12/11/11 Russ Jones

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Russell Jones, LEAP speaker, author of "Honorable Intentions" + ABC report on dispensary Xmas toy drive & CNN report on DEA laundering money for Mex cartels

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / December 11, 2011

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: Hello my friends. This is Dean Becker. Welcome to this holiday edition of Cultural Baggage. The intro music courtesy of Dory Junior High Beginners Orchestra.

Alright my friends. Glad to have you with us. Yeah, it is the holiday season. It’s time to think about what we’re up to, where we’ve been, where we’re going, what we’re doing.

Proud to have a gentleman who has done that - written a book about his life, his experiences. It’s “The Odyssey of an American warrior who kept his eyes wide open and is willing to stand up and pull the veil away on what is really happening.”

He’s been our guest in the past. He’s one of my band of brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. His book, “Honorable Intentions”, the author, Russell “Russ” Jones. How are you doing, Russ?

RUSSELL JONES: Good evening. Thanks for having me back, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it’s good to talk with you again. I had heard some of your story over the years but to read it in your book and to see it detailed, written out and fully extrapolated gives me even more respect for what you do in this country and trying to awaken people to this need for change.

RUSSELL JONES: Well I hope I bring them to the right conclusion. What I tried to do is slowly bring people along – the same way I came to the conclusion that the War on Drugs is a failed policy. Of course, as you know, I combine that with other failed policies. Viet Nam is where we start off in the book and Viet Nam was a failed policy.

It was a war of attrition in which we counted body count. We failed to learn from the French experience and we went to war. We jump ahead to the War on Drugs today and we failed to learn from alcohol prohibition. We have body count today in the same sense in all we’re looking for is drug seizures and number of arrests.

DEAN BECKER: In the meantime, the people of Mexico are suffering approaching 50,000 deaths in the last 5 years. Central America, Guatemala, Honduras, Guinea Bassau in Africa…it’s a worldwide mayhem, isn’t it?

RUSSELL JONES: Well that’s the tragedy with any failed policies. It’s not that we can prevent failed policies – we can – but that’s what I’m trying to point out. What I’m trying to point out in the book is that we’re always going to have failed policies but let’s learn to recognize them quickly and do something about it because the collateral damage is always the civilians. This War on Drugs is one that we definitely have not learned and recognized. 40 years - that’s a whole lifetime for some people.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and a lifetime of absolute failure. The chapters about your tours in Viet Nam, your duties as a helicopter pilot, the recognition of the body count being the main objective and the lack of respect that the various entities gave one another, the stealing of body counts and so forth, right?

RUSSELL JONES: Yeah, because body count became so important you had body count being falsified. You had units arguing for who gets credit for this body or that body. You had them taking credit…you know the one scene in the book where I’m talking to one officer, Hugh Thompson, of course at the time neither of us, or at least I didn’t realize the significance of it, but he was the helicopter pilot that exposed my lie and the counting of civilian bodies as body count…it was amazing what we were doing in Viet Nam.

DEAN BECKER: And…I don’t even know how to say this…I don’t want to disrespect you, your service or anybody that’s out there trying to do a good job. I’m just going to say some perceptions I have and that is there is a similar distortion that goes on in the drug war that “small timers” are somehow counted as “big fish”. That sometimes the mechanism of law enforcement is designed to increase that load that person might have. That they’re encouraged to have more on hand than they might have normally because law enforcement kind of steers them down that path. Your response to that.

RUSSELL JONES: I think I understand what you’re saying. In law enforcement my experience having worked as a narcotics detective in California and with the DEA also, yeah, they focused on the amount of drugs seized or the number of people seized and arrested or the amount of money seized and then you start falsifying things.

You start exaggerating the amount of dope seized. You exaggerating the amount of money this dope would have brought had it been broken down and sold on the streets. And what we do not do in the War on Drugs is focus on what the goal is – to reduce death, disease, crime and drug use. Because if we focused on that, if our government focused on that – they’d have to admit that what we’re doing is a failure.

DEAN BECKER: The Century of Lies show which is going to follow this program features a debate at Brown University by former Drug Czar John Walters and contained within his speech he keeps reiterating the fact that drug addiction is a disease and we’re not focusing so much on law enforcement, we’re providing treatment and education but the fact of the matter is that’s a lie.

They have diminished a bit of the law enforcement effort but we’re still arresting well over 1.6 million people a year for baggies in their pocket, right?

RUSSELL JONES: Sure. I don’t know what the figure is going to be at the end of this year but I’m sure it’s approaching 1.7 million. Over 50% of those will be for marijuana and 88 to 90% of those will be for simple possession of marijuana.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, the office which is supposed to be keeping track of all this stuff, is so embarrassed by the results that they keep changing the methodology of their statics because they don’t like the results. So it’s very hard for us to really see or to track what’s going on in this so-called war because, again, they keep changing the methodology for gathering statistics.

Walters has no clue. I’ll come right out and say it. He has no clue from which he’s speaking from.

DEAN BECKER: No, I would agree. I think there is an actual playbook because as we move from one Drug Czar to another…you know now Kerlikowske sure sounds a whole lot like Walters to me.

RUSSELL JONES: I don’t even keep track of it that close, Dean. I’m just disgusted at what’s going on. I try to focus on the general public now. Educating, making them aware of this failed policy and that’s a moral and ideological argument that you cannot legislate and we need to treat it as a health issue not a law enforcement issue.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, friends, once again, we’re speaking with Mr. Russell Jones. His book - “Honorable Intentions.” It tells the story of a life in service to his country.

You know, Russ, I served in the U.S. Air Force. I was 4A draft exempt, didn’t have to go. I ran into horrible situations that led me to feel that my intentions were not being honored by the Air Force. I’ll just leave it at that.

I think in so many cases people want to be patriotic. Want to serve their country and oft times the country is not serving its people.

RUSSELL JONES: I think that’s what I’m trying to point out in the book, “Honorable Intentions.” Our men and women are serving honorably. They served honorably in Viet Nam. Of course I was involved in Iran-Contra. Our men were serving honorably down there.

I was involved in the War on Drugs in my police work. I worked in the Soviet Union and in China. Everywhere I went the people on the front lines were serving honorably and today our law enforcement officers, our narcotics detectives, our DEA agents – they’re out there serving honorably but this is a failed policy and they’re dying for this failed policy. Not only are the civilians dying but we’ve got law enforcement personnel who are giving up their lives for this absolute failed policy.

DEAN BECKER: I would throw into that equation, Russ, the fact many of the addicts that are dying here in America are not dying necessarily because they use drugs but because the drugs they use are either contaminated or more potent than they’re expecting.

RUSSELL JONES: Sure. And we leave that out of the equation so often - the deaths of the drug addicts. They’re dying because they’re taking a drug of unknown strength and of unknown quality and unknown quantity. It’s sad.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s talk about your involvement in Iran-Contra. A lot of folks probably have heard the term but tell the listeners what that means and how you participated.

RUSSELL JONES: I was involved in what was called the Southern Front. That was working out of Costa Rica. The Contra war down in South America was Nicaraguans who were fighting to free their country from a socialist dictator at the time, Ortega.

The United States was supporting them but were not getting the funding so people were taking it in their own hands to raise money in various ways. Now Iran-Contra was the way that became world public and we all learned about the sale of missiles to Iran. The money from those missiles was being used to fund the Contras.

What was less known and although it came out in hearings they managed to do a better job of keeping it a secret was that drugs were also being run, brought into this country - flown into Mena, Arkansas, flown into Florida to raise money to support the Contras. Of course I was involved in trying to find out where the small arms were coming from but within the course of that I also came across this drug-running that was going on.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s talk about that for a moment. That was not necessarily from President Reagan’s office but there was some indications that he know about it and approved it.

RUSSELL JONES: I don’t know how far up the chain it goes. I do know at the lower levels, we know this as a fact, this came out in the Senate hearings that people in the government, the CIA and other agencies, knew that drugs were being run from Central and South America into the United States and that those funds were being used to support the Contras. We also knew that some of those funds were being diverted for personal reasons but people were looking the other way.

I should point something out. In World War II, it was called the OSS then, was working close with the mafia because the mafia was fighting Fascism and Nazism in Europe. The OSS knew that the mafia was raising money through the sale of drugs in order to fight Nazism and Fascism. So this isn’t new. This looking the other way isn’t necessarily new. I’m not condoning it either. I’m just saying this is a fact. This is something that happened. And we need to be aware of it. We need to learn from it.

DEAN BECKER: The other point that I think a lot of folks tend to forget is that the glaring, obvious situation in Afghanistan where our troops actually camp out in the middle of these marijuana and opium fields and do not disturb them for fear of antagonizing or driving away the local populous, right?

RUSSELL JONES: Apparently so. What I don’t understand is all the money we spend on either trying to eradicate or protect it or whatever – I don’t know why we just don’t buy it.

DEAN BECKER: Well somebody else somewhere would just grow more for the black market.

RUSSELL JONES: Well then just keep buying it. What the farmer gets is such a small amount. Just buy it at that level.

DEAN BECKER: I think it’s like 6 cents a gram that the farmers get paid. We could give them a dime.

Alright folks we’re speaking with Mr. Russell Jones. He’s author of “Honorable Intentions: The Odyssey of an American warrior who kept his eyes wide open and is willing to stand up and pull the veil away on what is really happening.”

Russ, You and I get a chance to speak to a lot of fraternal groups, college groups and so forth on the behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and it’s been my observation that this year, 2011, has been a very powerful year for LEAP.

We’ve been recognized by governmental agencies, regulatory agencies and so forth, a lot of newspaper coverage. A lot of people are starting to recognize the futility of this drug war, are they not?

RUSSELL JONES: I think they do. I don’t think you can find a more conservative group than Rotarians. They are local businessmen within our communities and I speak to Rotary Clubs all over the nation. They are probably my toughest crowd but yet I would say a good 85 to maybe even higher percentage of them agree with me that the War on Drugs is a failed policy. The other 10 percent are definitely willing to talk about it. There’s probably only a few, 5 or 6%, who I’d say are just hardcore and believe that drugs need to remain illegal and we need to keep the fight. So I think we’re making a lot of movement in the right direction.

DEAN BECKER: You mentioned your work in law enforcement, your work with the DEA, you were also involved in some RICO investigations – that’s kind of a high-level accounting, isn’t it?

RUSSELL JONES: [chuckling] Yeah, that’s a great story in the book, by the way. That was one of the first trials. I had actually infiltrated the Hell’s Angels. They thought that the RICO case against the Hell’s Angels was going to be a real test of RICO and, of course, it turned out to be an absolute circus.

RICO is a federal charge going against corrupt organizations, criminal organizations. You try to convict the organization per se as opposed to individuals. That didn’t work to well. I don’t know how…I guess the government has had some success with RICO trials but, again, it’s unintended consequences and it sure didn’t work in that Hell’s Angel’s case.

DEAN BECKER: It brings to mind the U.S. some say 50 billion, some say 70 billion a years invested in “stopping the flow of drugs” and yet we don’t seemed to have stopped them, have we?

RUSSELL JONES: No. That’s a known fact. Facts are interesting things – they just are. And the fact is that we have not reduced the flow of drugs. We surely have reduced the price of drugs – that’s come down. The purity has gone up and the rate of addiction has pretty much stayed constant since the beginning of the War on Drugs. Statistically we’ve accomplished nothing in the War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: No. And that’s the real shame of it. I guess there’s plans to do it again next year and the next year and the year after but, again, there are those few politicians beginning to challenge this more openly.

We had a great letter in Austin American Statesman today by Suzie Wills, one of the leaders of Drug Policy Forum of Texas, just declaring the drug war to be an abject failure, right?

RUSSELL JONES: Yes. In fact I have that article sitting in front of me on my desktop as we’re speaking. That’s a great article. If anyone can pull that up on their website I suggest they read it. It’s in the Austin Statesman.

DEAN BECKER: What’s the title of it? That’ll help them find it.

RUSSELL JONES: It’s the statesman.com and the title is “Wills: We lost the War on Drugs.”

DEAN BECKER: It’s a powerful indictment but then again it’s similar to some of the stuff put forward by the Global Commission on Drugs and many other high echelon organizations over this year of 2011.

RUSSELL JONES: Yeah, that’s another great - very succinct, very short, very to the point. What they have 5 or 6 past presidents or heads of state along with other secretaries of states and business leaders like Charles Branson. And they came to the same point. Suzie Wills did a great job here – very succinctly – lays it right out there.

DEAN BECKER: Russ, we’ve got just a couple minutes left here and I kind of want to come back to the book. The content is powerful. It’s a story of commitment. Of an individual trying to do the right thing and doing the right thing whenever possible but being stymied and stifled by governmental “oversight.” Am I correct?

RUSSELL JONES: I didn’t have an epiphany. It was just a slow realization that what we’re doing isn’t working. In book I try to put in those conversations that I had with my co-workers along the way where I’m questioning this and that the whole time. Whether it be the Viet Nam war or Iran-Contra or the War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: I want to thank you for writing this book. I want to thank you for being with us. Is there a website where folks can learn more?

RUSSELL JONES: http://www.honorable-intentions.com by Russell Jones. Or google honorable intentions by Russell Jones and look for the website and it’s also available on amazon.com.

DEAN BECKER: OK. Russ, thank you so much. I’m sure we’ll be talking to you in the coming year. I wish you great success when you’re out there talking to those fraternal and college groups. 85% is a good number but I guess we gotta hit 100 before we’re going to swing this cat. Your closing thoughts, sir.

RUSSELL JONES: It’s something that has to happen from the grassroots. It’s us citizens out here in the general public that are going to make this happen. No political leader is going to take it and make it happen on his own. So when the political leaders sense what we want out here in the general public then they’ll start moving in that direction.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, Russ Jones, his book, “Honorable Intentions.” Thank you, sir.

RUSSELL JONES: You bet.

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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international graft, greed and corruption, stilled science and events, unchristian moral postulations of fiction as fact.

(Gong)

Time’s up!

The answer: and this Drug is the United States’ immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific and plain F-ing evil addiction to Drug War.

All approved by the FDA, absolved by that American Medical Association and persecuted by Congress and the cops and in abeyance to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels.

$550 billion a year can be very addicting.

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[music]

STONER: This pot’s so good that when I smoke it the government freaks out.

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DEAN BECKER: Opening up a can of worms and going fishing for truth. This is the Drug Truth Network. Drugtruth.net

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DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy of ABC News.

California Marijuana Dispensary Trades Pot for Food to Feed the Hungry

Medical marijuana users are accustomed to the munchies sending them on a hunt for food. Now they have a place where giving their food away can score them some pot.

For the second year in a row, one California medical marijuana dispensary is doing its part to feed the hungry by offering their patients a trade: one free joint for every six cans of donated food.

"We're in a really controversial industry, and we wanted to show that we're here for good," says Nancy Black, sales manager at the Granny Purps dispensary in Soquel, Calif.

The dispensary is running its unique food drive for the second year in a row, trading joints -- Black calls them "pre-rolls"-- for donated food.

There is no limit to the number of free joints a single customer can receive.

"We've given away 50, 60, pre-rolls at a time to one person for the amount of cans they've brought in," Black said.

The response has been huge. The dispensary collected more than 12,000 pounds of food last year and gave away about 2,000 joints. This year, they've collected nearly 5,000 pounds since early November.

The food-for-pot exchange not only helps feed the hungry, Black says. Patients also benefit by getting the marijuana they need without paying the usual $10 per joint.

Courtesy Granny Purps
Employees of Granny Purps medical marijuana... View Full Size

Courtesy Granny Purps
Employees of Granny Purps medical marijuana dispensary in Soquel, Calif., collect cans of food traded for free joints.
"It helps feed tons of people and it helps people who sometimes can't get their medication on their own," Black says. "People have to pay out of pocket for all of their medicine."

Granny Purps conceived the food drive as a way to burnish the image of an industry that operates within a legal quagmire. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing people to use marijuana for medical purposes, but the federal government still considers it illegal.

That legal gray area, as well as the stigma of stoner culture, has made some organizations reluctant to take food donations from medical marijuana purveyors. Black says that after delivering 12,000 pounds of food to a local food bank last year, Granny Purps was told that they'd have to find somewhere else to donate it.

"They asked that we not participate with them again next year," Black said. "We all were quite hurt by it."

Undeterred, Black soon discovered another local food bank that was more than willing to have the donated food.

"The issue can be a hot potato," admits Linda Lovelace, operations director for Valley Churches United Missions.

Lovelace, no relation to the former porn-movie actress, says her organization feeds about 1,200 people a month. In tough times, she says, any stigma of teaming with a medical marijuana dispensary is outweighed by the overwhelming need to feed hungry people.

"The demand is so high that the food is coming in one door and going out the other as fast as it's coming in," she tells ABC News. "We're just feeding people."

Black says her mother Kay -- everybody calls her "Granny" -- opened the dispensary about a year and a half ago after perfecting recipes for marijuana-infused baked goods such as cookies and brownies known as edibles.

She began baking for her husband, Robert, who suffered a series of strokes beginning about seven years ago. The edibles helped regulate his emotions and ease his pain, Nancy says.

The dispensary has grown and now has about 6,500 medical marijuana patients, Black said.

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RAPHAEL RAMOS: Mexican lawmakers say they’re furious. They’re demanding an investigation after learning the DEA might have allowed its agents to launder money possibly even on Mexican soil as part of an investigation into the inner-workings of Mexican drug cartels.

MEXICAN OFFICIAL: (via interpreter) Really, really bad and this is not increasing the trust among countries to work together against crime. Furthermore, you can’t fight crime by committing criminal acts and violating the law.

RAPHAEL RAMOS: Last weekend the New York Times reported that Drug Enforcement Administration agents have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders.

MEXICAN OFFICIAL: (via interpreter) Of course there’s a jurisdiction problem and in the end maybe a violation of sovereignty. That has to be determined and find out where the operations were carried out.

RAPHAEL RAMOS: A former DEA agent says infiltration of Mexican drug cartels is not only happening but it’s essential in investigations aimed at dismantling Mexican criminal organizations by targeting their finances.

DEA AGENT: There’s only one real way to catch these major drug cartels, the leaders of these cartels. And that’s to follow the money because these leaders don’t go anywhere near the drugs themselves. They hire people to do that.

RAPHAEL RAMOS: In an email statement the DEA said it would not, “discuss the operational activities.” It added that we have been working collaboratively with the Mexican government to fight money laundering for years. As a result of this cooperation we have seized illicit transnational criminal organization money all around the world through our partnership with law enforcement.

DEA ANGENT: The real question here is whether or not undercover agents need to sell drugs, buy drugs, launder money and I got to tell you there’s no way to make these kinds of great international, sophisticated conspiracy cases unless you’re going to do that.

RAPHAEL RAMOS: Last month the Mexican government requested extradition of American AFT agents involved in operation “Fast and Furious”. This operation allowed the illegal smuggling of firearms from the United States to Mexico to learn about smugglers but many weapons were lost and possibly ended up in criminal hands.

Raphael Ramos, CNN in Atlanta.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again I want to thank Mr. Russell Jones author of “Honorable Intentions.” Please check it out. Check out this week’s Century of Lies. It’s got debate position from John Walters the former Drug Czar. And gotta ask you guys to do your part to end this madness.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition – you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth 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.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.