crippling for MS sufferers. It is excellent to hear that someone in such a high position in society is thinking about its advantages and is willing to speak openly about it." The Multiple Sclerosis Society reacted more cautiously. Peter Cardy, the charity's chief executive, said: "The prince is right to say some sufferers who take cannabis find relief from the unpleasant symptoms. I would be inclined to think it a doctor's place, as opposed to that of Prince Charles, to make recommendations about trying cannabis." The society is not opposed in principle to cannabis, but recommends it should be subjected to thorough clinical trials like any other drug before becoming freely available to sufferers. Prince Charles is not the first member of the royal family to support use of cannabis as medicine. Queen Victoria is said to have used it to ease period pains.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prince Ponders Medicinal Value Of Cannabis (The version in The Times) Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 04:53:01 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Prince Ponders Medicinal Value Of Cannabis Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Paul Canning Source: The Times (UK) Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 Copyright: 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd Contact: email@example.com Mail: The Times, PO Box 496, London E1 9XN United Kingdom Fax: +44-(0)171-782 5988 Website: http://www.the-times.co.uk/ Author: Ian Murray, Medical Correspondent PRINCE PONDERS MEDICINAL VALUE OF CANNABIS THE Prince of Wales has expressed an interest in the effectiveness of cannabis in relieving the pain of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. During his annual visit to the Sue Ryder Home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, he asked Karen Drake, who has MS: "Have you tried taking cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing for it." Mrs Drake, 36, said afterwards: "I was surprised but I think I would like at least to try it. Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for the good." The Prince raised the subject after she gave him a copy she had made of a Monet painting. A spokesman for the Prince said that the conversation had been private. "If the Prince does have a view on this matter, he is not making it known," he said. Gillian Rose, the home's appeals co-ordinator, said: "I only presume he mentioned it because it is a talking point for MS sufferers." In November the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology recommended that doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis to some of the 85,000 MS sufferers in Britain. The Government said that it would not consider doing so until there had been extensive clinical trials. Next month the Multiple Sclerosis Society will publish a protocol worked out with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on how clinical trials on cannabis and its derivatives should be conducted. The society believes that trials are essential to find out whether cannabis has dangerous long-term effects and believes that only neurologists should be allowed to prescribe the drug. "We recognise that some people who use cannabis to relieve symptoms find themselves on the wrong side of the law but we do not feel they should be treated as criminals," a spokesman said. "There is anecdotal evidence that smoking cannabis can help in some cases but not in all. We wouldn't recommend that anyone breaks the law."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Charles: Ever Tried Smoking Cannabis? (The version in The Mirror) Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 18:15:24 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: Charles: Ever Tried Smoking Cannabis? Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Source: The Mirror (UK) Copyright: 1998 MGN, Ltd Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998 Contact: Mail: One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AP Website: http://www.mirror.co.uk/ Forum: http://www.mirror.co.uk:80/forum/index.htm CHARLES: EVER TRIED SMOKING CANNABIS? PRINCE Charles asked a multiple sclerosis sufferer if she had ever used cannabis to ease the pain of her illness. The prince fuelled the debate over the medical benefits of the drug when he met wheelchair-bound Karen Drake, 36, at a centre for victims of MS, cancer and motor neurone disease. He asked her: "Have you tried taking cannabis? I've heard it's the best thing for it." Karen admitted yesterday: "I was surprised but I think I would like to at least try it. Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for the good." Charles, whose interest in organic foods and holistic medicine is well known, made the comment during his annual visit as patron of the Sue Ryder Home charity. He spent two hours chatting with patients. Divorcee Karen, who first met the prince at the home last year, gave him a copy of a Monet painting which took her three months to complete. They talked about their shared love of painting and Charles signed one of Karen's works. She said: "He's really caring and has got time for everyone." The ex-sales assistant, who has a 17-year-old daughter, developed MS 10 years ago. Gillian Rose, appeals co-ordinator at the home in Cheltenham, Gloucs, said: "I presume he mentioned it because it's a talking point for MS sufferers. He is such a nice chap and everyone said it was just like having a friend drop in." Last month, a House of Lords committee recommended a quick change of law to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to some patients. They also called for more research. The Multiple Sclerosis Society backed the move, but the Government rejected it, insisting on longer clinical trials. Society chief Peter Cardy said: "The prince is right to say some sufferers who take cannabis find relief from unpleasant symptoms. I'd be inclined to think it a doctor's place to make recommendations about trying cannabis as opposed to Prince Charles. "But I don't think the prince is setting himself up as a doctor. For him to be concerned is great. People with MS don't choose to become criminals. It's regrettable that when they find something that works for them they have to deal in the criminal world." A spokeswoman for Charles said: "The prince is aware of the issue of the use of cannabis for MS sufferers."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Charles Joins Cannabis Debate (The Scotsman version) Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 18:31:25 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: Charles Joins Cannabis Debate Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Source: The Scotsman (UK) Copyright: 1998 The Scotsman Publications Ltd Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998 Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com FAX: (+44) 0131 226 7420 Mail: 20 North Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1YT Scotland Website: http://www.scotsman.com/ Forum: http://www.scotsman.com/ Author: Tom Little CHARLES JOINS CANNABIS DEBATE Prince Tells A Multiple Sclerosis Sufferer He Has Heard It Was The 'Best Thing' THE debate on the legalisation of cannabis was reignited yesterday when it was claimed that the Prince of Wales had told a multiple sclerosis sufferer he had heard it was the "best thing" for the disease. The prince's surprising intervention was welcomed by campaigners who have called for the drug to be made available on the National Health Service for the treatment of various medical conditions. However, the prince was accused of meddling by critics who advocate a "zero tolerance" approach to drugs. The row erupted after Prince Charles made an annual visit to a day care centre where he met Karen Drake, 36, who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for ten years. Details of the conversation between the two emerged yesterday when Ms Drake said she was astonished when the prince brought up the illegal use of cannabis as a form of pain relief by many sufferers. Ms Drake, a wheelchair-bound divorcee from Cheltenham, said his comments came out of the blue after they had discussed a mutual interest in painting. She said: "He asked me about MS and how long I had had it. He asked if I had taken cannabis. He said he had heard it was the best thing for it. I was surprised that he asked me about it, but he is a lovely man, he is really caring." She added: "I was surprised, but I think I would like to at least try it. Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for the good." Ms Drake spends several hours a week at the Sue Ryder Home, in Cheltenham, of which Prince Charles is patron. The centre caters for sufferers of cancer and motor neurone disease as well as multiple sclerosis. Gillian Rose, the home's appeals co-ordinator, said the prince's visits were usually informal. She added: "He was talking with one of the ladies in the day care centre who sufferers from MS. I only presume he mentioned it because it is a talking point for MS sufferers." Prince Charles was accompanied on his visit on Tuesday by Lady Ryder, who set up the Sue Ryder Foundation in 1952. She said she did not overhear the conversation. A spokeswoman for the prince later stressed he had not taken a stance on the medical use of cannabis. The spokeswoman added: "We are not going to deny that a conversation of this nature took place but the point is that we was not advocating one way or the other. He merely asked a question relating to the matter. "He is not entering the debate but is aware that there is one. Indeed it would be surprising if someone with the prince's interest in health was not aware of such a debate." Cannabis has been used as a painkiller for at least 5,000 years and recent research, including ground-breaking work by Dr Roger Pertwee of Aberdeen University, has been used by those who claim it should be available on prescription. The House of Lords science and technology committee this year recommended further research, and last month George Howarth, the Home Office minister indicated the Government was prepared to license clinical trials. The Multiple Sclerosis Society has advocated such research and Peter Cardy, the charity's chief executive, welcomed Prince Charles's intervention. He said: "The prince is right to say some sufferers who take cannabis find relief from the unpleasant symptoms. I think the prince's concern just shows how important it is that this issue gets addressed instead of being swept under the carpet. "It is good to have his recognition of not only the disease but how nasty the effects can be. "Quite a lot of people with MS do use cannabis because they find conventional remedies don't work or are not prescribed for some of the nasty symptoms like spasm and pain. "People with MS don't choose to become criminals and we think it is sad and regrettable that when they find something that works for them they have to deal in the criminal world." However, Jan Betts, 49, whose daughter Leah died after taking an ecstasy tablet on her 18th birthday, said: "Prince Charles doesn't know what he's talking about. How does he know cannabis is the best thing for MS? " Linda Hendry, the Scottish spokeswoman of the Legalise Cannabis Campaign, said: "Anything which raises awareness of the issue is welcome. Prince Charles is a compassionate person."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prince Charles drawn into medicinal marijuana debate (The Associated Press version) Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 23:37:07 -0500 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: email@example.com (Lee T. Neidow) Subject: Royal med mj perspective Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com Prince Charles drawn into medicinal marijuana debate LONDON (AP) - Prince Charles was drawn into the debate on the medicinal properties of marijuana after asking a multiple sclerosis sufferer if she had ever tried it, newspapers reported Thursday. The Guardian newspaper quoted 36-year-old Karen Drake, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, as saying that the prince had heard marijuana was good for easing the pain of the disease. ``He (the prince) asked me if I have tried taking cannabis, saying that he understood that, under strict medical supervision, it was one of the best things for it,'' Drake was quoted as saying. The Sun tabloid, Britain's largest-selling newspaper, reported the conversation as ``advice.'' But a spokeswoman for the heir to the throne said the prince was speaking during a private, informal visit on Tuesday to a west England charity home, and that the conversation was private. ``The Prince of Wales is aware of the current debate on the issue as to whether cannabis should be available to people suffering from severe pain brought on by MS,'' the spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity. ``But he has never spoken publicly on the issue and his is a private view.'' The Multiple Sclerosis Society has called for clinical trials to investigate claims that the drug can relieve symptoms.
------------------------------------------------------------------- China's Shenzhen Executes 11 For Drug Trafficking (Reuters says China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen executed 11 drug dealers, including a teenaged girl, in the city's second major legally sanctioned bloodbath this year.) Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Thur, 24 Dec 1998 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1998 Reuters Limited. CHINA'S SHENZHEN EXECUTES 11 FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING SHENZHEN, China, Dec 24 (Reuters) - China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen executed 11 drug dealers, including a teenaged girl, in the city's second major judicial killing this year, the Special Zone Daily said on Thursday. The Shenzhen intermediate people's court sentenced 17 people for drug- related crimes on Wednesday, and 11 were handed the death penalty then immediately taken away to be shot, it said. In the city's largest-ever mass execution, 30 people were killed by a firing squad in August for crimes ranging from murder and robbery to dealing in guns and bullets, local media have said. Chinese courts hand out capital punishment for a wide variety of offences, including economic crimes and trafficking in cultural relics. The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in a report last year that China executed more people in the 1990s than the rest of the world put together. Executions in China are generally carried out by a single bullet to the base of the skull, although some cities are experimenting with lethal injection. The newspaper gave details on only four of those killed, including 20-year old Zhuang Jianxiong, who was found with 390 grams (13.65 ounces) of heroin, the newspaper said. He was apprehended as he tried to sell the drugs at a travel agency in Shenzhen's suburban Longang district with 18-year-old accomplice Tang Linjiao. She was also executed, it said. Police caught Lin Zhuoshan and Lin Hailong in a hotel with 300 grams (10.5 ounces) of heroin hidden in a bag of lychee fruit, and 920 grams (2.02 pounds) were later uncovered in Lin Hailong's home, it said. Although drug abuse had been all but wiped out in China during the early year of Communist rule, use of illegal narcotics has risen since the late 1980s, as economic reforms have boosted personal incomes and loosened social mores. Shenzhen, a freewheeling special economic zone which borders Hong Kong, acts as a conduit for heroin factories in the southwestern province of Yunnan. Courts are particularly hard on heroin traffickers, as the poppy- derived drug evokes memories of widespread opium addiction in pre-Communist years, after China was defeated by Britain in the 19th-century Opium Wars.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue No. 72 (The Drug Reform Coordination Network's original compilation of news and calls to action regarding drug policy, including - A message to our readers; Livingston out as speaker, drug warrior Hastert set to take gavel; Court hears case to decide fate of D.C. medical marijuana initiative; Monitoring The Future survey released; Appalachia: under the gun; and an editorial, Impeach This, by Adam J. Smith.) Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 12:28:58 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: DRCNet (email@example.com) Subject: The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #72 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #72 -- December 24, 1998 A Publication of the Drug Reform Coordination Network -------- PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE -------- (To sign off this list, mailto:email@example.com with the line "signoff drc-natl" in the body of the message, or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. To subscribe to this list, visit http://www.drcnet.org/signup.html.) (This issue can be also be read on our web site at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html. Check out the DRCNN weekly radio segment at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/.) PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of The Week Online is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: Drug Reform Coordination Network, 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail email@example.com. Thank you. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. A Message to our Readers http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html#message 2. Livingston Out as Speaker, Drug Warrior Hastert Set to Take Gavel http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html#hastert 3. Court Hears Case to Decide Fate of D.C. Medical Marijuana Initiative http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html#I-59 4. Monitoring The Future Survey Released http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html#mtf 5. Appalachia: Under the Gun http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html#appalachia 6. EDITORIAL: Impeach This http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html#editorial *** 1. A Message to our Readers HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO OUR READERS! Dave, Adam, Karynn and Kris would like to wish all of our subscribers a happy and healthy holiday season. A special thanks to all of you who have supported our work this year, during what has been a very promising time for the reform movement. Your help makes our work possible, and in 1999, that work will be more effective and higher-profile than ever. For those who have not gotten around to sending a check, or who are considering sending an additional contribution before the year ends, please note that DRCNet will send a free copy of Shattered Lives to persons who donate $35 or more, or a copy of the video, Sex, Drugs and Democracy to persons donating $75 or more. And while we won't be able to get them to you until after New Year's, we will send them to anyone on your list who could use a little education on the destructiveness of the Drug War (Shattered Lives) or on the benefits of a freer society (Sex, Drugs and Democracy). In any case, in this time of giving and renewal, please consider sending what you can to support DRCNet, and by so doing, promote the cause of a Drug War Free millennium! To donate, please visit our web form at https://www.drcnet.org/cgi-shl/drcreg.cgi and wire in your credit card donation on our secure form or print out a copy to mail in with your check or money order -- or just send them to DRCNet, 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible, and are the primary source of support for our legislative programs. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, please make your check payable to the DRCNet Foundation. (If the URL above doesn't work, try http://www.drcnet.org/cgi-shl/drcreg.cgi instead -- in this case we recommend sending your check or credit card donation in by mail rather than online, as the transmission will not be encrypted.) Thanks again, and Happy Holidays! *** 2. Livingston Out as Speaker, Drug Warrior Hastert Set to Take Gavel In the wake of last week's resignation of House Speaker- elect Bob Livingston, the latest casualty of the circus maximus that has become our national political scene, J. Dennis Hastert of the 14th District of Illinois looks to have the speakership sewn up. Hastert has been portrayed in the media this week as a "conciliator and a technocrat" (New York Times editorial, 12/22/98), but a closer look, especially in the context of drug policy reform, reveals Hastert to be more of an ideologue. Hastert was reelected to a sixth term in 1998, receiving 64% of the vote in the suburban/rural 14th district. Prior to his apparent ascension to the speaker's chair, he was Deputy Majority Whip under Tom DeLay. More relevant to drug reformers is Hastert's co-chairmanship of outgoing speaker Newt Gingrich's "Speaker's Task Force for a Drug Free America" (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/040.html#battle). Hastert was also a co-sponsor, with Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, of language in the 1999 District of Columbia Appropriations Bill forbidding the district from spending money to count or certify the results of this fall's medical marijuana initiative, I-59 (see below). Hastert, who was recently given a 100% favorable rating by the Christian Coalition, was also one of the architects of "super-ban" legislation which would have prevented federal anti-AIDS monies from being distributed by states and localities to any entity that practices syringe exchange, whether or not the federal monies would go directly to such programs. This bill (S. 1959) would have permanently barred the Department of Health and Human Services from lifting the funding ban. Not surprisingly then, Hastert has indicated that he stands in favor of spending more federal dollars on prison construction, increasing penalties for drug offenses, mandatory minimum sentences, and the death penalty for those convicted of drug smuggling. Hastert has also served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice. It was Hastert's subcommittee that sponsored, in September of 1997, hearings titled "Needle Exchange, Legalization, and the failure of the Swiss Heroin Experiments." The hearing, curiously titled, as it was held days before the results of the successful Swiss heroin maintenance trial were released, featured testimony from opponents of syringe exchange, included testimony from the sponsors of Switzerland's "Youth Against Drugs" initiative. That initiative would have outlawed syringe exchange and opiate maintenance in Switzerland, and would have sent that country back down the road of punitive prohibition. The initiative lost 71% to 29% (see http://www.drcnet.org/wol/013.html). In a press release after the hearings, and just weeks before the referendum would be voted upon, Hastert badly underestimated the level of Swiss support for reform when he said of the opiate maintenance trials, "this is a national security issue, and I can only say that we applaud the Swiss people for understanding the nature of the threat and organizing to oppose the immoral act of giving away heroin and expanding the risk of even higher youth drug use. The Swiss have long resisted forces such as Germany in World War II and Cold War Communism, and they are again resisting a threat to both our cultures when they stand up to this insidious, international effort to legalize these poisons." Hastert's strong ideological opposition to public health measures such as the availability of sterile syringes and legal access to marijuana for medicinal purposes stands in philosophical contrast to his long-time support for "patients' rights." In 1995, Hastert was the co-author of the Food and Dietary Supplement Act of 1995 (H.R.1951), an FDA reform measure allowing for the communication of "truthful, non-misleading" health information regarding natural supplements to consumers via packaging and advertising, and forbidding the FDA from classifying foods and dietary supplements as "drugs." Such efforts seek to open doors for citizens to become informed about and incorporate natural substances into their health care regimen. J. Dennis Hastert, a relative unknown on the national political scene, thus steps into the void created first by the resignation of Newt Gingrich and then by the resignation of Bob Livingston. Hastert's other interests appear to include making the Internet "safe for children," as evidenced by his support of both the Communications Decency Act of 1995 (struck down as unconstitutional) and of a similar bill in 1997. In short, Hastert has shown that while he might not share the high profile of some of his better known "social conservatives," he is certainly no stranger to intruding, from his federal perch, into the private lives of citizens, both here and abroad, in an effort to make them conform to his own ideas of morality. (To learn more about J. Dennis Hastert, including the identities of his major contributors, go to the web site of the Center for Responsive Politics at http://www.crp.org.) *** 3. Court Hears Case to Decide Fate of D.C. Medical Marijuana Initiative Scott Ehlers, Drug Policy Foundation, http://www.dpf.org When District of Columbia voters went to the polls on November 3 to vote on Initiative 59, the D.C. medical marijuana initiative, most of them assumed that their vote would be counted and the results of the election certified. Unfortunately for District residents, Congress outlawed the expenditure of funds on the vote, thanks to the efforts of Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the author of the anti-democratic amendment. Now the federal government has to expend more tax dollars in an attempt to defend its actions in federal court. On December 18, the ACLU (representing Wayne Turner, the sponsor of Initiative 59) and the D.C. Board of Elections argued that the Barr Amendment violated the First Amendment and amounted to viewpoint discrimination by the federal government. According to Graham Boyd, the ACLU lawyer trying the case, the Supreme Court has established that such discrimination is "per se unconstitutional" and therefore the election results must be certified. The Clinton Justice Department defended the Barr Amendment, arguing that "Congress can legislate on anything in regard to the District." Government lawyers also argued that the initiative process was a power delegated to the District by Congress, and "what Congress gives, it can take away." The Barr Amendment prohibits federal funds from being "used to conduct any ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative." In the August 6 debate to support the amendment, Barr argued that the amendment was necessary because "history dictates to us that these drug legalization people do not give up... All this amendment does is it prevents funds, appropriated funds, from being used in any way to fund a ballot initiative. It strikes not only at the ballot itself, but at using any funds for the development of that ballot, for publicity surrounding that ballot, the whole range of things that these drug legalization people do, over and over and over again." Barr's stated intention of trying to prohibit the views of "these drug legalization people" became an issue at least twice during the trial. The plaintiffs used the statement as proof that the purpose of the amendment was to discriminate against certain views, and U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts referred to the statement in his cross- examination of the Justice Department. The government eventually admitted that the Barr Amendment did contain a particular viewpoint, but it was constitutional because Congress was simply doing its job of adopting public policy. Also supporting the amendment was Rep. Dennis Hastert (R- IL), a frontrunner in the battle for Speaker of the House. Described in the press as a "moderate" and by Barr as "a leader in the war against mind-altering drug usage," Hastert said the amendment was necessary to insure the safety of the millions of constituents who visit the nation's capitol. On the House floor he said: "If we want a drug-free America, if we want a drug-free workplace, if we want drug-free prisons and drug-free schools and drug-free highways, we probably ought to have a drug-free capital, to say to prohibit the legalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia, where millions of our constituents come, year in and year out, day in and day out, week in and week out. They ought to be safe." Surprisingly, the federal government defense lawyers argued that the Barr Amendment did not prohibit the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics from releasing the results of the initiative vote, and that the vote tally should be made public. They also argued, however, that the amendment did prohibit the certification of the election. Wayne Turner of ACTUP-DC (http://www.actupdc.org) told the Associated Press that the federal government's reasoning is "basically turning an election into a public opinion poll. This is about the right of the people of the District of Columbia to have their votes counted and to have them count." No date has been set for Judge Roberts' decision, but lawyers are hoping for a ruling within the next two weeks, according to the Washington Post. Stay posted to the Week Online for news on the ruling. *** 4. Monitoring The Future Survey Released War against Iraq and impeachment proceedings against President Clinton meant that the latest teen drug use statistics released last week fell beneath the national radar screen. But U.S. Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala were on hand December 18 to announce the results from this year's Monitoring the Future Survey, which tabulates the answers from a cross section of 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders each spring in an effort to determine trends in adolescent drug use. The 1998 study from the University of Michigan shows that use of some drugs, including marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines, and inhalants, has fallen slightly for the second year in a row. The most significant decline was seen with lifetime marijuana use by 10th graders, which fell 2.7 percent to 39.6 percent in 1997. Lifetime marijuana use by high school seniors fell only 0.5 percent to 49.1 percent. The use of some other drugs such as cocaine and heroin has leveled off. Shalala, McCaffrey, and the study's director, Lloyd Johnston, agreed that the improvements were a modest but hopeful sign that teen drug use, which had increased slowly but steadily in the early 90's, was beginning a general downward trend. All three say the decline in drug use is linked to an increase in the perceived harmfulness of drugs by teens, for which they credit increased efforts by the government to, in the words of Secretary Shalala, "convince our young people that drug use is illegal, dangerous and wrong." General McCaffrey agreed, saying the current drug war strategy of prevention, treatment, and enforcement is working. Currently, about two thirds of the 17 billion dollar Federal drug war budget is spent on enforcement. But other experts say long-term trends in drug use tell a different story. Lynn Zimmer, Professor of Sociology at Queens College and co-author of the book "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence," told the Week Online, "If we look at the results from this study since it began in 1975, we see a general pattern of rising and falling rates of the use of different drugs over time. It's not clear that anti-drug campaigns have any direct effect on these patterns; in fact, it's obvious that teen drug use trends rise and fall independently of the government and the media." Sandee Burbank, director of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (MAMA), agrees. "Anybody who has been watching these trends knows that drug use comes and goes naturally according to the popularity of a given drug among a given age group," she said. Burbank was critical of the "just say no" approach to drug education favored by the government, because it doesn't give teens the information they need to stay safe if they, or their friends, do experiment with drugs. "What we have to focus more on is getting good educational materials out there to help people make informed decisions about all drugs, legal, illegal, and over the counter. And we have to teach people about the extremely punitive laws that target young people, laws that would take their drivers licenses away if they're caught with any amount of illegal drugs, laws that would deny them scholastic advantages or student loans if they have been caught with an illegal substance." One of the most consistent figures in the Monitoring the Future Survey has been the perceived availability of drugs by high school seniors. Since 1975, from 80 to 90 percent of 12th graders have ranked marijuana as "easy to get" or "very easy to get." Burbank says these numbers show that years of increased budgets for enforcement, which resulted in more than 640,000 arrests on marijuana-related charges alone in 1997, have failed to keep drugs away from schools and kids. She said, "Putting parents in jail, and all the other draconian methods in place, do not seem to have reduced the availability of these drugs." Figures from the 1998 Monitoring the Future Survey are available on the web at http://www.isr.umich.edu/src/mtf/. Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse is on the web at http://www.mamas.org. For information on ordering Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts, visit http://www.marijuanafacts.org. Read Adam J. Smith's editorial, "Spin, You Win," on the subject of drug use statistics, from the August 1998 Week Online at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/056.html#editorial. *** 5. Appalachia: Under the Gun Paul Lewin, Common Sense For Drug Policy, http://www.csdp.org In May of this year, the Federal Government designated 65 counties of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountain Range, a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This means that the DEA, ATF, FBI, IRS, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office will coordinate with each other, and the local sheriffs, police departments, and DAs to stomp out all forms of drug production, trafficking and use. The designation also comes with a $6 million federal grant as "seed money" to set up the new agency with staff, computer equipment, offices and the typical array of vehicles. If past experiences are any guide to what the residents of Appalachia can expect, the alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies will set up road blocks on rural roads to perform search and seizure sweeps, armed men in camouflage with automatic weapons will patrol by helicopter, and a small army of undercover narcotics agents will set up local men and women for arrest. * Poverty and Little Economic Opportunity Cited As Justification The federal government's labeling of 65 counties in 3 states as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area would seem to imply that violent gangs and Colombian drug cartels were terrorizing millions of residents of Appalachia, necessitating a massive federal response. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. In the official 'Appalachia HIDTA FY 98 - Threat Abstract,' the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) states that Appalachia warrants a federal crackdown because "in this tri-state area financial development is limited, poverty is rampant, and jobs are few. Marijuana has become a substantial component of the local economy, surpassing even tobacco as the largest cash crop. This has contributed to a high level of community acceptance of marijuana production, distribution, and consumption. Many honest local merchants do not recognize signs of illegal drug enterprises and in effect help launder drug proceeds. In such an environment eradication and interdiction efforts are difficult, as is obtaining intelligence, indictments, or an unbiased jury." In other words, people are poor, locals aren't that concerned about residents who are doing this, and people aren't informing on their friends and neighbors to the extent that the government desires. The economic stress felt by the residents of Appalachia is not adequately described in the ONDCP's "Threat Assessment." In reviewing the latest census data, one quickly notices that these folks aren't just poor, this is one of the most economically deprived regions of America. West Virginia ranks dead-last (50th) for median household income and unemployment (48.6% of the civilian population was unemployed in 1996 - of course, prisoners aren't counted). Kentucky and Tennessee are also in the bottom 10% of the nation for median household income, and they rank 8th and 11th, respectively, in the nation for the highest number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births. In fact the only categories where these three states lead the nation is in their percentage of public aid recipients, their percentage of population living below the poverty line, and in teen pregnancy. Of course, the 65 counties designated as HIDTA, have fared even worse. The New War on the Poor In the 1960s, federal officials toured Appalachia and witnessed its tragic poverty. The attention brought to it shocked America, which overall was enjoying an era of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity. Together, the federal government and the people of America vowed to fight a War on Poverty so that all Americans would have an equal opportunity in life. In that era, roads were built, schools provided, and utilities like clean water and electricity reached deep into Appalachia to bring relief. In the 1990s, we live in another era of unprecedented economic prosperity, yet this new War on Poverty has taken an ominous turn, courtesy of the War on Drugs. Rather than respond to the economic disparity which still plagues most of the region with investment and development, the federal government intends to respond by arresting fathers and mothers (creating a generation of Drug War orphans), seizing family homes, cars and businesses. Rather than small business loans or investment in infrastructure, federal dollars will be spent on guns, prisons and payoffs to informants. * Citizen Observation Groups Can Work Forewarned is forearmed, or so the saying goes. Gathering together the forces of the U.S. Government to pounce on Appalachia will take time -- perhaps up to an entire year. A lot can happen in one year, and if the citizens of the HIDTA counties exercise their civil right to influence their local government, the states involved can reject federal plans. In Northern California, residents have turned out to oppose aggressive marijuana eradication, because of the negative community impact it has. Forming "Citizen's Observation Groups," locals have documented government helicopters violating federal laws on flying altitude, environmental regulations, and endangered species protection, plus they have kept track of illegal search and seizure operations, and how many children have been terrified by the men with face paint and automatic guns. More importantly, by documenting what the government was doing, they have been able to raise awareness within their own communities and present a united front to their local government, which eventually led to some county supervisors voting to reject funding for the program. (For more information on citizens' efforts to halt federal eradication programs in Northern California, go to http://www.civilliberties.org.) You can contact Paul Lewin via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. *** 6. EDITORIAL: Impeach This Adam J. Smith, DRCNet Associate Director As the nation holds it collective breath in anticipation of the next wave of absurdity from Washington, the questions are being asked, over and over again, by pundits, reporters and anyone else with an interest in sex, er, politics: "what does all of this mean for the future of our country? To the office of the Presidency? To our system of government?" As we commoners sit, aghast, and watch the tawdry and partisan proceedings, knowing full well that there is more to come, these have become serious and highly relevant queries. Here we have an institution, the American Presidency, which represents the pinnacle of power in the known universe, disgraced first by the President himself, and now being dragged through the muck by the corrupt denizens of the second most powerful institution in the world, the United States Congress. Our elected representatives to that body could not, of course, take the President to task for his most destructive acts: the auctioning off of the power of the United States Government to the highest bidder in the campaign fundraising game, as on that count they are as guilty as he. And so we are down to sex, and lying about sex, which, it is becoming apparent, many of our legislators do as well. Though not under oath, save perhaps to their spouses. But when we consider the taxpayer-financed spectacle that these power-hungry cretins are making of our nation, we must be careful to remember that the future of the country is a wholly different matter than the future of either the Democratic or the Republican party. Look carefully, if you will, at our Constitution. Nowhere, you will note, does that proud document specify anything about a two-party monopoly on power. And although both parties have done their best to institutionalize the status quo through difficult ballot-access requirements and acts of political perversion performed on large corporate donors, there is nothing in either our laws or our traditions that assures the existence or either party. If anything, we are all watching the best argument against it. And the parties, in addition to providing ample rationale for their demise, are also unwittingly providing the means. One by one over the past year, in an effort to make their constituencies more relevant in the choosing of a standard- bearer, the majority of states have opted to move their primaries to dates earlier on the political calendar. Now, with all of the fighting to the front of the line accomplished, both parties will have chosen their next presidential candidate in March of 2000, almost eight full months before the actual election. This stroke of genius will have two significant ramifications. First, and most obviously, by shortening the primary season, the parties have made it nearly impossible for any but the most well-financed front-runner to win the nomination. That insures that the candidates will be insiders in the extreme, people with well-oiled connections, party support, and established political organizations behind them. Which leads us to the second point: in a political cycle wherein both the donkeys and the elephants have made asses of themselves, how excited, exactly, will the American people be about the prospect of a choice between two men (yes, they will be men... this is still Washington, D.C.) who personify the sordid mess that appears before us now on C-Span and the evening news? Given this, and an interminable eight month campaign, couldn't we assume that Americans, including those who are stuck covering the campaign in the media, will have both the time and the inclination to look for an interesting alternative? And isn't it conceivable that the right individual could come to the fore (General Colin Powell springs immediately to mind), with a message that would capture the large runoff Republican vote, some of the moderate Democratic vote, and inspire large numbers of people who would not have otherwise voted? Given that potential base, the message would likely be economically conservative -- with an eye toward creating real opportunity for people and reigning in corporate power by disentangling money from government; as well as socially libertarian - reasserting the liberty of the individual to make personal choices without being controlled or persecuted by the state. Sort of Libertarian Light. In this scenario, the American people could, for the first time in living memory, elect a leader from outside of the stagnant cesspool of the major parties. At the least, given a strong effort to recruit statewide candidates behind a well-known national ticket, we could see a significant number of governorships and Congressional seats stripped from both parties. In 1992, Ross Perot, wealthy and steadily showing himself to be insane, proved that at least 18% of the American people would vote for a cucumber if they knew who the candidate was, and he offered an alternative to the two major parties. And in 1998, Jesse "The Governor" Ventura rode the reform party's ballot access in Minnesota to win the state's highest office on a policy platform very much like the one described above. Many of the people who voted for Ventura had previously given up on the system, or had never voted before. Many others cast their ballot in sheer defiance of the establishment candidates who had publicly ridiculed the idea of "wasting votes" on one who was not a member of their political club. What Ventura's victory showed is that there is at least a plurality, if not a majority of potential voters who yearn for something more real than professional politicians, addicted to power and disdainful of sovereignty of the individual. There are Americans, lots and lots of Americans who, dared to do it, will think, and even vote outside the proverbial box. The behavior in recent months of our elected leaders shows that they do not take this threat seriously. But given the traps they have set for themselves, they might very well find that the folly is theirs. There is, you see, the potential for a good result to come of this madness. The Republicans and the Democrats have become so alike in their corruption, in their arrogance, in their disdain for their constituents as to have become joined as one at the heart. And in the blindness born of their power-lust, they are unable to see that in gouging at the jugular of the co-sanguine other, they are bleeding themselves to death. It must be remembered, when contemplating the current mess, that the fortunes of the United States are wholly separable from the fortunes of the current political establishment. That separation, in fact, might be vital to the survival of the nation. *** DRCNet needs your support! Donations can be sent to 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036, or made by credit card at http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. 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