You are Being Delphied!-Followup A Classic Delphi Technique

See here to find out what being Delphied is: https://tjcoop30.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/are-you-being-delphied/

August 2, 2008

This is a nudge in the wrong direction

It doesn’t matter whether it tries to guide us or force us, government doesn’t know best

Jamie Whyte

A few hippies aside, everyone agrees that paternalism is a good thing when practised by parents. Children do not know what is good for them. Left to their own devices they would make many bad decisions. Caring parents will threaten, bribe, cajole, trick or otherwise manipulate their foolish offspring into doing the right things.

When practised by governments, however, paternalism is more controversial. The idea that adults do not know what is best for them, and that the government should manipulate them into doing the right thing, strikes libertarians as outrageous.

Yet most politicians find the idea irresistible. The present Government aims to make us change our behaviour in all sorts of ways that libertarians would think none of its business. Among other things, they want to make us smoke less, drink less, eat less, take fewer drugs, exercise more, save more and spend more time with our families. So do David Cameron’s new Conservatives.

Treating adults like children is an idea that needs some justification, especially when it is espoused by a political party that until recently claimed to champion the individual against the State.

So you can imagine the delight with which these nannies have received Nudge, a book by the Chicago University professors Richard Thaler and Cass Sustein that claims to provide a new justification for paternalism and new ways of manipulating people that are compatible with libertarianism.

The justification for paternalism is that, like children, adults are too foolish to know what is best for them. This may not strike you as a new idea. Most of us think that other people are fools. What’s new, however, is scientific support for this common presumption.

Over the past few decades, “behavioural economists” have been studying how actual human decision making deviates from the perfectly rational ideal assumed in classical economics. Their sad, if unsurprising, conclusion is that we are systematically irrational.

We are apathetic, favouring options that require no action or that preserve the status quo. We are herd followers, doing things that are bad for us simply because others do them. We are hopeless at statistics, buying insurance and lottery tickets even when the odds make them a bad deal. And these are only a few of many irrational biases. It is no wonder that we do all those things that the Government and Mr Cameron wish we would not.

But behavioural economics does not only show that we need external guidance. It also shows how we can be guided. Our irrationality can be exploited to nudge us in the right directions. For example, we can be made to save more if joining a pension plan is the default option when we get a new job – that is, if our employers structure our choices so that we must actively opt out of the plan rather than actively opt in. The right “decision architecture”, as Thaler and Sustein call it, can use our apathy to benefit us.

Or we can be made to file our tax returns on time if the Government publishes statistics about how many of our fellow citizens have already filed theirs. Our herd mentality can be turned to serve our own good.

But here is a simple question. If the Government knows what’s best for us, why only nudge us in that direction? Why not give us a mighty shove – as the Australian Government has – by making saving compulsory? Sustein and Thaler reply that nudging is consistent with libertarianism, but shoving is not. And they are libertarians. They advocate what they call “libertarian paternalism”.

Alas, this is as incoherent as its name suggests. Libertarianism is motivated by the idea that a government cannot know what is best for individuals. That is why it is likely to harm us when it attempts to influence our behaviour. Those who favour governmental nudging must think the “central nudger” knows what is good for us. But then they have no reason to be libertarians.

Nor does behavioural economics justify paternalism, because it does not show that the Government knows better than we do what is good for us. The advantage that individuals have over central nudgers in deciding what we should do was never our perfect rationality. It is our superior knowledge of our own preferences and circumstances.

Take a simple example. Should you save more, as our would-be nudgers suggest? The answer depends on your present and likely future incomes, on how much you can expect to inherit, on how long you are likely to live and on your preferences regarding consumption now versus consumption in the future. The Government may know that you are foolish. But it cannot possibly have better information than you on all these matters.

Knowing that someone is irrational does not tell you what they should do, nor that they are at present doing the wrong things. Our would-be nudgers are like doctors who think that they can prescribe the right medicine simply because they know you are a hypochondriac.

Jamie Whyte is the author of Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking

Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Whatcha’ gonna do when they come for YOU?

Wanna Go For A Train Ride-It’s Free! But It’ll Cost You Everything

This is The Plan

Here Are Maps

Wake up-This Next One Otta’ scare The CRAP Out Of You

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Were Terrorists According to FEMA

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 7:24 am  Leave a Comment  

David Icke – Problem-Reaction-Solution

And of course if they tell us something it must be true!

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 12:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Stayin’ Outa’ Other People’s Business

It is well known that Peace has been (to borrow a modern phraze) the order of the day with me, since the disturbances in Europe first commenced. My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independant of, all nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfil our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so; and that nothing short of self respect, and that justice which is essential to a national character, ought to involve us in War; for sure I am, if this country is preserved in tranquility twenty years longer, it may bid defiance, in a just cause, to any power whatever, such, in that time, will be its population, wealth, and resource.

— George Washington, Letter to Gouverneur Morris [December 22, 1795]

Published in: on July 25, 2008 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pentagon “Calmatives”: Biochemical Substances as Incapacitating Weapons of War and Social Control

by Tom Burghardt July 12, 2008

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9573

Ours is a social system spinning wildly out of control. Wherever one glances, the political-economic-ecological crises engulfing late capitalism are insolvable in terms of structural reforms that might mitigate the system’s approaching zero hour. Call it the proverbial band-aid over gangrene syndrome; a plethora of terminal “fixes” that fix nothing.

During periods of extreme crisis, ruling class elites and the technocratic “wizards of armageddon” who serve them–bankrupt authoritarians without authority–harbor a not-so-secret longing for “magic bullets” that will put things right.

Thus, the quixotic crusade by politicians, military planners and corporate grifters out to make a buck to discover what they hope will be an antidote to the spreading virus of desperation and anger gripping the planet as the alleged “beautiful world” promised by neoliberalism morphs into an unlimited–and endless–low-intensity “war on terror” waged against the world’s poor.

A futile quest to be sure, while the immense, untapped social potential for resolving humanity’s most pressing needs–food, shelter, healthcare, repair of the environment–are grimly shuttled “off world” to various “green zones” and “secure, undisclosed locations” where science, and scientists, function as the equivalent of nerdy call-girls in the “Pentagon Madame’s” little black book of atrocities.

In “‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons: Where Science and Technology Service Repression,” I began a preliminary inquiry into “less than lethal” weapons research; that investigation continues.

Calmative Agents

For six decades, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have explored ways to harness biochemical substances as incapacitating weapons of war. During 1977 congressional hearings, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence published material on “Project MKULTRA, The CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification.”

While the media focused on the sensationalistic dosing of unsuspecting “subjects” with LSD and other psychoactive substances during unethical CIA and Army experiments, purportedly as a means to gain “control” over the minds of “enemy agents” or “target populations,” the demise of MKULTRA supposedly signalled that research into these forbidden zones were a closed book.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. While “mind control” as a weapon of war has proven chimerical, the Pentagon has hardly neglected its search for biochemical agents as mechanisms for repressive domination. Under the broad heading “calmatives,” such research continues to this day. The now-defunct Sunshine Project offered a preliminary assessment and defined calmatives as,

chemical or biological agents with sedative, sleep-inducing or similar psychoactive effects. Chemical calmative weapons such as BZ (3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, a compound related to scopolamine) were developed during the Cold War. Proponents of calmatives are creating a new and alarming legal ambiguity surrounding their use. …The US Department of Defense (DoD) arguments imply the creation of two loopholes in the Chemical Weapons Convention: the possible definition of psychoactive substances as riot control agents, and a distinction between “military operations other than war” [MOOTW] and armed conflicts. In the latter, DoD argues that even toxic chemicals would be of operational utility. (“Non-Lethal Weapons Research in the U.S.: Calmatives and Malodorants,” The Sunshine Project, Backgrounder Series #8, July 2001)

In other words, while deploying these agents in the “battlespace” is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, their use on civilian populations during MOOTW, “if classified as riot control agents, can be acceptable.”

As Neil Davison, a researcher at the University of Bradford’s Disarmament Research Centre (BDRC) describes,

From a military perspective, specific characteristics of such agents have been seen as follows:

  1. Highly potent (an extremely low dose is effective) and logistically feasible.
  2. Able to produce their effects by altering the higher regulatory activity of the central nervous system.
  3. Of a duration of action lasting hours or days, rather than of a momentary or fleeting action.
  4. Not seriously dangerous to life except at doses many times the effective dose.

(5) Not likely to produce permanent injury in concentrations which are militarily effective.

However, contemporary definitions emphasise rapid onset of action and short duration of effects, characteristics which reflect the current preoccupation with counter-terrorism and the associated convergence of military and policing requirements. Generally for reasons of politics and public relations rather than accuracy these weapons have also been referred to as “calmatives” and “advanced riot control agents”. (Neil Davison, Bradford Disarmament Research Centre, ‘Off the Rocker’ and ‘On the Floor’: The Continued Development of Biochemical Incapacitating Weapons, Bradford Science and Technology Report No. 8, August 2007) [emphasis added]

As Davison narrates, BDRC’s title refers to the nomenclature assigned these substances by Cold War researchers.

Broadly speaking agents were colloquially divided into “off the rocker” agents having psychotropic effects and “on the floor” agents causing incapacitation through effects on other physiological processes. “Off the rocker” agents prevailed since the safety margins for other agents, including anaesthetic agents, sedatives, and opiate analgesics, were not considered sufficiently wide for them to perform as ‘safe’ military incapacitating agents.

This is hardly an academic exercise considering that the Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) is carrying-out on-going experimentation into what it euphemistically calls “Human Effects Research” to develop an “Advanced Total Body Model (ATBM) for predicting the effects of non-lethal impacts.”

The JNLWP non-lethal human effects community has begun to increase its focus on improving the characterization and quantification of NLW effectiveness. In other words, researchers are attempting to better answer the question of how well the human response relates to desired mission outcomes. This area of research is critical to ensuring that the end user will get reliable, repeatable, and safe results from future non-lethal capabilities. (“Human Effects Research,” Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program, April 10, 2008)

Perhaps, the JNLWD “human effects community” should ponder the “living laboratory” on display during the October 2002 Moscow Theatre siege. Under “real world” conditions, 50 Chechen terrorists (some allegedly linked to the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda) and 129 hostages were killed when Russian OSNAZ forces pumped an aerosolized fentanyl derivative through the ventilation system. A KGB-developed “psycho-chemical gas” known as Kolokol-1 was the suspected calmative used during the “rescue.” Kolokol-1 has been described by medical experts as being 1000 times more potent than morphine.

When a normal dose of fentanyl enters the brain, it is quickly redistributed throughout the body and acts as a short-lived anesthetic. A larger, more concentrated dose however, is not so easily redistributed and remains concentrated in the brain and shuts down normal respiratory functions. This was the mechanism that caused the Moscow deaths; hostages were chemically suffocated by their “rescuers.”

The former Soviet Union however, wasn’t alone in looking at fentanyl derivatives as “non-lethal” incapacitating agents. In 1987, the U.S. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) had established a “Less-Than-Lethal Technology Program,” and awarded its first contract to the U.S. Army’s Chemical Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CREDEC, [rebranded as the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center [ECBC)] ) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, “for a feasibility assessment of a dart to deliver an incapacitating agent to stop a fleeing suspect,” BDRC reports.

According to Davison, “the requirement for rapid immobilization apparently led to consideration of fentanyl analogues, in particular alfentanil. … However, its’ low safety margin was a major problem.” The prototype delivery system was a failure and NIJ moved on.

But “mission creep” being what it is the military, perhaps “inspired” by NIJ’s pursuit of incapacitating agents for civilian police use, quickly adopted the “less-than-lethal” terminology and rekindled its own interest in fielding such weapons. By 1990, Davison writes, the “Army terminated their ‘Incapacitating Chemical Program’ and reinvented it as the ‘Riot Control Program’.”

Through slight-of-hand tricks designed to circumvent the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, the Pentagon sought to place incapacitating agents in the same category as irritant riot control agents (RCA) such as pepper spray.

However, the British Medical Association (BMA) in its 2007 report, “The Use of Drugs as Weapons,” raised serious ethical concerns for healthcare professionals’ involvement in what they term “tactical pharmacology” as deployable “non-lethal” weapons. To wit,

The use of a drug as a method of warfare would constitute a violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Ambiguity in the text of the CWC leaves open the possibility of the use of a drug as a weapon for the purposes of ‘law enforcement including domestic riot control’. There is also a question as to whether some drugs fall within the definition of a biological weapon as defined in the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). It is vital that the international community makes every effort to ensure that these weapons conventions remain intact. The development and deployment of drugs as weapons for whatever reason risks undermining the norms these conventions represent.

Serious questions are raised by the BMA over the state’s proposed use of drugs as weapons. Indeed, the use of these agents by military and security forces “is simply not feasible without generating a significant mortality among the target population.” The BMA concludes, “it is and will continue to be almost impossible to deliver the right agent to the right people in the right dose without exposing the wrong people, or delivering the wrong dose.” But over and above “tactical” considerations, the BMA avers,

From an ethical perspective, healthcare professionals need to begin a deeper examination of their roles in relation to such use of biomedical knowledge and medical expertise for hostile purposes. This is, ultimately, a matter relating to health because the lives and wellbeing of humans are at stake.

But as we have seen in the anemic response by many American healthcare professionals to CIA and U.S. military torture policies at Guantánamo Bay and transnational “black sites,” biomedical knowledge has been perverted for devilish “national security” considerations. Indeed, some doctors, nurses and psychologists–military officers and/or “outsourced” contractors–like their Argentine and Chilean colleagues during the “dirty war” period of the 1970s and 1980s have been complicit in U.S. war crimes. This too, seems to be the case as Pentagon specialists transform drugs into “tactical” weapons.

By 2000, the Pentagon’s JNLWD was pressing for a range of programs to develop new incapacitating agents, rechristened as we have seen, as “non-lethal” weapons. Indeed, Davison reports that the U.S. Army issued a “solicitation under its’ Small Business Innovation Research programme…that included a request for proposals on ‘Topic# CBD 00-108: Chemical Immobilizing Agents for Non-Lethal Applications.”

“Phase I” sought “to identify new agents and agent combinations including an analysis of ‘…recent breakthroughs in pharmacological classes such as Anesthetics/analgesics, tranquilizers, hypnotics and neuromuscular blockers’,” Davison reports.

Program design and testing regimens would lead to the development of an appropriate delivery system(s) and the consideration of “dual-use” applications of the technology by the military and civilian law enforcement agencies.

Potential military uses, according the JNLWD solicitation included “meeting US and NATO objectives in peacekeeping missions; crowd control; embassy protection; rescue missions; and counter-terrorism” whereas law enforcement applications cited were “hostage and barricade situations; crowd control; close proximity encounters, such as, domestic disturbances, bar fights and stopped motorists; to halt fleeing felons; and prison riots.” In other words, military/law enforcement deployment of “calmatives” are envisaged as weapons for social control.

The JNLWD awarded its initial “Phase I” contract to Ann Arbor, MI-based capitalist grifter OptiMetrics Inc., for work on the program at ECBC. As of this writing, there is no available information on “Phase II” or “Phase III.” If the program panned-out, the JNLWD isn’t saying. However, research continues at Pennsylvania State University’s (PSU) College of Medicine and the Navy’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL). The ARL/PSU study sought to,

  • Define the advantages and limitations of pharmaceutical compounds as calmatives with potential use in non-lethal techniques.
  • Provide a comprehensive survey of the medical literature utilizing pharmaceutical agents to produce a calm state with potential for use as a non-lethal technique. This information will provide a current database of the relevant literature on calmatives.
  • Provide an in-depth review of selected calmatives identified by the literature search with high potential for further consideration as a non lethal technique.
  • Identify and recommend promising new areas in pharmaceutical drug development that are poised to uniquely meet the requirements of calmatives as non-lethal techniques. (emphasis added)

Davison notes that the October 2000 ARL/PSU report, The Advantages and Limitations of Calmatives for Use as a Non-Lethal Technique, concludes ominously that “different chemical agents would be required for different scenarios with ‘…different mechanisms of action, duration, of effects and different depths of ‘calm’.”

While the report doesn’t specify a delivery system, Davison writes “the authors envisage a variety of delivery routes including ‘…application to drinking water, topical administration to the skin, an aerosol spray inhalation route, or a drug filled rubber bullet’.” Perhaps the authors’ propose drugging municipal water systems to suppress “anti-social behaviors” such as a general strike or mass antiwar protests to achieve their goal of effecting “different depths of ‘calm'”!

The ARL/PSU report concludes: “The extensive survey of the literature conducted on calmatives serves to emphasize that the ‘time is right’ with respect to considering pharmaceutical agents…” as new a new class of “non-lethal” weapons. (emphasis added) The time is “right” indeed as the JNLWD considers newer and ever-more insidious methods of repression!

Currently under development are programs that employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as a delivery system for calmatives as well as other “non-lethal” weapons. With tens of billions of dollars invested by the Pentagon in UAVs since the 1990s, a small, though significant area of interest is the use of UAVs as a “non-lethal” dispersal platform. One 1998 study concluded that a “UAV-dispenser system could be used with any UAV with a 40 lb or more payload capability.”

The JNLWD has funded development of an “unmanned platform” to “spray liquid payloads” by remote control at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). According to Davison,

SwRI engineers developed a computer-controlled unmanned powered Para foil (UPP) equipped with a payload that dispenses liquid spray while in flight. Developed for the Marine Corps Non-Lethal Directorate, the system is intended to provide non-lethal crowd control options for the U.S. military. The UPP was fitted with a pan-tilt camera to continually locate the impact point of the liquid spray. Using computer-assisted flight modes and the camera image, a remote operator can direct the UPP over a target at low altitude and release the spray.

Similarly, Raytheon was “tasked” with “assessing the feasibility” of delivering “non-lethal” payloads, including chemical agents from its Extended Range Guided Munition. Another “major recommendation” was for “further development of unmanned vehicles to deliver ‘non-lethal’ weapons including chemical agents at long distance with greater accuracy,” Davison reports.

Just this week, The Guardian reported a new “tool” appeared in the Pentagon’s “non-lethal” weapons arsenal. The U.S. Army’s XM1063 155mm howitzer launched projectile is capable of scattering “152 small non-explosive submunitions over a 1-hectare area; as each parachutes down, it sprays a chemical agent.”

Designed by major corporate grifter General Dynamics for the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, the XM1063 is touted as the latest in a series of “non-lethals” which will “‘suppress’ people without harming them.”

The Guardian reports,

Testing of the XM1063 was completed successfully last year and it is due for low-rate production from 2009. Ardec says that the production decision is on hold awaiting further direction from the program manager. It seems the decision on whether to enter a new age of chemical warfare now rests with the military rather then civilians. Unless put under pressure, the US Army seems unlikely to give any details of what’s in the surprise package until it is used. And maybe not even then. (David Hambling, “U.S. Weapons Research Is Raising a Stink,” The Guardian, July 10, 2008)

As we have seen in this outline, there is no question that research into these appalling weapons systems will continue. The Defense Science Board (DSB), which advises the Pentagon on science and technology issues, have recommended that work on “non-lethal” weapons–including so-called “calmatives”–move forward.

In 2004, the DSB concluded that “Applications of biological, chemical or electromagnetic radiation effects on humans should be pursued.” Davison notes that in the section on “strategic payload concepts” the report states:

  • Calmatives might be considered to deal with otherwise difficult situations in which neutralizing individuals could enable ultimate mission success
  • The principle technical issue is the balance between effectiveness (i.e., the targets are truly “calmed”) and margins of safety (i.e., avoiding overexposure and resulting fatalities of neutral bystanders)
  • The treaty implications are significant

But as with other treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory, notably the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the now-renounced Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, “national security,” in the Orwellian sense understood by the United States, always trumps human rights and the rule of law.

The democratic Republic which most Americans have long-cherished is rapidly falling by the wayside as economic crisis, endless wars and ecological collapse fuel moves by the U.S. ruling class to complete constructing their corporatist police state. It within this context, that “calmatives” and other “non-lethal” weapons technologies arise: both as metaphor and method for an ever-more sinister rebranding of fascism.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

Tom Burghardt is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Tom Burghardt

Published in: on July 24, 2008 at 9:30 pm  Comments (2)  

Cops Who Arrested Man For Attempting To Re-Enter His Own Home Praised

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/june2008/061908_cops_praised.htm

Police who apprehended Iowan at checkpoint with guns drawn “acted appropriately,” man charged with assault with a deadly weapon, faces 5 years behind bars

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cops who arrested a man at gunpoint for attempting to re-enter his flood-wrecked home in Cedar Rapids Iowa will not be disciplined and were in fact praised for acting “appropriately” as the man they apprehended was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and faces five years behind bars.

As we reported yesterday, “strike teams” consisting of police, firemen and government employees have been breaking into houses of flood victims and threatening anyone who questions their actions in complete violation of the 4th amendment right that protects against unlawful search and seizure.

No-knock home invasions are being carried out under the flimsy pretext of “checking for structural damage” and residents are being prevented from returning to their own homes whether they want to or not.

Police checkpoints have been set up in the affected areas to block access to streets and homes.

It was at one such checkpoint that Trooper Scott Devereaux and Trooper Paul Gardner were photographed arresting Ricky Blazek, 53, at gunpoint after smashing his window and hauling him out of his pick-up truck.

Blazek had dared to try and return to his home to check the damage without it first being properly inspected by the government’s friendly “strike teams”.

“The Iowa State Patrol said Wednesday that two state troopers were justified in arresting a Cedar Rapids man who tried to run a checkpoint Monday in an effort to return to his flood-damaged home,” reports the Des Moines Register.

“The State Patrol will not conduct an internal affairs investigation of the incident, state officials said.”

For his trouble, Blazek has now been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon on a peace officer, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

A similar incident almost boiled over into a confrontation when one resident dared question why the “strike teams” were breaking down doors and climbing through windows of homes without even knocking first.

Police Officer Josh Bell threatened the man with arrest if he didn’t shut his mouth.

This occurred after Cedar Rapids police chief Greg Graham promised residents over the weekend that “Law enforcement officers are not entering homes.”

Published in: on June 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Legalize All Drugs

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/JohnStossel/2008/06/18/legalize_all_drugs?page=full&comments=true

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

By John Stossel

The other day, reading the New York Post’s popular Page Six gossip page, I was surprised to find a picture of me, followed by the lines: “ABC’S John Stossel wants the government to stop interfering with your right to get high. The crowd went silent at his call to legalize hard drugs”.

I had attended a Marijuana Policy Project event celebrating the New York State Assembly’s passage of a medical-marijuana bill. (The bill hasn’t passed the Senate.) I told the audience I thought it pathetic that the mere half passage of a bill to allow sick people to try a possible remedy would merit such a celebration. Of course medical marijuana should be legal. For adults, everything should be legal. I’m amazed that the health police are so smug in their opposition.

After years of reporting on the drug war, I’m convinced that this “war” does more harm than any drug.

Independent of that harm, adults ought to own our own bodies, so it’s not intellectually honest to argue that “only marijuana” should be legal — and only for certain sick people approved by the state. Every drug should be legal.

“How could you say such a ridiculous thing?” asked my assistant. “Heroin and cocaine have a permanent effect. If you do crack just once, you are automatically hooked. Legal hard drugs would create many more addicts. And that leads to more violence, homelessness, out-of-wedlock births, etc!”

Her diatribe is a good summary of the drug warriors’ arguments. Most Americans probably agree with what she said.

But what most Americans believe is wrong.

Myth No. 1: Heroin and cocaine have a permanent effect.

Truth: There is no evidence of that.

In the 1980s, the press reported that “crack babies” were “permanently damaged.” Rolling Stone, citing one study of just 23 babies, claimed that crack babies “were oblivious to affection, automatons.”

It simply wasn’t true. There is no proof that crack babies do worse than anyone else in later life.

Myth No. 2: If you do crack once, you are hooked.

Truth: Look at the numbers — 15 percent of young adults have tried crack, but only 2 percent used it in the last month. If crack is so addictive, why do most people who’ve tried it no longer use it?

People once said heroin was nearly impossible to quit, but during the Vietnam War, thousands of soldiers became addicted, and when they returned home, 85 percent quit within one year.

People have free will. Most who use drugs eventually wise up and stop.

And most people who use drugs habitually live perfectly responsible lives, as Jacob Sullum pointed out in “Saying Yes”.

Myth No. 3: Drugs cause crime.

Truth: The drug war causes the crime.

Few drug users hurt or rob people because they are high. Most of the crime occurs because the drugs are illegal and available only through a black market. Drug sellers arm themselves and form gangs because they cannot ask the police to protect their persons and property.

In turn, some buyers steal to pay the high black-market prices. The government says heroin, cocaine and nicotine are similarly addictive, and about half the people who both smoke cigarettes and use cocaine say smoking is at least as strong an urge. But no one robs convenience stores for Marlboros.

Alcohol prohibition created Al Capone and the Mafia. Drug prohibition is worse. It’s corrupting whole countries and financing terrorism.

The Post wrote, “Stossel admitted his own 22-year-old daughter doesn’t think [legalization] is a good idea.”

But that’s not what she said. My daughter argued that legal cocaine would probably lead to more cocaine use. And therefore probably abuse.

I’m not so sure.

Banning drugs certainly hasn’t kept young people from getting them. We can’t even keep these drugs out of prisons. How do we expect to keep them out of America?

But let’s assume my daughter is right, that legalization would lead to more experimentation and more addiction. I still say: Legal is better.

While drugs harm many, the drug war’s black market harms more.

And most importantly, in a free country, adults should have the right to harm themselves.

Published in: on June 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

COMMENTARY: Soldiers or criminals?

Bruce Fein
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Speaking for a 5-4 majority in Boumediene v. Bush (June 12, 2008), Justice Anthony Kennedy tacitly asserted that international terrorists were more criminals than soldiers when measured against their threat to the sovereignty of the United States.

Accordingly, the court held that Guantanamo Bay detainees held for life without accusation or trial as “unlawful enemy combatants” were entitled to test the legality of their detentions in federal civilian courts through the constitutionally enshrined Great Writ of habeas corpus. It epitomizes an unflagging commitment to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent – the hallmark of every civilized nation. It may be suspended only when “in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public safety may require it.” International terrorism is a great evil – like mass murderers or serial killers – but not tantamount to rebellion or invasion.

In a dissenting opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Justice Antonin Scalia insisted that granting Guantanamo detainees access to habeas corpus “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” An identical complaint, of course, could be levied against every limitation on the government’s power to detain, to punish, to interrogate or to search, including the extension of the Great Writ to the likes of Oklahoma City bombing terrorist Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, or convicted terrorists Ramzi Yosef and Zacarias Moussaoui. If the Constitution’s summum bonum is to diminish the risk of an international terrorist incident to zero, then China’s police state should be the model for the United States. The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing will be terror free, but equally free of freedom.

Justice Scalia maintained that, “America is at war with radical Islamists.” As proof, he recited a litany of grisly terrorist incidents over the last 25 years: the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon; Khobar Towers; the Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings; the USS Cole in Yemen; and, the Sept. 11, 2001, abominations. The number of Americans and American allies killed in these incidents equals 3,374 – or an average of 135 per year.

In contrast, during that same period the annual number of murders in the United States fluctuated between 25,000 and 15,000, yielding a death rate more than 120 times the corresponding terrorism homicide rate compiled by Justice Scalia. But despite the frightening number of deaths caused by murderers, Mr. Scalia has not characterized America as “at war with murderers” and declared suspected or convicted murderers outside the protection of the Great Writ if they voice a craving for a caliphate in Washington, D.C. – even though habeas corpus has occasioned the release of prisoners who committed additional murders. Freedom is an illusion without the acceptance of risk.

Justice Scalia likened the “war” against radical Islamists to World War II. He thus concluded that a few hundred suspected unlawful enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay deserved no more constitutional protection than did the 400,000 prisoners of war detained in the United States during World War II. Not a single one of the POWs was afforded a right to challenge his detention in a federal habeas corpus proceeding.

But to find an identity between international terrorism and World War II is like describing an elephant as a mouse with a glandular condition. World War II deaths exceeded a staggering 60 million. The Third Reich alone featured an army of millions with gifted generals like Edwin Rommel; a formidable Luftwaffe; a submarine fleet renowned for sinking American ships in the Battle of the Atlantic; scientific geniuses like Wernher von Braun building V-1 and V-2 rockets and thought to be developing a nuclear weapon; and, the enlistment of the entire German civilian population in war-related endeavors.

In contrast, al Qaeda’s members participating in actual hostilities against the United States probably number in the thousands at most. It has no army. It has no navy. It has no air force. It has no Wernher von Braun. It has no power to conscript or to tax. It has no unity of command. The number of Americans killed by al Qaeda over the last 25 years is vastly less than 81,000 American deaths in the Battle of the Bulge alone.

Habeas corpus is most compelling when the probability of erroneous detentions is high. Prisoners of war typically were captured fighting in uniforms with distinguishing insignia and on well-demarcated battlefields. The likelihood that the United States would mistake an innocent civilian for a member of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS was inconsequential.

On the other hand, al Qaeda members do not fight in uniforms. They do not carry weapons openly. They blend into civilian populations. And irresistible bounties were offered in Afghan chiefs and tribes to find and deliver al Qaeda adherents to the U.S. military. Thus, both a former commandant and deputy commandant at Guantanamo Bay have opined that most of its detainees don’t belong there.

Justice Scalia also stumbled in complaining that, “What drives today’s decision is neither the meaning of the Suspension Clause, nor the principles of our precedents, but rather an inflated notion of judicial supremacy.” Boumediene was the product of President Bush’s claims that the war with international terrorism is permanent; that every square inch of the planet – including the United States – is a battlefield where military force and military law may be imposed at the discretion of the president. In other words, unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are at the sufferance of the White House.

Bruce Fein is a constitutional lawyer at Bruce Fein & Associates and chairman of the American Freedom Agenda.

Published in: on June 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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Most Americans think that freedom means the government gets to tell us who can come here and live with us. Even many Americans who believe strongly in free trade in goods can’t quite bring themselves to embrace free movement of people. De-socialize society and the immigration “problem” resolves itself into a great blessing for us all. Foreigners will come—the best and hardiest of them—because of the abundance of opportunity a free society represents

— Lawrence W. Reed

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Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment