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Legalized Plunder

On July 5, 2011, in Drug War, federal, states, by John Payne

Journalist William Norman Grigg describes the recent robbery and murder of an elderly Virginia man:

The invaders who murdered Hampton, Virginia resident William Cooper swiped about $900 in cash. They seized his gun collection. They took the Lexus from his driveway. By some oversight they neglected to extract the gold fillings from his teeth.

While they made off with a decent haul, the robbers were doubtless disappointed that they couldn’t locate the large stash of illicit prescription drugs they had expected to find. They had the luxury of tossing the home at leisure without worrying about being interrupted by the police – on account of the fact that they were the police.

William Cooper, a 69-year-old retiree who suffered from the familiar variety of afflictions attendant to age, was startled awake on the morning of June 18 by two men who had barged into his home with their guns drawn and ready. Since he lived in a neighborhood in which home invasions (of the non-State-sanctioned variety) were commonplace, Cooper slept with a loaded handgun on his nightstand. He made an entirely proper but regrettably ineffective use of that weapon in an effort to repel the intruders, and was gunned down in his bedroom.

The police raid was triggered by an unsubstantiated tip from a still-anonymous informant that the NASA retiree – who walked with a cane and, according to his neighbors, never seemed to have any visitors – was illegally selling prescription drugs from his home. After they murdered Hampton, the police found about two-dozen different prescription drugs in the home, including various painkillers and medications for blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

In other words, the kinds of drugs you would expect to find in a senior citizen’s home. That didn’t stop the police from busting down his door, shooting him, and taking his property, however. But wait: It gets worse!

Grigg soon turns his attention to Arizona’s drug task forces, and starts putting the pieces of the global drug war jigsaw puzzle together:

The policy objective of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission – as is true in each of the other fifty federal administrative units called “state governments” – is not to eliminate the narcotics trade, or even to abate it in any dramatic way, but rather to transmute it into a reliable source of revenue for the political class and its armed auxiliaries. Toward that end, the Commission in Arizona, with the help of plundered money provided by Washington, created sixteen state-level “drug task forces” in 2007. Those task forces have “a permanent institutional tie” with the Attorney General’s Office of Financial Remedies.

As Tom Barry of the Center for International Policy observes, the Commission’s strategy document leaves the impression it “is a drug war agency, not one dedicated to finding ways to improve criminal justice in Arizona.” Once again, this is typical of law enforcement nation-wide: “Whether at the state or county government level, the war on drugs is the main prism through which criminal justice and law enforcement agencies view crime and violence.”

What this means, of course, is that “local” police agencies are essentially support systems for a plundering army that is literally waging war against the people in the guise of narcotics enforcement. In fact, a good case can be made that these paramilitary task forces – or, to use the proper German translationeinsatzgruppen – are carrying out the precise role that would be played by the dreaded blue-helmeted UN “peace enforcement” units that haunt the imagination of many “law and order” conservatives.

Read the whole thing.

Grigg’s take is an admittedly cynical one, but if we’re not entitled to be cynical about this failed war after forty years, we can’t be cynical about anything. No person in his right mind could possibly believe in the effectiveness of the war on drugs anymore. Just like the bootleggers who never gave up on Prohibition, most of the interest groups who provide vocal support do so as a means to keep the tax dollars flowing and forfeiture auctions humming.

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  1. [...] Cross-posted at AFR. [...]

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