Pubdate: Sat, 12 Apr 2008
Source: Roanoke Times (VA)
Copyright: 2008 Roanoke Times
Author: Matthew Fogg
Note: First priority is to those letter-writers who live in circulation
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


When I speak out against the war on drugs, I do so from a position of
experience. I supervised a major  metropolitan area Drug Enforcement
Administration task  force. I have tracked America's most wanted
fugitives.  I have participated in SWAT operations. I know about  the
drug war's failures from firsthand, frontline  experience.

This "war" -- declared as such by President Richard Nixon in 1971 --
has escalated over the years and is  now one of the most egregious
policies of government  wrongdoing in our nation's history.

It is a violent and wasteful exercise in futility. It is an assault
on our Constitution. It is both a racist  and cultural assault upon
the citizens of this nation,  with no legal justification. And it is
not founded upon  any coherent notion of justice or common sense.

Most of all, the drug war fails to protect our youth.  In fact, it
increases both the harms and danger to today's generation of young

How many of today's politicians have used drugs in  their past? Has
their former drug use prevented them  from seeking office? Did that
use prevent them from  getting elected? Did that use prevent them from
being  effective in their offices?

Obviously, the answer is no. Many elected leaders admit  past drug
use, including a former president and a  current candidate for our
nation's highest office. But  would any of them have risen to
positions of prominence  and power if their past had included a
conviction for  drugs?

Using illegal drugs is most often done in a person's youth. The most
common substance of experimentation is  marijuana. That particular
plant has been around for  thousands of years and has a prominent
place in human  history as both an agricultural commodity (for its
fiber and seed) and as a medicine.

Not until an extreme bigot -- who was a career Prohibition bureaucrat
- -- began a campaign of "reefer  madness" seven decades ago was hemp
even controversial.  But Harry Anslinger's efforts became the template
for  the 70 years of drug prohibition to follow.

All illegal drugs were at one time legal substances.  Not until they
became illegal did the problems of their  abuse ever escalate into
real problems. For young  people today, the problems are multiple. Not
only are  the drugs readily available, but they are often  adulterated
and made more dangerous because their  control is in the hands of
unscrupulous criminal  predators and their organizations.

Plus there are the additional hazards of government drug policies.
Random drug testing in our schools is a  growing movement that
essentially teaches our children  that submission to authority
outweighs the principles  of individual liberties guaranteed in our

Seizures need to be accompanied by a warrant describing  exactly what
is to be seized and describing the reasons  for seizure. Drug testing
is both random and  warrantless.

Is this the lesson in civics we wish to be teaching? Or  should we be
reinforcing the notions of both personal  responsibility that falls on
individuals and their  rights as plainly laid out by the ultimate law
of the  land -- our Constitution and its core Bill of Rights?

Make no mistake, the drug war is wrong and a fraud being perpetrated
upon us by those with a vested  interest in the industries profiting
from it. The time  has come for this war to be exposed as the
egregious  and racist wrong that it has become.

When our government's policies have brought us to the point that we
imprison black males at a rate six times  greater than South Africa's
heinous apartheid, it is  time for all of us to acknowledge its racist

When we seize the most personal of personal property,  bodily fluids,
from our children and subject them to searches by police dogs and
armed police in their schools, we have become that which generations
past  have fought so righteously against.

Fogg, of Washington, D.C,. is a chief deputy U.S. marshal. He was
recently a guest speaker at Virginia  Tech.
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