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The recent interviews on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" featuring NSA whistleblower, Russell Tice, have not generated any significant media response.  The lack of media interest in Tice's allegations is particularly surprising.  After all, he is explicitly claiming that journalists -- and their financial records -- were a target of warrantless NSA wiretapping.  

I don't understand why the press is silent here, but one thing is clear TIA (or whatever it is now called) still exists.  It's not going to be dismantled so we may as well use it for something legal.   Here's something I suggested two years ago that we can all get behind:  

Eradication of Cocaine Trafficking....

Let's assume everyone involved in this program is committed to the rule of law and seriously interested in protecting America from threats.  Don't worry, it won't cost you anything to make that assumption.

Even if that is all true, we still have a problem.  How do you demonstrate the program's value to the people who pay for it without sharing classified information?  It turns out, Ronald Reagan had a solution to that sort of problem; he called it "trust but verify."   We can apply that approach to solve this impasse while meeting the legitimate needs of all the stakeholders.  Here's the proposed test:

Demonstrate the existing NSA program works by using it
to eradicate cocaine traffic into the United States.

Back when Hayden was confirmed, I calculated the probability of finding a terrorist plot by data mining massive data sets assuming no baseline information.  The math is here.  And you can see the odds are astronomically long.  In a separate post, Mything The Point of "Positive Results," I focused on the impact of false positives -- hits that look right but aren't.  Based on those numbers, you would generate about a billion false positives for every legitimate hit.  Let me put that in perspective.  A potential terrorist is about 300 times more likely to be killed by lightning than identified with this approach.  

Clearly we need a test with better odds of success.  

If TIA was really working to catch criminals (and terrorists are nothing but piratical criminals) they could demonstrate it to everyone's satisfaction without compromising any of the internal workings of their system.  We also don't want to compromise legal and legitimate law enforcement activities.  Fortunately, such a test is possible... even desirable.

Unlike future terrorist attacks, cocaine trafficking is a well-documented phenomenon. There is no mystery where it is grown.  There is no mystery where it is processed.  There is no mystery how the cocaine gets into the country.  In other words, there are plenty of nodes to start with for any sort of network analysis.  That dramatically increases the prospects of finding useful relationships.

Many people think of "mules" as a major source of cocaine trafficking. Actually, the overwhelming majority of cocaine entering the US arrives via container shipping and general aviation.  So how many containers are coming into the country each year?  About 10 Million.  How many general aviation flights?  Less than a hundred thousand.  Those are big numbers, but they are peanuts compared to the 1 trillion phone records the NSA is supposedly data mining.

In addition to smaller numbers to search, cocaine trafficking also has a baseline history of interdiction data.  The Coast Guard, by itself, seizes one half to one third of all the cocaine entering the country.  We know where those ships came from.  We know who the shipping agents were.  We know where they were heading.  We know a lot about the supply chain.  The same is true for cocaine busts involving general aviation.

Here's the math:  Assume you have 10 Million container shipments and 100 have cocaine on board. Now assume your algorithm for detecting a suspicious transaction gives you a false positive 1 in a thousand times.  Assume your algorithm misses a suspicious transaction 1 in a thousand times.

The big difference between this test and the proposed terrorist surveillance program is we have cut our total number of events from 1 trillion to a mere 10 million.  That lowers the odds of finding a drug shipment to 1 in 100.  Let me put that in perspective.  That is more likely than getting dealt a straight in a game of poker!

Based on the numbers, a system that can locate just one terrorist plot should be able to locate well over 50% of the cocaine shipped into the United States. Add that to the cocaine already being seized by law enforcement and you will wipe out the cocaine trade.

You can increase the odds even more by focusing geographically. State and local officials seize about one third of the cocaine that gets past federal authorities.  When you break down those numbers by state, it turns out over 90% of those seizures occur in ten border states or ports of entry: Texas, Florida, Illinois, California, New York, Arizona, Missouri, New Jersey, Georgia, and Louisiana (in decreasing order).

The benefits of demonstrating this program's usefulness by eradicating cocaine traffic into the US would be clear to everyone.  Successful conclusion of this demonstration won't require publishing classified information. It won't require any acts of faith on the part of the general public. It won't require assaulting anyone's civil liberties. The results would be obvious and independently verifiable.  The benefits would be immediate and substantial. In addition to saving a lot of taxpayer money, we will also be denying a revenue stream to arms dealers and terrorists.

Finally, there is a residual benefit to this approach.  Many people are concerned about the possibility of some WMD being shipped into the country.  Anyone contemplating such an attack would have to think long and hard about their ability to evade detection if they knew they had to run a gauntlet even drug dealers could not beat.  I'm not saying this would prove the system will protect us from terrorists, but you have to admit it would be a hell of a deterrent.

The bottom line:  if their system was capable of finding just ONE terrorist plot... it should be able to shut off 50% of the cocaine traffic.  The coast guard ALREADY interdicts between 30% and 50% of the cocaine coming in.  Between the two, that would be a death blow to blow.  

You may have noticed that under the previous administration that never happened.  Why?  Because under the Bush administration that was not what this system was used for.  You know it.  I know it.  It was about building a national network of names for total control in the event of a government emergency.  Sure, that sounds paranoid, but I remind you that last summer the NSA computer farm almost shut down because of lack of power in the surrounding power grid.  You think they are just playing solitaire?  Well, times have changed.  I say we shuffle the deck and play a new game.

UPDATE:  The folks who focus on things like "war on drugs" and whether or not coke should be legal miss the point.  Unlike most drugs coke production is limited geographically.  It's manufacture and distribution is tied into a network of international criminals.  These are allied with governments and non-government actors.  They prey upon innocent populations through violence and extortion.  Say what you want about the choices, etc.  The fact is that drug trafficking in coke is a major problem for people seeking freedom and democracy in Latin America.  It is also a major source of funding for clandestine wars.  It does us no good.   As one commentator noted, it would be interesting to see the DEA go after the CIA :)

Finally, and most importantly, I am not suggesting we use any illegal means here.  I'm also not talking about cocaine users here. I am focused only on TRAFFICKERS.  They are a breed apart.  They are hard-core criminals.  If the system for analysing data is effective it should be useful when legally applied.

Originally posted to 8ackgr0und N015e on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you are not going after criminals.... (10+ / 0-)

    how can you honestly expect to defend the nation?

    •  Make it legal, then the importers won't be (16+ / 0-)

      criminals. Problem solved.

      •  Make it legal and tax the hell out of it. (10+ / 0-)

        We need the money.  Tax the shit out of churches too while we're at it.

      •  cocaine (6+ / 0-)

        should not be legal, sorry.

        And I like the original posters argument, it would be a great way to affirmatively screen for coke while secondarily deterring any possible shipments of weapons or bombs or other terrorist aids, which is far more effective (and legal) than spying on American's phone calls.

        •  yes it should be legal, sorry (10+ / 0-)

          as should most drugs.

          the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

          by SeanF on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:11:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  they should all be legal (10+ / 0-)

            prohibition is a failure, it's a waste of money. And the last thing we should do is send the message "It's okay to spy on people, as long as they're engaged in behavior most of us don't like"

            •  so let's get rid of prescriptions then too right? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Everyone should have access to whatever drug they want?

              That might be a great libertarian argument, but it isn't a great practical one. It assumes everyone is a rational actor at all times, which is not the case when clean and sober and most certainly is not the case under the influence of crack or LSD or Meth or several other seriously mind/mood altering drugs.

              I'm sure SOME folks could handle. Maybe you and your friends could. Most clearly do not handle it very well, unless you think addiction is not a problem in this country.

              •  right, we don't have (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kdub, murrayewv, dclawyer06

                an alcohol problem. or a cigarrette problem. cuz they're legal!!!!

                the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                by SeanF on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:45:22 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  we absolutely do have those problems (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but, much like guns, the dam has already broken and it's too late to try and put the water back. I would prefer there were no private gun ownership but it would be impossible to make guns magically disappear and none of us want the government to go around and try and confiscate them all besides the various Constitutional concerns it would be impossible.

                  That doesn't mean we go ahead and smash all of the other dams. Well, alcohol is legal so we must make all drugs legal. Again, great libertarian argument, but not a great practical one.

                  Wanna decriminalize use? Feel free, but the idea of saying hey you want Percocet anytime you can get it? Or hey need anti-virals or whatnot? Who cares about the buildup of resistance by bacteria and virus and the health problems that could cause, maximum freedom is our only concern.

                  •  it is problematic (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    but the hard question is, if you had a highly regulated legalization regime, would usage increase or not? And would it be healthy or harmful usage? These are hard questions to answer, but our current policy creates an entire criminal economy that goes way beyond snorting coke. We've created the cartels, crackwhores, and gang warfare.

                    I gotta believe there's a more effective way to deal with the universal human desire to get high.

                    the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

                    by SeanF on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:07:14 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  its not universal (0+ / 0-)

                      more folks dont smoke than do, more folks dont take drugs than do.

                      Alcohol may be the only drug that is done by the majority of folks but more drink perhaps a beer or two or glass of wine to be sociable than are seeking out to get drunk/high.

                      I don't think we've created anything except for the way too many people incarcerated and made felons for simple use, that I do not agree with.

                      Again decriminalization, fines and forced treatment (or at least something along the lines of you can go to treatment or you can go to jail, your choice) would go a long way towards removing some of the negative consequences of making drugs illegal.

                      Combine that with a more aggressive focus on large-scale distribution and keeping more of cocaine and heroin from getting into the country and you put a pretty big dent into those negatives.

                      Heck, dont want to "data-mine?" Ok, how about focusing on inspecting ALL containers that come into the country (for drugs AND terrorism issues) instead of the like 1% we search for now.

                  •  So you're saying you "would" outlaw (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    booze and cigarettes if you could? Why don't you control what you put in your own body and afford others the same respect.

                    <Of course, I think there should be education available and treatment should be out there for anyone who wants or needs it.>

                    •  If no one were using them yet? Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      because we are not a 100% pure libertarian culture.

                      We regulate all sorts of things that folks would do if allowed to.

                      Just like I would if I could like England outlaw ownership of weapons but we can't because we have more guns than people already out there.

              •  Legalization doesnt mean 'no regulation' (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Alcohol is legal, but it restricted. And thats a good thing. Same with tobacco. And there are very legitimate medicinal uses for cocaine, cannabis, MDMA, etc. Absolute prohibition causes far more problems than it 'solves'.

                "Cynicism is a sorry wisdom." - Barack Obama

                by BlueGenes on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:20:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  ever go to the liquor store... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  and come back with crack?

                  I love that line when thinking about how drug prohibition actually is the "gateway drug" of the black market.

                •  the only restrictions of note on alcohol (0+ / 0-)

                  is dont sell to minors. Same with tobacco albeit plus restrictions on advertising.

                  The restrictions on use by minors is rarely enforced, you certainly see plenty of kids smoking in public without fear nor are there a lot of kids who havent tried alcohol before graduating high school, certainly before turning 21.

                  Those restrictions are so minimal as to be meaningless.

                  decriminalizing drug use would continue to focus on the problems of drug use without making users criminals and without making them legal.

            •  yah this diary is an abomination (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              capelza, esquimaux, Justus, BlueGenes

              of our national values.

              the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

              by SeanF on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:43:27 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  You think somone should... (8+ / 0-)

 locked in a cage for ten years because they are hooked on cocaine?

          I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

          by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:25:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The extremes are not the only options (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm not saying I know what other options would be better, but total legalization and severe sentences for drug users are not the only options.

            •  I actually responed... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

     qazplm but that's ok.

              So you'd support legalization of drugs as long as we put the same restrictions on them that we currently do with alcohol for instance?

              I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

              by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:36:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  the only restrictions we have on alcohol (0+ / 0-)

                are that minors can't use them.

                I somehow dont think cocaine is good to be used at any age, except in perhaps rare medicinal/prescribed by a doctor circumstances.

                •  Now you're making a value judgement... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jxg, capelza, BlueGenes

                  ...about good drugs and bad drugs.

                  Moral or immoral drugs don't exist. If someone wants to get high on coke or someone else wants to get wasted on booze...why is it that one is legal and the other isn't?

                  Alcohol addiction is way, way more toxic and damaging to health than cocaine addiction. Alcohol in fact is so bad that it is the only drug I know of that will kill a heavy addict if they stop using it.

                  Alcohol is not a benign drug. Yet Americans were smart enough to get rid of prohibition of it when they realized the prohibition caused worse problems.

                  How much more time will it take before Americans are smart enough to realize the same about cocaine and other drugs.

                  I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                  by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:56:29 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  its not about "good" v bad (0+ / 0-)

                    IMO they are all bad, from cigarettes and alcohol to marijuana and other "light" drugs to cocaine/meth/heroin and other "heavy" drugs.

                    The first set are already legal. I'd prefer they weren't but realistically, they are and that dam has already busted and the water can't be put back.

                    That does not then extend to say, well we should bash in all of the other dams.

                    Alcohol use is MUCH more pervasive than illegal drugs. Prohibition caused problems for that very fact. Other drugs are not nearly as much so, although the problems they generate are not minor.

                    Alcohol withdrawal is not the only withdrawal that can potentially kill a person (and it is rare for any withdrawals to kill someone from any drug including alcohol).

                    At the end of the day, it boils down to an argument of, if you have one drug legal, you must have all of them legal, and I find that argument wholly unpersuasive and simplistic.

                    Guns are legal, they kill a large number of people, should therefore grenades and other weapons be legal? Fully automatic weapons versus semi-automatic? A better argument would be applied to each individual drug IMO. Which is why marijuana while I would still not support making it legal (which is different from decriminalizing use which I have no problem with) would have less resistance from me than harder drugs.

                    •  you must be a blast at parties :) (0+ / 0-)

                      Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!

                      Just about everything is alright in moderation, and the binge way our society views drugs is caused by the prohibition.

                      In the end, we want drug use to be "safe, legal, and rare".  Where have I heard that before?

                      I dunno, I just think there are so many huge advantages to getting rid of the black markets created by the drug trade.

                      Just look at Afghanistan and Mexico, countries being literally out-powered and out-gunned because of the massive amount of black market drug money.

                      •  just about everything isnt alright in moderation (0+ / 0-)

                        there are plenty of things that arent alright at all, and by alright I am assuming you and I are talking in a health sense, not a morality sense.

                        I could use the I dont need alcohol to be fun/funny line to address your subject heading ;)

                        Comparing drug use to abortion is well I want to find a nice word for ridiculous.

                        How in the world is binge use of alcohol, which is a problem, a function of prohibition?

                        Now if you want to argue it is a function of other societal flaws we have we can have that discussion, but alcohol isnt prohibited, it is in fact, looking at your teasing subject line, almost expected that one drinks at least some alcohol.

                        As I learn each and everytime someone says "you don't drink? Not even a little? Wow!"

                        Everyone uses alcohol as an example for why drugs should be legal, but given its ubiquitous presence, even illegal consumption (underage) is barely enforced and fairly well condoned societally, and the fact that given all of that, you'd think we'd have few problems with over-indulgence (the argument from drug legalization folks is, if you just legalize it, all the problems go away).

                        Alcohol is proof that isnt true, and cigarettes (ignoring second hand smoke for a moment) are something we probably pay BILLIONS in health care costs for.

                        If tobacco didnt exist, how much easier would it be to afford universal health care? How many fewer babies would die each year because of better/more affordable pre-natal care? (let's not even talk about drug use and pregnancy).

                        I think at the end of the day, this argument is never going to be solved. Some folks will want drugs to be legal and others wont.

                    •  Ok. (0+ / 0-)

                      But how do you make the distinction between "light" drugs and "heavy" drugs.

                      Alcohol is a "light" drug? Why? I think it's about 250,000 people a year in the US die from the effects of alcohol abuse. That's consumption related not including traffic collisions.

                      About 500,000 people die annually from the effects of tobacco use.

                      Those "light" drugs are dangerous as hell.

                      Marijuana on the other hand doesn't kill anyone.

                      The first set are already legal. I'd prefer they weren't but realistically, they are and that dam has already busted and the water can't be put back.

                      So you would have preferred that alcohol prohibition would have continued instead of being repealed?

                      At the end of the day, it boils down to an argument of, if you have one drug legal, you must have all of them legal, and I find that argument wholly unpersuasive and simplistic.

                      No. The argument is "Does drug prohibition cause more harm than drug legalization." That's what's important. If prohibition causes more damage to society than legalization, even if it's by a small margin, then legalization is better than prohibition.

                      Which is why marijuana while I would still not support making it legal (which is different from decriminalizing use which I have no problem with) would have less resistance from me than harder drugs.

                      Why? What is your motivation on this issue? Why do you care if marijuana, for instance, is legal or illegal or "decriminalized"?

                      I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                      by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:44:31 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  alcohol use (0+ / 0-)

                        was already ubiquitous at the time of prohibition too.

                        drug prohibition is not the problem, drug use criminalization may certainly be, but if we could effectively bar cocaine and other drugs from crossing our borders, are you saying that would create more harm than if we didnt?

                        I think you have no evidence for that at all.

                        I dont have "motivation" other than having thought about and considered the issue and come up with an opinion.

              •  I know who you responded to (0+ / 0-)

                I'm just saying that being against legalization doesn't necessarily imply locking up drug addicts. To be honest, I'm not sure what the best policy would be.

                •  Prohibition clearly doesn't work. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  skrymir, capelza, HoundDog

                  Legalization of some kind is the only other option.

                  I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                  by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:46:42 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Civil rights and the continuation of our (4+ / 0-)

                  Constitutional freedoms and form of government are the bigger picture issues here.

                  This proposal is more anti-American and bigger threat to our traditional American values than communism.  

                  And follows in a tradition of extreme McCarthyite anti-communism based domestic social control we've fought to overcome for decades.

                  If Nixon had had this power during Watergate, combined with his political enemies list we might never have recovered our Demoracy.

                  Same is true of Bush and Cheney.

                  This is the kind of police state threat that should cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end and vibrate.

                  Call your Senators and Represetatives.  Now is the time for all patriotic and good American to come to the aid of our constitution and country.

                  This kind of police state incrementalism is a bigger police state "clear and present danger" to our national security than even the terrorists themselves.

                  I'm sure these misguided authors are well intentioned.  But, this is the  only real way we could lose our American Constitutional traditions, not by an external threat, but by the overreaction to such fears to voluntarily undermine the most powerful part of the checks and balances to concentrated government power embedded in our most American constitition.

                  The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                  by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:55:04 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Neither should this totally extreme suspension of (4+ / 0-)

              our Constitional and 4th Amendments rights proposed by this author.

              Let's not get sidetracked by the legalization argument.

              Except to the extent that in an evironments where any non-violent crimes are made illegal, including prostitution and milder less controversial drugs like Marajuana, instituting Total Information  Awareness, previously proposed by Poindexter as Carnvore and banned by Congress, would by definition seriously undermine the rights and safety of about half of our populaiton.

              A true Democracy where half the population is by definition criminal is not possible.

              This proposal and others like in in FISA and the misguided neocon-GOP attempts to expand the Patriot Act beyond Constitutional oversight and check and balances reprersent a greater and more immididate "clear and present danger" to our democracy and Constitutional form of government than all the terrorist combined.

              Wake up folks, this is the slippery slop, the ACLU, and others 4th Amendment advocates have been trying to warn you about for decades.   Every since J Edgar Hoover was shown to be using domestic FBI files to harrass and intimidate Rev Martin Luther King, Senators, anti-war protesters and millions of innocent law adiding good Americans.

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:47:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  we've always (0+ / 0-)

                had reduced freedoms when crossing the border. I dont think the author is proposing spying on Americans for drugs, he is proposing using known limited data sets and restricted it even further to areas affecting border crossing.

                That has much lower implications on our freedoms than inside the border data mining.

                •  No qazplm. The mixing of domestic and foreign (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  intelligence databases go beyond the slippery slope.

                  Once the bans on using CIA, foreign, and military intelligence not controlled by 4th Amendemdment protections is breached, there are not such thing as "borders."

                  We've already seen such erosion with FISA.  Any an all communicaiton accross borders becomes fair game.  Even if internet routers innocently reroute domestic teleomunication across national borders for netwrok optimization.

                  Incredible amounts of your personal insurance, credit card, medicial, and marketing database information is already ending up in any of the 140 plus other countries intelligence databasis and criminal gangs.  (Think Nigeria).

                  I trust the majority of our law enforcement profressionals, even more so at the highest national and international levels.

                  But, once you have TIA, you put everyone's private medical and other data in the hands of easily corruptible local LEOs, private contractors and criminal gangs.   This Mayor Daley in old time Chicago.

                  It took us almost 100 years for the FBI to break up the local mafia control of many of the major US east coast and mid-west cities.

                  What if they had the databasis that allowed them to go after the indepndent Federal prosecutitions, FBI, judges, etc and their families.  

                  We'd be still be like Nigeria today.

                  Anyone of the 100 millions of Americans, or their relatives who used Marijuani would be suspectible to blackmail of extortion.

                  What about woman who have had abortions in certain areas of country, where local school principles may use this info for hiring bias in Red States.

                  Or to deny medical services etc.

                  This TIA is a highly dangerous threat to our American way of life, and it's seductive and largely illusary appeal to make us safer leads straight to a loss of our Constitutional freedoms and form of government.

                  The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                  by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:06:11 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I dont think you are listening to me (0+ / 0-)

                    or the author.

                    Again, my read of what he is saying is not to listen in on domestic communications or mine your personal insurance or credit card data.

                    He is saying use data mining techniques in a focused, tight and specific manner instead of the wide net more likely to garner a false positive (and oh by the way unconstitutional )manner it is used now.

                    You could start by tracking what access points produce the most "hits" and combine that information with what means of travel does so as well.

                    Then you can tighten where you focus your efforts.

                    THAT is how I read what he is saying, and I think you are completely misreading what he is proposing.

                    •  Have you followed the history of Poindexter's (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      original Carnivore, later renamed Terrorist Protection System, and Total Information Awareness Act, after it was banned by Congress, qazpim?

                      I have no doubt that both you and the author are well intentioned, however, our nations history has shown repeatedly that such well intentioned efforts are not possible to contain or focus.

                      And, already, the original promises not to use datamining based information searches developed exclusively for foriegn intelligence purposes in domestic criminal prosecution has not only already been breached, but, my understanding is that future such breaches have been endorsed in the last hastily done FISA "upgrade."

                      And last, week the Supreme Court trampled on the 4th Amendment and ruled that illegally obtained evidence can be used in criminal prosecution if it was "well intentioned."

                      So, any imagine and well intentioned limits, focus, or containment is already breached.

                      Repeatedly, we've seen data that was supposed to be used briefly for emergency purposes, then erased, is not erased.  

                      Data, that was supposed to be limited to international CIA databases, get into FBI databases, which then ends up in private contractor databases, which ends up in a variety of foreign corporate, intelligence, or criminal gang databases.

                      It's only a matter of time before, terrorist groups get access.  The Pakistani Government Intellence unit is already suspected of being heavily infiltrated with al Queda sympathazers. How'd you like them to have a secret database on the illegal drug habits, or kinky sex habits, or you local electric or water plant operators for purposes of extortion?

                      Comprehensive, TIA databases originally intended for highly limited research purposes, with limited access, ends up seeping into local law enforcement databases.

                      No suggested controls or limits have been effective to my knowledge.

                      Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.  

                      These are enormously powerful new technologies for which we have as yet to develop equally powerful controls (check balances and limits.)

                      BTW, I consider myself to be pushing the cutting edge of the ability to effectively and safely use these enormously powerful technologies once we evolve the effective limiting and balances mechanisms.

                      In that regard, I see raising and successfully solving Constitutional and civil liberties concerns as a more agressive, stronger, and effective military response than those who just want to urgently do it with withtout thinking.  This will lead to misuse, backlash, and perhaps excess limits.  

                      Or the loss of perceived relative legitimacy which will turn potential allies and alliances, into non-supportres or enemies.

                      I am gung ho on giving American the smartest and most powerful true National Security possible consistent with our amazing wonderful Constitutional form of Government.

                      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                      by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:02:48 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  one comment (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        "And last, week the Supreme Court trampled on the 4th Amendment and ruled that illegally obtained evidence can be used in criminal prosecution if it was "well intentioned."

                        All the Supreme Court did last week is affirm the lower court's ruling that the good faith exception in fact applied which is long standing law.

                        Otherwise, you let actual criminals go free because a warrant says 1434 south street apt b, jhon jones, instead of the correct 1434 south street apt b, john jones.

                        the exclusionary rule is NOT a constitutional rule, it is a judge created exception, we could get rid of it completely and not impinge on the Constitution.

                        Not that any of us want that, but the point being folks seem to think the only considerations that are possible is maximizing freedom. It's important don't get me wrong, but it is not solitary.

                        And again, to the rest, you are expanding what the author is saying IMO all out of context.

                        •  I agree more with your point that I may be (0+ / 0-)

                          expanding what the author is trying to say, than on what our different levels of balancing concern for intelligence  or law enforcement effectiveness with concerns for civil rights issues.

                          Although, with respect to last weeks SCOTUS decision, I'll glady defer on that point as well, qazpim, as I am not a lawer, or Constitutional scholar and if you are, then you would know that point better than myself.  

                          This was a tangential reference based on a brief diary I read last week.  So if the reference weakens my larger point, I'll be glad to drop it.

                          Last week author seemed to take the opposite viewpoint you take here with respect to the application of the good faith exception, and seemed much more concerned  that it essentially could be used to undermine any 4th amendement protections against unreasonable search and siezure.

                          But, you seem to be a logical and data based thinker.  

                          Do you not have concerns that we seem to be moving in the direction of long term trends eroding the degree to which our Constitution can be sued to protect individual civil rights?

                          I realiaze we're at a fairly abstract level here, but I appreciate the opportunity to refine my thinking and effectiveness in expressing my concern, which you could probably artculate better than I could by this point.  So I will not try repeating myself.

                          Few want to let guilty criminals go free on silly technicalities or mispellings of the sort you mention in your example above.

                          But, it seems to me, the deeper issues have to do with:

                          a)  The tradeoffs between harming or sending innocent folks to prision by mistake versus how many guilty folks go free from excess concerns about individual legal rights.

                          b) the overall effectiveness and relative legitimacy of our system of government which I was brought up to idealize.

                          But, you bring up an interesting point.   How many innocent or guilty folks would you inccorrectly jail, harm, or set free?   Sort of like the difference between a type1 and type 2 error in hypothesis testing.

                          Suppose for the sake of argument we decided on a 90% or 95% degree of confidence on sending someone to jail on some bit of data.

                          Meaning 1 out of 10 to 20 times we might send in innocent person to jail incorrectly from misapplying or interpreting the data.

                          I would find this greatly distressing, but would agree there is a tradeoff with how many times we let a guilty person wrongly free, to because of excessively rigid  rules of evidence, or restrictions on survellience to protect the innocent.

                          OK maybe some folks would prefer it would be 99% confidence, until they see the latest episode of CSI SVU where a rapist get off on a tecnocality, then the want a 50 - 50 preponderance of evidence standard.  Until they here about dozens of Illinois death row inmates proven innocent by modern DNA, then they want 99.9%.


                          But, Dick Cheney introduced what I think he said was the 1% doctrine.  

                          If the consequence of letting even one terrorist with a nuclear bomb get through to a major American city is so incredibly devastating, like 20 megadeaths, then if theire even a 1% chance someone is up to something bad, shouldn't we consider him guilty until proven innocent.

                          So we have 600 folks locked up in GITMO, some of whom, may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Well, lets' take the Jack Bauer approach, ticking timebomb.  When in doubt let's torture just to be safe.

                          Hard to argue with.

                          Except, my concern, is this very dramatic extreme cases are used to justify changes to the law which then have bigger consequnces elsewhere that are more abstract, further removed in time and space.

                          Leading me to be concerned that we  collectively make the wrong decisions by wide margin in some of these admittedly difficult tradeoffs.

                          What I wish I could be more succint about, qazpim, so do appreciate you patience so far in reading, so much is this.

                          Let's say we have a suspected terrorist we are really convinced has information about an imminent threat of some catastrophic threat to a major US city.   Do we support torture or not?  Millions could die.

                          What should our law be about this?   Should we freely allow torture, or not.

                          I say no, with the realization that if such an extreme example did come up, we could rely on the judgement of the professionals involved to make the call, with full knowledge that if they use torture, because some experts say it might work, that they are charged with a potential violation of the law, which they can defend against.   A judge  or some objective oversight group gets to review and agree or disagree, and the precident is known and becomes part of collective history.

                          Alternatively, if we become alarmed at the potential of 20 million deaths and say well, let's live it to the discretion of the local officials we will then get thousands and maybe millions of cases of witness intimadation, folks forced into false confessions, etc.  Which we then may never hear about, so abuses become rampant.

                          So,  metaphorically, I'm trying to apply the same mindset to the case of what appear to be straightforward cases of highly focused, and limited data mining to optimize selection of weak points in our border control resource allocation.

                          What possible harm could there be?

                          I used to work as an international consultant in probably at least 40 or more different countries and have lots of border crossing stories.

                          Like be held up for 5 hours to Canada for being the only one who honestly checked off "business" as my purpose.  I was make a short 30 minute presentation to a board of directors meeting for a non-profit, pro-bono.

                          But the labor security official decided I might be taking jobs away from Canada.  etc.

                          But, this is trivial compared to the unintended side effects of Bush mistargeting WMD in Iraq which I think greatly damaged US National Security in preventable ways, had we had wiser more systemic ways of thinking about.  And more effective checks.

                          So, is it unfair to push this authors proposal that far?  

                          Perhaps, but where and when do we draw such gray lines.

                          We can always define the bigger picture strategic questions done to apparently narrowing ones where we do not have to challenge ourselves to ask the bigger picture questions.

                          Does this make sense to you?  At least my intent, if not where I'd like to draw the grey lines about when we ask the bigger picture questions?  

                          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                          by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 02:26:33 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  thats a lot of stuff (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            vbg and I dont have the time to respond to it all but in snippets:

                            Im a defense attorney so I will always want more protections for my clients rather than less, its even selfish on my part, I like to win and I have a better chance if the rules are more in favor of accused ;)

                            Having said that, no I am not concerned as I think having the adults in charge should mean better judges in the intermediate and lower level courts and more sanity to return over time.

                            let me just say very very very few folks get off on a technicality.

                            I want to emphasize the very few part again :)

                            The rules of evidence are designed to let evidence in not keep it out, the exclusionary rule has so many exceptions that it's difficult to not see the rule swallowed by exceptions and as a current appellate attorney you have the added burden that even if the judge gets it wrong, deference and abuse of discretion standard means you give them some benefit of the doubt unless its clear and even when its clear then you have determine if the remaining evidence would have been enough and if so, then no harm no foul.

                            So again almost no one gets off on technicalities.

                            I dont support torture and dont know any who do.

                            I dont know where the gray lines are, bright lines are easy, gray lines are hard.

                            We have to analyze each situation separately and seek to balance freedom with other concerns with freedom of course having a great deal of deference and import, and the Constitution reigning over all as supreme.

                          •  Thanks for your intelligent and well informed (0+ / 0-)

                            response.   I agree with most of what you say, and am encouraged by your optimistic, almost sanquine viewpoint, which seems refreshing and rare these days.

                            But, let me clarify that I only brought up the tradeoff of type 1 and type  2 errors in criminal convictions as a metaphor aimed at illustrating my less well articulated concerns about doing the best job we can balance the tradeoffs between optimizing the balance of similar tradeoffs of national security and constitutionally based individual civil rights and democratic governement, which is less clear, more complex, and potentially consequential.  

                            I believe Obama and most of his advisors are at least one or two standard deviations smarter and wiser than Bush and his minions.

                            But, should not be concerned about how we maximize our chances of success and minimize the chances of strategic blunders of the magnitude of the Bush administration?

                            My view, is that even highly talented and well intentioned folks can easily bungle strategic choices in such complicated systems.

                            And remember, just between us privately, the majority of Democrats willingly went along with the GOP, and numerous of these folks are now in Washington in critical roles.

                            I believe we should be spending more time discussing and trying to design more robust, effective, and intelligent decision processes, values, and a political philosophy for better managing such tradeoffs.

                            Both, for private decision making as well as collective efforts to establish greater consensus.

                            If we don't, I believe the consequence will be to repeat these kind of blunders to the detriment of us all.

                            Perhaps, I'm too pessimistic.

                            But, I appreciate your toughtful feedback and perspective.  


                            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                            by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 07:24:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  In order to datamine (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      rockhound, HoundDog, Justus

                      you start with a very broad set of data, ire you surveil the innocent. at that point there's no practical way to prevent repurposing.

                      This is a Test of the Emergency Free Speech System. This is only a Test. In an actual Free Speech Emergency, I'll be locked up.

                      by ben masel on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:06:43 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You said it so much better and more concisely (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        than me Ben Masel.

                        But, we are the lonely minority in this discussion Ben, and are losing this debate.  And will lose bigger the minute any additional threatening event occurs.

                        The vividness and fear induced by the "ticking bomb" metaphor drove us to do incredibly stupid and counter-productive things in Iraq, probably leading to more extreme Jihadist recruitement than Bin Laden could have managed on his own.

                        And merely imagining the "ticking bomb" metaphor during an elections cycle caused the overwhelming majority of otherwise sensitive Democrats to cave on sensible FISA and Patriot Act discussions.  

                        But, these insights will not deter us one iota, from repeating this same blunder over and over again.   Like some tragically sad Freudian Repetition Compulsion.

                        Except, it  could also be described in systems math as "compensating feedback" aka "fixes that backfire," a generic syndrome/system structure wherein, by optimizing only the part of the sub-systems we can directly see, we ignore feedback loops that are delayed in time, or remote in space, and thereby inevetibly, and almost without exception sub-optimize the whole, bigger system.

                        But, sadly, whether we describe it psychologically, strategically, politically, mathematically, or with common sense, history has proven over and over again, we will collectively do it tragically wrong, over and over again, despite the painful prices and damage to so much we care about.

                        What can we do?    

                        One optimistic wag, suggests that human beings will eventually do the right thing, after diligently exhausting all of the alternatives.

                        But, I worry here that if we continue to cause an unnecessary polarization of violent extremists, who have increasing access to NBC WMD, the cumulative probability of a domestic incident, will cause increasingly extreme counter-measures, undermining our Constitution, and greater greater opposition, less relative perceived legitimacy in other parts of the world, creating more polarization etc.

                        When will we get a second chance to be wiser?

                        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                        by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 01:04:20 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  you dont have to surveil anyone (0+ / 0-)

                        you simply note:

                        where are the drug interdictions most happening geographically?

                        what means are most used to transport the drugs?

                        That alone, as the original poster points out, would significantly narrow your parameters.

                        So no, your assumption that to even narrow you have survey innocents is not true at all.

                •  Doesnt matter. (0+ / 0-)

                  Such merging of databases would most certainly be used for domestic law enforcement. If such an idea were to come to pass, the NSA would be listening in for pot smokers tomorrow.

                  "Cynicism is a sorry wisdom." - Barack Obama

                  by BlueGenes on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:23:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  did I say that? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AaronInSanDiego, murrayewv

            I said they shouldn't be legal, that is a far cry from determining whether use should be treated with assistance rather than incarceration which I have no problem with.

            I certainly do believe that major distributors should be incarcerated.

            •  Yes you did say it. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              If drugs are not legal then they are illegal.

              If they are illegal then possession and use of them will be punished. That's what happens to people who break the law no matter how stupid the law. They are punished.

              If you prefer treatment to prison for an addict then the logical step would be legalization and the creation of free, on demand, voluntary drug treatment programs across the US. Compulsory drug treatment is punishment.

              If someone isn't an addict, if they just like to use coke, for instance on the weekends there's no reason for that person to be arrested or forced into rehab. Or do you think that person should be punished?

              I certainly do believe that major distributors should be incarcerated.

              They never are. Never have been. Never will be. They run the system, they run the drug trade and they run the drug war. It's a scam.

              I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

              by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:09:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  jaywalking is illegal too (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                but that doesn't mean it is criminal.

                If you want to take that either/or stance feel free, but it isn't based in reality.

                The Logical step for my preference would not be making drugs legal, it would be decriminalizing use, and treating it is a civil violation rather than a criminal one.

                •  So if someone... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  ...has a small amount of cocaine in their pocket for personal use do you think they should be punished for that if they're caught with it?

                  If so, why?

                  I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                  by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:47:20 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  pretty sure I just said no they should not (0+ / 0-)

                    they should be fined perhaps, certainly be mandated to attend treatment and counseling or risk increased fines or possibly contempt of court, but no, someone should not be jailed for mere possession of a small amount of cocaine, or made a felon/criminal for it.

                    Someone who ships in 100 kilos of cocaine? Or sells cocaine on a regular basis or to kids?

                    They should be severely punished.

                    •  A fine... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:


                      ...certainly be mandated to attend treatment and counseling...


                      I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                      by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:05:16 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  why? (0+ / 0-)

                        You might as well make the argument of "why" to cutoff for adulthood being 18 versus 17 or 19. You apparently believe there are no downsides to drug use.

                        I disagree, with that fundamental disagreement, I think it difficult for us to understand each other.

                        I think someone who uses cocaine needs treatment and counseling, they need to stop and they need help in stopping.

                        A fine is a minimal punishment, the same we give to things like jaywalking.

                        If that's too onerous for you then you've chosen the there is no problem with drug use of any kind approach, and I can't agree with you.

                        Some things should be discouraged, drug use is one of them IMO. You discourage things by fining them. You also discourage them by removing them from society, which goes to policing your borders.

                        You moderate that by not incarcerating or placing any long term penalties on folks who do use. But sorry you are not going to convince me that all drugs should be completely legal.

                        •  Oh? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          You apparently believe there are no downsides to drug use.

                          What I believe is that what a person does with their own body is their own business. If somebody likes to use coke and has a good time that's up to to them. If someone develops an addiction to coke then they should be provided with a free drug treatment program to help them kick the habit.

                          I think punishing people for recreational drug use is immoral, unethical, destructive of personal liberty and harmful to society.

                          I think someone who uses cocaine needs treatment and counseling, they need to stop and they need help in stopping.

                          You're imposing your own moral philosophy on other people aren't you then? Do you personally know everyone who uses cocaine? No you don't. Most people who do use it don't have a problem with it, they use it occasionally and it doesn't affect their lives in a negative way. Why force them to do go through a program that they don't need or want?

                          And you are imposing your own morals on other people. If somebody likes to get high and they don't hurt anyone in the process it's none of your business or my business is it?

                          Some things should be discouraged, drug use is one of them IMO. You discourage things by fining them.

                          Why do you care if somebody likes to get high? Why do you think it's ok to inflict financial pain on someone who just wants to have a good time?

                          ...completely legal.

                          What do you mean by "completely legal"?

                          I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                          by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:40:30 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I believe drug use impacts on more than just (0+ / 0-)

                            a person's own body.

                            Comparing using coke with having too much salt in your diet is patently...well, trying to keep this civil so don't know a civil word to use to describe it.

                          •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

                            If someone scores an 8-ball of coke for the weekend and gets high and has a good time does that activity:

                            -Punch you in the nose?

                            -Break your leg?

                            -Steal your wallet?

                            -Deprive you of the fruits of your labor?

                            -Have a negative impact on your life?


                            So, why do you think that person should be punished with a fine and forced to go through a drug treatment program?

                            And how big of a fine are you thinking about? Ten bucks, one hundred bucks, one thousand bucks?

                            I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

                            by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 01:03:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm sure you can find (0+ / 0-)

                            exceptions in almost any activity where there is someone who simply uses coke and has no deleterious effects on anyone else or to society.

                            That exception does not prove the rule. Folks who seem to believe that even a majority of drug use is harmless to anyone but the user or society are living in a fantasy world IMO, particularly when you are talking coke, meth, heroin and other drugs that seriously alter reality/mood unlike say marijuana which rarely if ever seriously alters either.

                            As for a proper fine, I have no idea, whatever amount minimally serves as an effective deterrent.

                            If you want to substitute an option of a fine or treatment, that would be fine as well.

                            I'm done going back and forth with you, you want complete freedom to use drugs, I dont, we simply are not going to agree.

            •  Marijuana at least, and probably all others forms (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              of addiction and mental illness are probably better treated as mental health, and social issues than military and law enforment issues.

              General McCaffry misses a major insight when he noted the primary lesson the Pentagon learned from Vietnam is that our nation should never our countries military to fight a war that a significant portion of our population opposes.

              He then makes a collassal misjudgement not to recognize that trying to use the nations DEA, and law enforcements, (and now maybe military intelligences services) to fight a war directly on over 100 million American drug users goes directly against this insight.  

              He was right the first time.   This tragically misguided strategic blunder will tear our nation apart and set American against American like in the civil war, at a time we should be united against terrorism.

              We would be shooting ourselves in the foot, and legitimizing some of the worst propoganda they try to use against us, (that we are a military police state not a real democracy for the people.)

              No, no, no, no, no!

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:12:15 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I don't have a position of legalization of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          capelza, BlueGenes

          cocaine, however, total oppose this unconstitutional proposal to apply the military databases and CIA foriegn intelligence operations to domestic law enforcment.

          The breakdown of the historical strictist possible seperation of the FBI and CIA databases were only allowed on the premises that this kind of mixing would never happen.  

          But, the provisions specifically excluding the use of illegally obtained foreign military and CIA inteligece were weaked in the last FISA bill, one of its greatest faults.

          We need to be working in the opposite direction of this totally wrong neocon proposal.  

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:40:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Some people feel that way about (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jxg, esquimaux

          contraception, sodomy, alcohol, cigarettes and pot. How about we stop telling people what to do with their own bodies?

          Just a thought.

          •  I think it silly (0+ / 0-)

            to compare contraception and sodomy to cocaine and meth.

            the last three are closer but the middle two are already legal, that dam has burst and you cant put the water back.

            Pot is a mild drug, and while I would oppose legalizing it, it is much less a concern than harder drugs.

            But hey, like I said, let's get rid of prescriptions too, sure, indiscriminate use of antibiotics would render them all useless pretty quickly, but hey, our only concern is maximum freedom, not any practical considerations, right?

            •  The dam hasn't burst. According to the diarist (0+ / 0-)

              there are whole new tools available to the government. Why accept anything when you can just spy more?

              And you may think laws outlawing sodomy are silly but they were legal until a few years ago and, with a few more conservatives judges, could be again. You think Scalia or Clarence Thomas wouldn't allow those laws to be reinstated?

              Civil liberties and personal privacy are important and we'd better tread carefully.

              •  first of all (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I think you are seriously misreading the diarist but I'm not going to re-type out why again, you can look down to my previous post to see why I think that.

                Second, each area where we tread on civil liberties and personal privacy should be examined carefully which is why blanket comparisons where we take completely unassociated infringements and say if we do one we have to do the other or vice versa is not particularly enlightening or productive.

                Sodomy produces almost zero more issues than regular intercourse and when we consider the problems tied into pregnancy (those who die in childbirth, unwanted pregnancy, complications from abortions (and I AM pro-choice but that does not mean abortions dont have negative consequences) other than the spread of AIDS through unprotected anal sex which admittedly is important arguably anal and oral sex cause fewer problems than intercourse.

                The fact that folks wanted to ban it does not put me in their boat simply because I find something else worthy of not being made legal. Each should be examined on its own merits or lack thereof.

      •  that solution kicks the can down the road (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Otteray Scribe

        if the drugs are not the problem, then it is the behavior associated with the drugs that will still be a problem (prostitution, theft, robbery, assault, etc.)

        Addicts still need to get their fix.  Coke users are notorious for their fragile emotional states, paranoid episodes, and volatile anger.  Add a gun to that and you always get problems.

        Our health care system cannot support administratino of cocaine to massive numbers of people.  This is radically different than the experience in places like the UK where opiates (e.g. morphine and heroin) are available through a medical system.

        •  If it's legal it's cheap. If it's cheap (6+ / 0-)

          there's a lot less reason to steal. And many could take drugs and still function well in society.

          •  That will not solve some of the most severe forms (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of addiction, mental illness, and brain damage some fraction of our population is stuck with.  

            We will  need to have provision in our national health, Medicare, and Medicaid budgets for some of these individuals.  But, this will be vastly cheaper, smarter, more compassionate, and more effective than trying to address these mental health and sociological problems with military interventions and suspending constitutional rights and government.  

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:24:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And do you really believe that eradicating (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jxg, capelza, jrooth, Rex Manning, BlueGenes

          cocaine would shrink the prostitution industry one iota?

          •  no, but women often go into prostitution (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to support drug habits.
            or they become trapped in prostitution to support them.

            •  Maybe they do coke because it's illegal, (0+ / 0-)

              and if it were legal they wouldn't do it. That's just as possible.

              •  More likey they have many other problems (0+ / 0-)

                including sometimes mental illness or a lack of other viable options in a society which lack adequaote mental health coverage.

                Up to 5% of the population suffers from bi-polar disorder, and in a country where we do not have adequate mental health care, up to 75% of those  suffering from bi-polar disorder will at somepoint abuse drugs.  Probably, in inefficient attempts to self-mediate.

                If they become addicted to hard drugs or induced into prostittution as victims of organized crime they can be lost forever, where we spend an average of $50,000 a person per year to incarcerate them.

                If instead, we gave them minimal adequote mental health care and other more efficient and effective, and cheaper drugs such as Lithium, anti-depresents, or even sometimes exactly the same chemicals such as Adderal (dexedrine for ADHD) they can live productive and happier lives as productive members of society.

                20% of the population suffers from clinical depression at some point in their lifes.  

                And about 3% ADHD.  If you are a rich, white, suburban child of a well off family in a good school, the teachers may insist you child get proper medical care, which often involves life-time prescriptions to Adderal, (dexedrine) or Ritilin covered by your health insurance, or Medicare.

                If you are poor and black, and try to self medicate with exactly the same chemicals you face a mandatory 10 year sentence.  Crystal meth, crack, and cocaine or in many cases, the best, but poor substitutes for what the rich get freely.

                But can cost 100 times as much on the street and is laced with impurities.   And getting it from criminal gangs appears not to be as therapeutic as getting it from a suburban psychiatrist so frequently does not have as successul outcome modality.

                Besides being racist, this is totally inhumane shameful and stupid.

                But of course, one of the advantage of the TIA programs mentioned by the author is that we could follow the suggestions some made in the late 60s and identify those with mental heath screening (aka criminal or terrorist likilhood profiling) and arrest and incarcerate them in advance)

                Our school teachers know the signs.

                (this is a snark for the slow of uptake.)

                But, this is an excellent example of what happens when our intelligence and law enforcement technologies get developed faster than our wisdom and compasssion.

                As long as we exist in  a racist and unjust society, such technological "advances" such as Carnivore and TIA will be used, in racist and harmful ways to imprision, impoverish, marginalize and harm the poorest, or weakest among us.   Which eventualy could be all of us.

                If we make significant progress towards greater equality, freedom, equity, justice, and compassion in our social system as evidence by health care, wiser treatment of the mentally ill, and drug abusing poor, sex workers, and if we showed a greaeter respect for diversity that a more benevolant society might, such technologies might have a position benefit/cost ratio.

                But, given where we are at now, I fear they will cause more harm than good.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:43:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, it might. And it also may reduce the (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rockhound, 8ackgr0und N015e

            violence, and criminal gang, and organized crime associations as well.  

            As well, as lead to better medical regulation, and social security participation for sex workers.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:26:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, and alchoholics are such stable individuals (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          capelza, Rex Manning, BlueGenes

          you can''t legislate morality. period.

          •  70% of violent crimes... (5+ / 0-)

   the US are committed by someone under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is a very dangerous drug that causes terrible problems. Banning it caused even worse problems though.

            I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

            by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:28:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  sure you can (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            its immoral to steal, we legislate that. its immoral to kill, we legislate that. there are few crimes on our books that aren't based on morality.

            •  Prohibiting person appetite never works. (0+ / 0-)

              You are talking about crime with inherent victims. Stealing isnt a crime because it is immoral, it is a crime because someone has been harmed (which is why it is immoral, not the other way around).

              "Cynicism is a sorry wisdom." - Barack Obama

              by BlueGenes on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:17:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  there are very few crimes that dont have victims (0+ / 0-)

                and at least for most of us not heavily religious enough to believe that wanting to eat a lot is immoral, I dont believe most of us would say over-eating is "immoral."

                Poor choice sure, but not immoral.

                Again, I am sure you can find a few crimes on our books that aren't based on morality.

                So perhaps what you mean to argue is that drug use is a victim-less crime and thus shouldn't be a crime.

                I'd be ok with that concept but I would say it is no different than jaywalking, illegal parking, or other violations that incur fines or other sanctions but are neither legal nor criminal, aka decriminalization.

                Drug distribution, particularly the large scale type is not a victim-less crime IMO and should still be criminalized.

                And of course, none of this has much to do with simply prohibiting it from entering our borders or being grown.

            •  Completely different. (0+ / 0-)

              Your rights stop where they infringe on my equal rights.

              "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

              by Drew J Jones on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:29:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  how are your rights infringed (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                when I jaywalk, or illegally park, or dont register my car, or dont have insurance even though I have the money to pay off damage to another's car or any of the myriad civil violations that dont involve any citizens rights at all?

                Again, your argument also isn't that it's wrong to legislate morality, its that drug use is a victimless crime, which I believe I've addressed in my post just above.

        •  The cocaine cartels... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jxg, capelza, reflectionsv37, Justus, BlueGenes

          ...and drug gangs salute you for your dedication to the continued prohibition of cocaine.

          After all, if cocaine prohibition was ended, those creeps would quickly go out of business.

          I'm lost..I'm angry..and I'm armed!>>Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

          by Rex Manning on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:30:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And drunk driver kill people. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I know, why don't we just "prohibit" alcohol! Then we could get rid of all of that deviant behavior that is associated with it; prostitution, DWI, rape, battery, gambling, etc.

          "Cynicism is a sorry wisdom." - Barack Obama

          by BlueGenes on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:15:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cocaine, and especially crack, may be unique (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          with regard to his impact on psychotic or violent behaviors.

          But, most of the problems with crime, and gang violence are the direct consequence of the lack of avalability, not the drug itself.

          Coke users who cannot control themselves and become psychotic or violent can be incarcerated for those specific criminal behaviors, just as we do we alcohol or guns.

          We do not make guns or alcohol illegal because a minority can not deal with them.

          20% of the population has alcohol or other addiiction problems so severe they are de-facto dsyfuncitonal at some point in their lifes.  Studies where underage Eskimo alcohol abusers were denied alcohol let them to sniffing glue.

          We need mental health interventions not military.  Studies show that an enormously high majority of these most problematic individuals are trying to self medicate for depression, bi-polar, and other mental illnesses.

          History will look back at our current treatment of this sad cases as similar to when we burned heretics and the mentally ill as witches in Salem.   Now we put them in jail as narcotic felons.   Probably soon, we will label them as terrorists.

          Studies of those in long term incarceration for violent crimes, show a very large fracion have brain damage or incomplete development of the cerebral cortex where the "impulse control" circuitry develops or traverses.

          Some can be treated with meds, some may be incurable.  We should address these mental health issues with doctors and proper health care, not armies and by suspending Consitutional Government.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:21:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Are we going after bush, cheney, rumsfeld, etc? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      capelza, BlueGenes

      "Defending the nation" is such a misnomer.

    •  This diary is totally wrong and represents (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, capelza, Justus, BigAlinWashSt

      exactly one of the worst case scenarios fears by civil libertarians and those who still value our consitutionally based Bill of Rights and democracy.

      Expanding Total Information Awareness, Carnivore, and othere domestic spying under the rubrik of protecting us from terrorism would be a fundemental violation of the reason we seperated the military from the domestic policing in the first place.

      Over 67 million American use Marijuana, or engage in other victimless crimes such as prostitution.  Inefficiency of prosecution is one of the few  barriers preventing us from becoming a policy state.

      Rosseau's and our founding fathers' notion of our government's legitimacy being based on a voluntary "social contract" would be seriously damaged and compromised if we start improving a militaristic legal enforcement system whereby, over half the nations populations would be criminals by defintion.

      This would be a serious real steps towards as de-facto police state where the majority of the population lives in fear of prosecution, blackmail, or others negative consequences of having many easily access databases on their crimial behavior.

      Corrupt local law enforcement, criminal gangs, private contractors, hackers, ex-spouses, and others who can gain access to such data can exploit it for blackmail and crimial purposes.

      Voters can be intimidates by corrupt local politicians of the sort that regular keep reocurring.

      A fundemetal notion our democracy is based on is the strong belief of our founding fathers that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutey."

      Which is why they did everything possible to prevent unchecked concentrations of power any and everywhere in government.

      Also, Benjamin Franklin said those who will sacriface a little Liberty to get a little Security will get and derserve neither.

      This outragiously dangerous proposal should be specifically banned, as everytime the government has developed such databases on citizens and politicians, it has been abused.

      It also totally misrepresents the risk.  Yes, it's tragic that we lost 3,500 innocents in the twin towers.   But, we have been losing almost 50,000 a year to traffic fatalities for half a century and have not felt it necessary to urgency suspend our constitution.

      250,000 a year or more die of heart disease and cancer and I do not see any proportionally equivelent urgent rush to give everyone universal health care.

      Benefits need to be proportional to risk.  

      And all power and information programs, involved in our government need to be more carefully regulated by our Bill of Rights, and constitutional checks and balances.

      No information developed from international terrorists data-bases should be allowed in any domestic  civil or crimial court hearings.

      This is one of the terribly misquided transgressions of the last FISA and Patriot Act modifications we should be working in the opposite direction to repeal.

      This is a blatant instrustion of the discredited neocon foreign policy we've just worked eight years to start to recover from.

      Absolutely not!

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:34:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  how many use cocaine (0+ / 0-)

        since that was the drug the author focused on?

        Heck you could decriminalize cocaine use and STILL bar it's entry into the country couldn't you?

        How would that infringe substantially on anyone's rights?

        We bar all sorts of things into this country, fruits, other foodstuffs, products, for all sorts of legitimate reasons, are those folks also losing their freedoms?

        •  I'm not sure I understand you qazpim. (0+ / 0-)

          I have no objection to barring imports of illicit substance, or anything else that might harm our national security.

          For example, I'm strongly against allowing terrorists or hostile state smuggling nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons into the U.S.

          I'm arguing on behalf of the smartest total systemic solution to both national security, law enforcments, as well as public and mental health goals consistent with our constitutional fondations and Bill of Rights.

          During a debate about Ronald Reagans Stars Wars Brilliant Pebbles Defense shield decades ago at MIT,  Lestor Thurrow, Dean of our Sloan School of Managment, pointed out that spendig trilions of dollars on a hypothetical and technologically dubious defense shield was sillty, because even if it worked, the Soviets could get around it by hiding nucleaer warhead inside any one of 20,000 bales a month of Marijuana smuggled across our borders.

          I knew then, the NORAD folks would soon go nuts about this increbly large army of dedicated smugglers supported by our systems of making marijuana illegal.

          But rather than see the easiest and best solution was just to legalize it, taking away the cash flow motivating and funding this gigantic infrastructure of criminal gang, the militaristic mindset compulsives rushes to greater intelligence, greater survellence, more agents on the border etc.

          Obvously, we need some combination of both, but all this comes at a cost.

          But, when fear of nuclear attacks on our domestic soil is involved you know for certain all of these things being proposed here have been and alreadty being  being done for a long time.

          I used to work on computer similution models of complex systems and one of my good friends and colleaques adapted the computer models use to track cocaine distrubution, and prices, some three decades ago.  This was used to estimate dollar flows that might fund narco-terrorism.  

          From street buys of relative purity, combined with other data one can estimate quantities and prices of all sorts of flows.

          One of the counterintutive results of that model was that increased criminal enforcment in one major US city actually increased criminal activities because the short term drop in supply, against less elastic demand from addicts, forced high increases of price, which drew in more violent criminal gangs from other areas, resulting in higher supplty, lower prices, more agresssive marketing and more violence.

          My point, is that in complex systems there are many unintended side effect, where our good intentions in one areas actually makes the global systems performance worse.

          This is what Demmings and my control theorty mathematics teachers mean when they say "optimizing sub-systems, sup-optimizes the total social systems preformance."

          A corollary  is that "the only way to optimize the total system preformance is to deliberately "sub-optimize" the subsystems."

          In this regard, sub-optimize means to design engineering tradeoffs that integrate the total life cycle utilitity of our mutually agreed upon objective functions.

          My fundemental problems is with this diary, is not the good intent, or fact, that it is already being done, and will most certainlty be expanded rapidly.

          But that the advocates do not have a complete systems map, even on paper, that includes the whole system and other objective functions that are connected up.

          If someone said, "I realize that we may worsen our risk of further erosions of civil liberties and the shameful mistreatment of the underprivelaged, and we risk the data falling into the wrong hand, but the urgency of the risk of a domestic nuclear attack is so great we may have no choice.  But in recognition of our already precarioius imbalace, and as a symbollic gesture of how imporant this is,  I/we should support universal health care or all American, support decriminalization of the least dangerous drugs such as Marijuana, support amensty for the 1 millions drug user in jail, and also support changing the FISA law to restore the Chinese wall seperating domestic and foreign intelligence" then I would be impressd that at least folks are trying to think of the whole system.

          But, my experience with military and classified research is that nothing remotely close to this could happen, as even the researchers developing this system will be on a "need to know" classfication and will be told something very similar to the above, that they need to develop this one little piece for these innocuous reasons.  

          Meanwhile, our politicians and citizens will be so confused and frightened they will behave exactly as they are doing now, and we will continue the classic and sad "drift to lowest system preformance by numerous and extensive reinforcing localized sub-optmizations.

          But, I will take every oppotunity to complain about it, in the hope that some few folks that combine both the mathematical sophistication, with the political intuitions, and respect for our Constitution and American form of democratic (or representative, if you prefer) form of government will listen to the need for a systems approach with best available technology to this critical challenge.  

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:40:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you are trying to apply engineering and statistical principles to something immune to completely and effectively using those principles...human beings.

            everything we do has tradeoffs, and there are no perfect solutions, just a bunch of slightly better or slightly worse and then some really bad or fairly good solutions.

            I think the author was simply saying, blanket datamining bad, using those resources instead to pinpoint specific, known or easily knowable quantities like where drugs are coming from and how they are coming in, is better.

            nothing more, nothing less, though of course he can speak for himself if I have gotten it wrong.

            •  Well, I appreciate you perspective. And, to the (0+ / 0-)

              extent you're correct, perhaps, I would agree that my reaction is excessive concern.

              It would probably be impossible to prevent analysts from doing what is proposed anyway.

              But, I'm still hoping that Obama will upgrade and improve his FISA reversal in the spring, and also provide a sounder explantion or rationale.

              To the extent you successful argue that the author only wants to better deploy tactical intervention resources at a local level for a narrowly defined objective, you simultaneously diminish the relative importance of this consideration compared to the broader FiSA and Patriot Act issues, so I would hope Obama addresses them first.

              I obviously disagree with you about applying scientific, engineering, mathematical, and strategic principles to human concerns.   I think we should use every possible way to improve the quality of our thinking and decision making possible.

              And whenever possible formulate our policy options in terms of testible hypyothesis challengable by data and logic.

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 01:46:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I have never objected to a diary proposal (6+ / 0-)

      at DKOS more strongly than this one.   This is totally wrong for reasons I elaborate on in more detail in another comments.  

      Absolutely not.  This is exactly what we need legislation to make illegal if we wish to preserve our Bill of Rights and Constitutionally based freedoms.  

      A Total Disaster of an idea.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:36:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Leave the dope users alone and go after real criminal activity.

      "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

      by Drew J Jones on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:31:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Better yet, lets us TIA to round up teh Jews. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is a Test of the Emergency Free Speech System. This is only a Test. In an actual Free Speech Emergency, I'll be locked up.

      by ben masel on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:25:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  we go back to the old (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, mattman, Justus

    "if it works it must be right" argument. Remember the saying, if men were all angels, there'd be no need for government. I refuse to accept any program that has as it's premise that the "good guys" will be running it. I don't trust anyone that much, and the day always comes when the bad guys get back in power and I don't want them to get their hands on it.

    Besides, cocaine should be legal.

    the greatest threat to america is its sense of exceptionalism.

    by SeanF on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:04:18 AM PST

  •  wow, what a joke. we hae real problems. nt. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cacamp, BlueGenes
  •  Proof of Concept (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gfre, Justus

    I think the authors point here is to require the program to show it can work- which it probably can't.

    So, maybe they don't do it with cocaine.  

    How about money laundering?  Tax evasion?

    Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

    by bobtmn on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:16:50 AM PST

  •  I wonder what the cost of running (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, capelza, Justus, bythesea

    this "war on drugs is" versus what the cost to the health care system would be if drugs were legal...probably a hell of a lot less, especially since these drugs would be taxed.

    You will never eradicate the cocaine trade or any other drug trade no matter what you do. It is money flushed down the toilet. Humans like drugs, have since the beginning of time and only relatively recent puritanical mores are what keeps them banned. People take responsibility for the choices they make.

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

    by michael1104 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:19:06 AM PST

  •  Heh (0+ / 0-)

    I don't understand why the press is silent here...

  •  I got your solution to cocaine trafficking: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jxg, skrymir, capelza, Rex Manning, Justus

    Legalize cocaine and all other drugs on the constitutional grounds that American citizens are entitled to their life, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness.

    Then, meaningfully educate our population about the dangers of using drugs like cocaine.  Treat addicts as they become problems for their families. Incarcerate those who use their addictions as a springboard to crimes that actually hurt people.

    Problem solved, and we still don't need TIA v2.0.

  •  sky pie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if rich Americans want to put shit up their noses and will pay billions of dollars for it, poor people from around the world are going to bring it to them. Plug the noses and the problem is over.

  •  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (7+ / 0-)

    Sorry to shout, but the last thing we need is to escalate the pointless "drug wars"...

    Nixonian policies aimed at winning the southern vote are not really a well thought out policy and it doesn't need to be "escalated", it needs to be rethought.

    Why invest in a policy that will require massive increases in jail expenses, invasion of civil rights, etc.?

    How about decriminalization? A much smaller expense (smaller than jailing "criminals") would be incurred in additional programs for addicts but this can easily be paid for from new tax incomes.

    Let's look at history (novel thought, eh). Did Prohibition create MORE crime or LESS crime in regards to alcohal usage?

    If you are "defining people needlessly as criminals", how can you honestly expect to have the resources to defend the nation?

  •  It would be, um, interesting (5+ / 0-)

    to see the DEA and Border Patrol go after the CIA....

  •  The Fourth Amendment (8+ / 0-)

    is a bitch, isn't it?
    Sorry if it inconveniences your public policy goals.

    "Bush legacy", my ass. Criminals don't have "legacies". Criminals have RECORDS.

    by kestrel9000 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:01:26 AM PST

  •  Kick the Drug War habit, dude! It's killing us. (3+ / 0-)

    The diarist is obviously smoking too much crack to think clearly.

    What part of 40 years of failure, the eviseration of the 4th Amendment, and hundreds of thousands of harmless people sitting in prison do you not understand?

    Or maybe the diarist enjoys having his kids subjected to strip searches and drug-sniffing dogs and Gestapo raids on old ladies and property forfeitures.

    This is, without doubt, one of the more asinine diaries I have seen on this site in quite some time.

    -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

    by skrymir on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:17:47 AM PST

  •  and then... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    8ackgr0und N015e, Justus

    there's that interesting wrinkle, whereby airplanes previously associated with CIA front companies fall from the sky in Mexico, laden with... wait for it... TONS OF COCAINE. Strangely, it seems as if practices lightly exposed during Iran-Contra continue today.

    As such, I would begin to argue that elements within America's "Deep State" have no reason whatsoever to end the cocaine trade. In fact, I presume they resist such ventures...

    To read about the rendition/narcotrafficking planes, read Daniel Hopsicker at Madcow Morning News. NarcoNews also provides some invaluable reporting on the topic.

    •  you are right.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but this is where we test to see if we really have a new sheriff in town or not...

      •  indeed... (0+ / 0-)

        My cautious optimism feels as if it's fleeting.  The Deep State, unfortunately, has many years on President Obama.  As such, I expect more of the same.  

        To see how the FAA stonewalls Hopsicker's probes, it's as if by design.  It makes no sense to me... plane registrations seem to change at whim, sometimes physically changing hand before the paperwork's filed.  An industry exists to assist with obfuscation and anonymization of airplane ownership, akin to anonymizing domain registrations.

        Really, I do desire to be less cynical; however, I freely admit my expectations of change remain quite low.

  •  Tell me how this benefits the US (0+ / 0-)

    You have an unsupported premise: that eradication of the cocaine trade is a benefit to the country.  
    Before proposing to use TIA to do that, please explain why it is good policy.

    Next: Prohibition and interdiction of various commodities demanded in the free market have historically led to concentration of the commodity, increasing its harmfulness, escalating incidence of violence associated with the manufacture and distribution of that commodity and harm, not good for everyone involve except those profiting from the illegal trade.

    See, for instance, alcohol prohibition, one of the results of which was the popularization of distilled spirits, coca prohibition, which led to the cocaine trade and then crack.  Opium prohibition, resulting in the rise of a trade in morphine, then heroin.


    In each case, the relatively natural occurring commodity becomes reduced to its most sought ingredient as those in the trade seek ways to ship the product more compactly and in higher value units.  I would argue that there is as good a case to be made that interdiction is the cause of more of the negative effects associated with the trade in these commodities than the initial unconcentrated commodity sought to be prohibited.

    I would suggest that if coffee and tea were outlawed, there would arise a clandestine trade in caffeine analogous to that in the currently illegal drugs.

    Consequently, in answer to your update concerning "missing the point", the focus on things like "war on drugs" and whether or not coke should be legal do not miss the point at all.  You advocate using the TIA to perform a function that you have not shown to be a benefit.  

    You suggestion misses the fundamental point.

    In addition, I might argue another consequence of the implementation of your suggestion might well be the increase in the use of substitutes which may well do more harm than the substance you seek to interdict.  For instance, methamphetamine is apparently so easy to make from easily obtainable ingredients that people who flunked high school chemistry can do it.  Although it is not identical in its effects, it might well be that methamphetamine would serve as a substitute on the market and would cause even more harm to the users than the cocaine would have.

  •  I don't think the CIA (0+ / 0-)

    would approve of that.

    William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

    by Inky99 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:33:56 AM PST

  •  Assume nothing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ben masel, Justus

    Let's assume everyone involved in this program is committed to the rule of law and seriously interested in protecting America from threats.

    I'm pretty sure the framers of the Constitution driving premise was to NOT assume ANYONE in government was by nature committed to the rule of law.

    As a purely hypothetical exercise there may be no cost to assuming but in a reality based community I wouldn't bet my FREEDOM on it.

  •  Ooooh, you're bad! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    8ackgr0und N015e

    But - if we shut down the traffic in cocaine, what excuse will we have for the police state thuggery that goes on, supposedly as part of fighting the "drug war"? Can't use that spying apparatus to actually go after illegal activity.  It's much more important to use that to keep those dangerous Quakers, pacifists, and bake sale moms in line.  And Congress and the "free" press, of course.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:21:18 PM PST

      •  Gotta give you kudos (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Just for hanging around and viewing the comments.  You're not exactly getting hosannas.  Everyone's focusing on the obscenity of government spying and the trashing of the Fourth Amendment.  Can't argue with that, but I like seeing someone taking the rationale (or rather, rationalization) and following it down a different path.

        It's blatantly obvious that the Bush regime (and not just him) was determined that their tactics would not work on the proclaimed targets.  That wasn't their purpose.  Their purpose was to ratchet down the pressure on freedom, or enrich their buddies, or both.

        I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

        by tle on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:40:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wednesday is International Privacy Day. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rockhound, Justus

    January 28 marks the anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection (No. 108), the most important international law for privacy. More than 40 countries have ratified the Convention. Many more countries around the world should support the Convention (including the United States).

    See Convention No. 108

    Support International Privacy Day on January 28. Request that your government sign on Council of Europe Convention 108, and the enforcements of our privacy rights and protect the privacy of all Internet users!

    More info. at

    This is a Test of the Emergency Free Speech System. This is only a Test. In an actual Free Speech Emergency, I'll be locked up.

    by ben masel on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:22:43 PM PST

  •  uh, no (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    your update indicates that you do not understand opposing arguments.  

    to wit, you write:  The folks who focus on things like "war on drugs" and whether or not coke should be legal miss the point.  Unlike most drugs coke production is limited geographically.  It's manufacture and distribution is tied into a network of international criminals.

    but you're the one missing the point.  what your opponents are doing is questioning the grounds of your argument.  which is to say that they're calling into account not just your argument but the framework you use to support your argument.

    example:  you call cocaine smugglers "criminals" but the activity is only "criminal" if its against the law.  if cocaine (or whatever) was legalized, it would no longer be against the law & ergo, said smugglers would no longer be criminal.

    i'm not arguing one way or the other on this, 8n.  i just wanted to point out that you're assuming broad support for a position based on a framework that various others have called into question & the response in your update fails to take into account their actual questions & instead just restates your original opinion.

    as well, you do not take into account the recent executive order that president obama has signed.  while this does not directly impact the surveillance society created by president bush, it certainly seems to indicate that our new president might have certain philosophical disagreements with his predecessor & that these disagreements could lead to a curtailment, if not outright abnegation of surveillance society policies.

    you might also consider that "criminals" at least in the united states do have rights & that these rights stand until & unless they've been proven guilty in a court of law.  based on his inauguration speech as well as his actions with respect to gitmo detainees & habeas corpus, i'd say that the new president is interested in upholding civil rights, a position that would not square with using "enhanced surveillance tactics" against any part of the population.

    the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity --w.b.yeats the second coming

    by synth on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:24:31 PM PST

    •  clarification (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      by the phrase:  "the recent executive order that president obama has signed" in the next to last paragraph, i meant specifically his repudiation of "enhanced interrogation techniques" & the closing down of gitmo as well as the other cia "black" sites.

      as well, i should have identified the term "philosophical differences" as being specifically those relating to civil & constitutional rights.

      apologies for the lack of specificity.

      the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity --w.b.yeats the second coming

      by synth on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:29:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  even if cocaine use was decriminalized (0+ / 0-)

      the activities surrounding trafficking are criminal.
      Murder, bribery, extortion, and corruption are all part and parcel of the enterprise.  

      People who transport tons of coke are different from street users.  Look at the diamond trade.  People who sell engagement rings are a world apart from the enterprises built on conflict diamonds.

  •  wiretapping isn't sexy but drugs are! (0+ / 0-)

    "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality." - Dante

    by jazzence on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 01:56:58 PM PST

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