Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

It has been well known for many years that the tobacco plant is the direct cause of disease and death for hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Everybody knows that; it’s hardly news.  Let’s suppose Al Qaeda was killing 400,000 Americans every year by blowing up buildings and airplanes.  Would we sit back and do nothing?  I don’t think so.  Everyone knows that smoking tobacco is addictive because it contains the drug nicotine. Yet, even though nicotine is a drug that drives people to smoke the cigarettes that kill them, we don’t ban it.  What if a half a million Americans were dying of heroin or cocaine use every year? Our attitude towards tobacco doesn’t make much sense.

On the other hand, neither does our attitude about opium. Opium is a highly addictive drug that is refined into heroin.  The U.S. is a big market for heroin.  The largest producer of opium in the world is Afghanistan. It is the basis of the Afghan economy and its cultivation has prospered ever since the U.S. drove out the Taliban. We have an army in Afghanistan. Why don’t we completely incinerate the opium crop? Why do we let the peasants of Afghanistan essentially sell heroin to Americans?

Why do we pretend to be against the use of narcotics and then we allow their cultivation and use right under our noses and yet do nothing to stop it?  Is our government for or against the use of addictive drugs by the American public?  Yes or no, just answer the question.  I say it is in favor of the use of addictive drugs.  Why do I say that? Because it is obvious. If the U.S. government was against the use of these drugs and the hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths they cause each year, the government would simply put a stop to their use – and it doesn’t.

Why?  Money.  Big money. Tobacco is a major industry in the U.S. and our government has simply made the decision to favor the tobacco farmers and the cigarette manufacturers over the health of the tobacco addicts in America.   Same thing with opium.  We could easily destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan, but we won’t. We feel sorry for the opium farmers who grow this stuff and export it to our drug addicts. It is these drug addicts who rob and kill our citizens just to buy a packet of heroin who we severely punish, if we can catch them.  But the producers and manufacturers? No.  We look the other way.

Why?  Because we are not a nation of ideals. We are a nation of pragmatists, always willing to sacrifice our ideals if we can make a buck.  And drugs are big bucks.  And a lot of Americans make big bucks from the legal trade in nicotine (tobacco).  And our government has no intention of stopping it.  It’s not hard to understand. Our government is not concerned with the health or welfare of the people. Our government is primarily concerned with the welfare of the rich and powerful people who deal in these drugs.  There is no excuse for this. It is wrong, it is corrupt, it is evil, but it is the American way – business first, people last.

And we call this a democracy.

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In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration determined that if we only had a federal agency charged exclusively with protecting our homeland we could have prevented the terror attacks. As a result they promptly eliminated the rent-a-cops that used to provide security at our airports and replaced them with a uniformed corps of Americans who would be taught to search our luggage far more thoroughly than your average rent-a-cop could ever be trained to do.  However, the new Department of Homeland Security had a mandate to go far beyond simply searching our luggage; they were to be the giant eyes and ears of the government, an all pervading presence that would detect a terrorist the moment his toe crossed our border, and then, a moment later, swoop down sweep the hapless terrorist away to a remote detention facility for “questioning”.

Before 9/11, I had always thought that this role of protecting our homeland had already been sort of given to the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, FBI, NSA, CIA, State Police, local police, U.S. Border Patrol, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, rent-a-cops, and no doubt others that I can’t think of at the moment. However, I was wrong.  Apparently none of the foregoing organizations have the duty of protecting our homeland.  OK.  I understand.  I had it wrong. So, anyway, we created Homeland Security to keep us safe from being infiltrated by enemy terrorists (I won’t mention the other roles they were assigned, like disaster response, for which I am sure they must be equally effective.)

Just to keep us on our toes about the terrorist threat, our recent ex-Vice President, Dick Cheney declared that we face a “high probability” of a nuclear attack or a biological attack in the near future. Whoa!!!  Dick….Dick, wait a minute.  What about Homeland Security? Aren’t they going to prevent that?  I know they can’t stop nuclear-tipped missiles, but those aren’t launched by terrorists. We’re talking about terrorists smuggling in a nuclear device or a biological weapon here, right?  And we don’t really have to be concerned because Homeland Security has that covered, don’t they?  I mean, that’s what they do, isn’t it?

That’s what I thought, but something has started to bother me. It was a recent story about the arrest of a Mexican drug ring in the U.S.  About a week ago 775 people were arrested throughout the U.S. for smuggling cocaine from Mexico.  They were all part of the Sinaloa gang. It seems that this was the culmination of a 21 month surveillance effort by the Mexican authorities, as well as the U.S. and Canada.  Twenty-one months.  I wonder if they caught all the smugglers?  I wonder what else they were smuggling besides drugs?  I wonder if Homeland Security knew about this and if so, why didn’t they just catch and search the smugglers for nuclear weapons and biological weapons as soon as they set foot across the border?  Did they figure they were just ordinary cocaine smugglers and therefore it didn’t concern them? Did Homeland Security even know this was going on?

I wonder how many smugglers cross the U.S. border and are never caught?  I wonder if Cheney is right. Maybe the terrorists have already smuggled a weapon into the country. Or maybe Dick is thinking that the terrorists will sneak something through under the noses of Homeland Security in the next few weeks or months, or maybe next year.  What did Dick really mean, anyway? Is he saying that Homeland Security is not up to the job? It sounds like it, doesn’t it? If you look at all these Mexican drug traffickers importing tons of cocaine into the U.S. without being intercepted by Homeland Security, I think maybe Dick is telling us something here.  Sort of a hidden message, maybe. I think he’s saying that we would be just as well off with the old rent-a-cops.  They were a lot cheaper and they couldn’t find smugglers either.

It seems to me that the ease with which smugglers can enter the U.S. proves that Homeland Security is  a failure (I won’t mention Katrina here).  When you step back and consider our fleet of aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, B-2 stealth bombers, spy satellites, warrentless phone monitoring, soldiers, sailors, airmen, spies, policemen…the list could go on and on. And now the Department of Homeland Security. You would think that someone could get the job done. Right? But according to Dick Cheney, and according to the clear evidence of all those drug arrests, after almost two years of investigation, the job isn’t getting done – by any organization acting either singularly or as part of a group! Smuggling stuff into the U.S. seems to be pretty easy.

This is an abject failure of Homeland Security, and it should make us wonder if we need this organization at all.

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