03/13/11 Kevin Zeese

Century of Lies

Kevin Zeese of Voters For Peace, Prosperity Agenda, and Common Sense for Drug Policy re America's "Replacing the Rule of Force with the Rule of Law"

Audio file


Century of Lies / March 13, 2011


The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.


Dean Becker: We have a great show lined up for you hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen.

Kevin Zeese: My name is Kevin Zeese, I’m the President of Common Sense for Drug Policy and I also work on anti-war issues though a group called votersforpeace.us, as well as comehomeamerica.us and on economic issues through prosperityagenda.us.

Dean Becker: Well, Kevin you have –you’re a man of many talents and wear many hats, so to speak, I first met you back nine, ten years ago. Here in Texas you were the attorney and advisor, I suppose, for a group activists that were touring across Texas trying to change our perspectives. Trying to change perhaps out marijuana laws, correct?

Kevin Zeese: That’s right, Journey for Justice.

Dean Becker: Tell us a little bit about how that came about and how it ties into the recent presentation you gave about replacing the rule of force with the rule of law, which has been kind of the undoing of our Democracy, hasn’t it?

Kevin Zeese: I think it’s a critical lynchpin that’s been undone that’s been pulled out and is helping out Democracy to fail. Journey for Justice was organized by a group of activists lead by Jodi James in Florida. I was a project that had us going from prison town to prison town and from prison to prison across the state of Texas to highlight the mass incarceration of people for nonviolent drug offenses in Texas. We ended up in Austin and this was in the midst, by the way of the Bush/Gore election year. In Austin we not only protested at the Bush mansion, the Governor’s house but also at the Gore headquarters because while we were on the road, Vice President Gore came had come out against the medical use of marijuana. So, we didn’t support his comments on that. So, we were nonpartisan and critical of the prison industrial complex.

Dean Becker: Now—

Kevin Zeese: The reason we—

Dean Becker: Kevin, over the—

Kevin Zeese: There’s a talk I gave on replacing the rule of force with the rule of law looked at the discrepancy on how economic and political elites are treated in this country versus how most Americans are treated.

We know we have one of the largest prison—we have the largest prison population on the planet, probably the largest prison population in world history. It’s more than 2,000,000 people behind bars, 25% of the world’s prisoners in the land of the free, even though we only have 5% of the world’s population. In fact, it’s worse than that, in that we have 32% Americans either in prison, on probation or on parole, so we have a very strong law enforcement.

So, there is a rule of law but it’s a rule of abusive law. A lot of those offenders are people who shouldn’t be in jail or should never have been arrested and should not be under government supervision. It’s really a racist and a classist impact, the way the laws are in forced.

On the other hand, we see people like the Supreme Court of the United States Member Justice Clarence Thomas who for twenty years has filed false financial reports hiding his wife’s income from conservative groups, so litigants don’t know he might have a conflict of interest, since his family gets money for supporting conservative causes that are before the court.

She was getting almost $750,000 over that time period from the Heritage Foundation and among other organizations. In addition, one of the most important decisions in the last few years was the Citizen’s United decision, which opened the floodgates of corporate money into political campaigns by allowing corporations to spend as much money as they want on elections. Independently from the candidates, they can just run their own advertising campaigns.

What makes that decision despicable in the light of Clarence Thomas is that during his nomination battle which was quite a battle as you recall, it was a very intense debate as to whether he should be put on the Court. He received support from the Citizen’s United Foundation and a mass advertising campaign attacking Senators who opposed his nomination.

So essentially, Citizen’s United helped to put him on the court and then when he got on the court he voted in their favor. That is a blatantly unethical activity on his part. He should have recused himself from that case but he failed to do so and that is one example of many of the elites not submitting to the rule of law.

We see Karl Rove, for example, in this last election. He ran a group called American Crossroads. He set up and ran part of it as a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. These organizations are supposed to be used primarily for lobbying. This organization was set up as a group to do mid-term election activity. As a result of being a non-profit, he could take anonymous donations of unlimited amounts. If he had obeyed the tax laws, he would not be able to do that through that nonprofit. He would have been required to go under the federal election laws and set up a 527 where the public would know who the donors were.

In fact, he had a 527, related to the non-profit but it couldn’t raise enough money because donors wanted anonymity. So, he ran around the federal election laws and the tax laws and abused those laws to get his way. He’s not been prosecuted for that activity. The list goes on and on.

Recently, I’ll give you one last example then and we can – I’ll answer your questions— one of our projects is called stopthechamber,com. It’s a focus on the Chamber of Commerce – the National Chamber of Commerce which has become a very right wing corporate bully and the largest spender on lobbying in Washington DC by far.

We were changing the Chamber of Commerce on a number of issues and lo and behold because of another issue around WikiLeaks, Anonymous the group of hackers who work to expose the truth and defend WikiLeaks, went after a security firm called HBGary.

HBGary was working with the Chamber of Commerce and on a cyber-campaign against the critics of the Chamber of Commerce and also for the critics of Bank of America and they were able to hack into their database and downloaded over 70,000 emails.

In those emails, it was discovered that a cyber-harassment campaign involving very likely cybercrimes and other crimes, false documents, fraudulent documents, blackmail and all sorts of possible illegal actions against them.

They were playing that with a large corporate law firm in Washington DC, a law firm that does a lot of lobbying for all the major big business interests, nuclear power, coal, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and the Chamber of Commerce. Will these people be prosecuted for this?

We filled a complaint against the lawyers and Huntington and Williams to have their bar licenses revoked. Will they lose their licenses for openly engaging in a plan of cybercrimes, of political harassment against political activists, excising their free speech rights? We’ll see. We’re certainly trying to push for that.

So often, we see the leak getting away, the torture lawyers who advocated the torture, who covered for the torturers in the Bush Administration. They all kept their bar licenses, even though the Office of Special Council in the Department of Justice recommended that they be punished. The Attorney General overruled that.

Of course, the Attorney General Eric Holder was somebody who helped to set up the rendition program that allowed people to be tortured in places like Egypt at the request of the United States. Holder did that when he was in the Clinton Administration. So, he’s the Attorney General now.

So, we’re seeing the rule of law abused. We’re seeing people who expose crimes, people like Bradley Manning, the Private who is accused of leaking the documents to Wikileaks, being treated in solitary confinement and forced nudity and all sorts of abuse pretrial, while the war criminals get off free. So, we are a country that has it mixed up and need to get it back on track for the rule of law.

Dean Becker: Kevin, you bring to the fore a thought that I’ve carried around for years that we have this mutual absolution – society, if you will, in place. All these government officials, as you have said, tend to absolve one another, to find a way to avoid the prison or even the trial.

I’d like to think that it began in the early part of last century with what I think to think of as the “little lie” that marijuana was dangerous and people said, “Well, to protect the children perhaps I’ll go along with the lie,” and that has morphed, expanding and become a much bigger lie and that many lies are told and winked at and allowed to continue “for the public good.” Your response, please.

Kevin Zeese: Well, I don’t know if the problems began with the Marijuana War but there’s no question that the war on marijuana and the war on drugs has added those problems. The enforcement of the drug laws and the marijuana laws requires police to get very close to people, violate their privacy, do undercover operations, have informants work with them and do all sorts of activities that really erode the Bill of Rights.

When I was working, focused on the Drug War in the eighties, we called it the Drug Exception to the Bill of Rights because it was leading to such massive erosion of the Bill of Rights.

When I started law school in 1977 and when I ended it in 1980, we started to see the radical shift in civil liberties in the United States because of the war on drugs. That continued during through the Clinton Administration, of course, President Clinton added lots and lots of police, hundreds of thousands of police the streets to increase enforcement of the drug laws.

He put a General in charge of the health problem of drug abuse in order to convince – to outflank the Republicans on the right, putting a General who knew nothing about drugs in charge of drug abuse.

So, it when it’s gone badly and then since 9/11, of course, the war on terrorism has turned that erosion into an avalanche where we’re seeing the Patriot Act, we’re seeing domestic spying, we’re seeing people held without charges, we’re seeing more torture and all sorts of things.

Now, President Obama, he’s taken it on himself that he has the right to kill Americans without any kind of trial. So, it’s a very strange situation that these wars on drugs and wars on terrorism, these wars on concepts and substances, these are really wars on people and they have tremendous adverse effect on the rule of law and in turn to the abusive rule of man.

Dean Becker: This thought that we have two wars, two eternal wars; the first ever declared for the history of mankind, what does that tell us about America?

Kevin Zeese: Well, we’ve have too often relied on force rather than reason and we are not people who honestly look at the history of the United States going back from the ethnic cleaning of the native American Indians who were here, to the slavery of African Americans, to denying women the right to vote for two hundred years, to the segregation. All these problems are in our history and we haven’t had an empire, a world empire really.

You could say it began with the Westward Expansion of the Manifest Destiny but internationally it began, I’d say, with the war in the Philippines and the 1800s and 90s and it’s continued since. Now, we’re the largest empire in world history. At its peak, the British Empire had 37 military bases around the world. The United States today has more than 1100 military bases and outposts around the world.

So, we are the largest empire in world history and we spend more than the rest of the world combined on weapons and war. The military budget makes up more than half of US federal discretionary spending.

If you the security budget, homeland security and intelligence budget it is 66% of the discretionary spending in the United States is spent on militarism we allow this military budget to expand at the expense of mass transit, healthcare for all, high quality education, building new industries, a sustainable economy – we could be the leader in that but instead we are a follower.

On all of these issues and so many others, we could be doing so much more if we weren’t spending 66% of our resources on bloated bureaucracy that we call the “security budget.” So, we have become the security state.

When I look at Egypt and the revolution there, they had a security state, as well, but ours is pretty powerful – our security state. We live in a security state where 1 out of 32 Americans are under court supervision, prison, probation or parole, mass incarceration. Video cameras, even in small towns, protect us from imagined terrorists.

We have this massive security budget that includes domestic security, people infiltrating into anti-war groups and anti-death penalty groups and all sorts of advocacy groups. We see infiltration now.

So, we have become a security state country. We have the rule of law problem, the same as they had in Egypt with corruption that allows the elite to get off scott-free while they violate the rule of law.

The Wall Street bankers who sold fraudulent mortgages, they got off – not only got off free, they got a massive government bailout. So, they got rewarded for their crimes. We see crony capitalism in the United States because of essentially legalized bribery where President Obama takes $20 million from the insurance industries and rather than reforming health care, he entrenches those insurance industries further, giving them $400 million a year in taxpayer subsides. On issue, after issue we see that kind of tradeoff. In fact, then there are $400 billion a year in the United States in corporate welfare, payoffs, you know, are paybacks for the payoffs.

They give money to the politicians, the politicians give them corporate welfare, the corporate welfare gives the money back to the politicians, politicians give them even more corporate welfare. It’s a corrupt system.

That’s why we’ve gotten to the point were 1% of the public now, the richest 1%, has wealth equal the bottom 95% of us. That’s not because they work harder or smarter. It’s because they are part of a politically corrupt system. It’s because they are part of the politically corrupt system where the rule of law no longer matters.

Dean Becker: Let me interrupt here just a second. You are listening to the Century of Lies show on the Drug Truth Network. We’re speaking with Mister Kevin Zeese, the President of Common Sense for Drug Policy.

It’s rather amazing the people of Egypt were overthrowing their corrupt government and I think it was Thomas Jefferson that said that, “from time to time its necessary to water the tree of liberty with the blood of its patriot and tyrants.” We’re about 200 years – I’m not calling for revolution but we need to stand up for who and what we are.

Kevin Zeese: We do need a revolutionary change. I’m not calling for an armed revolution but we do need a revolutionary change and it is much harder. The things that are harder to hear that compare to Egypt is – here are two major things. One, they have a state media in Egypt where everyone in Egypt knows it’s the government’s line. It’s openly a propaganda media. It’s called the state media and people know it.

Here we have corporate media, which works with the corporate government and so we see on the media in the United States former generals, former national security advisors, former foreign policy officers, former Treasury Department officials, Wall Street officials and big business leaders.

You don’t see people who oppose these issues. You don’t hear from the peace movement. You don’t hear from the people who were looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq nut didn’t find any. They don’t get on the air. We only hear the side of the corporate state in our media. It’s the equivalent of state TV but much better disguised.

People are fools. They think that MSNBC is liberal compared to Fox but in fact both present government lines, one from a more Democrat perspective and one from a more Republican perspective.

The second problem we have is that in Egypt it was easy to focus on Mubarak and the fact that his party controlled 90+% of the legislature. It was essentially a one party Dictatorship.

Here we have a more complicated thing. Here we have a two party dictatorship that controls both the Democrats and the Republicans but too many Democrats don’t want to face up to that fact and keep wasting their vote on Democrats and keep wasting their vote on a corporate controlled party that just further encroaches on – entrenches corporate power.

We have to face the reality that we are getting in our Democracy is a mirage. It’s a mirage of false choice, President Obama got through Iowa, with massive support from Goldman Sachs and he got through. He spent the most expensive presidential campaign in history from primarily from big business interests.

If you look at the actual facts in places like opensecrets.org, he didn’t get a big groundswell from small donations. His money came from big business and his has been a Wall Street, big business government. Our Treasury Department controlled by Wall Streeters.

His Chief of Staff is now a JP Morgan executive. The former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, got more donations from Wall Street than any member of Congress had gotten. He put in place a Wall Street big business government that put forward a Wall Street big business agenda that’s produce record military budgets, record intelligence budgets, record arms sales and has been undermining the security of the economy for most Americans.

Dean Becker: So true. Friends, we’re talking with Mister Kevin Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy and Voter – what was it?

Kevin Zeese: Voters for Peace.

Dean Becker: Voters for Peace. Kevin, I want to back track just a bit. You were talking about the presentation of the various broadcasters. I remember in the lead up to IraqII, they had a General debating a former General.

Kevin Zeese: Yeah.

Dean Becker: There was nobody speaking for peace or to take another look at this. It was just how far and how fast they should go, right?

Kevin Zeese: Well, our media is so corrupted. A great example recently has been, I don’t know if people follow the situation in Pakistan were an American was arrested for killing two Pakistanis. His name is Davis. President Obama went on the air in front of a press conference to say that, “This America is a diplomat and he deserves diplomatic immunity.”

What we are not told but what the people in media KNEW was that, in fact, this guy was a Blackwater [Xe] mercenary working for the CIA that he had in his cell phone the number of the head of Al-Qaida in Pakistan. That he was carrying a GPS system in order to get the GPA coordinates for key buildings. He had photographs of key buildings. The Pakistanis think that we was causing strife in the capitol, turning Pakistanis against Pakistanis.

The New York Times knew he was a CIA agent but the Obama Administration instructed the New York Times not to publish that. So instead, the New York Times publishes,
“Obama says that our diplomat deserves diplomatic immunity,” without telling the public the truth that this was a CIA agent who was out there causing mischief in Pakistan. That was the truth.

In fact, there was one case in Colorado. A TV station called the Davis’s wife and she said, “To get more information call this number.” She calls the number it’s the CIA in Washington DC. They put up on the website, “CIA connected to Davis.” They were instructed to take that down by the government and they took it down.

You could see in the Iraq War, the weapons of mass destruction story was on the front of the New York Times, as if it was fact. They pushed that issue forward without criticizing it. Most of the media did that.

We have to be very cautious with the Washington media. It is more important to get our media from the independent media sources that we see on-line, places like Democracy Now! in the morning is an excellent radio show, the Real News Network and GritTV. There are sources you can go to get information but you have to—

When you look at the corporate media, the traditional media, you have to do it with a filter and recognize this is the message that a very sophisticated propaganda arm of the government is using. The corporate government media is a sophisticated method of misleading us. So, once you see that, once you’re aware of that you can see the lies but until you see that you are going to be fooled.

Dean Becker: You know, Kevin, I think about the lead up to Iraq too. I was aware of those newspaper accounts and those broadcasts that told us that those weapons were destroyed back in ‘93 to about ‘95 and it just—it rankled me to hear the lies put forward by Bush, Cheney and others seemed so certain.

Kevin Zeese: Oh, Joe Biden when he was put in the Vice Presidency, I knew that the Obama Administration was going to be the worst it could possibly because Joe Biden when he was the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, he only would only let people testify who supported the war. If you had weapons inspectors from the UN who said, “There are no weapons of mass destruction,” they were not allowed to testify. There were only only ex-generals who supported the war and ex-generals who opposed the war were not allowed to testify. He warped the – He was for the Iraq War before Bush even was.

We know from our experience in drug policy that he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was the source of mandatory sentencing. He was the source of the crack powder disparities in sentencing, the racist crack laws. He was the source of the Drug Czar. He was the source of the Dance Party Laws against ecstasy. He would only listen to prosecutors and police, not like those of us who have been following this issue and working this issue and understand it better than prosecutors and police, from a different perspective. He didn’t want to hear that perspective. So, when he was choose as Vice President and Rahm Emmanuel was chosen as Chief of Staff, I knew that the Obama Administration was going to be a corporate militarist, Drug War Administration and that what it’s turned out the be

Dean Becker: Alright, once again friends, we’re speaking with Mister Kevin Zeese. Now Kevin, we’re going to have to wrap it up here pretty soon but I want to backtrack to the thought that whistleblowers that report on corruption – corporate corruption and the shenanigans of government, like Bradley Manning—

Kevin Zeese: Right.

Dean Becker: Are demonized at first chance. They are destroyed, if possible and the facts brought forward, if they go against the corporate structure, if you will, are pushed down at every possibility but there’s one area where there’s a modicum of respect for whistleblowers and that is those snitches and informants that—

Kevin Zeese: (Laughs) Good point.

Dean Becker: That makes it—

Kevin Zeese: I like that. That’s similar to the rule of law. We have this disparity where the informants who help to propel the war against Americans who use some drugs are respected and the abuse of informants in those situations, you know, we saw in the Delorean case and we see it very often now in the terrorism cases which is they essentially take a patsy – in that case it was Delorean and they surround him with DEA agents and informants who provide the drugs and the money and then arrest Delorean for a drug and money conspiracy.

We see that now in the post-9/11 terrorism cases. Very few— only one I think, a recent case in Texas. Otherwise, all the other cases have been a patsy surrounded by the FBI and Homeland Security people setting them up. Patsies have no ability to actually conduct any kind of terrorist activity or any intent to conduct it, unless the FBI made it easy.

So, that kind of informant is rewarded but you mentioned Bradley Manning and he’s accused of leaking the documents to Wikileaks which Wikileaks is probably the most important organization to opening up the media that we have and there it’s just being copied by more and more.

There’s a group called Local Leaks that comes out of a journalism school in New York, Local Leaks you can Google it and allows you to leak material to 1400 news outlets in the United States. So, it’s being emulated and copied but poor Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking those documents. It shows that its safer in this country to be a war criminal, who tortures, who mutilates Afghans than it is to be someone who tries to get the truth out in a time of lies.

There was just the other day an article in Common Dreams contrasting Bradley Manning, who is being held in solitary confinement now for ten months, not convicted of anything and no trial yet and is now been forced nudity and taking his clothes away from him and forced to stand naked in the hallway. Again, all pre-trial compared to a guy who was convicted of mutilating Afghans.

The Mutilator was given nine months of work duty his base – not even in prison. While Bradley Manning accused of leaking documents that show war crimes that show that Hilary Clinton has turned the State Department into a nest of spies, requiring our diplomats to spy on other diplomats – a crime. She’s put on paper a memorandum to our diplomats telling them to spy illegally. That gets out to WikiLeaks and then Bradley Manning is punished because he allegedly got the truth out. He should be given an award rather than being treated the way that he’s being treated.

Dean Becker: You know, Kevin, I wanted to invite you on because, as I said, in our earlier discussion, I want folks to realize the magnitude, the width, the breath, the involvement of this Drug War in changing perspectives and laws and allowing for the absolution and destruction on the other side of so many lives because of the fear, the propaganda the inability to counter the government force. Your closing thoughts, please.

Kevin Zeese: I think that’s exactly right. I think the Drug War is one example of many. But maybe the biggest example of lives ruined in country that misuses the rule of law. We should be not even be – these substances, marijuana in particular but all these drugs really, would be much better handled in a public health system without criminality getting in the middle of it and when you bring the law in you create corruption, you create violence and you create destruction of people and families for being put in prison for something that shouldn’t even be illegal.

It’s a big part of the development if the security state and the ability of the government to spy on people, to gather intelligence about people and it’s a very destructive policy that needs rapidly to change but it’s very entrenched and like so many of the status quo that’s harmful to our environment, to workers and to our justice system, breaking that entrenchment is difficult because the status quo is where the money is and unfortunately all politicians are corrupted by that kind of money,

Dean Becker: Alright Kevin Zeese, a man I’ve admired for over a decade now, a guy whose courage here in Texas motivated me, gave a little push, a little belief in the possibility of standing up against all of these bad actors in law enforcement and the criminal justice system here in Texas. Kevin, you want to share your websites with listeners?

Kevin Zeese: Yeah, if you’re interested in getting involved in the anti-war stuff, I recommend you come to two websites: votersforpeace.us or comehomeamerica,us. If you’re interested in the Bradley Manning issue, we have the Bradley Manning support network and that is bradleymanning.org and if you’re interested in economic issues and economic justice come to properityagenda.us.

Dean Becker: Kevin Zeese, my friend, thank you so much.

Kevin Zeese: Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Dean Becker: Here to help me close out the show is a thought from Bill Maher, courtesy of HBO:

Bill Maher: We have this fantasy that our interests and the interests of super-rich are the same, like somehow the rich will eventually get so full that they’ll explode.

(Audience laughs)

Bill Maher: And the candy will rain down on the rest of us, like there’s some kind of piñata of benevolence. But here’s the thing about the piñata, it doesn’t open on its own. You have to beat it with a stick.

(Audience cheers)


Dean Becker: I don’t know what to say, folks. I’m doing what I can and so is Kevin and a lot of other good folks. You have to do your part. There is no truth, justice, logic, no reason for this Drug War to exist.

Prohibido istac evilesco!


For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker. Asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs, archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com