Apr
17
2014

Congressman Blumenauer on “Drug War” failure and an alternative

See his full FAQ here.

Here’s the text below:

Marijuana FAQ

The people have spoken – it is time for the federal government to reform the failed marijuana policies that ruin lives and cost us billions of dollars every year.

Last November, Colorado and Washington voters chose to legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. Nineteen Jurisdictions already allow medical marijuana. Half of Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives, and about 18 million have used it in the past month.  It has been here for years, and it is here to stay.

Instead of arresting two-thirds of a million people every year for using something that half of Americans feel should be legal, we should embark on a reasonable program allowing states to develop their own programs that the federal government should tax and regulate.  This is a position that conservatives who respect states’ rights and liberals who respect individual rights should be able to get behind.

Once we have established this principle, we should finally institute a framework to tax and regulate marijuana that will save billions of dollars in enforcement-related costs and raise billions in new revenue for deficit reduction, substance abuse, and law enforcement.

Although estimates are imprecise, I believe that my Marijuana Tax Equity Act, in combination with an end to federal marijuana prohibition, should be able to produce a net savings of at least $100 billion over a decade through increased revenues and reduced expenditures, while growing the economies of small town and rural America. Continue Reading »

Apr
12
2014

Legalization vs. Decriminalization


More at The Real News

Excerpt of this excellent discussion:

“I see that the current illicit marketplace is the gateway. It is the environment that is the gateway, not a particular substance or drug, but the environment that we have of drug dealers acting on our corners hiring kids to sell drugs, marijuana and other drugs, recruiting them from our schools, bringing them out onto the street corners, to sell drugs in schools to other children. We’ve created an environment with policies of prohibition that puts more drugs into the hands of our young people than any other scheme we could possibly imagine. This is the worst. And we realized that back during the times of alcohol prohibition. That’s why alcohol prohibition only lasted 13 years instead of four decades.”

Mar
29
2014

Doctors criticise UN’s approach to global drugs control

Excellent review of current drug policy discussions at the UN in respected UK medical journal, The Lancet.

Excerpt below.

Chris Ford, founder and clinical director of the non-governmental organisation International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies (IDHDP), told The Lancet: “We know the global war on drugs has failed and this has had devastating consequences for individuals and communities around the world. Large amounts of money have been spent on criminalisation and repressive measures have failed to curtail supply or consumption.”

Feb
28
2014

‘El Chapo’ and El Banco

on the Fair Blog by Janine Jackson

Quote: “US Attorney General Eric Holder called the arrest a “landmark achievement”: “The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence and corruption.”

But that activity wasn’t conducted by Guzman alone, and another notable player appears to be missing from the current story.” (bold ours)

Read it all here.

Feb
10
2014

Liberals and Republicans signal huge shift in attitude to US drug laws

(NB: It’s about time. And too little too late for those who continue to rot in jail because of these regressive policies still on the books. And the victims of militarization in Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras etc are not addressed by piecemeal responses like decriminalization or changes in domestic sentencing law that’s still 18:1 for crack (black people) vs. cocaine (white people) possession etc.. – Rob)

Liberals and Republicans signal huge shift in attitude to US drug laws
With a handful of states considering new laws, America is becoming more sophisticated in its attitude towards drugs
by Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch
published in The Observer, Saturday 8 February 2014

Never did I think I would find myself agreeing with Texas governor Rick Perry on drug policy. But when the darling of Tea Party Republicans argued in favour of reducing prison populations and against federal obstruction of Washington and Colorado’s alternative marijuana policies, I found myself applauding the three-term governor.
“After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past,” Perry said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalisation and keep people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade.” Continue Reading »

Feb
6
2014

Legalization advocated by police; “drug war” has failed, increasing violence


More at The Real News

Feb
2
2014

More on Mexicans fighting government corruption

and collusion with the cartels.


More at The Real News

Jan
31
2014

Mexico’s Vigilante Groups Are a Force to Reckon with for Drug Cartels and Army

Excerpt:

LEÓN: Despite the agreement, now there are doubts still lingering as to the capability and the willingness of the Mexican federal government to clean the state of organized crime, even more now in the lights of the recent attacks in Apatzingán while under federal protection, mainly because there is no trust in the honesty of the federal officials.


More at The Real News

Jan
17
2014

A Cyber Invasion

How the NSA Infiltrated Mexico’s Computers

by LAURA CARLSEN

Excerpt:

My opinion is that the demand for an explanation from the Obama administration is nothing more than a face-saving move by Peña Nieto. Obama has already not only admitted to the programs revealed by Snowden, but defended them.

Mexico does not need an explanation from President Obama. It needs a president who defends the dignity and independence of Mexico by drawing a diplomatic line that distinguishes between cooperation and intervention.”

Rest published at Counterpunch here

Jan
2
2014

Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit

Read all of this By SPIEGEL staff here.

Excerpt below:

Part 2: Targeting Mexico
Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security, which was folded into the new National Security Commission at the beginning of 2013, was responsible at the time for the country’s police, counterterrorism, prison system and border police. Most of the agency’s nearly 20,000 employees worked at its headquarters on Avenida Constituyentes, an important traffic artery in Mexico City. A large share of the Mexican security authorities under the auspices of the Secretariat are supervised from the offices there, making Avenida Constituyentes a one-stop shop for anyone seeking to learn more about the country’s security apparatus.
Operation WHITETAMALE
That considered, assigning the TAO unit responsible for tailored operations to target the Secretariat makes a lot of sense. After all, one document states, the US Department of Homeland Security and the United States’ intelligence agencies have a need to know everything about the drug trade, human trafficking and security along the US-Mexico border. The Secretariat presents a potential “goldmine” for the NSA’s spies, a document states. The TAO workers selected systems administrators and telecommunications engineers at the Mexican agency as their targets, thus marking the start of what the unit dubbed Operation WHITETAMALE.
Workers at NSA’s target selection office, which also had Angela Merkel in its sights in 2002 before she became chancellor, sent TAO a list of officials within the Mexican Secretariat they thought might make interesting targets. As a first step, TAO penetrated the target officials’ email accounts, a relatively simple job. Next, they infiltrated the entire network and began capturing data.
Soon the NSA spies had knowledge of the agency’s servers, including IP addresses, computers used for email traffic and individual addresses of diverse employees. They also obtained diagrams of the security agencies’ structures, including video surveillance. It appears the operation continued for years until SPIEGEL first reported on it in October.
The technical term for this type of activity is “Computer Network Exploitation” (CNE). The goal here is to “subvert endpoint devices,” according to an internal NSA presentation that SPIEGEL has viewed. The presentation goes on to list nearly all the types of devices that run our digital lives — “servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, handsets, phone switches, SCADA systems, etc.” SCADAs are industrial control systems used in factories, as well as in power plants. Anyone who can bring these systems under their control has the potential to knock out parts of a country’s critical infrastructure.

Dec
30
2013

A Reporter at Large – A Mission Gone Wrong

Why are we still fighting the drug war?

by

published in the January 6, 2014 edition of The New Yorker

Read it here.

Dec
27
2013

Washington’s Real Aims in Colombia

Excellent piece, by Nick Alexandrov, on the origins and recent history of the ‘war on drugs’ and what the US government has really been fighting. I wonder if the Washington Office on Latin America still maintains their position on Plan Mexico, that they are “not for it or against it”.

Dec
25
2013

A Small Step Toward More Mercy

Quote from this powerful New York Times oped, published December 22nd, 2013: “It is important to recognize that while Mr. Obama showed mercy to these eight people, his administration has been the least merciful in modern times. The power to mitigate an overly harsh sentence is squarely in his hands, and yet in nearly five years he has commuted just nine sentences and issued 52 pardons.” (bold mine)

It begins:

President Obama’s decision on Thursday to commute the outrageously long drug sentences of eight men and women showed a measure of compassion and common sense. But it also served to highlight the injustice being done to thousands of prisoners under federal sentencing laws.

Read the rest here.

Dec
25
2013

The New President of Honduras will not Stop Hate Crimes

Excerpt: Juan Orlando Hernández, the right wing National Party politician who was the declared winner in the presidential elections in Honduras, based his campaign on “christian values” against the homosexual community. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced Hernández as the winner, saying that he was 6 points ahead of Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party (The Freedom and Re-foundation party), wife of former president Mel Zelaya who was ousted in the 2009 Coup. LIBRE, a new party that was born out of Coup resistance, has incorporated many members of the sexual diversity community in its ranks and has denounced fraud at the polls.

Rest of the article, Written by Andalusia Knoll, and published on 20 December 2013, here. Where are the Amnesty International action alerts against Secretary of State Kerry and Obama for giving the thumbs up to a violence-ridden fraudulent election? Post election, it’s just symbolic nonsense, without naming names, and, most shockingly, leaving the major military backer of the junta, the United States Government under then Secretary of State Clinton, currently John Kerry, both under President Obama, off the hook.

Dec
12
2013

Distortion of the fight against the “Drug War”

by domestic Insider NGOs.

Excellent report here by Bruce Dixon for Black Agenda Report entitled “Obama & Holder Win Court Case, Keep Thousands in Prison Under Unfair 80s Crack Sentencing Laws”.

Soon to come, we hope to have an expose of foreign Insider NGOs that are serving to prolong and even benefit from the ‘Drug War”.

Nov
23
2013

Mexico’s Blood Banks

A strong indictment, by Peter Watt, of the “drug war” and the large banks and wealthy bankers who profit from it.

Unfortunately, he leaves out of the picture the ‘liberal’ (and likely mostly Democratic Party) apologists for the “drug war” who repostured their concern for militarization of the globe by the USG under the guise of the “war on drugs” as it became clear that the Democratic Party Presidential candidate would win the 2008 election. Here, of course, I mean Amnesty International and the other DC-based beneath-the-belt-way “human rights” organizations. – Ed.
November 14, 2013

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Attempts to rescue the brutal past from historical amnesia and indifference have been an immense challenge for Argentine, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Chilean, Paraguayan, and Uruguayan human rights campaigners and victims of political repression, and it has taken decades of persistence and direct action to bring any of those responsible for past crimes to trial. One wonders how future activists will confront the murderers, torturers, politicians, and bankers of the drug war in Mexico. Will the respectable men and women of the international banking industry, for example, who enable the carnage and chaos by laundering billions of dollars of cartel money, ever face jail sentences for their active complicity in one of the planet’s most violent criminal industries?
Please read the rest of this piece at Peter Watt’s NACLA blog here.

Nov
23
2013

Top Secret Facility Barred Mexicans, Focused on “High Value Targeting”

NSA Staffed U.S.-Only Intelligence “Fusion Center” in Mexico City PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Evans and Jesse Franzblau
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
The Top Secret Mexico Fusion Center barred Mexicans and focused on “high value targeting.”

Source: Migration Declassified

The memo was written by William Wechsler, then the head of CN&GT and is addressed to Mike Vickers, who was then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (ASD (SO/LIC&IC)). In this post, Vickers played a leading role in coordinating clandestine operations against terrorist groups, including drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. Vickers is perhaps best known for his role, memorialized in the book and film Charlie Wilson’s War, as a CIA operative who helped to arm Afghan Mujahideen fighters in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. Appointed Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence by President Barack Obama in 2010, Vickers is now the top civilian intelligence official at DOD.

While the term “high value target” often refers to leaders of terrorist groups or hostile states, highly-sensitive NSA documents disclosed in September 2013 by Brazil’s O Globo show that NSA officials used the same language to refer to the presidents of Mexico and Brazil.

Read the rest here.

Nov
20
2013

A Nun Takes on the Drug War: Consuelo Morales on Crusading Against Mexican Cartels, Corrupt Police

Interview with a clear-sighted fighter against the ‘drug war’ on Democracy Now November 11th.

Nov
7
2013


Measures to Legalize Marijuana Suggest a Shift

Published: November 6, 2013
NYTimes

By DAN FROSCH

“DENVER — Marijuana proponents scored significant victories on Tuesday as voters around the country passed ballot measures decriminalizing marijuana possession and approved regulatory taxes on the drug.”

The election yesterday resulted in (yet another) signal of the US public’s opposition to the ‘war on drugs’ and a demand for change. Rest of piece here.

Oct
30
2013

Commemorating Brad Will’s life and the Fight against impunity

Brad Will 36 + 7 years

Oct
29
2013

Demanding justice for Brad Will

As we organize for justice for Brad Will and others murdered with impunity, let’s not forget that the demonstrators and social movement Brad was documenting were targeted by plain-clothed police and other paramilitary forces.


More at The Real News

Oct
27
2013

Brad Will – Murdered 7 years ago today with impunity by Mexican Government paramilitaries

Brad Will – Murdered with impunity by Mexican Government paramilitaries 7 years ago.

The US journalist was covering the teachers’ strike and popular movement in Oaxaca, Mexico, which the Mexican government was violently attempting to crush.

The Case of a Murdered US journalist

On June 14, 2006 the PRI Governor of Oaxaca, Ulyses Ruiz Ortiz, authorized a pre-dawn violent attack by paramilitary police officers on a peaceful protest camp of striking-teachers. A widespread social movement of thousands of inhabitants of Oaxaca, APPO, was launched in response, its ranks swelling because of the notoriety of Governor Ruiz’s corruption and the popular recognition of his having taken the Governorship through fraudulent elections.

At a street demonstration on October 27, 2006, U.S. Indymedia video journalist Brad Will was shot and killed while filming a confrontation between APPO activists and paramilitary forces. His film footage that day showed local police, municipal officials and paramilitaries shooting directly at demonstrators. Continue Reading »

Oct
20
2013

Fresh Leak on US Spying: NSA Accessed Mexican President’s Email

[Editor: Drug trade listed by US spies as top strategic objective of surveillance. Benefits to international (US) investments are also a by-product. Human rights, a much lower priority, for President Obama's spying program.]

Der Spiegel, 20 October 2013
By Jens Glüsing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark
[Excerpt]

The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.

nsa-leak-mx-2

The National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.
That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as “top secret” said: “TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”

According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.” The president’s office, the NSA reported, was now “a lucrative source.”
This operation, dubbed “Flatliquid,” is described in a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which SPIEGEL has now had the opportunity to analyze. The case is likely to cause further strain on relations between Mexico and the United States, which have been tense since Brazilian television network TV Globo revealed in September that the NSA monitored then-presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and others around him in the summer of 2012. Peña Nieto, now Mexico’s president, summoned the US ambassador in the wake of that news, but confined his reaction to demanding an investigation into the matter.
Now, though, the revelation that the NSA has systematically infiltrated an entire computer network is likely to trigger deeper controversy, especially since the NSA’s snooping took place during the term of Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón, a leader who worked more closely with Washington than any other Mexican president before him.

More here.

Cryptome: This spying was apparently done from the NSA’s Medina Regional SIGINT Operations Center (MRSOC), Lackland Air Force Base Annex, San Antonio, TX (formerly Medina Regional SIGINT Operations Center):

http://cryptome.org/2012-info/nsa-mrsoc-2012/nsa-mrsoc-2012.htm

http://cryptome.org/mrsoc.pdf

Oct
2
2013

What Breaking Bad REALLY Tells Us about the War on Drugs

What Breaking Bad REALLY Tells Us about the War on Drugs from Brave New Foundation on Vimeo.

Sep
28
2013

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina Calls for Global Drug Policy Reform in UN General Assembly Speech

Press Release | 09/26/2013
Praises Voters of Colorado and Washington for Legalizing Marijuana and President Obama for Allowing Them to Proceed

Commends President Mujica of Uruguay for Marijuana Legalization Proposal; Says That U.N. Should Allow Countries to “Experiment with New Models”

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina spoke out forcefully today against the failures of drug prohibition and urged countries to experiment with new drug control models while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.

Read rest of this Drug Policy Alliance press release here. Not clear why it omits the successful experience of decriminalization in Portugal, but good to remember it.

Sep
28
2013

Human Rights Watch supports decriminalization!

What a pleasant surprise! As of June, 2013, HRW has adopted a new position on the ‘drug war’. We had not learned of this development until a recent panel discussion of the ‘drug war’ and its devastating impacts in Mexico.

During this panel, Friends of Brad Will asked panelists what people in the United States could do to stop the violence. Nik Steinberg answered that we should advocate for a conversation to take place in the US about alternative models to the current one.

After the Q & A, we followed up with Steinberg to ask whether that conversation would be taking place within HRW. He answered it had taken place and the new position was the outcome.

Though certainly an encouraging development, Human Rights Watch’s new position should be coupled with forceful advocacy for the US government to end the ‘war on drugs’ and not just discuss doing so.

Sep
22
2013

Mexico Police Repress Opponents of Neoliberal School Reform

Sep
21
2013

Great solidarity action

On Thursday, September 19th, Friends of Brad Will attended the demonstration on behalf of Mexican teachers facing neoliberal education law ‘reform’.

for teachers and brad will

A number of teachers have been killed in this nationwide mobilization. There are striking similarities between their struggle and what farmers in Colombia have been fighting for and being killed for in Colombia.

Come to the REPORTBACK at CUNY Graduate Center September 24th at 6p.m., Room 5409 (bring photo i.d. for entrance into building).

From Mexico City to New York City
Teacher Insurgency in Mexico

‘This is not your usual protest: the teachers drove the Mexican Congress out of the capital, and twice blocked Mexico City’s airport. They are striking against union-busting educational “reform” laws that threaten to throw tens of thousands oout of their jobs while privatizing and potentially eliminating schools in impoverished and indigenous areas.’

You can learn more about what the Mexican teachers’ mobilization is all about and what US-based activists and teachers’ unions can be doing in solidarity!

Join us!

Sep
18
2013

Mexico City Police Violently Crackdown on Occupying Teachers

Talk to your friends who are teachers to urge support by their unions for the demands of Mexican teachers!

Attend this rally!

We’re all suffering the impacts of neo-liberal economic policies which some HOPED were going to be scaled back, beginning with a promise to reconsider NAFTA by then-candidate Obama. Here is that same policy in full force by USG partner in militarization, the Mexican government. An opportunity to challenge the Mexican and US governments’ betrayal of their own people’s economic future and sovereignty.

Come to the PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF MEXICAN TEACHERS AT NYC MEXICAN CONSULATE which has been called for this Thursday, September 19 at 4:00pm

Share/like/tweet . . . pass it on!

BRAD WILL PRESENTE !


More at The Real News

Sep
17
2013

Drug Agents Have an NSA-Style Spying Problem

By Ezekiel Edwards, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project
September 4th, 2013

Over the last few months, we’ve been bombarded with revelation after revelation about the NSA’s unprecedented spying on Americans. But, according to The New York Times, the NSA’s untethered snooping is eclipsed by the agents fighting in a war that began long before 9/11: the costly and failed War on Drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s secret Hemisphere Project, news of which broke this week, allows drug law enforcement agencies broad access to billions of AT&T phone records going back a quarter century—to 1987. As The New York Times explained, “the scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act.”

Our government’s mass telephonic data-mining has sparked immense and deserved outrage. But to those who have been targeted by the War on Drugs for the last several decades, the Hemisphere Project is only one in a long line of privacy-invading tactics employed by the U.S. government. Many other intrusions – such as the thousands of unconstitutional stops-and-frisks of people of color in cities across the country, the countless doors kicked in by police in search of drugs, the seizure and forfeiture of property of people never convicted of a crime – are representative of the kinds of common corporal intrusions that have been endured by many Americans, disproportionately of color, long before many post 9/11-era invasions of privacy became commonplace for all Americans.

Further, since 9/11, there has been an increasingly entrenched relationship between overreaching national security programs and domestic drug law enforcement policies. Each has fed on the other: the long-running drug war provided useful surveillance blueprints for the massive domestic spying programs that have sprouted up since 9/11. At the same time, domestic drug law enforcement agencies have seized upon the dismantling of basic constitutional protections over the past decade – in the name of national security – and pointed the resulting weapons toward America’s own citizens.

Read the rest of this important post by Ezekiel Edwards here.