Monday, August 21, 2006
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
I would be very interested to hear from current and former law enforcement officers about this documentary from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group seeking to end the "War on Drugs." [Note: please click on the boxed area to view the video; as an Unfrozen Caveman Blogger the technology is new and frightening to me, and I'm still learning to post video links.] As one of them points out, ending the drug war wouldn't end the drug problem -- the small but desperate element in our society addicted to narcotics, which, according to this group, has remained unchanged, in proportionate terms, since the first federal anti-narcotics law was passed in 1914. But it would do a great deal to reduce violent crime and the metastasizing corruption within police agencies nation-wide.
Of the many fascinating and impressive people I've been privileged to meet, one of the most accomplished is former DEA undercover agent (and now best-selling author) Mike Levine, author of Deep Cover, The Big White Lie, and other remarkable exposes of the so-called War on Drugs. Levine, who has been critically wounded in dangerous counter-drug duty; he enlisted in the "Drug War" after his younger brother fell prey to heroin.
Shortly before 9-11, I visited Levine in his home in upstate New York to interview him on-camera for various documentary projects. He told me about his experiences as "Drug Czar" for Cape Cod, leading what had been a very successful effort to reduce casual drug use and small-time retail narcotics dealing -- only to be cashiered because the program's success was undermining the community's efforts to get federal subsidies and donations from government-connected groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
The entire purpose of the "War on Drugs," Levine came to understand late in his career and as he told me quite candidly, is to make some politically connected people very wealthy, expand the power of the federal government, and provide a pretext for social control.
Like the disenchanted former police officers, judges, and prosecutors who have created LEAP, Levine invested decades of his life in that cynical and futile "war," and now wants the public to understand just how badly we've been deceived.
Although it shouldn't be necessary to say so, let me make it clear that I neither use narcotics -- I don't even like to take aspirin -- nor do I support drug use in any way. I don't smoke and, as someone of Irish-Mexican ancestry I'm a six-pack away from being a raging alcoholic, so I don't drink at all. (In His mercy, God apparently has made me severely aversive to alcoholic beverages of any kind; I can't so much as stand the smell of them.)
In assessing the social damage done by various intoxicants and controlled substances, it's difficult for me to see how marijuana, for example, is deadlier than beer. It seems to me that most of the damage done by narcotics is the result of prohibition: The artificially high profits of "drug lords"; the corruption of federal, state, and local law enforcement bodies; the militarization of law enforcement, and the corresponding assaults on the Bill of Rights.... Those problems, it seems to me, could all be mitigated by de-federalizing the so-called drug war, if not ending prohibition outright.
Am I wrong?
at 7:26 AM