Public Health & Liberty Subversion in the United States of America
Seeking the Coca issue's redress, I approached the government, hoping that the right thing would happen: that government officials would ask questions about the prohibition laws that ban Coca along with isolate cocaine, and initiate scientific studies to ascertain the truth of its potential. How could one object to studying Coca and its effects upon humans, subjecting it to the same criteria as other medicines and stimulants?
As I was to soon find out, Coca was an issue to be simply brushed aside, starting with the replies to my initial letters about the Coca issue to "my" U.S. Senators, from my home State, New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of the U.S. Democratic Party, and Alphonse D'Amato, of the U.S. Republican Party, in latter 1987.
Neither Moynihan nor D’Amato’s replies actually addressed my charge that their drug probation policies perverted Coca’s role internationally, with significant human costs D’Amato’s letter merely reiterated his general support for the drug war, with no mention of the safety, or the medicinal benefits, nor the health effects of Coca. Moynihan's letter likewise contained no such thoughts about Coca, and additionally was not even about the coca issue, coca prohibition or more generally the drug war, but rather a crime bill. Logistical realities were a likely explanation for this shoddiness since neither Senator had likely read my letter (not a likely occurrence given the volumes of such Constituent mail involved); in fact they might not have even been informed of it, with the choice of word processor mail merge reply being left entirely to their Congressional staffs. But they could hardly be used to explain away the following signals that there was no desire -- let alone intellectual integrity -- amongst the Washington D.C. power elite to touch the Coca issue -- in any way other than as something to be shunned -- with the proverbial ten foot pole: just imagine such an alternative reality for Tobacco cigarettes were treated like this. Both of the two dominant political parties in the United States, the Democrat and Republican parties would be unquestionably loyal to the whole drug control regimen, and the idea of maintaining it forever, or, if change is inevitable, at least delay or minimize it.
This was sadly evident with the preceding Republican Party U.S. Presidential Administrations of George Walker Bush (1989-1993) and Ronald Wilson Reagan (1981-1989), with the former serving as the latter’s Vice President. Both espoused their commitment to this drug market control regimen through their election campaigns and shortly upon taking office. In his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention in 1988, Bush stated:"I want a drug[sic]-free America. Tonight, I challenge the young people of our country to shut down the drug dealers around the world....My Administration will be telling the dealers, "Whatever we have to do, we'll do, but your day is over. You're history.'"George Bush’s most famous drug war espousal was his nationally televised September 5, 1989 speech’s visual of him holding up a bag of crack, obtained immediately across the street from his residence – the White House – at Lafayette Park (from a teenage crack dealer who government agents had to give directions to find the area):"This is crack cocaine," Bush solemnly announced, holding up a plastic bag filled with a white chunky substance in his Sept. 5 speech on drug policy. It was "seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House . . . . It could easily have been heroin or PCP…. It's as innocent looking as candy, but it is turning our cities into battle zones, and it is murdering our children``… ``Let there be no mistake, this stuff is poison.`And this from a man who had a likely role in making revealing the additives in cigarettes a 'felony'!
Under the Bush years, spending in the U.S. for maintaining the drug control regimen increased significantly, with the annual budget for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raising from $597 million in 1989 to $910 million in 1992. This followed the increase under his predecessor Ronald Reagan from an annual DEA budget for $219 million in 1981 to $522 million in 1988).
By what sort of intellectual ethical standard did George Bush base his call for a “drug free” America. Do note the irony that the Bush family are long involved with pharmaceuticals, such as EL Lilly. By “drug”, Bush means those that have been made illegal, starting with natural plants, regardless of the lack of science and the abundance of political corruption. It has nothing to do with relative safety as attested by the college student ritual of alcohol poisoning.
The November 1980 election victory of Ronald Wilson Reagan over his incumbent predecessor, Democrat Party U.S. President Jimmy Carter, elected in November 1976, based upon two main popular ideas: that the government was too larges; and that the U.S. was getting too weak (this latter perception being greatly assisted by the final 444 days of his 4 year term with the Iranian capture of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and holding of its personnel as hostages). Reagan would appease the former with such libertarian quotes as:“I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves” Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves."In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? Reagan served what was perceived as U.S. “strength” with his firm obedience with the established drug control regimen via his actions; shortly after taking office in 1981 he declared:“We are not going to raise the battle flag of surrender as in so many previous drug wars”Under the Reagan years, spending in the U.S. for maintaining the drug control regimen increased significantly. On January 28, 1982, Reagan created the South Florida Task. On March 23, 1983, Vice President Bush was placed in charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System. In August, 1986 US officials presented to their Mexican counterparts a scheme called Operation Alliance, a new border enforcement initiative that was allegedly to do for the U.S.-Mexican border area what the South Florida Task Force had allegedly already done for the southeastern states. Vice President George Bush was appointed chief of Operation Alliance, which involved 20 federal agencies, 500 additional federal officers, and a budget of $266 million.
The June 18, 1986 death of Len Bias, a University of Maryland student athlete from a massive cocaine overdose during a night of celebrating his acceptance by the professional basketball team, the Boston Celtics, quickly prompted massive waves of newspaper and television news coverage for political reasons to induce the people to support or acquiesce to increasing the penalties for violating the drug control regimen. Appearing with his wide, First Lady Nancy Reagan in their famous “Just Say No” speech nationally televised September 14, 1986:Despite our best efforts, illegal cocaine is coming into our country at alarming levels and 4 to 5 million people regularly use it. Five hundred thousand Americans are hooked on heroin. One in twelve persons smokes marijuana regularly. Regular drug use is even higher among the age group 18 to 25 - most likely just entering the work force. Today there's a new epidemic: smokable cocaine, otherwise known as crack. It is an explosively destructive and often lethal substance which is crushing its users. It is an uncontrolled fire. And drug abuse is not a so-called victimless crime. Everyone's safety is at stake when drugs and excessive alcohol are used by people on the highways or by those transporting our citizens or operating industrial equipment. Drug abuse costs you and your fellow Americans at least $60 billion a year.The Reagan and Bush Administrations faithfully follow the basic drug control regimen in place and supported by the preceding Administrations of U.S. President Jimmy Carter (1977-81) of the Democratic Party, Gerald Ford (1974-77) and Richard Nixon (1969-73 of the Republican Party, the first U.S. President to speak about this on television, along with every proceeding U.S. Presidential Administrations since the early 1900s.
Nixon and the preceding four U.S. Presidents -- Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969), John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) of the Democratic Party, and Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) of the Republican Party, and Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) – had given nationally televised speeches. The drug inquisition was in place throughout their terms, with President Kennedy being the most independent minded by getting Harry Anslinger’s resignation. But Nixon was the first to give a speech about the drug war: aka the growth of contraband drug use, and the drug laws’ re-codification resulting from the Leary case, which went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969, and which overturned the 1914 Harrison Narcotic Act’s tax authority as self-incriminatory (by forcing people to incriminate themselves by purchasing tax stamps for an illegal commodity).
This re-codification was the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (still in effect as of 2006). Under Nixon, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs created by Nixon’s predecessor Lyndon Johnson in 1968 by merging the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Narcotics, and the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s Bureau of Drug Abuse Control, was replaced with the newly created U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency.
And it was Nixon that would display his obedience to the established drug control regimen, by disregarding the recommendations of the commission that he selected its members under the authority of the 1970 CSA to study and report on Cannabis (Marijuana) and on the broader issue of the drug war. “The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse”’ report on Cannabis "Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding" better known as the Shafer Commission Report was so-named after its chair, Raymond P. Shafer, former governor of Pennsylvania); it would recommend to liberalize prohibition to exclude private possession, use and distribution for "insignificant remuneration" and penalties beyond confiscation of up to one ounce, and to retain prohibition on greater amounts in public by a fine of up to $100, with public distribution of small amounts for no profit would also be punishable by a fine of up to $100, and with the cultivation of sale for profit remaining criminal, felonies. The report on the general drug war “Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective”, was issued in March 1973. It would include cocaine but not Coca.
In the November 1976 elections, Carter defeated Republican Party incumbent U.S. President Gerald Ford, largely due to Ford’s association with the preceding, Watergate scandal (involving Republican Party operatives burglary of Democratic Party offices in Washington, D.C.’s Watergate complex in 1972,) plagued administration of Richard Nixon, who was fist elected in November 1968. Ford had not been popularly elected, but was rather serving out the remaining portion of Nixon’s 2nd term after Nixon resigned his office August 9, 1974, with Ford then becoming President, because Nixon had made Ford his Vice President in 1973, following the resignation of the preceding Vice President Agnew.
Against this backdrop Carter was easily presentable as a reformer, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, throughout his candidacy for President, such as calling for “sunshine” laws mandating that inter-agency meetings be open to the public. With a candidacy that include numerous public appearance with popular music bands, in particular the Allman Brothers, and amidst rumors of cannabis and cocaine use among Carter staffers, Carter furthered his appeal to the many people favoring drug law liberalization by mentioning his support for reducing penalties for Cannabis possession, stating that jailing marijuana smokers was "counterproductive,” and stating during a nationally televised debate with the incumbent Gerald Ford that he “favor[ed] the decriminalization of marijuana.”
And he was the only one the U.S. Presidents who appointed as his Director of the Office of National Drug Policy (the position later dubbed as “drug czar”), a man who had publicly spoken in favor of legalizing Cannabis (marijuana) and cocaine; and who unfortunately failed to make this point about Coca, let alone writing in any detail of the entire cocaine continuum from Coca leaf chewing and tea to intravenous cocaine), and even writing in 1974 that:Cocaine…is probably the most benign of illicit drugs currently in widespread use. … Short acting -- about 15 minutes -- not physically addicting, and acutely pleasurable, cocaine has found increasing favor at all socioeconomic levels in the last year." Peter G. Bourne, "The Great Cocaine Myth," Drugs and Drug Abuse Education Newsletter 5: 5 (1974). See also, F.H. Gawin and H.D. Kleber, "Evolving Conceptualizations of Cocaine Dependence," Yale Journal of Biological Medicine 61: 123-136 (1988).While this raised further expectations of Carter as a “legalizer” of a currently illegal drug, this was like placing a new – and not very thick or deep -- façade over an existing building: while attention focused on this one appointee, Dr. Peter S. Bourne, who worked for Carter since the latter was elected Governor of Georgia in 1971, and who went on to run that State’s first drug abuse treatment program, that would distract people from noticing that Bourne was the exception and not the rule within the new Carter Administration, with actions otherwise consistent with the established drug policy control regimen, with liberalization limited to decriminalization – meaning no jail time – for only cannabis and only small amounts up to 1 ounce (28.35 grams). Carter’s other appointees, such as associate Mathea Falco to the U.S. State Department, as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics, along with his predecessor Gerald Ford’s Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Peter B. Benslinger, all supported the status quo.
Speaking for the Carter Administration at the March 14, 1977 House Select Committee on Narcotics hearings on marijuana decriminalization, Peter Bourne, the first witness, declared that the Carter administration wanted to discourage all drug use, including alcohol and tobacco, but it didn't believe that putting people in jail was the answer to the marijuana problem. He said the administration favored the decriminalization approach, and he cited the success of the Oregon law, as proved by the Drug Abuse Council surveys. He noted that moderate marijuana smoking caused no known health problems. Finally he stressed that the Carter administration opposed the legalization of marijuana, and would vigorously enforce the laws against smugglers. In his August 2, 1977 speech to the U.S. Congress, Jimmy Carter declared:"Laws against the use of a drug," he said, "should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. No where is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use." The National Commission on Marijuana and Abuse concluded years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations. Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana."This idea of a quite limited liberalization of Cannabis (for only up to one ounce!) met with resistance in the U.S. Congress, and the Carter Administration back off on the issue through later 1977 and afterwards. This included double-talk about a U.S. program in Mexico to spray Cannabis (Marijuana) fields with parquet which the National Organization for Marijuana Reform (NORML) was then campaigning to de-fund. While Bourne assured NORML director Peter S. Stroup that the Carter Administration would unofficially not oppose a ban on such funding – this ban being proposed in the U.S. Senate as the Percy Amendment -- Bourne, along with Mathea Falco of the U.S. State Department were doing just the opposite: actively lobbying against the Percy Amendment. This pissed off Stroup, who eventually spoke out against the Carter Administration. That would set up a chain of events leading to Bourne’s July 1978 resignation.
On July 7, 1978, Dr. Bourne wrote a prescription for the pharmaceutical drug Quaalude for a staffer, identifying her with a false name to save her the embarrassment of taken that pharmaceutical for a psychiatric matter. This staffer had the bad luck of taking this prescription scrip to a pharmacy in Virginia, with the presence of a D.E.A. (U.S Drug Gestapo). This story was “exploded” in the mass new media on July 18, 1978.
The Clinton Administration response was to publicly review and quickly “sentence” Bourne (that very same day), with a publicly announced suspension. Thereby, by announcing his punishment the very same day, Carter effectively set up Bourne for additional punishment, his resignation, for the double bomb shell of a previously unreported story that would likewise “explode” in the mass media the very next day. That story, planted in the media through the syndicated columnist Jack Anderson was that Dr. Bourne attended a NORML Christmas Party upstairs gathering where cocaine powder was passed around and sniffed. Although the event was described as social, Anderson, a Mormon who reportedly did not even drink caffeine, played it up as some sort of horrible thing, being thoughtless to the horrible things of people being arrested, imprisoned and prosecuted under this 20th century drug inquisition.
Following this resignation of Bourne, Carter’s lone “heretic”, Carter retained as his drug policy adviser, Lee Dogoloff, who insisted that illegal drugs were simply bad, with no difference between "soft" drugs like marijuana and "hard" drugs like heroin or cocaine, thereby justifying the same penalties. During the remaining portion of his 4 year term Carter said relatively little about any Cannabis decriminalization; with public attention focused upon Bourne’s scandals, the Carter Administration’s various branches would just continue the established drug control inquisitorial.
12 years elapsed between the January 20, 1981 last day of the Democrat Party Administration of Jimmy Carter, and January 20, 1992 first day of the next Democratic Party Administration of William Jefferson Clinton. Like the Carter Administration, the preceding Nixon Administration, and the succeeding Reagan and Bush Administrations, the Clinton Administration paid full obedience to this drug control status quo in every meaningful way in ways varying only in intensity not substance, as any other Democratic Party or Republican Party U.S, Administration anytime during the 1900s. Like all of these men as candidates except Carter, Clinton consistently promised more of the same, presenting the example of intellectual sophistry of his brother as an example of a person “saved” by prohibition.
Like the Carter Administration, the likewise Democratic Party Clinton Administration offered a solitary position to be filled by an individual “heretic” who gets sacrificed, and any such “heresy” silenced, amidst the orthodoxy that predominates, with the scores of other Clinton Administration positions all filled by “defenders of the faith.” Clinton’s “heretics” were his Attorney General Janet Reno and his Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, with both being marginalized, (with the latter eventually being asked to resigned days before her 21 year old son was arrested for a drug charge involving his alleged sale of less then 2 grams of cocaine powder resulting from his 3 month police surveillance the previous year during the time of her Senate Confirmation hearings). Reno’s early “heresy” was ordering a formal review of the effects of mandatory minimum drug sentences, which Clinton would disregard. Elder’s early “heresy” was ordering a review of the proceeding Bush Administration’s suspension of its “Compassionate” Medical Marijuana Access program, an effort which would be opposed by the Clinton Administration’s “Justice” Department. Her second “heresy” was her suggestion during a Q&A period to study different forms of drug legalization, with the Clinton White House promptly issuing its statement against any suggestion of alternatives to the existing drug control regimen, with Clinton himself thereafter forbidding her to even suggest such study publicly. Her third “heresy”, acknowledging masturbation as one of many different ways to combat the spread of AIDS, leading to Clinton asking for her resignation within hours of the erupting “outcry” by opposition Republican Party Senators and Representatives.