Transcript

Cultural Baggage May 23, 2010

Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

It's not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American..... 'NO MORE' 'DRUG WAR' 'NO MORE' 'DRUG WAR' 'NO MORE' 'DRUG WAR' 'NO MORE' 'DRUG WAR'

My Name is Dean Becker. I don't condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.
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Well, this is Cultural Baggage. My name is Dean Becker and we have with us our guest, Mr. William Martin. He's the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at the Rice University. He's the Chavanne Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Rice.

His areas of research and writing at the Baker Institute focus on two major sets of issues: 1) the political implications of religion, particularly fundamentalist religion, and 2) ways to reduce the harms associated with both drug abuse and drug policy. With that, let's welcome Professor William Martin. Hello, sir.

Professor William Martin: Hi, Dean. Glad to be with you.

Dean Becker: Thank you for being with us. I think this is a boon for the Drug Truth Network, that we have been chosen by the James A. Baker III Institute to store; to permanently archive the records of the Drug Truth Network. Correct, sir?

Professor William Martin: Well, I hope it will be a boon to your program. We certainly feel like it's a boon to our program, in drug policy. I want to stress, I think your regular listeners probably realize this, but this is a truly unique archive of resource and I'm using unique, in the grammatically correct way. One of a kind. There's nothing else like it.

The six hundred or so interviews that you've done are a tremendous unduplicated resource and we're delighted to have that. I think it's going to be a great help for scholars, for policy workers. As in my case, I hope both of those and just for interested citizens. So we're delighted to have it and delighted to partner with you on that.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Professor Martin. Now for those who may not know, they may have heard the name, but may not be quite certain who he is. Please tell folks about James A. Baker III.

Professor William Martin: Well, James A. Baker is one of the outstanding political figures of our time, of course. He was the former Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasure and White House Chief of Staff and I believe it's the case, that no other person has held those three crucially important rolls in our nation. He continues to be active, even though a couple of weeks ago we celebrated his eightieth birthday at the Baker Institute. You would never believe he's an eighty year old man, because he's so vital and active.

When we talk about the Iraq study group, it's often that report that was given President Bush and the President did not follow it's recommendations, to the degree it was hoped. But it's often referred to the Baker-Hamilton Study group and that of course, is James Baker. He's also the grandson of Captain James Baker.

He was Baker the first and was founding partner in Baker Botts and more importantly to Rice, was a key figure when William Marsh Rice was murdered by his valet and his lawyer, and poisoned. Captain Baker realized there was something afoot and actually saved the institution by demanding that the body not be cremated, be tested for poison and there was a big trial about that. That saved the money that William Marsh Rice had bequeathed to form Rice University. So there would be no Rice University probably, were it not for James A. Baker's grandfather. So the name has a long story tradition at Rice.

Dean Becker: Now Rice has been called the Harvard of the South and I think rightfully so. There are some very intelligent people that attend that University. Let's talk a little bit about the head of the James A. Baker Institute. The man who's feet are most often on the ground, I think in this regard, and that's Ambassador Djerejian.

Professor William Martin: Edward Djerejian. He was the Ambassador in his case and certainly not an honorary title. He was the U S Ambassador both to Syria and to Israel. I believe he is the only person to have held the Ambassadorship on both sides of that Arab-Israel divide and continues to be quite active in dealing with those negotiations and various sorts of things like that, on a semi-official but sometimes unofficial basis.

He's also served importantly in the Russian Consulate and other places. But he's a recognized world class diplomat and it's really been a great thing for us to have had him as the Founding Director. He's brought a great deal of credibility and wisdom to the Institute.

Dean Becker: Once again, we're speaking with Professor William Martin of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Bill, I wanted to ask you... How long has the Baker Institute been in existence?

Professor William Martin: We just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary not too long ago.

Dean Becker: OK. That's wonderful news. Now, I guess I first...

Professor William Martin: Let me say that in that short time, it is ranked among the thirty top think tanks, or policy institutes in the United States, out of about three thousand.

Dean Becker: Well that's pretty powerful, in the top one percent, certainly. Yes, sir. I wanted to say that about halfway then, into the existence of the Baker Institute, I met you at a conference back in 2000. Where I believe that was Judge James P. Gray who was one of the featured speakers in 2002. Is that correct?

Professor William Martin: 2002, that's right. We had representatives of six nations here, besides the United States. It's a two day conference and I would say most of the things that happen at the Baker Institute are archived, in at least video form. The archives for that, you can go back to April 2002 and see that whole conference and read the transcripts of papers that were prepared for it.

But Judge Gray and Ethan Nadelmann and Kevin Zeiss and other people that you know and that listener's should be aware of their names, were there. It was really a wonderful conference and I think made the Baker Institute be seen as a place where serious discussion of the issues that you discuss on your program, that's a serious part of our offering there.

Dean Becker: Professor Martin, I wanted to share this with you. You may well know, I want to share it with the audience, that when I went to that conference, they handed out little brochures at the front door as you came in. I didn't really look at mine, I was busy trying to garner interviews and so forth. Around lunch time I sat down and looked at it and there, on the inside cover, was the name of one of the chief supporters of that conference, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Darrell Obrecht. They didn't tell me, but that was my parents.

They showed their support for my work and from that day forward, this has been such a blessing to me. To know that my parents were with me in trying to expose this, what I consider to be a fraud and that they supported that effort. I just didn't know if you that was them.

Professor William Martin: I did not. I appreciate your telling me.

Dean Becker: Yes, sir. It just gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that they were in support of my work, as well. OK, once again we're speaking with Professor William Martin.

Bill, I'm looking at all the writing you do. You've written most recently, for the Texas Monthly, “Texas High Ways“. You want to talk about that other career of your which also features perhaps, the best known biography of Reverend Billy Graham, does it not?

Professor William Martin: I think that's true. Time magazine called it the definitive biography. I'm hesitant to use the term myself, because I'm not sure any biography is ever definitive. But I can say that since it first appeared in 1991, it has been regarded as at least the authoritative biography.

I've written four new chapters. I still continue to update it and it will be issued at some point in the future with an expanded four new chapters, keeping up with Billy Grahams life. The book goes back into longer history of freelance evangelist, but throughout his long and very productive life.

So many people consider it an anomaly or odd, that Billy Graham's biographer would also write an article for Texas Monthly. For example, calling it Texas High Ways. Calling for the legalization of marijuana. But I believe it's solid good policy.

Interestingly, member's of the Billy Graham Organization, being aware of that article have said, “That makes sense. What we're doing now, doesn't seem to work.” So there's a lot of support. The image I use is that, even though it's still a tough fight, there are many, many loose bricks in the wall of resistance, to changing our drug policy.

Dean Becker: Yes sir, Professor. I also think it's a scenario wherein people know the truth, feel the truth, see the need for change and yet they're opinion is the only one. They're afraid that others won't agree with them, because it's a topic that just doesn't merit or garner the discussion that I think is appropriate. Your thoughts on that?

Professor William Martin: Well, it's interesting. From time to time I speak to Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, other service groups and it's not uncommon after talking to them, and I don't get to talk to them but for fifteen or twenty minutes. But calling for changes in our drug policy and asking people to just look at this. Person after person would come up to me and say quietly, “You know, I agree with you. But I'm probably the only one here who does.”

Dean Becker: {chuckling}

Professor William Martin: I find again and again, people saying that same thing. For a number of years, I've just brought it up over and over and over to people. Sometime I say I'm like the ancient mariner, I'm stopping one of three. Just asking them, “What do you think about drug policy?”

I am amazed at the very small number of people who think, 'What we need to do is just pour it on harder.' Almost everyone recognizes that what we are doing, is not working and has not worked for a long time and that whatever the alternative is, we certainly need to look for them.

Dean Becker: Indeed, we do. Bill, give me just a minute here, I've got to appeal to my audience.

Professor William Martin: Let me appeal to them for you, too.

Dean Becker: Please do.

Professor William Martin: I'd like to say that, even though we're delighted to have this archive for the Baker Institute, we didn't pay Dean for it. We covered the cost of putting it on. But it was a gift and he will not profit from it, so he still needs your support for this program. You see that by supporting this program, you have kept it going and you have helped him produce an archive that is going to have impact far beyond just what people are hearing these programs one at a time. So please be generous with your support.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Bill. It really boils down to this. That we have made progress here, you know? I've had national reporters. I've had producers. TV producers contact me, wanting some of our extracts. I've heard from local reporters in this regard. People call me when they want Drug War news. You've seen me on the local TV a couple three times.

The stature, if you want to call it that, it's derived from a hundred thousand hours plus, of doing this work. It's derived from hundreds of discussions with scientists and doctors, lawyers, authors, prisoners, patients, providers. Any and everybody willing to talk about it.

I want to also state that last week and the week before, I tried my best to get a representative, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to come on the show. They absolutely refused to do so. They refused to because they can't find time, to do a radio interview. I can call them up and it can be done anywhere at most any time. They just can't allot that time for us to explore the topic.

We're speaking with Professor William Martin. He's with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. As I understand it Bill, you've written a blog that's going to be going up on the Houston Chronicle here soon?

Professor William Martin: Well, it's just a blog piece, just talking about announcing the acquisition of the posting of these archives. So I'm just telling people a little bit about what we have tried to do at the Baker Institute and what you have tried to do and to note that we now have a partnership with this and that these will be continuing to appear.

So it's not an advocacy piece in itself. It's just announcing what we're up to and also inviting people to pay attention to what goes on at the Baker Institute. We have some interesting programs dealing with these issues and we'll continue to be planning several at the moment.

Dean Becker: Bill, I want to say this. That over the years some have discerned me to be radical. They've said as much. Radical talk show host, in one of my awards. Yet the fact of it is, I feel that with each passing day, my ideas become a little more conservative. A little more available, if you will, to just the average Joe to say, 'That guy's making some sense.” Your thoughts on that progress, in the last eight or ten years?

Professor William Martin: Well, I think that's true and this is one of the reasons that I got into this, really. In addition to teaching the Sociology of Religion, which was what I've been best known for and have written most of the books and articles about. I taught Criminology at Rice for thirty-five years and in a way, I considered it a secondary field. But certainly I was keeping up with a number of things and staying up with the field in teaching it. Though I didn't write much about it.

Part of that of course, had to do with drug policy and I recognize how faulty our drug policy was and how much harm it was doing. I figured, when I got into this I was in my early sixties - now I'm in my early seventies and I have nine grandchildren. I am not a drug user, apart from alcohol which - as I've said in my Texas monthly article, causes far more trouble. Far more dangerous drug than marijuana.

But in any case, I felt like I'm not a radical person. I'm not perceived as a radical person. That as being Billy Graham's biographer and in my personal way, a rather conservative person. I thought that at least people would not be able to write me off as someone who was just a radical, trying to justify his own dope habit.

Dean Becker: Yep.

Professor William Martin: Of course you are aware and you've had people from LEAP, the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, on your program. Where a lot of people who have been involved in pressing the fight of the war on drugs, have come to realize that it's just not only fruitless, but wrong. That after retirement, they have turned to great advocates for reform. I just think that that tide is growing.

We see right now at the top of the list, is what's going on in California, with a vote coming up this fall. That has according to public polls, looks like at least half or slightly over half of the people in California want to legalize or to place marijuana under regulation and taxation. There's already the widespread legal use of Medical Marijuana in California and the state has not collapsed under that experience.

So the opposition to that will certainly be well organized and we'll see what happens. But here you have a tremendously large influential state, actually considering the regulation and taxation of marijuana. That's something that's really been pretty much impossible to conceive of, even fifteen years ago. Ten years ago perhaps.

Dean Becker: Yeah. I tell you what Bill, we're going to have to call it right there. But I want to invite you back before this year's over and we'll talk about progress and let folks have a better understanding of our situation at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Once again, Professor William Martin. Thank you, sir.

Professor William Martin: Good to talk with you, Dean.

Dean Becker: Thank you, sir.
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(musical accompaniment)

Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. bakerinstitute.org/dtn
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My name is Diana Washington Valdez. I'm a reporter for the El Paso Times in El Paso, Texas and author of the book, 'The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women' and author of the forth coming book, 'A Mexican Roulette: Last Cartel Standing'.

Dean Becker: Now Diana, I watched the news coming out of El Paso Times and it's an ongoing series of gun battles and deaths and beheadings. You want to summarize what a typical days news is like at the El Paso Times?

Ms. Diana Washington Valdez: Whenever we look at Juarez and try to figure out the news of the day there, it usually ends up being a series of multiple murders. Maybe five, six, seven, sometimes twelve and trying to make sure we didn't leave anyone out. It's pretty much a body count. Except that more recently we have people killed in clusters, more than one person at a time.

Dean Becker: Now your book title which includes the phrase, 'Last Cartel Standing', it kind of summarizes what's going on, now. They're fighting to become the premier cartel. Tell us again, if you would, the nature of these crimes. I mean, they barbarous. They are horrendous, are they not?

Ms. Diana Washington Valdez: Yes, yes. We have basically, right now, at least two cartels that are fighting it out. Fighting it to the death, because we're talking about a lot of money. That's what's at stake for them, a lot of money by controlling the Juarez/El Paso corridor. They are deploying their resources to take the opposition out. You know, each other and that is what is going on. That is what has been going on since the end of 2006.

Dean Becker: Now over the last several years there have been thousands upon thousands of deaths in and around Ciudad Juarez and we have heard a hue and cry from the public and even from certain politicians within El Paso. That it's time to change the nature of our Drug War Policy. Your thoughts on that?

Ms. Diana Washington Valdez: Yes, we have had since 2008 approximately, certainly the ones that are officially reported of course, by about five thousand one hundred and fifty people murdered. It's important to say murdered as killed, 'cause could be a car accident or something like that. Most of those deaths, probably ninety-eight percent of them, are unpunished. They're not investigated.

We're right across the border from Juarez, so we in El Paso, Texas and many people from Juarez have fled to take refuge in El Paso and the vicinity. Some of the local officials here are right to take a stand and demand that something be done to put an end to the carnage. What some of them are suggesting is a general overview if the U S drug policies, the drug laws and the decriminalization of marijuana.

Dean Becker: Now marijuana is a substantial portion of the means to drive the income for these cartels. Some say fifty to seventy percent of their income is derived in that fashion?

Ms. Diana Washington Valdez: That could be. The percentages vary. It could be like thirty percent or it could be more. But there's more to the violence, than just the cartels fighting against each other. There's a bigger picture in place.

I'm not going to go into details about that, but some of that information is not seen in the public domain. That will help explain a little bit better about what has been going on. In particular relation to the kidnappings and extortions and robberies and auto stuff, that are adding to this element of instability and insecurity, in some of the communities on the border and in other communities in Mexico.

Dean Becker: Once again, we're speaking with Diana Washington Valdez and she's a reporter with the El Paso Times. You know Diana, I'm in Houston. I report on this Drug War on a daily basis as well and I feel there's a huge buffer between me and potential retribution, if you will. But reporters have suffered greatly in Mexico, for reporting news about this drug war, have they not?

Ms. Diana Washington Valdez: Yes, that's correct. Dozens and dozens and dozens, maybe we're up to a hundred now of reporters. Radio, TV, print media, even bloggers - reporters who use blogs to report news. Website reporters have been murdered in Mexico over the past five years. I think maybe one, one case has been solved.

We've had a least five or six journalists murdered in the state of Chihuahua, over the past ten years. There were others that disappeared and others have left the area. I know a reporter who went to Spain to flee the violence that was against her. Even in the state of Morelos where Cuernavaca is located, they're experiencing the same thing. Because we have the same cartels down there, that are up here.

Dean Becker: Alright Diana, I thank you for your reporting on this. I hope that in the future we could continue to expose this problem to the Nation, who seems to hear about it in dribs and drabs. But it's a constant flow of violence, isn't it?

Ms. Diana Washington Valdez: Yes, it is and we must not forget that more than two hundred U S cities have reported the presence of the Mexican Drug Cartels.
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Corruption... is why you and I are prancing around in here, instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the street.
Corruption... is why we win.
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Making progress can seem hopeless, intimidating. But now, with all the information so widely known about the numerous failures of Drug War, politicians inform me they are very, very interested in hearing from... YOU! Until you give them your support, the eternal World War will continue to reap its bloody harvest.

Join forces with those working to end the madness. Visit endprohibition.org
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Hello, drug policy aficionado's. I'm Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week concerns the use of paramilitary SWAT raids, in drug enforcement. Are they effective? First, let's count the numbers. The Office of National Drug Control Policy noted in its Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Summary that, “For fiscal year 2007, there were almost six hundred twenty HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) initiatives.”

The ONDCP said that, “These HIDTA initiatives seized six hundred seventy-three million in cash and two hundred three million in non-cash assets from drug traffickers.” These initiatives identified, “More than seventy-three hundred DTO's (Drug Trafficking Organizations) operating in their areas.” Swat units are often integrated into HIDTA initiatives.

Radley Balko found in his 2006 CATO Institute analysis that, *“These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers.”

Further, Balko countered that the seizure of cash and assets called forfeiture cause, *“police officials feel increasing pressure to send SWAT teams out on drug assignments, where the assets seized come back to the
department and can help offset the costs of having a SWAT team in the first place.”

So despite disrupting drug traffickers and seizing hundreds of millions of assets often needed to fund the SWAT teams themselves, he still identified over seven thousand drug trafficking organizations. Sound effective?

Further, a new report by the Center for Science and Drug Policy reviewed the scientific evidence concerning this approach to drug law enforcement and confirmed that it, **“contributes to gun violence and high homicide rates and that increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting organizations involved in drug distribution could unintentionally increase violence.”

Possibly, violence begets violence? These facts and others like them come from the Drug Interdiction chapter of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have a question for which you need facts, please email it to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org and I'll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So remember, when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.
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As always, I remind you once again. That because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.

*http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/balko_whitepaper_2006.pdf
**http://www.icsdp.org/docs/ICSDP-1%20-%20FINAL.pdf

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org