Tags: America's | Dilemma: | Drug | Control | Privacy

America's Dilemma: Drug Control or Privacy

Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM

In fact, two of the six participants in a Monday news conference condemning the violence against innocent citizens in the name of "fighting drugs” flatly stated that drugs are the lesser of the two evils.

The war on drugs is "inherently” invasive of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, argued Solvig Singleton, senior policy analyst for the Competitive Policy Institute. She urged "watchdog” groups as one means of focusing on the drug problem.

The Libertarian Party finds that "the war on drugs poses the greatest privacy threat to those of us who don’t do drugs,” agreed Steve Dasbach, the party's national director.

The other four panelists took "no stand” on the war on drugs, but expressed great reservations about the tactics being used to fight it. They were part of a much larger right-left coalition (reported by NewsMax.com over the weekend) signing a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging that panel to raise the issue at its hearing today when it meets to consider the nomination of John Walters to be the new "drug czar.”

Although the coalition's letter stipulates that the group takes no stand on the Walters nomination itself, at least one speaker at Monday’s news conference expressed a lack of confidence in President Bush’s nominee.

Eric E. Sterling, president of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, said that what is known about Walters during his tenure at the Office of National Drug Control Policy office (ONDCP) during the Reagan and first Bush administrations is not reassuring.

Sterling was on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee from 1980 to 1988 when that panel was holding hearings on the creation of the Drug Policy office. He says Walters has "never expressed any reservations about privacy invasion elements” of a "cookie scheme” launched by the ONDCP.

One of those "elements” was a plan, never authorized by Congress, "to plant surveillance tools in the computers of Americans across the land.”

"Our computer files are ‘effects,’ which are protected by the Fourth Amendment,” he says. Secondly, the former congressional staffer argues "this is counterproductive and thoroughly stupid as a matter of drug policy.”

Sterling also took on ONDCP efforts in those years to "put White House [drug policy] messages in the content of television programming, and even in news stories.”

"While all of us may support messages that discourage children from using drugs, the precedent that White House social policy can be inserted into movies, TV shows and news stories has horrendous implications. This is a shocking development for our way of life.” If they can insert government propaganda on drug policy in news and entertainment, what’s next? What other kind of government propaganda can be inserted there? Is this the United States of America?

Perhaps the most outrageous police-state tactics used in the drug war were recounted by Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center:

Six people were taken into custody. None was charged with a crime. Police thought the house was being used as a mail drop by a drug ring. The charges were false.

Without corroboration or a warrant, police raided Navarro’s home and shot him 12 times because he went for a gun to defend himself during the military-style raid at 1:40 a.m. Navarro was not a drug dealer.

At one point, the agents decided to take a break and have a pizza party in the home. They tossed pizza and half empty cans about the house. In short, they trashed the home. Meanwhile, the Lamplughs were not permitted to dress, eat or even go to the bathroom.

As the agents left, one of them stomped the family cat to death and kicked it under a tree. No charges were ever filed against the Lamplughs. The case has been sealed, and no property has ever been returned.

These cases illustrate why many Americans who initially hailed the war on drugs as a means of saving their children from the clutches of the drug culture are beginning to see themselves as going from the frying pan into the fire. One questioner at the news conference marveled that this backlash has attracted a "right-left” alliance of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and American Civil Liberties Union.

Bradley Jansen, deputy director of the Free Congress Foundation’s Center for Technology Policy, led the news conference, which also included Robert Fike, federal affairs manager of Americans for Tax Reform, and Jim Cox of the Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

The latter two expressed their respective organizations’ dismay that taxpayer dollars would fund police-state tactics in these United States of America.

Literature passed out at the meeting quoted Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., as warning, "If the government always knows where you are, what job you are seeking, what doctor you’re seeing, where you travel, how you spend your money, how you defend yourself, and what arguably unhealthy behavior you engage in, what do the rest of your rights really mean?”

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In fact, two of the six participants in a Monday news conference condemning the violence against innocent citizens in the name of fighting drugs" flatly stated that drugs are the lesser of the two evils. The war on drugs is inherently" invasive of the Fourth Amendment...
Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM
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