Pubdate: Sat, 14 Sep 2002
Source: Fort Pierce Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2002 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Richard Sinnot


Your Monday front-page story and headline "Feds link illicit drug money to 
terrorists" is a perfect example of government spin on a story, with much 
assistance from the U.S. media. Thanks to the modern marvel of the 
Internet, I counted about six newspaper Web sites that ran the same story.

It appears to be intended to scare folks to some degree by connecting drug 
smuggling with terrorism groups. The story also received widespread 
coverage on the television and radio media. Apparently, the government 
released the story to media which dutifully released it to the public, all 
the while not asking even the most fundamental questions. The irony is that 
the story is true. It is old news, but true. Various drug law reform 
organizations such as Drug Policy Alliance have complained for years about 
the huge financial opportunities provided terrorist groups by our current 
drug policy of prohibition, but the government will not engage in a formal 
debate on the subject. The harmful, cruel and dishonest part of the irony 
is that it is only and completely and easily within the government's power 
to eliminate the financial opportunities, but it will not do it. At the 
same time, through a nearly unquestioning media structure, it deceives and 
misinforms the American public into believing that it is trying its best to 
stop the practice. The irony is this: All the illegal drugs would be worth 
only their inherent value mere pennies in a normal market environment, but 
because the government, through the prohibition laws, has declared these 
drugs to be contraband, they are worth hundreds of times their inherent value.

The laws have distorted normal market forces and created a black market, 
just as it did in 1919 with the alcohol prohibition. Indeed, prior to the 
black market created by the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914, those drugs were 
very cheap. If the laws that created the black market were repealed 
tomorrow, that market would end and the lucrative opportunity for terrorist 
groups would also end, immediately. So, while the government fans the 
flames of fear, it does not mention that the relationship could be ended 
quickly through legislative action. Indeed, the government refuses to even 
discuss the subject and often suppresses the discussion. Lord knows, most 
in the media know nothing about this simple economic fact, or simply refuse 
to bring it up. What a racket.

Richard Sinnott

Fort Pierce
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