Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Alliance Policy recently debated O’Reilly on the failed War on Drugs. Can it be more obvious that it is time to be sensible? O’Reilly fails to make a single valid argument despite his best efforts.
The War on Drugs is a proven failure; our jails are over-crowded, our states are bankrupt, drug wars are shutting down entire communities in the U.S, and we spend billions per year to catch pot smokers – all while Jack Daniels and Pfizer live fat and happy. It’s time to get REAL and stop prohibition. The very word means “Screw your FREEDOM.”
Please read the Personal Liberties and War on Drugs essay below the video and support the Drug Policy Alliance to fight for reasonable drug laws that protect Personal Liberties, sovereignty over your own body and mind, holistic health choices instead of currently-legal and dangerous pharmaceuticals, and basic human rights.
Personal Liberties and the War on Drugs
Compiled by Anonymous, Drug Policy Alliance. 2002.
How does the drug war affect our rights to free speech and privacy?
Under the aegis of the “War on Drugs”, police and federal agents have pursued increasingly invasive investigative tactics.
- In 1999, 1,350 wiretaps were authorized by state and Federal courts. Of these, 978 (72.4%) were for drug-related investigations, 139 (10.3%) were for racketeering, 60 (4.4%) were for gambling, 62 (4.6%) were for homicide or assault, and only 7 (approximately 0.5%) were for kidnapping.
- Recently, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was discovered to have been planting electronic tracking bugs, known as “cookies” on the computers of users viewing the ONDCP’s website. “Cookies” are files that can be secretly placed on a computer for the purpose of tracking internet usage and obtaining information about a particular computer.
- The government has inserted unlabeled, pro-drug war propaganda into popular network shows, newspapers, and magazines. An investigative report by Salon Magazine in early 1998 found that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy secretly met with five leading television networks to incorporate anti-drug motifs into popular television shows. By using these motifs the networks were given credits that released them from obligations to run government sponsored ads. More recently, similar deals between the ONDCP and editors at major news organizations were exposed.
Has the war on drugs eroded our right to be secure in our homes?
Yes. The Fourth Amendment grants the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” But in the atmosphere of prosecution and fear surrounding the drug war, the Supreme Court has issued decisions gradually rolling back these protections.
- Over the past two decades, the Supreme Court has held that an illegal search or invalid warrant does not render the evidence as inadmissible so long as the police acted in “good faith.
- In addition, police may search an open field without a warrant or cause even if “No Trespassing” signs are posted.
- The Court has held that the police may search mobile homes, closed containers within cars, and cars themselves without a warrant so long as there is “probable cause.”
What is asset forfeiture? What does it have to do with the war on drugs?
According to Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Illinois), forfeiture laws have created a legal system in which, “federal and state officials now have the power to seize your business, home, bank account, records, and personal property, all without indictment, hearing or trial…Everything you have can be taken away at the whim of one or two federal or state officials operating in secret. We are all potential victims.”
Asset forfeiture of property merely suspected of involvement in illegal activity has become an extremely lucrative business for law enforcement throughout the country.
- In 1998, DEA and U.S. Customs agents seized over $525 million in cash and property.
- Many federal, state, and local police budgets are dependent upon proceeds obtained from assets seized, thereby creating a clear conflict of interest for officers involved in these seizures.
Since civil asset forfeiture proceedings constitute an action against the property itself (not the owner of the property), few of the constitutional safeguards present in criminal cases apply. For example, there is no presumption of innocence and no right to an attorney in these cases.
Police are not required to arrest or even charge those whose assets are being seized. In fact, during a 10-month national study, The Pittsburgh Press found that 80% of people who were forced to forfeit property were never charged with a crime. In addition, there is no dollar cap on forfeiture – leaving citizens open to punishment that is greatly disproportional to the alleged crime. Defending this practice, the police and DEA claim they go after “big-time” criminals, however only 17% of the items seized by the DEA were valued at more than $50,000.