DEA Launches Exhibit Proclaiming Drugs = Terrorism
August 27, 2002
Every day Mary Lucey takes AIDS medications to stay alive. Without medical marijuana she gets so nauseous she can't keep the pills down. Lucey, a veteran activist and Interim AIDS Coordinator for the city of Los Angeles, serves on the board of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center. When the LACRC was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration in October, 2001, Lucey lost her safe, reliable source of medicine. Jim and Roni Bowers and their children, religious missionaries working in South America, were in a plane shot down over Peru on April 20, 2001. It was a U.S. government- coordinated 'drug interdiction' that went bad and Roni and her one-year-old daughter Charity were killed. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, 'This summary execution of suspected drug smugglers was carried out without benefit of evidence, a trial or any opportunity for the Bowers family to defend' itself. Suspended for a while, drug-interdiction flights are expected to resume shortly. Esequiel Hernandez was tending his father's goats 100 yards from his home in Redford, Texas when he was killed in May, 1997 by U.S. Marines looking for marijuana smugglers. Hernandez, who had never been in trouble with the law, lived in a location sometimes frequented by marijuana smugglers. 'His death,' says the MPP, 'was the inevitable result of a 'War on Drugs' fought with a real war's disregard for human life.' These are some of the stories that you won't find at the United States Drug Enforcement Administration's Museum & Visitor's Center. Despite the failed drug war, the agency recently announced it was expanding the facility by 1,500 square feet. The first exhibit in the new gallery, timed for 9/11, will be devoted to the 'connection' between drugs and terrorism. Beginning September 10 -- in time for the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- the DEA's Arlington, Va.-based Museum & Visitor's Center will present a new exhibit called 'Target America: Traffickers, Terrorists & You.' The new show will reflect the Bush administration's recent anti-drug mantra that the 'war on terrorism' is inextricably linked to the 'war on drugs.' The 'use drugs/support terrorism' campaign organized by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, the office of the 'Drug Czar'), was unveiled with a $3.5 million ad buy during this past February's Super Bowl. have made in this global conflict.' Krissy Oechslin, the assistant director of communications for the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, visited the museum last year with a group of students. She told TomPaine.com that 'the exhibit lacked credibility, was bereft of context and provided no opposing points of view.' A timeline, running the length of the museum depicts the opium wars of the late 19th century, the crack-cocaine epidemic of the 1980's and marijuana use through the years as part of the same seamless drug problem. There were no references to the growing piles of documentation of the cynical role U.S. agencies have played in the drug trade. Targeting Americans President Richard Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration by merging its predecessor agency, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs with various law- enforcement and intelligence-gathering agencies in July 1973. According to the agency's Web site, it is 'charged with the responsibility of enforcing the nation's federal drug laws and works closely with local, state, federal and international law enforcement organizations to identify, target and bring to justice the most significant drug traffickers in the world.' The DEA currently has more than 9,000 employee with 4,500 agents located in cities throughout the United States and in offices in 50 countries around the world. Here's how the DEA describes 'Target America: Traffickers, Terrorists & You.' The exhibit:
- traces the historic and contemporary connections between global drug trafficking and terrorism. Starting with the horrific events of September 11, 2001 and moving back in time to the ancient Silk Road, this exhibit ... will present the visitor with a global and historical overview of this deadly connection. The visitor will have many opportunities to explore the often-symbiotic relationships that exist between terrorist groups and drug trafficking cartels and the personal impact those connections have on the visitor.