10/21/12 Allen Clear
Century of Lies
Allen Clear, Dir of Harm Reduction Coalition re forthcoming Conf in Portland on Nov 15, US wages war of terror on Canadians, Judge Jim Gray re US war of terror, Rep Ted Poe on need for judicial transparency, Doug McVay of CSDP re US soldiers in Guatemalan drug war
Century of Lies / October 21, 2012
DEAN BECKER: 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: Hi. This is Dean Becker. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Century of Lies.
ALLEN CLEAR: I am Allen Clear. I am the Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition. We’re based in New York and have an office in Oakland, California and have some staff in Washington, D.C.
We focus on promoting harm reduction and looking at health and justice issues for drug users around the United States and globally to a certain extent as well.
DEAN BECKER: Allen, the fact is that you guys have a major conference coming up next month. Why don’t you tell us about that, please.
ALLEN CLEAR: It’s going to be in Portland, Oregon. It’s called Public Health and Social Justice. It’s November 15th to the 18th. The day before the conference on the 14th we’re having a meeting of drug users from around the country and looking at the work that they do together in terms of organizing for their own needs. There’s a few groups from around the country that have formed unions and they’ll be meeting on the day before.
DEAN BECKER: This is the group that is, well, not represented when drug laws are defined, when implementation of those drug laws are outlined, the needs of the drug users are seldom taken into account. Am I right?
ALLEN CLEAR: Exactly. The needs and their experiences, too. It tends to be a group of people that we direct things at. We direct drug laws to punish peoples’ drug use. We put them in prison for a long time or we try to adjust the way they use drugs by removing syringes from circulation as we did in the late ‘70s which caused the HIV and Hepatitis C epidemic. We don’t really look at from how things work from their perspective.
Drug treatment is a perfect example of that. We always look for abstinence as the beneficial outcome of a drug treatment episode but very often that’s not what happens to people. If we looked at drug treatment from the point of view of a drug user it might look very different and we could have very successful outcomes as well.
We don’t really include the voices of drug users. I think that the way we’ve looked at the War on Drugs, the way we’ve criminalized drugs and drug users have sent messages out to the community that drug users are both bad people – immoral – and incapable of making good decisions. In some cases that may be true but in lots of cases that’s not always the case.
So we want to provide that space where people can begin to undo some of that propaganda that’s out there and look at having drug users as agents of change for the way we approach drugs in this country.
DEAN BECKER: Allen, the fact of the matter is there are politicians across the country beginning to speak more boldly on this need for change, for implementing measures of harm reduction. Am I correct?
ALLEN CLEAR: Yeah, that’s absolutely correct and you see it since this administration, President Obama, we’ve seen much more from both the drug side and the health side of this administration has taken some proactive steps around harm reduction and some of the dimensions that we use. It still remains, obviously, a controversial issue for some politicians – mostly Republicans.
We’ve also seen that the situation around drug overdose, for example, in this country and the rise in the use of prescription drugs has had people on both sides of the aisle – traditional adversaries on the War on Drugs – both beginning to look at this in a different way.
I think when we looked at something like syringe exchange, for example, and HIV. You had a lot of people in areas of the country where they didn’t see this as their problem but when you talk about prescription drug use that’s something that people are seeing all over the country and it’s something where people see it as an issue that needs to be addressed.
DEAN BECKER: I don’t say that heroin is a good drug but the fact of the matter is the prescription, the synthetic opioids are killing about 10 times as many people as heroin. Your response to that.
ALLEN CLEAR: I think that what we had was an under-prescribing of pain medications to people, an under-treatment of pain and making pain medication for available for people who were suffering from pain was a really good thing to do. I don’t think we want to go backwards on that but what’s it done is it is an issue where we have more prescription drugs in circulation and people don’t have the knowledge or the understanding of what happens when you use strong opiates and it’s caused a real problem in this country.
Certainly it’s caused a massive spike in overdose deaths – it’s overtaken heroin, I believe. What we’re seeing actually is people move between prescription drugs and heroin quite frequently now so the rise in prescription drug use has led to a rise in heroin use as well. The country has just not been that prepared for it.
DEAN BECKER: Part of the problem is that people don’t understand…they trust the pharmaceuticals to not kill them when the fact of the matter is it can do it. Am I right?
ALLEN CLEAR: Absolutely. There’s essentially no difference in chemical effect of heroin and other prescription opioids. People don’t realize that you become dependent on prescription drugs and they can be dangerous.
Obviously diversion is an issue. People not using all their pain medications and other people using those pain medications. Of course they work exactly the same way as heroin does in terms of people use them recreationally but they are medicating emotional and physical pain.
DEAN BECKER: Just a reminder, we’re speaking with Mr. Allen Clear. He’s head of the Harm Reduction Coalition.
Allen, I think since the last conference there’s been another state or two which has implemented harm reduction strategies to cut down on those types of overdose deaths, right?
ALLEN CLEAR: Yeah, we’ve seen a good response to putting overdose programs in to interaction. I think that a lot of what the harm reduction programs have done around the country is been this laboratory program for the wider community so whereas the work that we have done traditionally over the last 15 years at reducing overdose deaths has principally been around heroin injectors. The lessons we’ve learned from that are equally applicable to people who use prescription drugs.
So you see new programs in places like Fort Bragg. The U.S. military have implemented overdose programs at Fort Bragg. The Office of National Drug Control Policy has begun to look at community-based Naloxone prescribing which is the model that we’ve been promoting for a long time. The state of Massachusetts has been really proactive in spreading overdose prevention work. We’ve seen a lot of programs looking at how they can address overdose deaths in their neighborhoods and in their regions.
And not just in the urban areas but in rural areas, too. North Carolina has been working very closely with medical providers on education and prescribing Naloxone to the people that they serve in the community.
We’ve seen a lot of awareness and a response in different areas of the country.
DEAN BECKER: I wanted to ask you about the Naloxone. For the listeners who may not know that’s a anti-overdose drug that you inject if a person does OD.
ALLEN CLEAR: You can use inter-nasally, too. It can be squirted up your nose sort of like a nasal spray.
DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is it negates, it un-does the death throes if someone is so afflicted, right?
ALLEN CLEAR: Absolutely. It’s not too extreme to say that it is a miracle drug. What happens is when you take too much of an opiate it blocks the receptors in your brain and it closes down your breathing and then you die. Naloxone is a perfectly safe drug. What it does is knocks the opiates off the receptors in the brain and it wakes people up. Literally people would be dying and they are revived instantly.
It’s an incredible thing to witness and it’s an incredible thing to administer, Naloxone, to people because you literally see that person come back to life in front of you.
We were talking before about drug users having a responsible role in around their drug use. Naloxone is a very safe drug and the people whose hands it should be in are people who use drugs because they often witness drug overdoses or even the family members or the parents of people who are using drugs or have been prescribed prescription medications to.
DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is that in most locales around the United States it is not freely available. Am I right?
ALLEN CLEAR: Yes, that’s right. And even in those places where…like New York state, for example, our organization has trained and sort of certified providers all around the state but what we do is we provide the Naloxone to providers to prescribe. So you get a couple of vials of the Naloxone and you get a prescription to go with it because it’s not something that’s generally carried by your neighborhood pharmacy so we have got to come up with other mechanisms to get it out to the public.
For example in Italy this drug is available over the counter. You can go into a pharmacy and buy it. The barriers in this country, the FDA regulations, the Food and Drug Administration, they haven’t loosened up the regulations so that it can be over the counter and that’s something we’re all working on and the FDA is very supportive of.
DEAN BECKER: Once again, friends, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Allen Clear, director of the Harm Reduction Coalition based in New York City.
Allen, real quick, please, share your website and tell folks, once again, when this conference will be and how they can get involved.
ALLEN CLEAR: Our website is http://harmreduction.org The conference is going to be in Portland, Oregon on November 15 th to the 18 th this year in about one month’s time. If you go to our website you can look at the conference page and get some of the details. We are, at this moment, putting up the details on the website.
We are going to have someone from the Office of National Drug Control Policy speak but, generally, the people speaking at the conference are the people most affected by the War on Drugs so it’s drug users and people working with drug users – a lot of social service providers. We’re going to have a lot of stuff on mental health and drug use. We’ll have law enforcement there this time who will be talking about the way we all collaborate in some ways – not in locking people up but how we can have an alternative approach to arresting people.
It’s really interesting work going on in Seattle right now where people are not being jailed for being caught with drugs but being helped through social services like housing programs and drug treatment programs. It’s a different approach to locking people up or even to drug courts. So there will be discussions about what’s happening in Seattle. We’ll be talking about how people work better with people with substance abuse problems. We will be talking about needle exchange. We will be talking about incarceration.
The agenda is going up on the website now. It’s very diverse. It’s a really exciting agenda.
DEAN BECKER: The following was recorded at a border station. A couple going from Canada into the United States are stopped and quizzed about their intentions.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: What country are you citizens of?
MALE: What country am I a citizen of? Canada.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: What country are both of you citizens of is what I was asking.
MALE: Both of us are from Canada.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: How do you know each other?
MALE: We’re married.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Where are you going tonight?
MALE: The Fashion Outlet Mall.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: For what?
MALE: For shopping.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Where at?
MALE: What is it? What’s the address?
FEMALE: Niagra Falls.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: What stores?
MALE: I don’t know…does it matter? We haven’t…
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Can I have your keys?
MALE: My keys?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Yes, your keys. Right now. Your keys. 10-22 to Lean-1, 2 occupants, United States of America…
MALE: No, I understand but…
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: If I ask you a question…
MALE: I’m answering it…
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: I don’t expect to get responses like, “Does it matter?” I expect to get responses like…
MALE: You asked me which store I’m going to…
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Yes.
MALE: I don’t know. I don’t know which store I’m going to.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Stay quiet and get out of the vehicle.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Do you have any weapons?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Leave that in the car. Come over this way.
MALE: For what reason?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Take a seat.
MALE: For what reason?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Take a seat.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Where are you trying to go today?
MALE: We’re trying to go to the Fashion Mall in Niagra Falls. The question I was asked was which store am I going to and I don’t know. My wife and I are just going to walk around the mall and I was told to come and sit down. I asked him what was the reason and this gentleman right here kept yelling, “Sit down.” So he wouldn’t give me a reason.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: When the officer tells you to do something …
MALE: I need to know why.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: You’re a Canadian citizen, right?
MALE: Yes, I am but I’m not going to obey orders that I don’t understand the reason for them.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: [laughing]
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: When the officer asked you to come inside and sit down you come inside and sit down.
MALE: But do you understand where I’m coming from? Why? On what grounds?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: We don’t need any grounds.
MALE: Well, that’s ridiculous.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: That’s the United States. I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you.
MALE: You don’t need any grounds for your actions?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Absolutely not.
MALE: Well, that’s ridiculous.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Are we causing any bodily harm to you?
MALE: No. Am I causing any bodily harm to you?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: No. When the officer tells you to do something you do it.
MALE: And there’s no reason required?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Absolutely not.
MALE: Well, OK.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Empty out your pockets …it’s to make sure for safety purposes.
Mam, take a seat for me, OK?
Is this your girlfriend?
MALE: It’s my wife.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: And we’re going to verify your intent. That’s what we’re doing. Is your intent clear?
MALE: My intent is to go shopping.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: OK, that’s what you say.
MALE: It’s not like I’m coming from Iraq or something. Canada is not so much different…
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Really?!
MALE: Really. Have you been to Canada?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: We have to worry about terrorist, money, drugs, …
MALE: I’m not a terrorist.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: I didn’t say you were. It’s just one of the things that we look for.
MALE: Well, you’re looking at the wrong guy. You know what’s…I think your officer doesn’t like me and just wants to use the bureaucracy as an excuse to …
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Can we just forget…
MALE: Well, that’s why I’m here.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: I’m trying to talk to you…
MALE: I understand. I’m not being disrespectful to you, personally, I think that there’s something wrong with the process.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Well, if there’s something wrong with the process there’s nothing I can do.
MALE: I understand.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: You’d be very surprised. I would say there are three a day….
MALE: Three terrorists?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: a day…that you don’t know about.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER2: Can you think about every single terrorists in the newspaper and say he was …
MALE: I’m just curious. This is all totally unnecessary. What are you going to do? Shoot me?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Was that a threat?! Don’t start making threats…
MALE: I’m not making threats.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Is he Canadian? And you’re making threats?
MALE: I am NOT making a threat.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Put your hands behind your back right now.
FEMALE: What are you trying to do?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: I think you better calm down real quick.
FEMALE: [inaudible questioning]
BORDER PATROL OFFICER: Calm down. Sit down.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: About 15 minutes ago this could have all been done with. I’m the supervisor here today. We’re going to sit here and we’re going to talk and find out what’s going on.
Right now you are in a lot of trouble. Have you ever been arrested?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: Have you ever heard of anything called obstruction of justice?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: Where do you think you are right now?
MALE: In America.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: More specifically, where do you think you are?
MALE: In a prison?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: No, you are in an International Federal Inspection Station. Do you think it’s a good idea for you to come in here and to raise your voice and to get irate and to turn around and threaten? We got it on audio and on video.
It shows you trying to threaten a federal officer with physical violence…
MALE: No, I don’t think it’s going to show that.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: OK and as soon as you pulled away from my officers when they went to grab your arm – that’s assault. Do you understand what’s going on?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: Do you really understand how much trouble you’re in right now? You’re going to jail. Is this worth it?
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: Your apologies can start right here with the officers. Do you think we’re here because we have nothing better to do?
MALE: No I don’t.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: Why are we here? We are here to protect the United States and Canada.
You’re coming into our country…
MALE: I’m totally sorry…please, this is my wife.
BORDER PATROL OFFICER SUPERVISOR: She wrapped another one of the officers out there when they were restraining you. She’s going to jail, too.
DEAN BECKER: We’re here with Judge James P. Gray. He’s the Libertarian Candidate for Vice President.
Judge, focus on the war on terror and it’s not nexus, if you will, with the War on Drugs. I was wondering if you could talk about your understanding of that nexus between those two wars.
JAMES GRAY: Well, Dean, it’s all connected to our government intentionally having us live in fear. If you go back to December of 1941 and we declared war on Natizism instead of Germany we’d still be fighting that war today. You cannot declare war on an idea.
War on terror…there’s no such thing. War on Drugs….you can’t declare a war on a thing anymore than a war on poverty. So, it’s done intentionally to give us an excuse to have these various Patriot Act and all these intrusions on our civil liberty.
As you know, of course, the War on Drugs has resulted in the loss of more civil liberties than anything in history because there is a drug exception to do search and seizure laws. It’s all done intentionally for power. It keeps the government in power and it keeps us afraid.
Honestly, it was Thomas Jefferson who said if you have the people afraid of its government – that’s tyranny. If you have the government afraid of the people – that’s democracy. Guess where we are today?
It’s a question of power and it’s done intentionally. Governor Gary Johnson and I say, “No. We’re going to bring the freedom and responsibility back to the United States of America.”
DEAN BECKER: A couple of days ago I was at Kingwood University. I got a chance to ask U.S. Representative Ted Poe the following question.
DEAN BECKER: You were mentioning that in Texas judges are elected – one of the few states where that happens. We have, in Texas, a situation where in Harris County, in particular, where judges refuse to give public recognizance bonds for minor amounts of drugs.
There was a bill that was passed, 2391 it was called, for under 4 ounces of marijuana, for graffiti, for check writing, for all kinds of things under $500 damage that it’s no longer necessary to arrest or jail these people but in most of Texas and especially in Harris County they continue to arrest them and then the judges refuse to give the PR bond which means the people, in many times, lose their job, their cars, their girlfriend awaiting trial and I’m wondering if you would address that and tie it in with that the bail bondsman are responsible for funding the campaigns of these same judges. How do you see that situation, sir?
TED POE: Well, you’ve asked me a lot of questions. One, personal recognizance bonds are legal and judges ought to use them. And they ought to be encouraged to use them in the right cases. The recognizance bond basically is a personal promise that they’ll show up in court. I use personal recognizance bonds and I’m a fan of pre-trial release but I use personal recognizance bonds and believe that judges ought to use them especially in the misdemeanor cases because people waiting trial in county jail…we got to prioritize whose going to be in jail awaiting trial if they can’t make the bond.
What’s your other question?
DEAN BECKER: The funding of the bail bondsman.
TED POE: Probably needs to be some finance campaign reform in Texas but right now it’s OK if there is total disclosure. I’m a big fan of total disclosure. The Supreme Court has said that contributions is speech, money is speech therefor it is protected by the first amendment and people should have the ability to contribute, whoever they are, to whatever candidate as long as it’s public and there’s transparency.
We need, at the federal level, more transparency about who people are. For example, these PACs, you can hide your identity in a PAC – a Political Action Committee. A Political Action Committee comes into somebody’s campaign, campaigning for the other person or campaigning against you and you don’t really know who is paying for all that. So there needs to be transparency, I think, we got off the subject but I think that’s what we ought to do.
DEAN BECKER: I had a discussion with Congressman Poe in the hallway and he said he will come on to the Cultural Baggage show real soon and that I might be surprised at how he sees the drug war.
Criminals get so embolden.
Rip you off thinking you’re holdin’.
Can’t tell the policeman – got no recourse to the law.
Bad guys duct tape and beat you – they’re just looking for that easy score.
They will rob, rape and kill you – cuz we go no recourse to the law.
DOUG McVAY: Drug traffickers in Guatemala are finally ending their summer vacations.
Or as the Marine Corps Times put it on October 19th, quote:
“Approximately 200 Marines sent to interdict guns and drugs in Guatemala have returned to the U.S. “After flying more than 250 detection and monitoring missions in support of local law enforcement agencies and naval forces, Marines from detachment Martillo left Guatemala City on Sunday, according to a Marine Corps news release. Over the past two months, the detachment used four UH-1N Huey helicopters to monitor sea lanes frequently used by traffickers.” End quote.
Though Guatemala is literally fighting the US drug war, it is also pursuing the path toward drug peace. Guatemalan President Otto Perez recently spoke to the UN's General Assembly about the need to rethink current strategy and to consider the eventual legalization and regulation of currently illegal drugs. On October 2nd, the government of Guatemala along with the governments of Mexico and of Colombia sent a joint declaration to the United Nations, demanding revision of international drug control policies, stating quote, “it is urgent to review the approach so far maintained by the international community on drugs, in order to stop the flow of money from the illicit drug market.” end quote.
The three nations declared, quote:
“That nations should intensify their efforts to further strengthen the institutions and policies of each country in the prevention and punishment of crime, their social programs in education, health, leisure and employment, as well as prevention and treatment of addictions to preserve social fabric.
That states should endorse their commitment to fight with determination and according to the principle of shared and differentiated responsibility, transnational criminal groups through mechanisms of international cooperation.
That the United Nations should exercise it´s leadership, as is it´s mandate, in this effort and conduct deep reflection to analyze all available options, including regulatory or market measures, in order to establish a new paradigm that prevents the flow of resources to organized crime organizations.
In this regard, the governments of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico invite Member States of the Organization of the United Nations to undertake very soon a consultation process that allows, taking stock of the strengths and limitations of the current policy, and about the violence generated by the production, trafficking and consumption of drugs in the world.
We believe that these results should culminate in an international conference to allow the necessary decisions in order to achieve more effective strategies and tools with which the global community faces the challenge of drugs and their consequences.”
We can only hope, and pray, that the world will listen.
For the drug truth network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy.
DEAN BECKER: That’s it. Just a reminder that the drug war holds not one drop of logic or common sense. It’s a scam, flim flam, an abomination before God. 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 the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org