Tags: Afghanistan | Health Topics | Law Enforcement | opiate

Judicial Watch Fights Army Obstruction on American Opiate Use in Afghanistan

Image: Judicial Watch Fights Army Obstruction on American Opiate Use in Afghanistan
Raw opium harvest in the Zhari district of Kandahar, South of Kabul, Afghanistan in 2015 (AP)

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Monday, 06 Mar 2017 02:31 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We as a nation can’t help our veterans with the myriad challenges they face if we don’t know what’s really going on.

In that spirit, we have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense for information from the U.S. Army Crime Records Center regarding the use of opiates by American service members in Afghanistan from January 1, 2012, to the present (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:17-cv-00276)).

The Department of Defense failed to respond to a February 3, 2016, FOIA request seeking:

All records regarding the nonprescription use of opiates (including opium, heroin; and/or pharmaceutical opioid medications) by American service members in Afghanistan and by veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (OEF-A) or Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

We filed the FOIA lawsuit after the Army Crime Records Center failed to:

Produce the requested records or demonstrate that the requested records are lawfully exempt from production; notify Plaintiff of the scope of any responsive records Defendant intends to produce or withhold and the reasons for any withholdings; or make a determination with respect to Plaintiff’s administrative appeal.

In a letter dated March 7, 2016, the Army Records Center denied Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, asserting that the request was "unfeasible to perform with the information provided" because records at the U.S. Army Crime Records Center "are indexed by personal identifiers such as names, social security numbers, dates and places of birth and other pertinent data to enable the positive identification of individuals.”

Judicial Watch appealed, referencing the Army Crime Records Center’s March 2012 production of records in response to an identical request:

In that case, the U.S. Army Crime Records Center "was able to identify, retrieve, review, apply appropriate redactions to, and release records responsive to the [2012] request in a matter of approximately 15 days." 

At the time of the Army’s 2012 records release, I said, "Prescription [opiates] abuse can easily veer into heroin drug use. Afghanistan is the capital of this opiate production and the temptation is great there.

"Judicial Watch is concerned that there hasn't been enough public discussion, and we would encourage the leadership to discuss or talk about this issue more openly."

The Obama administration’s multi-billion-dollar effort to counter narcotics in Afghanistan was a humiliating failure. Poppy cultivation and opium production have increased. Last year, opium production reportedly rose 43 percent in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army has gone into full-fledged cover-up mode, refusing to release data about illicit drug usage by our soldiers in that war zone. This is yet another opportunity for the Trump administration to begin a new era of transparency and end this obvious cover-up.

Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch. He is a nationally recognized expert on government corruption. A former talk radio and television host and analyst, Tom is well known across the country as a national spokesperson for the conservative cause. He has been quoted in Time, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and most every other major newspaper in the country. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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We as a nation can’t help our veterans with the myriad challenges they face if we don’t know what’s really going on.
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Monday, 06 Mar 2017 02:31 PM
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