Pubdate: Sun, 25 Aug 2001
Source: The DrugSense Chat Room
Note: This is part of a series of chats being posted to the DrugNews 
clipping service as an exception to policy. All chats are edited into a 
basic question and answer format, leaving out the various side discussions 
in our fast moving chats. Please see for details of future guests.
Cited: Narco News
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Al_Giordano: Hello América!

laurence: Good day to you Al and thanks for being available to join us here.

laurence: read some of the narcnews pages today earlier and found it most 
interesting. Congratulations on your patience and perseverance.

Dean_Becker: Hi Al, great to see you.

Kkraig: High Al

laurence: Small first question if I may...were you doing much of the 
central America stuff in Spanish??

Al_Giordano: Hi Laurence, I do try to speak the language of the home team 
wherever I am. Tonight it's English, right?

laurence: Yes, this is true however often times you can have fun telling 
people that we are all speaking another language....just for the fun of 
breaking the ice...

laurence: Mentioned the Spanish to give us a good understanding how much 
more effectively you could succeed by being closer with their native tongue.

Richard_Lake: Welcome, Al Giordano, to the DrugSense Chat Room!

Dean_Becker: Al, it's great to hear about the movement within the 
legislatures and governors offices, what does the populace think, are they 
forcing these moves?

Al_Giordano: This being a globalized world, I caught Judge James Gray on 
CSPAN2 today - great to see him on TV promoting the cause

Al_Giordano: When I started in April 2000, one of the main 
points was that Latin Americans...

Al_Giordano: don't have the same illusions that many US citizens (present 
company excepted) have about the war on drugs...

Al_Giordano: there is no consensus in favor of drug prohibition in 
Colombia, and probably never has been...

Al_Giordano: almost nobody feels that governments are sincere about 
combating drug abuse...

Al_Giordano: folks see it as an easy money corruption source and a pretext 
to persecute political movements...

bob: Al do you think Florida or anywhere else should get away with 
Involuntarily pumping stomachs as a means to obtain evidence then convict 
for felony possession and felony tampering charges?

Al_Giordano: Bob, of course the State should not have a right to your stomach.

pedro: *AL* you're an inspiration... question, what is Anne Patterson's 

Al_Giordano: Pedro, Ambassador Patterson is fairly new in Colombia, about a 
year on the job

pedro: AL, where did she come from, background?

Al_Giordano: I don't have a full dossier on Patterson. But It does bear 
further investigation

Al_Giordano: I can tell you she is not a Colombian citizen, but she seems 
to want to tell Colombians how to run their country

Al_Giordano: when we consider that a stated US foreign policy aim is 
"strengthening democracy"...

Al_Giordano: her behavior is abhorrent

huangpo: Al, what are your thoughts on how mainstream media here in the US 
is influenced by the US govt and/or corporate interests? Does it happen? Is 
there a litmus test to know who is authentic or not?

Al_Giordano: Huangpo, for example, independent and honest journalists can't 
even get access to most US officials...

Al_Giordano: as for US correspondents in Latin America or anywhere abroad, 
their editors instruct them to have "access"

Al_Giordano: so it is self defeating, from the standpoint of authentic 

Al_Giordano: then there is the tired old chestnut that "no accusation is 
publishable unless confirmed by official sources"

Al_Giordano: but if you are an authentic journo, you have to investigate 
these same officials who the home office wants you to keep as sources

Al_Giordano: in the commercial media, the days of Watergate-era 
investigative reporting are over

Al_Giordano: it's just not allowed, although they pose a lot to seem as if 
they do it...

laurence: still tricky stuff though to get the real info and then get out 
to the public.

pedro: *AL* but don't you think the public is more skeptical in general, 
thanks to Watergate investigation??

Al_Giordano: yes, the public is not stupid, pedro, thank goodness

Lindy: AL: I'm Canadian.  Where do you think we should focus our attention 
in helping Colombia? The UN? The USA? The World courts?

Al_Giordano: Lindy, if Canada keeps moving toward harm reduction and drug 
policy reform, that is the best way to help Colombia or Latin America...

Al_Giordano: the problem is caused by domestic prohibition policies that 
drive the price up of, in Colombia's case, cocaine

huangpo: Al, have you heard of RSS (RDF Site Summary)? It is a technology 
that can help spread the word about your reports by automatically notifying 
RSS aggregators that a new story has been posted. Are you interested? I'm 
thinking about volunteering my time to make this happen for you.

Al_Giordano: huangpo, please send me an email about it at  - I am interested, want to hear more

Al_Giordano: back to the issue of the press: Did anyone see our report on 
Juan Forero of the NY Times this week?

stv: i was just reading that

stv: so is he trying to be a little anslinger wannabe?

Dean_Becker: I saw it Al, kinda makes you wonder.

Al_Giordano: Forero did an interview with mercenary pilots in Plan Colombia...

Al_Giordano: but he didn't disclose in his Times story that a US Embassy 
official was in the room during the "interviews"...

Al_Giordano: still, he called it a "casual roundtable discussion" - funny 
idea he has of "casual" with the boss eavesdropping...

Al_Giordano: By the way, the mention of that Forero story in the Drug Sense 
Weekly newsletter was much appreciated

pedro: impressive ( sad to say ) that the AP reporter disclosed this

Al_Giordano: Pedro, interesting point. The NY Times beat AP by a day on the 
story, even though both were in on same interview...

Al_Giordano: and I wonder whether, perhaps, the Times jumped the gun on an 
agreed upon deadline and thus the payback

Al_Giordano: because, as we know, AP is no shrine to authentic journalism 
either in our America

"g": Al games, they play games with the truth, yet we read and believe.

pedro: *AL* also, whose pocket is AP in?

Al_Giordano: in answer, AP is run by something called the AP Managing 
Editors Association...

Al_Giordano: it is a nonprofit corporation, actually, which surprises a lot 
of people...

Al_Giordano: the newspapers that subscribe to AP elect a board of directors...

Al_Giordano: these newspapers include the NY Times but also hundreds of 

Al_Giordano: but, basically, it is the same demographic gang that edits 
your hometown daily newspaper, times a few hundred of em

Al_Giordano: so the coverage at AP is not as centralized through powerful 
editors as that at the NY Times...

Al_Giordano: more real news sneaks through AP / the control system is not 
as hard

Al_Giordano: still, we see what happened in Bolivia with AP correspondent 
of 18 years Peter McFarren...

Al_Giordano: where one guy controls the English language news from an 
entire country...

Al_Giordano: and he falls into an arrogance and abuse of power...

Al_Giordano: and if not for the Internet, he'd still be there!

Al_Giordano: but the Internet gives us, as citizen-journalists, the ability 
to bypass these control systems

Al_Giordano: Now, the NY Times is a much more centralized operation...

Al_Giordano: especially the International Desk at the Times...

Al_Giordano: for years, one guy, Andrew Rosenthal, ran it like a fiefdom...

Al_Giordano: he's the son of the ex timesman Abe Rosenthal, one of Bill 
Bennett's best friends

pedro: yikes, re: Bennett!!

huangpo: yeow

Al_Giordano: he also came out of the Washington Bureau

Al_Giordano: Rosenthal is, in my opinion, a nefarious force on the Times' 
international coverage

Al_Giordano: you can read a recent interview with him by Cynthia Cotts of 
the Village Voice, in which he reveals his agenda

pedro: fyi all: I believe this is the link re: analysis of NYT ( from AG's earlier reference 
re: Village Voice )

Al_Giordano: The interesting question now is whether the new editor at the 
NY Times, H. Raines, will clean shop at International desk or not

FatFreddy: Al: How does the internet effect the newspapers in this world? 
Like mapinc has done.

Al_Giordano: FatFreddy, I can tell you one way that Mapinc has definitely 
caused more accountability among many news outlets...

Al_Giordano: simply by archiving their articles, it is harder for the press 
to hide its mistakes

Al_Giordano: you can go to MAPinc's search engines and type in the name of 
any reporter, and, viola!, there is his or her work on the drug war!

Al_Giordano: I do that with all these Latin American correspondents. Helps 
me keep tabs on em

Al_Giordano: Whereas, at many newspaper websites, they pull the archives 
down after a week, or limit access to people with credit cards

Al_Giordano: the key with the Internet, I think, is to do what MAP, DRCnet 
and others have done, which is keep it simple and low budget

Al_Giordano: the explosion imploded because too many internet sites 
were profit oriented. Now, only the low budget sites are surviving

Jo-D: AL, are all American papers pretty much the same? any standout in 
your mind?

Al_Giordano: Jo-D, with the proviso that none of the US dailies are all 
that super, I do think that...

Al_Giordano: the LA Times and the Washington Post, in that order, are 
giving fairer coverage than the NY Times...

Al_Giordano: the Texas papers are pretty obnoxious when it comes to Mexico 
and Latin America...

Al_Giordano: the recent series in the Houston Chronicle on the FARC was 
pure myth and garbage

Al_Giordano: one of the Chron stories was titled "Is FARC a drug cartel"...

Richard_Lake: Actually, Al, I agree on the reporting. OTOH, the drift of 
the editorials and columns in general has been in our direction over the 
last couple of years. No major daily questioned the WOD five years ago. 
Many, if not most, do today. The Denver Post for the first time questioned 
it seriously just a couple of days ago. Progress, IMHO!

Al_Giordano: a "cartel" is an organization that fixes the price and 
controls or monopolizes a particular product...

Al_Giordano: like OPEC or the Seven Sister Oil Companies do with oil...

Al_Giordano: since the FARC guerrilla is not on the sales, marketing or 
delivery end of cocaine at all...

Al_Giordano: and it's main connection is simply in protecting the farmers 
who grow coca and taxing them (along with farmers who grow anything, like 

Al_Giordano: the question of whether it is a "cartel" is deceiving

Al_Giordano: even the grand Mexican "cartels" are not cartels. They are 
more like Teamsters or middlemen...

Al_Giordano: the price is set by government prohibitionist and enforcement 
targeting priorities...

Al_Giordano: thus, if you referred to "the Potomac Cartel" you would be 
closer to using the word correctly

Al_Giordano: so why then did the Houston Chron float that question?

Al_Giordano: for propaganda purposes. Watch the language, the scapegoating 
language on drug war stuff, or any war...

Al_Giordano: the press uses words like "druglords" or "kingpins" etc. for 
stigmatizing reasons...

Al_Giordano: See Thomas Szasz's fantastic book, "Ceremonial Chemistry: The 
Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts and Pushers"...

pedro: much like "marijuana".... as a word itself!!!

Al_Giordano: yes, pedro, I think everyone here knows that marijuana was the 
"mexicanization" of good ol american hemp...

Al_Giordano: it was meant to play into anti-Mexican sentiment...

Al_Giordano: and here we are in the year 2001, after so many decades of 
civil rights struggles, and they still continue with this propaganda game

pedro: did the chair of the NY Stock Exchange actually visit the FARC last 
year, was this reported in any mainstream print?

Al_Giordano: Pedro, yes the president of the NY Stock Exchange did visit 
the FARC last year...

Al_Giordano: the FARC is a problem for Wall Street. Anybody care to 
speculate as to why before I state my opinion?

Ginger: Ummm.... because FARC isn't taking or spending investment outside 
of their own economy?

"g": because they could destroy the control that is on SA now. thereby 
loosening there plan to strip it of value

Al_Giordano: as said earlier, the FARC collects a tax on the coca farmers, 
and it adds up to a lot of money...

Al_Giordano: but unlike the "favored" or "permitted" channels of drug 
trafficking that invest their profits in banks and money laundering...

Al_Giordano: fast money that goes back into the Wall Street economy...

Al_Giordano: the FARC invests it in Colombia, among the peasant base...

pedro: vs. investing in the Casino economy!

Ginger: Al, so the peasants like FARC (not across the board, I'm sure, but 
... you know what I mean)

Al_Giordano: of course, the FARC also buys arms with that money, I'm not 
saying it's 100 percent charity - it's an armed insurgent organization...

Al_Giordano: but another thing that distinguishes the FARC from others in 
the drug business is that the FARC is in favor of legalization of drugs...

Al_Giordano: which might be its ultimate crime as far as Washington was 

Ginger: So what happens to FARC after legalization?

Al_Giordano: well, on the one hand, there is no more big money to be made 
off protecting coca after legalization...

Al_Giordano: and on the other hand, peaceful social movements by labor, 
environmental, student, human rights, and other causes in Colombia...

Al_Giordano: will be able to fight peacefully without the constant threat 
of being framed on drug charges by a corrupt police and military state...

Al_Giordano: there's an interview I did with an exiled Colombian 
journalist, Alfredo Molano, I'll give you the URL here...


Ginger: I understand that various rebel forces are already pre-empting 
official local governments around the countryside. Is that true? How 

Al_Giordano: one thing about a guerrilla movement, it does not need money 
to succeed...

Al_Giordano: and a guerrilla is only made necessary when the paths are 
closed to peaceful struggle...

pedro: but, for weapon??

Al_Giordano: weaponry does not win revolutions. the rebels are always outgunned

Al_Giordano: even in peaceful movements, like the drug policy reform 
movement in the US, we will never have the resources that the adversary has...

Al_Giordano: but that is no barricade against victory. All successful 
social movements come from behind and from below.

pedro: yeah for peaceful struggle, ala Gandhi

allan: so, there is a similarity between us here and FARC eh?

Al_Giordano: Yes, Allan. Although the tactics are different, both have come 
to the conclusion that the prohibition must be ended

Ricardo: Hi Al. How much did the media in Mexico say about the recent 
legalisation proposals from democratic Colombian and South American 

Al_Giordano: Ricardo, I have not yet seen anything in the Mexican press 
about the Colombian proposals this week. Have you?

Ricardo: None, but I am not a good newspaper reader.

Al_Giordano: give it a few days. The Mexican press is in general a big 
Narco News reader, seriously. Our stuff gets picked up all the time in Mexico.

pedro: *AL* are you familiar w/ your fellow muckraker, Greg Palast, of the 
London Observer... he, like you, seems to be a target of the corporate 

Al_Giordano: Pedro, Greg Palast came to our Narco News defense party in New 
York last April. He's a great guy...

Al_Giordano: he wrote a story on the stealing of the Florida elections and 
mentioned a mining company...

Al_Giordano: the mining company was a very small part of his story, which 
was published in the Guardian of London...

Al_Giordano: the Guardian of London is a progressive and good newspaper, 
but still a commercial venture...

Al_Giordano: and rather than fight the lawsuit by the mining company, the 
Guardian folded its tent and took Greg's entire article down off their 

Al_Giordano: which supports the idea of staying small - here we are, little 
puny narco news, still standing up to the billionaires suing us...

Al_Giordano: whereas the big London daily had to settle, and free speech 
loses when we surrender these battles

Ginger: `Course, it's not possible to sustain a huge, multinational 
enterprise without exclusionary regulation by force of law.

Al_Giordano: that is why, Ginger, I think "small is beautiful" when it 
comes to a political movement...

Al_Giordano: If we are an ever evolving bunch of local and small groups, 
they can't get us all

Al_Giordano: the worst thing for, say, the drug policy reform movement 
would be to become monolithic, all part of the same institution...

BigBong: which they are we talking about?

Al_Giordano: BigBong, it is the proverbial "them," the they of POWER

BigBong: understand, that al

BigBong: but they are as hard to pin down as is who we are

Ginger: Them folks who hate plants, all plants it seems. These days, them 
others seem to have it in for citrus trees. Can you IMAGINE!

"g": we are close now. Al. all the lawyers are fighting. both sides went to 
same school

Al_Giordano: I do think, G, that we are very close to breakthroughs, big 
ones, on drug policy...

Amanda: That is very interesting, Mr. Giordano...about not becoming 
monolithic. Many people think we should get together and be stronger under 
one organization.

Al_Giordano: I feel more like Groucho Marx, Amanda, "I would never belong 
to a club that would have me for a member."

Al_Giordano: I don't belong to any organizations. That doesn't mean I don't 
work in concert with people or even organizations on specific projects...

Al_Giordano: it just means that I'm not so ready to sign up for duty with 
anyone, even my friends...

Al_Giordano: nor should my friends do everything I tell them to do!

Ginger: I want no credit for your accomplishments and no blame for your 

Amanda: So you think that being sort of all over the place like we a strength?

Al_Giordano: yes, Amanda, a great strength

Al_Giordano: Well, I'll take a few more questions/comments and then Mrs. 
Narco News wants me to watch the Madonna tour on HBO.

pedro: *AL* it seems the attempts of the US gov't/corporate PR is to 
substitute cocaine for communism.....  the public seems to be pretty 
skeptical in general, I hope/don't think the US portrayal will work... your 

Al_Giordano: Yes, Pedro, Drug War is a Cold War metaphor, refried

Dean_Becker: Al, would you place any beats on the upcoming bout between 
Gov. Johnson and Rabid Hutch in Sept?

Al_Giordano: Dean, in Vegas the odds are with Johnson

allan: Al- is the US, is the "Potomac Cartel" intentionally ignoring 
Jennifer Odom and her crew's deaths?

Al_Giordano: Allan, the Jennifer Odom story is terrifying. And it may be 
related to the Charles Hiett story, that of "Colonel Cocaine"

Al_Giordano: has done excellent work on the Odom story. Do a 
search on Salon for Odom.

Al_Giordano: My opinion is that Odom's plane, in Colombia, was shot down...

Ginger: Allan, it was on the local news here a few times (Jennifer Odom is 
the rap star who crashed off the Bahamas, right?) Was that a shoot-down?

Al_Giordano: the interesting question is whether certain higher ups sent it 
on a mission and may have alerted the shooters in advance

Al_Giordano: In fact, I recommend that folks speak with Jennifer's family 
and widower

Al_Giordano: they have pretty strong opinions on it

pedro: why did they target her??

Al_Giordano: I don't know, Pedro. Fact is her superior was laundering drug 
money and covering for his wife's coke dealing.

Amanda: It's such an honor to speak with you, Mr. Giordano. I have the 
greatest admiration for your bravery in doing all that you do to undo the 
injustice of the WOD. Thank you, so much.

Jo-D: al, thanx so much for all you do!

allan: Yeah, thanks mucho Al

huangpo: Thanks, Al. You are truly a hero.

Al_Giordano: well, shucks, thanks to everyone, I think you're cool too

Al_Giordano: well, okay, thanks everyone. You've been a lot nicer than 
Connie Chung! Hope I've been more frank than Condit!

pedro: yeah, thanks Al.... *AL* and all, have you heard this PsycOps bs? 
Washington Post Service Coming soon: A new drama series takes a close-up 
look at an elite U.S. agency and the dedicated men and women who hunt 
deadly terrorists and treacherous criminals. The new show is on CBS. It's 
also on NBC. And ABC. And Fox

Al_Giordano: Pedro, did you know that the new TV series, "The Agency" or 
something like that, about the CIA...

Al_Giordano: passes its scripts to CIA officials before airing them?

Al_Giordano: That was in the NY Times Arts and Liesure section today

Al_Giordano: the Times hailed it as, like, hey, cool, it's authentic. 
Didn't even raise the obvious censorship issues

Al_Giordano: anyways, if I haven't responded well enough to anyone, please 
email me at  - I gotta go now

Al_Giordano: hasta la victoria siempre...

Al_Giordano: from somewhere in a country called AmErica...

Al_Giordano: thanks everybody for your time. Al 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake