Saturday, April 14, 2007

Behind the Drug War--Scratching the Surface

Somehow, Nancy Reagan forgot this part when she got her "Just Say No," campaign underway.

A modern day run-down here: "The CIA, Contras, Gangs and Crack."

More: Media Censor CIA Ties With Medellin Drug Cartel


See also: "The Oliver North File"

Drug War: Covert Money, Power & Policy: Propaganda

Prohibition is about economic and military power, not health. It was the geopolitical utility of medical monopoly that saw it come to pass. The Harrison Act was conceived in China, at the 1909 Shanghai Opium Commission, the idea being that America should pass a model "no license" law it could then ask other nations to adopt. President Roosevelt had arbitrated the end of the Russo-Japanese War only to observe Russia and Japan dividing Manchuria, Mongolia and Korea between them. With China beginning to industrialize on a massive scale, all the imperial powers were delighted to have a "pro-Chinese" issue they could sell while competing for China. America, with never more than 2500 troops in China, had the weakest military position, and so led the fight for an "open door" and an end to the opium trade. The Chinese leadership had grown to hate opium because the British controlled the nationwide trade, and had used it as a lever to control China. Industrialization, however, with its mills, mines and railroads, had created different stakes. For America, Chinese cooperation in the industrial competition was essential. The weaker the British position, the stronger the U.S. The Chinese government encouraged groups like the Foochow Anti-opium Society, below, to express their politically correct feelings for the foreign press.

Current History, October, 1924

Wright criminalized "nonmedical" use of "opium or coca leaves or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation thereof." Wiley's unempirical equation of herbs and alkaloids had already achieved the status of legal precedent. Lobbying Congress in 1910 for his new bill, Wright fretted about cocaine's "encouragement among the humbler ranks of the Negro population in the has been authoritatively stated that cocaine is often the direct incentive to the crime of rape by the Negroes of the South and other sections of the country." Here you have the geopolitical, the economic utility of racism. Wright wrote the editor of the Louisville Journal Courier that "a strong editorial from you on the abuse of cocaine in the South would do a great deal of good - do not quote me or the Department of State."

The 1912 Hague Opium Convention, which grew out of the Shanghai Commission, committed the U.S. by treaty to Wright’s law, the 1914 Harrison Act, a domestic law controlling opium and coca products. Below, Hearst’s Magazine revivifies the 1880’s pulp legend of the roué Clendenin, in time to support Harrison. Domestic drug propaganda is still the tool of imperial foreign policy. Today the operative treaties, also engineered by the U.S., are the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Vienna Antitrafficking Convention.

Hearst’s Magazine, 1/1913

Wright wrote Bishop Brent, his fellow delegate to the Shanghai Opium Commission, that the new Secretary of State Knox was "only now grasping the fact that in this opium business he has the oil to smooth any troubled waters he may meet with at Peking in his aggressive business enterprises there." The other delegate, future President William Howard Taft, the inventor of "dollar diplomacy," likewise worried about "one of the greatest commercial prizes in the world....the trade with the 400,000,000 Chinese."

America's "aggressive business enterprises" were challenged head-on by anti-prohibitionist Eugene Debs, leader of the powerful American Railway Union. Debs' moderate, libertarian Socialist Party was the electoral umbrella for scores of left-wing groups, including the industrial workers in the Northeast; German and Scandinavian enclaves in the upper Midwest; the radical populists of the Great Plains; Big Bill Haywood's tough miners and lumberjacks in the Western Federation of Miners - core group of the IWW; Margaret D. Robins' National Women's Trade Union League, and Alice Paul's direct action National Woman's Party - the radical spearhead that actually forced through woman suffrage.

It was their ideas of the minimum wage, social security and unemployment insurance that helped stabilize capitalism during the Great Depression. And it was Lippmann who warned that "the manufacture of consent" by the corporate owners of the media was a deadly threat to real democracy. As corporate hit-man Edward Bernays, "the father of public relations" put it, in 1928, in Propaganda: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systemically."

Propaganda during these years meant William Randolph Hearst, who owned the most powerful chain of yellow journals in the country. Hearst built its core circulation, the Chicago Examiner, using Moe Annenberg's gunsels to hijack delivery trucks, bomb newsstands and attack newsboys. Hearst literally fought for circulation city by city.

In 1910 Annenberg branched out for himself in Milwaukee, although the connection to Hearst remained. By the mid-twenties Annenberg owned Racing Form and American Racing Record, the basic betting sheets, and the General News Bureau, the wire service that provided up-to-the-minute race results. Without Annenberg's wire, bookies were an easy target for those who did have the latest results. Annenberg's full partner was Al Capone, who had worked with Luciano in New York before going to Chicago.

As the official mob wire, Annenberg's Nationwide News Service, by the mid-30's, enrolled more than 15,000 clients in 223 cities in 39 states. Hearst tagged along, always able to count on mob goons for "circulation." Hearst, in turn, always peddled the mob's "anti-communist" political line.

Hearst also owned Kimberly Clark-St.Regis, the paper and lumber conglomerate that is still busy gobbling up the competition. A major Kimberly Clark-St. Regis customer was DuPont, which converted Kimberly's wood pulp into explosives and synthetic fiber. Dupont's major competition was the enormopus hemp industry.

Marijuana was one of America's most valuable crops in 1900. Much of the country's textiles, canvas, sails, rope, paper, paints, industrial solvents, lighting oil, machine oil, food oil and medicine was made from it. Marijuana was the raw material for fire hoses, ships rigging, fine linen, work clothes, good paper, candy, bread, bird seed and cheap energy.

The products of a Michigan hemp mill; Scientific American, 6/4/1921

DuPont's major banker, Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, engineered the legal destruction of the hemp industry. The first DEA, the Narcotics Division of the Prohibition Unit of the Treasury Department, was founded and funded by the Volstead Act of 1919, the ennabling act of the 18th Amendment, Prohibition. The charter of the Narcotics Division, of course, was the State Department's Harrison Act of 1914, an original part of Prohibition's political package. The Harrison Anti-Narcotics Act was originally the responsibility of Treasury's Alcohol Tax Division, but went largely unenforced until the Volstead Act of 1919 funded the Prohibition Unit and its subdivision, the Narcotics Division.

“The Transfer”; Ireland in Columbus Dispatch

The first chief of the Narcotics Division, Levi Nutt, held that job for ten years. But in 1930, Treasury Secretary Mellon appointed an Assistant Commissioner of Prohibition specializing in diplomacy, Harry Anslinger, to head Treasury's reorganized Bureau of Narcotics. Treasury's hopelessly corrupt Prohibition Unit was transferred to Justice. One of the straws that forced this reorganization reveals the actual dynamics of the situation: the indictment of Narcotics Chief Levi Nutt and most of his New York division by a New York Grand Jury, for being on the Rothstein/Lansky/Luciano payroll. Nutt took over the Narcotics Division in 1920 under exactly the same circumstances.

When the legendary gambler Arnold Rothstein was murdered by one of Dutch Schultz' hitters in 1928, his dying body was found with a small fortune in opium, morphine, heroin and cocaine - and all his carefully kept legal books, including the history of his relationship with Nutt. The rabid prohibitionist Nutt started his tenure as head of the Narcotics Division in 1920 with his son listed as Rothstein's attorney of record for tax matters with the Treasury Department, and his son-in-law operating as Rothstein's New York accountant and attorney.

The criminal-governmental symbiosis is a two-way street, of course. If gambling were legal, who'd need Annenberg's gambling wire? If marijuana were legalized, the hood monopoly would be broken and marijuana would lose 95% of its value. The great hoods, geniuses at organizing street muscle, were for Prohibition, and Assistant Commissioner of Prohibition Anslinger was one of their major allies, operating the side of the street they couldn't independently run.

Alcohol and Drug Prohibitionist Anslinger, like his soul-mate J. Edgar Hoover, was in bed with the Mellon-Hearst-Annenberg-Syndicate hoods from the beginning. Anslinger always regarded Drug Prohibition as a tool for "social reorganization," fearing "communist" unions far more than Syndicate heroin gangs, who were, after all, Mellon's, DuPont's, Hearst's and Annenberg's patriotic strike breakers. They were also J. Edgar Hoover's most dangerous COINTELPRO operatives - right from the murderous Palmer raids of 1919, which Hoover organized.

A major target of those raids was Eugene V. Debs. The popular Debs stumped the country in opposition to the war, insisting that if industry supported the war it was only because it was to its tactical advantage to do so. This happens to have been the case. Corporate profits shot up 300% between 1914 and 1919, and leveled off at a spectacular 30% after the war. Inflation, on the other hand, doubled between 1913 and 1920, completely wiping out the modest wartime wage increases. In 1919 a bushel of corn bought five gallons of gas; two years later it bought a half gallon. Family farms went up for sale all across the country, gobbled up by gas companies. Eugene Debs, a farm boy, understood this.

The wartime head of the Committee on Public Information, America's first official Propaganda Minister, was Harper's answer to Good Housekeeping's Harvey Wiley, George Creel, just before the war the most famous anti-patent medicine screamer in the country. Creel's 1915-16 series in Harper's is full of dragons, snakes and dead babies boiled in soothing syrup.

LHJ, 4/1908

Incredibly, on Germany's surrender in 1918, Wilson and the Allies immediately rushed massive amounts of armaments to the Prussian militarists they had just defeated. The Spartacists had risen in Germany, taking Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Essen, Bremen and Dusseldorf, and the Allies knew they couldn't negotiate a reliable contract of reparations with them, so they backed the Prussians.

The revolt took the Prussians months to crush, and it is open to question whether they could have done it without Allied arms. Margaret Sanger's inspiration, Rosa Luxemberg, the birth strike advocate, died leading this revolt. Had we heeded the socialists and taken the opportunity to crush the Prussians once and for all, we would have saved ourselves the last great battle of World War I, World War II, as predicted in writing by Rosa Luxemberg on the eve of her execution by firing squad.

Chortled The New York Times, á la George Creel, December 12, 1918: " a few years more Germany would have been irresistable in war, for she would have made drug fiends of all the other nations of the world. Into well-known German brands of tooth paste and patent medicines - naturally for export only - habit-forming drugs were to be introduced; at first a little, then more, as the habit grew on the non-German victim and his system craved ever greater quantities."

NYT, 2/22/1919 and 2/27/1921

"But although the tale of this Teuton-all-too-Teuton scheme is probably a mere invention, Germany did concoct and spread through the world a habit-forming drug, and her leaders in this war have made good use of its ravages in other countries. More than half a century ago socialism was invented in Germany; and the rulers of the empire, forseeing its vast possiblities in breaking down national morale, fostered its propagation abroad while they did their best to stamp out the habit at home....Just as workmen in the tooth paste factories might have surreptitiously sampled the brands made for export only and found attractions not present in the products for the home market, so the Germans took to socialism and neosocialism. It is a rare poison that will not act on the system of its own inventor."

That is almost exactly what Harry Anslinger told a Senate committee and the United Nations Narcotics Commission in 1951 about the Chinese Reds, holding up a bag of "Lions Globe" heroin he said they were shipping to our boys in Korea. This assertion was the basis of a major propaganda campaign that lasted for years. Anslinger handled the press with the finesse of Creel himself. Lions Globe was actually the brand manufactured by our own Kuomintang allies, Chiang's boys, and the more entrepreneurial of the natives, also our allies, in the Golden Triangle, as our boys in Nam discovered, and as our own Bureau of Narcotics confirmed in 1972.

NYT, 7/18/1954

In a famous 1959 case, Anslinger's top international agent, George White, an OSS/CIA operative, made a major heroin bust. It was Burmese Kuomintang heroin funnelled through Hong Kong, bound for distribution by the American Syndicate. But by allowing the ringleader, a well-known member of San Francisco's KMT-organized Chinese Anti-Communist League to escape, White was enabled to claim that it was Red Chinese dope, "most of it from a vast poppy field near Chungking." The Kuomintang is for Prohibition. Today we still arm the KMT, Burmese, Thai and Indonesian warlords, the Sicilian and Chinese gangs still own the docks, and the Lions Globe just keeps on comin', like toothpaste out of a tube.

The War on Pain Doctors

In recent decades, researchers have recognized the inadequacy of this definition. On the one hand, some drugs that don't cause physical withdrawal symptoms (for example, cocaine) clearly can produce a potentially self-destructive desire for more. On the other hand, the vast majority of those who try even the most addictive substances don't develop lasting habits. Researchers therefore redefined addiction to emphasize craving and negative consequences rather than withdrawal symptoms. The diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association now recognizes that physical dependence is neither necessary nor sufficient for addiction, which is characterized by continued use of a substance despite ongoing drug-related problems. For pain patients, of course, the drug produces fewer problems and greater functioning, rather than the reverse.

Some patient advocates say drug warriors can't accept this reality because it undermines the logic of prohibition: If most people don't get hooked when exposed to the "hardest" of all categories of drugs, if patients' lives get dramatically better and they function perfectly well on doses that are supposed to incapacitate, stupefy, and derange, why is it so important for the government to protect us from these substances? From this point of view, the DEA must fight pain control because functional patients on high doses of opioids threaten its authority.

"It completely puts the lie to the whole criminal approach because it shows that these molecules are not evil, that people can and do function well on them," says the Pain Relief Network's Siobhan Reynolds. "It undermines the whole basis for the war on drugs and makes it a strictly scientific/medical issue."