04/01/20 Nicholas Eyle

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Nicholas Eyle
Sanho Tree

Nicholas Eyle a pioneering drug reformer has passed away, tribute segment from 2004 + Sanho Tree a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and Director of its Drug Policy Project since 1998

Audio file

Cultural Baggage




Hi folks, this is Dean Becker. The Reverend most high we're going to have a two-parter, Cultural Baggage coming up for you. First off we're going to do a recap from 2004 features the thoughts of Mr. Nicholas Eyle, drug reform Pioneer who passed away a week ago, and we'll follow that up with an interview from Sanho Tree with the institute for policy studies. You'll also get to hear some of the early thoughts I had and some of the directions we’ve taken and be able to realize some of the results that we've accomplished via these Drug Truth Network radio programs.

Broadcasting from the Gulag city of planet Earth. This is Cultural Baggage, the unvarnished Truth about the Drug war. My name is Dean Becker. Steve Nolan is our engineer and our guests, Nicholas Eyle will be with us here in just a few moments. But first I just want to talk to you about something I did today actually went to the city council and started project Housterdam and we talked about it briefly here on the show projects Housterdam, basically says we're going to educate our elected officials our mayor and our city council with the Ultimate Gold start starting with one incremental change and that is to stop arresting people for marijuana, don't you think it's kind of silly that we do that what we've done with these urine test. My friends is create a real and valid if you will Gateway Theory, what we've done is tell the kids and anybody actually out there doing marijuana that no, no no don't do that. You must do heroin to be a good citizen here in these United States. And why do I say that? Well, basically it deals with the fact that we and I mean all of us that includes you my friend, we perpetuate the system. That says well, we're going to test people for drugs and you know, what marijuana stays in your system for 30 days or more sometimes; whereas if I was a heroin addict I could do it today and day after tomorrow. I could pass a test with flying colors. I wouldn't even need to go buy any of that Kidney Ranch, you know, it's that obvious my friends that we've been snookered. It's time to take back the ground that belongs to, to us this common sense and reason, you know, that is ours. We the people and all that if you know what I'm saying, Steve, do we have Nick Eyle online? All right. Hey, are you there Nicky?

NICHOLAS EYLE: I am Dean. How are you?

DEAN BECKER: I'm well, sir a little the bedraggled through the day here, but the doing well think we're making some progress and I hear you and are scheduled guests Cliff Thornton or making some progress up there tonight. Tell us what you're doing.

NICHOLAS EYLE: Absolutely Syracuse is I'm calling from Syracuse, New York. Or you're calling me or whatever it is. I'm talking from Syracuse New York and Syracuse New York is a test Market has been for years. It's a sort of typical Rust Belt North East City, about a little under half a million people in the general area around here and we have a very interesting situation a few months ago a couple of months ago the city auditor after oh, six months of working closely with Reconsider on this put out a report looking at the amount of police department resources devoted to enforcing drug prohibition and the numbers are high and he issued the report recommending that the numbers are disproportionate; that their activities actually serve to increase a lot of the crime and violence and tensions in the neighborhood and the city should look seriously as decriminalizing drugs and giving the police better tasks to perform and he recommended that the Common Council hold hearings on this. At about the same time. We have a situation where the mayor invited the feds in to prosecute some people that they claimed were in a gang, selling Marijuana, and they used- they asked feds to come in and use the RICO statutes racketeering, influenced corrupt organization laws. And these young men many of whom are guilty by association, are being prosecuted in face, perhaps life imprisonment for many of them for basically marijuana sales and some of them even for being you know, the cousin of marijuana sales. Or something like that.

DEAN BECKER: It's just outrageous, isn't it

NICHOLAS EYLE: It is outrageous, and we always came together at the same time and the community is very upset about these Rico prosecutions and there's a wonderful Minister here in town, recently thet, the group has organized the community and held meetings. The meetings are growing like crazy and numbers and we recently, the common Council has agreed to hold those hearings in May.

DEAN BECKER: Well as you know, the regular listeners hear the Cultural Baggage, are aware of a very strong similar instance last week. We had George Martorano on here man, who's as he says is going on 22 years of imprisonment for marijuana possession. I mean, it was over a ton, but he's been in there for over 22- over 21 years and he has life without possibility of parole and you know, it's just insane that way, you know murderers, rapists, my god, serial killers probably get out in this time

NICHOLAS EYLE: No, they definitely do but you know, the mandatory sentence is the long sentences. It's a terrible thing, but this is to my knowledge and I may be wrong if anybody knows of any other instances call me but to my knowledge, this is the first time that a city government in the person of the city auditor and the common Council have taken a look at this and said, you know, we have schools closing we have, have I seen issues we need job training. We had, we need after-school programs. We need all sorts of things. There's no money for any of that. But come time to arrest people. Well, all of a sudden there's millions of dollars around to arrest everybody that's committed a crime. And this is the first time that a city has said. Hey, we need to look at this because we can't afford this. The homicide rate is skyrocketing in this town, crime is increasing and the only remedy seems to be reactive. We’ll go and arrest people when they commit a crime. There's nothing spent on anything preventative.

DEAN BECKER: I listened to some of the Congressional investigations went on I think a week and a half ago. And basically they were saying that yes, their policy does support Osama Bin Laden, but let's just, you know, throw more money into it, you know with the three dollar Heroin on East Coast, I understand. Osama Bin Laden still making millions and yet they want to do everything they can to subsidize his effort. Right?

NICHOLAS EYLE:Yeah, they seem the first of all I think most of that heroin money that they're talking about the heroin from there. I think mostly goes to Afghanistan. I mean to Europe

DEAN BECKER: well that may well be

NICHOLAS EYLE: an so I think it's a sort of Little Less Direct than they're making it sound, but you know, what's interesting. They always say it's drug profits that are funding terrorism, but I don't think there's money from Merck or from Sandoz or Bear or any of that drug money that's going into funding Al-Qaeda. I think it's illegal drug money. In other words money generated by the black market by prohibition that's funding those people

DEAN BECKER: so true, Nick I tell you what we have here in Houston, you know, the scheduled breaking the chains conference. I don't know if you or any of the folks from reconsider gonna be able to make it but it portends to be a major event for this city, which so desperately needs to change the policy your thoughts in that regard. Have you been to any of the prior breaking the chains conferences?

NICHOLAS EYLE: Well, I not, I personally have not but I've heard other people who have and it's a very good thing, it, it's in you know, these are all important issues and it would be I'd like to share these things have all happened in Syracuse very recently and I would love to share some of what's going on here with people so that this can be replicated. I think this can happen around the country people, you know, this is a time when cities are operating on very tight budget. Well it sure everybody knows that their cities financially stressed at the moment. This is the time to question what They're spending their money on...

DEAN BECKER: we're going to close out this segment on Nicholas Eyle, with the words of his son Max-

quote The work my father did in the field of drug policy was some of his proudest and it remained the subject that he spoke most passionately about for the rest of his life the idea that people continue to be incarcerated for voluntarily putting a substance into their bodies always struck him as the height of absurdity if my dad had a single Mantra it would be Prohibition Doesn't work. Thank you Nicholas Eyle.

AUDIO CLIP: It's time to play name that drop by its side effects responsible for countless overdose deaths uncounted diseases International graph greed and Corruption stilted science and immense unchristian moral postulations of fiction, as fact time's up and this drug is the United States immoral improper bigoted unscientific and plain Effing evil addiction to drugwar, all approved by the FDA absolved by the American Medical Association and persecuted by Congress, the cops and in obeyence to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels- 550 billion dollars a year can be very addicting. Place 12 Monkeys in a room, place a ladder in the middle of the room hang a bunch of bananas from the ceiling over the ladder leave the room and watch through a two-way mirror when the first monkey starts climbing the ladder seeking bananas, whack the monkey with a broomstick, whack additional monkeys as necessary to prevent them from reaching the bananas, continue this effort until the monkeys again stopping one another from climbing the ladder remove one of the original Twelve Monkeys and replace with a monkey who has never been whacked with a broom, watch as the original monkeys keep the Newbie from climbing the ladder. Replace The original monkeys one by one, watch as a room full of unwacked monkeys keep one another from the ladder and the bananas, even though none of them know the original reason to refrain observe the perfect example of the mechanism of Drug war and action.

DEAN BECKER: Next up. We're going to speak with a Fellow at The Institute for policy studies there in Washington DC. He's been a director of its drug policy project for well 22 years. There's now a former military and diplomatic historian, his current work in compasses the reform of both International and domestic drug policies and without a want to welcome my long-term friend. The guy I toured Bolivia with back long ago. Mr. Sanho Tree, Hello Sanho

SANHO TREE: hi Dean good to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: it's good to hear your voice. Oh, we just played a tribute to Nicholas, long-term drug reform member who passed away earlier this month and you knew Nicholas did you not?

SANHO TREE: Yeah. I had the privilege of meeting ended up in Syracuse years ago great bunch of activists up there, you know the backbone of the drug Reform movement for so many years that helped get us where we are today. Its a tragic loss.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah a real Pioneer wasn't he? I agree. Well Sanho, there's news happening. I want to first take this quote and I don't know some say it's not actual, and some say it is but there's a quote. I want to share here quote. The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe it's possible, they are calling the shots at all levels of government. And that's a quote from former director of the CIA, one William Colby and whether it's true, it's accurate or not it there's a lot of Truth in that thought. Am I right?

SANHO TREE: Well, Colby, Colby died a long time ago. So he’s talking historically but no, I don't think the cartels such so-called cartels have that kind of influence. Drug prohibition. However is an equal opportunity corruptor. And in that sense. Yeah, there's lots of corruption both inside the US government and foreign governments police forces all around the world. It's the function of prohibition. There's too much Black Market money here.

DEAN BECKER: well just less than a week ago. I think it was the New York Times came out with the headline. The Venezuelan leader, Maduro is charged in the United States with the drug trafficking. That's the president current president of Venezuela. Am I right?

SANHO TREE: Yeah, you know, I don't know what they hope to accomplish by this the last time I recall something similar was back in 1989 when the u.s. Invaded Panama to reboot Manuel Noriega for drug accusations. Yeah, You know it took to go after heads of state for complicity and every with drugs, but you got to take out a lot of governments in this world not the least of which would be like Honduras which the U.S. Is making nice with right. Now. The president of Honduras, you know is under, in a lot of trouble and being investigated you're talking about a lot of governments in Latin America West Africa with all these Transit zones, you know, when you have consume- consumers in the Northern Hemisphere and lucrative markets and you have these Transit company countries in between the drugs. They're going to even find a lot of rent Seekers popping up looking for ways to get their share.

DEAN BECKER: Well in the and then I thought what am I looking at here? I'm looking at the ICE. The government's ICE website. They're talking now, about this is from two days ago 15 current former. Venezuelan officials are now charged with narco-terrorism corruption drug trafficking and and, other criminal charges now maybe what William Colby said about corrupting government didn't apply in the United States thoroughly, but it seems to be- more widespread in Central and South America. Am I right?

SANHO TREE: Oh, yeah, it's not just Venezuela governed by any means whatsoever. If you list if you have produced a list of Colombian high-level officials that have been corrupted by drug trafficking during the same time period they're accusing Venezuela of, We would be invading Colombia by that standard, right?


SANHO TREE: it's just ridiculous to point out Maduro like this. It also makes things very awkward in terms of the possibility of any kind of peaceful political resolution because now they, you know, the the regime has no motivation to bargain or find a peaceful transition because they know they'll have a nice jail cell waiting for them in Miami.


SANHO TREE: It's kind of like how Donald Trump is himself into a porter right? He has to run for re-election. Otherwise the moment he's out of office he’s gonna face so many prosecutions and lawsuits. His life won't be worth living anymore. So ironically both leaders are kind of locked himself as well.

DEAN BECKER: And it's it underscores what you and I and and Nicky, have been saying over these decades that there is really no benefit to this. It is corruption, corruption runs the drug war am I right?

SANHO TREE: Yeah, it's not even about the drug war. It's not even about drugs verily the back bureaucrats looking for something. You know, they got a job to do. They get paid to do it on the other hand. You got elements of the government perfectly happy to look the other way. So during the Reagan Administration for instance, the the Iran-Contra crisis, Oliver North as you know, Fox News darling look the other way and had absolutely no problem working with drug traffickers to fund the contras in Nicaragua to overthrow the government in the 80s you can go to the module hadean and and Afghanistan. When would when the u.s. Is trying to you know, kick the Soviets out of Afghanistan and the 80s. They worked perfectly well drug traffickers back in Southeast Asia during the you know, the Indochina War Vietnam War the u.s. CIA in Laos and other places work hand-in-glove with drug traffickers and it's not because necessarily that the CIA is necessarily wants to go chemically and play people around the world because the prodrugs know it's because this is one of the easiest ways to raise lots of money off the books. Right? So we have a government and a custom cookie had a constitution that says, you know, the Congress only Congress has the power of the purse, and if Congress tells the administration whether it's Reagan or Trump or whoever you can't do something it's very tempting for them as Reagan did to go off the books to raise money externally by working with traffic or selling missiles to Iran. Hey, this is what Ronald Reagan did

DEAN BECKER: Right sure. Well, this brings to mind. There's a movie. I can't think of the name of it at the moment. It stars Tom Cruise as an airplane pilot flying drugs from Colombia through Nicaraguan laundering money, ferrying troops and weapons Etc all under the direction of the CIA and there was a lot of Truth in that movie. Am I right?

SANHO TREE: Yeah. Yeah the Barry Seal story. Yes made in America or something like that.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah came out a few years ago.

SANHO TREE: The Berry Seal story is a little bit harder to pin down. I think there's a lot of Truth there. It goes back a long ways and you run into a lot of a conspiracy, you know dead ends or or circles if you will sure, but certainly there was no problem with the CIA looking the other way because it official memorandum of understanding by the by William French Smith the Attorney General of Ronald Reagan to William Casey, between Casey and William Kent Smith. Casey was head of the CIA under Ronald Reagan explicitly stating, you know during the during the 1980s when they were working with the contrast that you know, the CIA must report all kinds of criminal activities. Like if you encounter people that are engaged in money laundering and kidnapping extortion all these other things you have to list all these things but not drugs explicitly carved out drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Mmm boy. Wonder why? Yeah, and yeah, and there was a gentleman journalist Gary Webb who covered that story pretty much he was discounted and eventually they say he killed himself with two bullets to the head or something. I there's a lot of noise and confusion back in that era was there not

SANHO TREE: Yes, it's a tragic story Gary Webb was a friend of mine. He did very good work. He published a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News in the mid-nineties basically outlining a lot of what the CIA did in Central America in the 80s. What's the drug traffickers? And he published a book on that called Dark Alliance, which was great, it is well researched for, you know, he was a careful journalist. Unfortunately some local activists in Los Angeles and other places. These want was activist is as conspiracy mongers. The those one by Mike Ruppert use one band, you know, he's kind of like an Alex Jones type of when it comes to the drug policy.


SANHO TREE: coming up with all these Fantastical conspiracy theories grand grand grand conspiracy involving everybody every major figure under the sun and he took everyone's work and blew it completely out of proportion so that some people were convinced that not a single pill or joint or Rock got sold in Los Angeles without the cia's express permission. And you know, how do you explain to people that the CIA doesn't know where or what South Central is and doesn't care. It just had a war that it wanted to fight in Congress wouldn't give him the money and so one way they did it was like working with drug traffickers. Allowing them to smuggle drugs in exchange for money that they would use to buy buy guns for The Mercenaries.

DEAN BECKER: I had the privilege to interview Ricky Williams of the main benefactor if you will of that cocaine, who helped as I say to start crack cocaine here in these United States, he made millions of dollars and then got busted but he eventually got out and you know has written a book about his exploits as well. But there's a lot of Truth involved in what we're saying here isn't there.

SANHO TREE: Yeah, if you don’t know people about the ploy, I would recommend reading Alfred McCoy a great historian written about the politics of heroin in Southeast Asia another other pieces about the drug war and Corruption

DEAN BECKER: now, let me let me ask you this. We're speaking with Sanho Tree. He's a fellow with the institute for policy studies there in Washington DC now sanho we have in these United States this situation. Now this coronavirus it's got everybody just frightened hanging out at home and afraid of the the unknown threat. What is it? But Trump calls it the the invisible threat I think he calls it

SANHO TREE: invisible enemy

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for the our war president. And I feel that it is distracting people in a way and a good way perhaps from the drug war. We're talking about letting prisoners out of jails and prisons to prevent a worse, you know pandemic within behind the bars and it's given us a New Perspective a new look at this drug war. Would you agree with that, that thought please.

SANHO TREE: Oh, yeah, absolutely in terms of what you know, what our priorities are in terms of what people consider essential Services, right?


SANHO TREE: liquor stores and you recall, you know, the British Navy for three centuries issued run ration to their Sailors to help endure the boredom and hardships of Life at Sea, right because they couldn't keep them. Yeah.


SANHO TREE: otherwise, I'm gonna be stuck in a miserable condition. And today I think you know, you could make a good argument that marijuana stores to the extent they they practice social, you know, physical distancing are actually helping more people stay at home because they're you know, not to get off the couch

DEAN BECKER: sure helps to while away those hours indeed

SANHO TREE: Liquor stores, very important aspect a lot of people don't realize that, that alcohol withdrawal can lead to death if you're seriously dependent on alcohol. And so this idea that you know, we should just have these moralists coming in as we should shut down the liquor stores as well. That's that's very very dangerous. In fact, in the states where there's a high rate of alcohol consumption. There have been I was just reading last night several suicides because the liquor stores are closed and people are returning to all kinds of dangerous substitutes, you know, because they're locked in they got nothing to do and they got the untreated dependency issues and anxiety and traumas are trying to self-medicate. That won't end well,

DEAN BECKER: but you dropped a word there that's been I don't know. I've been trying to bring Focus to bear on moralism, on what is moral about the drug war. What do we get back? What is the benefit? Why does it exist and it is my contention that it began a hundred years ago by um moralists, excuse me, some charlatans pretending to be moralists, who convince people that it was for the public good to begin to whittle away at our rights. Would you respond to that thought please, Sanho Tree?

SANHO TREE: you know, I think there's there's stuff to be addressed about Taxation and black markets Etc. But the idea of policing people's bodies is something that is profoundly disturbing to me as a civil libertarian. I'm not a economic libertarian, but I'm a civil libertarian. We in this country get the drug war through our mother's milk, right? We think that the state, we just assume the government has these rights to do these things to us? But where in the constitution does it give the police the federal government the right to kick in your bedroom door to slap you in handcuffs and prosecute you and put you into prison for things that you do to your own body, absent harm to anyone else. If you're not endangering children, if you're not driving, if you're not causing a public nuisance. Where does the government get the right to prosecute you and the punish you for what you do to your own body? Because if you don't control your own lungs, your own veins, your own mouth, your own stomach, your own orifices, your nostrils. What do you own? Right? And if the government can invade you at such an intimate level that carries over into Reproductive Rights, into sexual minorities and sexual rights. We must never give the government that kind of power unless there's an Overwhelming Public Health, you know crisis like that quarantines in this current age where it was the greater societies at risk. If you're a super setter, you want to go out for instance. Well with the drug war is not like that.

DEAN BECKER: No, it's not it and again folks. We've been speaking with mr. Sanho Tree. He's a fellow with the institute for policy studies in Washington DC. I;m gonna give you 30 seconds or a minute here to close out. Maybe share your website.

SANHO TREE: Sure. My website is IPS-DC.org and best way to keep in touch with me is on Twitter my hashtag my handle is just @sanhotree.

DEAN BECKER: Real good real good Sanho, I hope it's all captured well, but excellent thoughts. I've appreciate your time.

SANHO TREE: Thank you. Alright for me,

DEAN BECKER: I take it I am the Reverend Dean Becker of the Drug Truth Network standing and the river of Reform, baptizing drug Warriors to the unvarnished truth. DrugTruth.net

Well, that's it. I want to thank Nicholas Eyle, for being the Pioneer that he was. I want to thank Sanho Tree for being the Pioneer that he is and I want to thank you for listening to Cultural Baggage here on the Drug Truth Network. And again, I remind you because of prohibition, You just 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. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network archives are permanently stored at the James A Baker III Institute for public policy and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.