Tuesday, July 28, 2009
How the War on Drugs relies on lies
Author and writer for the popular blog Huffington Post, Ryan Grim, has uncovered a tissue of lies and distortion produced by the previous US 'Drugs Czar' John Walters.
In doing so, Grim exposes the mechanism used by a hierarchy of prohibitionists, lobbyists and uncritical media to reinforce an ideology that has failed on all counts.
It seems Walters was desperate to show that his War on Drugs was working. One of his performance indicators was to restrict the supply of cocaine using police and military interdiction to drive up its price and thus reduce demand. (Never mind that driving up its price simply increases the profit motive that powers the drugs black market in the first place.)
So Walters cooked up some dodgy statistics and shopped around the media until he found an outlet, USA Today, that would publish his claims of success despite the fact that his statistics were not backed by documented evidence.
Ryan Grim was researching the subject at the time and tried to get hold of the Drug Czar's backing documentation using FOI. Unsurprisingly, he was refused.
That documentation has since been released and it shows that Walters was telling porkys on many levels -- this senior, respectable, authoritative man had no integrity whatsoever. Grim's piece exposes his lies, and shows that the cocaine trade had in fact merely re-focused on Europe because the declining US dollar made it more profitable to deal in Euros. He also describes how the War on Cannabis in the 1980s merely increased its price and pushed people towards cocaine in the first place.
Here we see the lies coming from the very top. This is very handy for prohibitionists down the line. For example the lobby group Drug Free Australia, armed with $600,000 from John Howard's government, regularly amplifies such material from high-ranking US drug warriors, sending it out in press releases that rely only on the perceived authority of these high-ranking people to support their claims. Then, typically, the mainstream media lazily repeats the claims without balancing comment.
Thus is the prohibition mindset reinforced and maintained with an evidence-free chain of misinformation.
The following UK blogs, from a doctor and from a libertarian, approach the problem from different angles and incidentally back up Grim's tale of the cocaine trade targeting Europe.
The Jobbing Doctor in the UK laments the increasing damage from drugs he sees in his daily practice in a working class industrial area, and calls for decriminalisation and legalisation. He links to... the UK blog Devil's Kitchen which has some concise supporting arguments on the subject.
And here's proven liar John Walters on Youtube pushing the 'new potency' myth, opposed by Bruce Mirken from the Marihuana Policy Project.