CNN poll confirms: Most Americans believe their government is a threat to their welfare

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken – though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what’s broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Latin America: Latin America On Its Way To Legalizing Drugs, Experts Say

BUENOS AIRES – Latin America is headed towards the decriminalization of drug possession for personal consumption, according to experts and officials who took part in a regional conference in Buenos Aires.

Those attending the 1st Latin American Conference on Drug Policy, which ended Friday, also said that legislative reforms are being designed to give smaller sentences “to small traffickers, and to create policies that minimize harm” by encouraging addicts who can’t quit to come into the health system.

They also warned that the war on drugs “did not achieve its goal,” since Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, which together produce all the cocaine in the world, “could not manage in 10 years to reduce the area under cultivation,” according to a communiqué released at the end of the meeting, sponsored by the Pan-American Health Organization.

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US says Afghan poppy eradication ‘failure’

The United States admits that its efforts in eradicating opium poppy production in Afghanistan have proven to be of no avail.

Washington’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke said on Sunday that the current measures taken against poppy growers had been “a failure”.

“The Western policies against the opium crop, the poppy crop, have been a failure. They did not result in any damage to the Taliban, but they put farmers out of work,” Holbrooke said at a G8 meeting in Italy.

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Canada’s ‘Prince of Pot’ Vows to Defeat U.S. War on Drugs

VANCOUVER, British Columbia  —  Psychedelic rock booms through The Toker’s Bowl. Young and some not-so-young people smoke pot through a variety of devices in the store’s Vapour Lounge. And owner Marc Scott Emery stands in the middle of it all, proclaiming his goal of defeating the U.S. war on drugs.

Known as the Prince of Pot, Emery has sold millions of marijuana seeds around the world by mail over the past decade. In doing so, he has drawn the attention of U.S. drug officials, who want him extradited to Seattle. Emery has agreed to plead guilty in Seattle to one count of marijuana distribution in exchange for dismissal of all other counts, and the U.S. District Attorney is pressing for a sentence of five to eight years in a U.S. prison.

The case is the latest twist in Emery’s two-decade-long fight against the prohibition of marijuana in North America. To his supporters, he is a brave crusader for the use and sale of a drug with both recreational and medicinal value. To drug officials, he is a criminal and the biggest purveyor of marijuana from Canada into the United States.

Emery sits “right smack in the middle” of the North American debate over marijuana prohibition, said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C. St. Pierre predicted that Emery’s trial would “kick-start it all again.”

But drug officials say they are simply going after one of the world’s top 50 drug traffickers. U.S. authorities claim Emery’s seeds have grown $2.2 billion worth of pot.

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Comment: Get real, drug czars

ELEVEN years ago, the United Nations pledged to win the war on drugs within a decade. It has failed.

At this year’s meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna in March, there was a two-day session to evaluate the progress since 1998. In his opening remarks, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, claimed “measurable progress”. The drug problem has been “contained”, he said, and drug use has “stabilized”.

Costa’s position flies in the face of the evidence, and by the end of the meeting he was on the defensive. But he said the goal remains the same, and he reiterated the UN’s position: that the choice for the world’s nations is either to apply strict prohibition or concede to total legalization.

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Newly declassified documents reveal More than $97 million from USAID to separatist projects in Bolivia

The declassified documents in original format and with Spanish translation are available here

Recently declassified documents obtained by investigators Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger reveal that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested more than $97 million in “decentralization” and “regional autonomy” projects and opposition political parties in Bolivia since 2002. The documents, requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), evidence that USAID in Bolivia was the “first donor to support departmental governments” and “decentralization programs” in the country, proving that the US agency has been one of the principal funders and fomenters of the separatist projects promoted by regional governments in Eastern Bolivia.

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Drug-Friendly Netherlans to close prisons for lack of criminals


For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse. They may have trouble wrapping their little brains around this:

The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate.

Just for fun, let’s compare the Netherlands to California. With a population of 16.6 million, the Dutch prison population is about 12,000. With its population of 36.7 million, California should have a bit more than double the Dutch prison population. California’s actual prison population is 171,000.

So, whose drug policies are keeping the streets safer?

Mexican NGOs, Brigadier General, Unite in Letter Against Plan Mexico

May 7, 2009

Yesterday, 72 Mexican civil society organizations and a Brigadier General of the Mexican Army sent the following letter to US Congress demanding that all military aid to Mexico be immediately halted. The letter comes as the US House of Representative is considering more than doubling 2009 funding for the war on drugs in Mexico.

Human rights organizations from Mexico City and 21 of Mexico’s 31 states signed the letter.

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Former Mexican President Calls for Legalization

British agent loses top secrets

A British agent has left top secret information about covert operations on a transit coach at El Dorado airport in Bogota, Colombia.

The incident occurred after the drugs liaison officer left her handbag on the bus. In the handbag there was a computer memory stick containing the names, code names, addresses and operational details of dozens of SOCA officers and confidential informants.

She had personally downloaded the information from computer systems at her old office, the SOCA station in Quito, capital of Ecuador.

As a result, intelligence chiefs had to wind up operations and relocate dozens of agents and informants as they feared that the device could fall into the hands of drugs barons.

“You are talking about years and years of efforts to recruit people prepared to risk their lives to give information on the drugs trade. For someone to have not only possibly compromised all that work, but put many, many lives of individuals at risk, is as bad as it gets,” said an intelligence source familiar with the case.

The MI6-trained agent was being posted to the drugs capital of the world – where she had secured a role gathering intelligence in the war against the global cocaine.

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It’s not the Netherlands.)

Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled “coffee shops,” Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don’t enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal’s drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal’s new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.

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Mexican Drug War: Soldiers vs. Soldiers

The most offensive casualties the Mexican Army has suffered in the war on drug trafficking aren’t the result of confrontations with hitmen.  Rather, they’re executions carried out by ex-brothers-in-arms, trained by the Mexican National Defense Ministry, who have joined the ranks of organized crime, or by cells protected by high-ranking officials.  In less than four months, 21 soldiers have been murdered by those who at one time were “incorruptible.”

The Mexican Army‘s most lethal enemies have come from amongst their own ranks. Concentrated in Los Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, men who at one time were soldiers are responsible for the most severe attacks against the armed forces in their confrontation with drug trafficking cartels.

In the past three-and-a-half months, the Army’s most significant and offensive casualties have occurred in Cancun, Quintana Roo; Chilpancingo, Guerrero; and Monterrey and the surrounding area in Nuevo Leon at the hands of drug traffickers who used to be members of the military or that, according to groups dedicated to drug trafficking, have formed alliances with active military personnel.

Contrary to President Felipe Calderon‘s discourse about the incorruptibility of Mexican soldiers, the most severe blows against the military have been planned and executed by those who were prepared and specialized, in Mexico as well as abroad, by the National Defense Ministry (Sedena in its Spanish abbreviation).

From October 3, 2008, to February 3, 2009, a total of 21 soldiers, including a retired brigadier general, were executed by Los Zetas cells that arose from the military, and by Beltran Leyva brothers’ cells that are linked with military officials.

See also; Arrests of U.S. border agents on the rise

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Arrests of U.S. border agents on the rise

WASHINGTON — A rising number of U.S. border enforcement officers are being arrested on corruption charges as Mexican drug cartels look to bribes as a way to get around tougher enforcement, border officials say.

Investigators arrested 21 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on corruption charges in the fiscal year that ended last September, up from eight in the previous 12 months, according to CBP. This year, 14 have been arrested.

Since 2004, 84 officers have been arrested and 62 were convicted, says James Tomsheck, assistant commissioner for internal affairs at CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. That number represents a small fraction of the more than 52,000 people employed by the agency, which enforces U.S. law along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

Still, the trend is alarming, Tomsheck says. “We’re deeply concerned. The numbers are disturbing.”

Another troubling trend: Mexican syndicates are trying to plant their own people in the agency. Investigators have arrested at least four agents since 2007 who they believe were sent by drug cartels to infiltrate the CBP, Tomsheck says.

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Obama in Mexico

US President Obama today set foot in Mexico City today, and Narco News
publisher Al Giordano is there, reporting and following his steps:

“We will no doubt hear more of the same over-the-top statements of
support for President Calderon from his US counterpart, who recently
went so far as to compare Mexico’s illegitimate president with
prohibition-era crime fighter Eliot Ness for his militarization of the
drug war. (Then, as now, the prohibitionist policies that Ness was
charged with enforcing backfired only to make a bad situation more
violent and harmful to the citizenry; and the implied correlation –
that somehow Calderon is honest and untouchable by drug war corruption
– offers a dangerous leap of unsubstantiated faith.)…

“…If the US President or anyone is under the illusion that Calderon
has the political support among the Mexican people to succeed in the
failed war-on-drugs model when all leaders of all nations anywhere
have not, he will end up feeling as defrauded as so many millions of
Mexicans, as the death toll of that model continues rise, and with it
a misery index unimaginable to most citizens of the United States.

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Child Casualties in Mexico Drug War

Mexico, Apr 13 (Prensa Latina) A total of 610 children have died as a result of the war waged by Mexican drug cartels, reports a study of the national Defense Secretary (SEDENA).

This institution together with the Navy and different police institutions has participated for almost two and a half years in fighting drug traffic and organized crime, adding also that 3,700 children have been left orphans as a result of the violence or execution of their parents.

The military reported that 420 children who had been recruited have died in the clashes between rival groups, mostly in the northern territory.

The document reports other examples of adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 died last year in fierce battles with the drug traffickers or were tortured and killed as paybacks between feuding clans.

In its considerations SEDENA indicated that many minors who are orphaned have been psychologically scarred after witnessing violent actions against their relatives.

CIA Updates Digital Archive, Restricts Access

The Central Intelligence Agency maintains a regularly updated electronic archive of declassified historical records that have been publicly disclosed, but it has effectively squandered the utility of digitizing these records by refusing to make them available online.

The CIA to its credit has done more than any other agency to scan declassified records into digital format and to make them word-searchable.  Millions of pages of records have been archived in the CIA Records Search Tool (CREST).  But those electronic records are maintained in a single geographical location as if they were old-fashioned paper files.

“To use CREST, a researcher must physically be present at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland,” the CIA insists, thereby negating much of the value of the electronic archive.

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Legal U.S. Arms Exports May Be Source of Narco Syndicates Rising Firepower

More Than $1 billion In Private-Sector Weapons Exports Approved For Mexico Since 2004

Mainstream media and Beltway pundits and politicians in recent months have unleashed a wave of panic in the nation linking the escalading violence in Mexico, and its projected spread into the U.S., to illegal weapons smuggling.

The smokescreen being spread by these official mouthpieces of manufactured consensus is that a host of criminal operators are engaging in straw (or fraudulent) gun purchases, making clandestine purchases at U.S. gun shows or otherwise assembling small caches of weapons here in the states in order to smuggle them south of the border to the “drug cartels.”

The Obama administration is now sending hundreds of additional federal agents to the border in an effort to interdict this illegal arms smuggling to reassure an agitated middle-America that Uncle Sam will get these bad guys. The cascade of headlines from mainstream media outlets printing drug-war pornography assures us in paragraphs inserted between the titillation that the ATF’s Operation Gunrunner and other similar get-tough on gun-seller programs will save America from the banditos of Mexico.

To be sure, some criminal actors in the U.S. are smuggling small arms across the border. But the drug war in Mexico is not being fought with Saturday night specials, hobby rifles and hunting shotguns. The drug trafficking organizations are now in possession of high-powered munitions in vast quantities that can’t be explained by the gun-show loophole.

At least one report in a mainstream media outlet deserves credit for recognizing that trend.

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Why Secretly Funded DEA Surveillance Planes Aren’t Flying

WASHINGTON — The first sign of trouble with the Drug Enforcement Administration‘s new surveillance planes surfaced almost immediately.  On the way from the manufacturer to the agency’s aviation headquarters, one of them veered off a runway during a fuel stop.

The malfunction last spring was only the beginning.  A month later, the windshield unlatched in mid-flight and smashed into the engine.  Then, in a third incident on the same plane, a connection between the propeller and the engine came loose and forced an emergency landing.

In January, after less than 10 months of operation, the cascade of mechanical problems forced the DEA to ground the planes.

The planes recently were scheduled to be “cannibalized” so the DEA could sell the parts and recover as much of its money as possible.

The story behind why the DEA sought out the three planes, only to become the second federal agency to give them up, illustrates the pitfalls of “black,” or classified, budgeting in which Congress approves tens of billions of dollars for intelligence agencies outside the public’s view.

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The success of drug decriminalization in Portugal

In 2001, Portugal became the only EU-member state to decriminalize drugs, a distinction which continues through to the present.  Last year, working with the Cato Institute, I went to that country in order to research the effects of the decriminalization law (which applies to all substances, including cocaine and heroin) and to interview both Portuguese and EU drug policy officials and analysts (the central EU drug policy monitoring agency is, by coincidence, based in Lisbon).  Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense.

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Bolivia’s Morales Calls for Recognition of Legal Coca Use in N.Y. Times Editorial

WASHINGTON – Bolivian President Evo Morales said in an editorial published by The New York Times that the international community should remove coca from its list of banned substances.

“The millions of us who maintain the traditional practice of chewing coca have been, according to the (1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs), criminals who violate international law,” Morales wrote.

“This is an unacceptable and absurd state of affairs for Bolivians and other Andean peoples,” said Morales, an Aymara Indian who rose to prominence as the leader of a coca-growers union.

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Colombian VP calls for end to US anti-drug program

BOGOTA (AFP) — Colombia’s vice president said Sunday the United States should end a multi-billion-dollar anti-drug program which has long been the main plank in Washington’s fight against drugs in Latin America.

In an interview with local daily El Tiempo, Francisco Santos said Washington’s military-focused Plan Colombia should end because the political price for Bogota accepting the aid was too great.

“Plan Colombia has achieved its purpose. It is no longer necessary,” Santos said.

“I know the President and Minister of Defense will box my ears for this, but the cost to the dignity of the country is too great,” Santos said.

See also:

Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) against Venezuela: Washington and its war on the Bolivarian Revolution

DEA’s Operation Xcellerator is Another Justice Department Dog and Pony Show

DEA Spends $123,000 To Fly Agency Chief To Colombia

¡Adios DEA!

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US Prepares to Do to Mexico What it Has Done to Pakistan

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen briefed President Barack Obama over the weekend on the so-called drug war in Mexico and the prospect of increased US military involvement in the conflict south of the border.

Mullen had just returned from a six-day tour of Latin America, which took him on his last and most important stop to Mexico City. There he held meetings with Mexico’s secretary of national defense and other top military officials and discussed proposals for rushing increased US aid to Mexico under the auspices of Plan Merida, a three-year, $1.4 billion package designed to provide equipment, training and other assistance to the Mexican armed forces.

In a telephone press conference conducted as he returned from Mexico, Mullen said that the Pentagon was prepared to help the Mexican military employ the same tactics that US forces have applied in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US military, he said, was “sharing a lot of lessons we have learned, how we’ve developed similar capabilities over the last three or four years in our counterinsurgency efforts as we have fought terrorist networks.” He added, “There are an awful lot of similarities.”

With US backing, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has increasingly militarized the country, deploying tens of thousands of troops in areas ranging from Matamoros and Reynosa in the east to Tijuana, Guerrero, Michoacán and Sinaloa in the west.

See also:

DEA’s Operation Xcellerator is Another Justice Department Dog and Pony Show

Anti-Drug War Marchers block Mexico-US border

At least our Mexican neighbors are still standing up for their freedom (and ours)

100 years of government abuse, corruption and lies

Academics and the Chihuahua Government Say Decriminalizing Drugs is a Subject That Can’t be Avoided

EZLN Criticizes the Drug War

Report Review: New Federal Drug Threat Assessment Finds Prohibition Greatest Drug-Related Menace

Lourdes Cárdenas: Drug War Threatens Mexican Democracy

Prohibition and the Rise of Crime

US Police Train Mexican Police to Torture

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Economist Cover Story: Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution

A HUNDRED years ago a group of foreign diplomats gathered in Shanghai for the first-ever international effort to ban trade in a narcotic drug. On February 26th 1909 they agreed to set up the International Opium Commission—just a few decades after Britain had fought a war with China to assert its right to peddle the stuff. Many other bans of mood-altering drugs have followed. In 1998 the UN General Assembly committed member countries to achieving a “drug-free world” and to “eliminating or significantly reducing” the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008.

That is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.

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DEA’s Operation Xcellerator is Another Justice Department Dog and Pony Show

Despite the  “Largest and Hardest Hitting Operation to Ever Target” the Sinaloa Cartel, the DEA is Merely Treading Water in the War on Drugs

On February 25, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) held a press conference celebrating the culmination of Operation Xcellerator, which it says resulted in the arrests of 755 Sinaloa Cartel members in the United States and Mexico.  Law enforcement agencies arrested the last 52 suspects the day of the press conference, which the DoJ  held on the same day the House of Representatives voted on 2009 funding for Plan Mexico.  Plan Mexico, also known as the Merida Initiative, is the US government’s estimated $1.6 billion military and law enforcement aid package to support the Mexican government’s increasingly violent war on drugs.

With Plan Mexico, the United States government wedded itself to Mexican president Felipe Calderon‘s stated strategy of attacking the big drug trafficking organizations in Mexico head-on.  Calderon didn’t invent this strategy; it is the same strategy the United States and Colombia used in Colombia under Plan Colombia.

Since the strategy in Mexico has not decreased the levels of illicit drug flows into the United States, and because it has not decreased drug-related violence (drug-related murders more than doubled in Mexico last year), pressure is on both the Mexican and US governments to prove some quantifiable successes in the war on drugs.  They’re doing this by making (or creating) high-profile arrests of suspected members of Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations (DTOs).

Se also:

Anti-Drug War Marchers block Mexico-US border

At least our Mexican neighbors are still standing up for their freedom (and ours)

100 years of government abuse, corruption and lies

Academics and the Chihuahua Government Say Decriminalizing Drugs is a Subject That Can’t be Avoided

EZLN Criticizes the Drug War

Report Review: New Federal Drug Threat Assessment Finds Prohibition Greatest Drug-Related Menace

Lourdes Cárdenas: Drug War Threatens Mexican Democracy

Mexico More Dangerous Than Iraq, Due to Drug War

US Police Train Mexican Police to Torture

US Releases $90 million in Plan Mexico Military Hardware

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Wikileaks cracks NATO’s Master Narrative for Afghanistan

Wikileaks has cracked the encryption to a key document relating to the war in Afghanistan. The document, titled “NATO in Afghanistan: Master Narrative”, details the “story” NATO representatives are to give to, and to avoid giving to, journalists.

The encrypted document, which is dated October 6, and believed to be current, can be found on the Pentagon Central Command (CENTCOM) website oneteam.centcom.mil.

[UPDATE: Fri Feb 27 15:18:38 GMT 2009, the entire Pentagon site is now down--probably in response to this editorial, parts of the site can still be seen in google's cache ]

The encryption password is progress, which perhaps reflects the Pentagon’s desire to stay on-message, even to itself.

Among the revelations, which we encourage the press to review in detail, is Jordan‘s presence as secret member of the US lead occupation force, the ISAF.

Jordan is a middle eastern monarchy, backed by the US, and historically the CIA‘s closest partner in its extraordinary rendition program. “the practice of torture is routine” in the country, according to a January 2007 report by UN special investigator for torture, Manfred Nowak.[1]

The document states NATO spokespersons are to keep Jordan’s involvement secret. Publicly, Jordan withdrew in 2001 and the country does not appear on this month’s public list of ISAF member states.[2]

Some other notes on matters to treat delicately are:

  • Any decision on the end date/end state will be taken by the respective national and/or Alliance political committee. Under no circumstances should the mission end-date be a topic for speculation in public by any NATO/ISAF spokespeople.
  • The term “compensation” is inappropriate and should not be used because it brings with it legal implications that do not apply.
  • Any talk of stationing or deploying Russian military assets in Afghanistan is out of the question and has never been the subject of any considerations.
  • Only if pressed: ISAF forces are frequently fired at from inside Pakistan, very close to the border. In some cases defensive fire is required, against specific threats. Wherever possible, such fire is pre-coordinated with the Pakistani military.

Altogether four classified or restricted NATO documents on the Pentagon Central Command (CENTCOM) site were discovered to share the ‘progress’ password. Wikileaks has decrypted the documents and released them in full:

Now that’s progress.

Notes

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/30/AR2007113002484_pf.html
  2. http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/epub/pdf/isaf_placemat.pdf

International Narcotics Control Board Releases 2008 Report

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2008

The International Narcotics Control Board has released the latest Report on international drug controls. The report begins with an overview of international drug control conventions, including history, achievements, challenges, and recommendations. It then explains the operation of the international drug control system, looking at narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, government cooperation, international drug control treaties, and select special topics. The report concludes with a review of the current world situation, organized by regions, and a set of recommendations for Governments, the United Nations, and other relevant international and regional organizations.

Previous versions of the report–available in English, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese–can be found here.

Ecuador says expelled diplomat was ‘CIA chief’

The US diplomat Ecuador expelled from the country earlier this week was a CIA station chief, President Rafael Correa said on Saturday.

“Last week we expelled the US embassy’s (Mark) Sullivan from the country. He was, let’s be clear, the director of the CIA in Ecuador,” Correa told his weekly radio and television show.

Sullivan– who was listed as first secretary at the US embassy in Quito — was given 48 hours to leave the country on February 18.

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Anti-Drug War Marchers block Mexico-US border

Hundreds of people in Mexico have blocked key crossings into the US in protests against the deployment of the army to fight drug traffickers.

Traffic was brought to a halt on a number of bridges in several border towns in northern Mexico.

The protesters accused the army of abuse against civilians. Government officials said the blockades had been organized by drug gangs.

See also:

At least our Mexican neighbors are still standing up for their freedom (and ours)

Academics and the Chihuahua Government Say Decriminalizing Drugs is a Subject That Can’t be Avoided

EZLN Criticizes the Drug War

Report Review: New Federal Drug Threat Assessment Finds Prohibition Greatest Drug-Related Menace

Lourdes Cárdenas: Drug War Threatens Mexican Democracy

Mexico More Dangerous Than Iraq, Due to Drug War

US Police Train Mexican Police to Torture

US Releases $90 million in Plan Mexico Military Hardware

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Announcing Two Scholarships in Journalism and Organizing

Applications Due March 15 to Be Eligible for Free Attendance at the April 24-26 Workshop at the Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts

The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, together with the Rowe Conference Center, announces the availability of two scholarships to attend the weekend workshop, The Organizing of the President, that I’ll be hosting April 24-26 in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.

The scholarships will go to community organizers that seek to better utilize journalism and the Internet in their organizing work, or to independent journalists, media makers or bloggers that report on community organizing campaigns.

The scholarships include the full costs of room, board and conference fee for – but does not include travel costs to and from – the Friday-Sunday workshop, which the Rowe Conference Center’s website describes here:

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At least our Mexican neighbors are still standing up for their freedom (and ours)

February 16, 2009:  The government has 45,000 troops and 5,000 police battling several thousand cartel gunmen in 18 states. But most of the action is in a few states along the U.S. border. Two years of violence have left over 8,000 dead. The drug cartels are not strong enough to defeat the government, but they are determined to keep fighting to preserve their lucrative drug business. It’s all about ambition, greed and no inhibitions when it comes to killing. You can’t make this stuff up. The government is apparently going to keep at it until the cartels are destroyed, or adopt a much more low profile way of operating.

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Last of 36 DEA agents leave Bolivia

Morales demanded the DEA’s exit in November as part of a dispute between U.S. and Bolivian officials that included his expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the Bush administration’s decertification of Bolivia as ineffective in the drug war.

The departure over recent weeks of three dozen agents ends the DEA’s presence in Bolivia after more than three decades. Senior law enforcement officials said it was the first time a DEA operation had been ordered out of a country en masse.

DEA officials declined to comment on the departures but said earlier that the agents will be reassigned to countries bordering Bolivia to monitor the situation.

See also:

¡Adios DEA!

Why Bolivia Quit the U.S. War on Drugs

Bolivia orders US enforcement agency out of country

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U. N. Crime Chief Says Drug Money Used To Keep Banks Afloat

VIENNA: The United Nations‘ crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiraled out of control last year.

“In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital,” Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. “In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”

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Five Essential Things We Must Do to Stop America’s Idiotic War on Drugs

The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars waging its 40-year “war on drugs,” responsible for the imprisonment of 500,000 of our fellow American citizens. Despite this enormous waste of money and lives, drugs are as easily available and cheap as ever. The drug-warmongers say it is all for the safety and protection of our children, yet high schoolers all over the country can easily obtain just about any illegal drug they are seeking in this unregulated market. Half of all high-school seniors will have tried marijuana before graduating. The government’s latest Monitoring the Future report, released in December, indicates that more young people are now choosing to smoke pot rather than cigarettes.

Despite these disheartening facts, there is reason for optimism and hope. More and more people are joining the movement to end the failed war on drugs. Passionate people in every neighborhood and from every walk of life, liberals and conservatives, are joining this fast-growing movement. Though there are some compelling reasons drugs should remain illegal, we should at least begin an honest discussion about the root causes of the violence and the range of options to deal with the harms associated with prohibition. It is clear that the strategy of the past 40 years is not working. Below are five opportunities to engage our fellow citizens, discuss the enormous challenges we face, and come up with solutions to reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition.

See also:

Academics and the Chihuahua Government Say Decriminalizing Drugs is a Subject That Can’t be Avoided

Kop Busters

Ecstasy For Treatment Of Traumatic Anxiety

Students ’should be given smart drugs to get better exam results’

Scientists Back Brain Drugs For Healthy People

EZLN Criticizes the Drug War

Report Review: New Federal Drug Threat Assessment Finds Prohibition Greatest Drug-Related Menace

Lourdes Cárdenas: Drug War Threatens Mexican Democracy

More 10th-Graders Are Smoking Marijuana Than Cigarettes

Round One of Obama’s “Open for Questions” Reveals Clamor for Drug Policy Reform

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Academics and the Chihuahua Government Say Decriminalizing Drugs is a Subject That Can’t be Avoided

Mexican lawmakers and legal experts decry El Paso Mayor John Cook‘s veto of a City Council resolution that proposed a debate over drug decriminalization

Yesterday, the El Paso mayor’s rejection of a debate over decriminalizing drug use was considered on the Mexican side of the border to go against the necessity to analyze all of the possibilities to end the violence that results from said illicit business.

Likewise, state officials, lawmakers, and academics said that the El Paso City Council’s proposal to initiate a debate in the United States as well as Mexico over the decriminalization of some drugs as a response to the problem of violence in Ciudad Juarez demonstrates a citizen concern that cannot be avoided.

Mayor vetoes resolution asking for debate on legalizing drugs

Lourdes Cárdenas: Drug War Threatens Mexican Democracy

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Ecstasy For Treatment Of Traumatic Anxiety

ScienceDaily (Jan. 10, 2009) — Treatment with a pharmacological version of the drug ecstasy makes PTSD patients more receptive to psychotherapy, and contributes to lasting improvement. Norwegian researchers explain why.

People who have survived severe trauma – such as war, torture, disasters, or sexual assault – will often experience after-effects, in a condition called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms can include anxiety, uncontrolled emotional reactions, nightmares, intrusive memories, sleep and concentration difficulties, evasion of situations that resemble the trauma, and feelings of shame or amnesia.

For many, the condition gradually goes away by itself. Other individuals experience PTSD as a chronic condition that needs treatment, which typically involves drugs that help with anxiety and depression, and/or psychotherapy.

See also:

Students ’should be given smart drugs to get better exam results’

Scientists Back Brain Drugs For Healthy People

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EZLN Criticizes the Drug War

During the Festival of Dignified Rage in Chiapas, Subcomandante Marcos breaks the EZLN‘s silence on the drug war

On the first day of the Zapatista National Liberation Army’s participation in the Festival of Dignified Rage, its spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos discussed the drug violence that has increasingly plagued Mexico.  Marcos’s speech marks the first time the EZLN has addressed the drug war in any sort of depth.

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Students ‘should be given smart drugs to get better exam results’

Ministers and doctors should consider making the drugs available without prescription and for non-medical use, said John Harris, director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester.

The drugs, which include Ritalin, more commonly prescribed for attention deficit problems, could help students achieve better grades he said.

The drugs can improve concentration and exam scores and although they carry a risk of side effects, these are proportional to the benefits they offer, he added.

See also: Scientists Back Brain Drugs For Healthy People

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Freedom of the press as a foreign concept

Yes, we reporters might get stuck covering the late shift or — egad! — a parade. When disaster strikes or a source calls back on deadline, the nights can be long. Newspaper layoffs and hard economic times can cast a pall over just about everything we do.

But those concerns seem a piffle every time I read dispatches from around the world about journalists who, fighting for the story, also must fight for their lives.

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The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It’s time to stop the mission creep

We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.

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ACLU Challenges Border Patrol’s Searches

SEATTLE — The note from U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan to the U.S. Border Patrol was short and to the point: Stop sending petty marijuana cases to his office.”

It is our long-standing policy to use limited federal resources to pursue the sophisticated criminal organizations who smuggle millions of dollars of drugs, guns and other contraband across our borders,” Sullivan wrote in November.

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Airman facing bribery charges. Sgt. Rommel Schroer, waits in Guam

An airman who fled to the Philippines to avoid bribery charges in the U.S. is on Guam waiting to be transferred to the states.

A complaint was filed against Sgt. Rommel Schroer Oct. 18, 2006, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion.

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Lourdes Cárdenas: Drug War Threatens Mexican Democracy

It has been more than a year since I wrote a column in this publication about my reasons for not being optimistic in regard to Mexican President Felipe Calderón‘s strategy to crack down on criminal organizations and to stop the growing violence associated with drug trafficking.

Unfortunately, there is not yet any reason to change my perception. How could it be different when in spite of the overwhelming presence of the military patrolling the streets in places like the border town of Ciudad Juárez, there is not a single day – not one – without a report of one or more gruesome executions?

See also:

Mexico More Dangerous Than Iraq, Due to Drug War

Prohibition and the Rise of Crime

US Police Train Mexican Police to Torture

US Releases $90 million in Plan Mexico Military Hardware

Why Bolivia Quit the U.S. War on Drugs

Hell Freezes Over: White House Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization

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Mexico More Dangerous Than Iraq, Due to Drug War

The escalating drug war in Mexico has now made America’s southern neighbor a more dangerous place than Iraq, according to Strategy Page, a military affairs Web site.

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Marijuana Smokers in Switzerland Pin Hopes on Support of Voters

Markus Walther is tired of hiding a habit of three or four joints a day. He’s hoping Swiss compatriots will vote to let him to step out of the haze.Switzerland holds a referendum today on legalizing marijuana, Europe’s most widely used illicit drug, after supporters gathered the 100,000 signatures needed to force the vote in the nation of 7.6 million people.

See also:

Sri Lanka: Legalise the Weed
Honduran President: Legalize Drug Use

Philippines: Drug Test for Candidates ‘Unconstitutional’

Bolivia orders US enforcement agency out of country

Former Head, Scotland Yard Narco Squad: Legalize

Scotland Yard Chief Says, Legalize
Former Interpol Chf: Prohibition Obsolete, Dangerous

¡Adios DEA!

Chicago Top Cop: Time to Re-Think “War on Drugs”
Teacher drug testing may see legal action
White House Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization
Successful Marijuana Users?

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US Police Train Mexican Police to Torture

La Jornada has revealed that some of the trainers responsible for the torture classes given to Leon, Guanajuato, Special Tactics police are San Diego, California, police officers from that city’s SWAT team. Other trainers came from the private Mexican company Sniper, according to the Mexican government. The government released the names of the following trainers: Carlos Guillermo Martinez Acuña, Gerardo Ramon Arrechea de la Vega (the Cuban-Mexican trainer whom Narco News revealed is a high-ranking member of the anti-Castro Cuban paramilitary organization Comandos F4), Francisco Javier Jaramillo Barrios, Alfredo Torres Solano, and Martin Gonzalez Cabrera. La Jornada reports that the government did not disclose the trainers’ nationalities nor their respective employers.

Also see:

Arrest of Mexican Interpol official
US Releases $90 million in Plan Mexico
‘Predator,’ reflects what US has become
500 police officers replaced in Tijuana
In Cold Blood: Border Agent Commits Murder
Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization

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March base Predator unit to train next generation of pilots


The 163rd Air National Guard at March Air Reserve Base is beginning a new mission.

After two years of being the only National Guard unit to fly unmanned Predator drones in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will begin training the next crop of Predator pilots. The goal is to increase the military’s capacity for observing and targeting enemies during wartime.

Menace of US drones
Spy drone ‘Predator,’ reflects what US has become

Homeland Security Now Spying on Americans

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Officer David Bratzer: Illicit Drugs Should be Legal



David Bratzer
and I share at least one opinion in common: That it costs us a pointless fortune to maintain the charade of having effective drug laws in Canada.

It’s no big deal that I hold that opinion. Anyone who knows the kind of things I write about wouldn’t be too surprised to discover I’m of the belief that Canada and the U.S. have made a complete hash of things by treating a health and social issue like a criminal matter.

But Bratzer holding that opinion, that’s a little different. He’s a Victoria police officer — one of those tasked with enforcing those laws.

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Eisenhower on the MID

Family Racked by CIA Cover-Up


Former Poquoson resident Gloria Luttig learned this week that her daughter’s and granddaughter’s deaths were shrouded by a CIA cover-up.

“My daughter was murdered. My granddaughter was murdered,” Luttig said during a phone interview from her home in Pace, Fla., outside Pensacola.

Veronica L. “Roni” Bowers, 35, was aboard a small floatplane April 20, 2001, flying with her husband and two children from Brazil to their houseboat on the Amazon River in Iquitos, Peru, where they lived and worked as missionaries.

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CIA lied about shoot-down of missionary plane, report says


An investigation by the agency’s inspector general finds that officials covered up details of the 2001 incident over Peru that killed two Americans and wounded three other people.

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