Police interference, board ineptitude may kill Atlanta Citizen Review Board

Via Atlanta Journal-Constitution http://ow.ly/bdHKp

Outrage over a botched raid built on lies from informants followed by cover-ups by cops who killed a frightened, innocent 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in her home — and then planted drugs in the house — led to the birth the Atlanta Citizen Review Board…

More than five years later, the oversight board’s existence is threatened by resistance from the police force, an apparent lack of interest from city government, internal board politics and a damaged public image.


Briton caught with cocaine faces death in Indonesia

Via CNN: http://ow.ly/bdGrO

A British woman could face the death penalty after being found with an estimated $2.6 million worth of cocaine in her luggage by Indonesian authorities.

Lindsay June Sandiford, 55, was found to have blocks of cocaine weighing almost 4.8 kilograms in her suitcase after she arrived on the island of Bali on a Thai Airways flight earlier this month, government officials said.

Drug war news – April 18th, 2012

  • Senatorial candidate Obama disagrees with President Obama’s drug war policy.
  • Jeremy Kolassa: “End DHS, end the NSA, end the ATF, end the DEA, end all that crap. Clear it out. Reboot the government. It might be our only chance to end this madness.”
  • When a rich kid dies of a heroin overdose in Missouri, the dealer gets charged with murder.
  • Drug raid that might have really been a “round up some faggots” raid costs Atlanta taxpayers $3 million.
  • Some documents unsealed re drug raid that resulted in a dead police chief and a murder-suicide.

New York National Guard fighting the war on drugs

Radley Balko has done an exceptional job of documenting how police departments have become increasingly militarized as part of the war on drugs. I came across a news story earlier this week that approached this from a different angle: large scale military participation in domestic drug raids.

According to Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, a military news site:

When 150 New York state troopers, U.S. Marshalls and local city police officers rounded up 52 suspects in a massive multi-city drug raid in the early morning hours of Tuesday, March 27; five members of the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force gave themselves a silent pat on the back for a job well done.

The New York National Guard provides law enforcement agencies with equipment and staff to help with  intelligence and surveillance. According to the NGCTF website (yes, they have a website), they’ve assisted in raids that have confiscated about $68 million of cash and contraband, and led to the arrest of “just under” 950 people. That yields about $72,000 per person arrested. This assistance includes the use of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft equipped with infrared cameras. Infrared cameras use heat emitted by objects to create an image. Heat signatures can give away the location of drug labs, grow operations, and illegal plants hidden amongst legal crops.

National Guard RC-26B

New York is not alone in this strategy. Law enforcement agencies in most states work with their own National Guard units under similar arrangements. The Minnesota National Guard even provides form letters on their website to facilitate requests from law enforcement agencies.

This raises some important constitutional issues. It was, in fact, a National Guardsmen using infrared technology to scan a house without a warrant that lead to Kyllo v. United States, the 2001 Supreme Court case that ruled warrantless thermal surveillance violates a resident’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal searches.

This doesn’t seem to have slowed down the National Guard, however. There are some anecdotal stories of National Guard units providing surveillance to law enforcement agencies without a warrant. According to the National Guard’s regulations on counterdrug support operations,

“Supported LEAs are responsible for obtaining warrants required for searches or for determining the need for searches, inspections, and observations that do not require warrants. This responsibility includes the determination of any potential legal restrictions upon the use of thermal imaging or sense enhancing systems.”

The abdication of any responsibility for protecting citizens’ rights shouldn’t be surprising. The military exists to completely annihilate enemies through the indiscriminate application of force. It would therefore be unrealistic to expect that organization to treat the war on drugs as anything other than a war on the American people.

UPDATE: If you’ve been linked here by Radley Balko, you may be interested in following me on Pinterest for daily coverage of the war on drugs. www.pinterest.com/warondrugs

Strange bedfellows

Critics of the war on drugs are finding their side of the debate a little less lonely due to some new allies:

  • Televangelist Pat Robertson recently saw the light. Regarding marijuana prohibition he said, “We just can’t do it anymore…You don’t lock ‘em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway.”
  • “We have realized that the strategy in the fight against drug trafficking in the past 40 years has failed. We have to look for new alternatives,” says Guatemalan President  Oscar Perez Molina. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, has been even more strident in his opposition to the war on drugs.
  • Billionaire Richard Branson has long opposed drug prohibition, but his recent statements are getting attention. “The prohibition of drugs has worked no better than the prohibition of alcohol, and serves only to empower violent criminal cartels and harm U.S. citizens.”
  • According to reason, a new paper by the chief medical officers of three Canadian provinces states “law and order harshness does nothing to sate appetites for drugs, marijuana in particular is not terribly bad for people, and U.S. policies are just awful so why emulate them?”

Joe Biden remains steadfast in his support for prohibition.

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Drug War News – March 5th

Today’s news:

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