A Canadian View of the US

Canadian beauty
"I don't think puritanism has anything to do with legaization. I think that's a convenient formulation that obscures deeper truths. For goodness sake, the culture is drowning in sex and drugs and rock and roll yet the band plays on. High science is engaged in sexualizing advertising while Lady Gaga has us gaga. Tiger Woods' dick had a country in thrall and it's alleged hosts on tv. Prostitution is legal in some areas. The narc empire is fully integrated into your military and foreign policy, to the muted dismay of many of your more rational allies and less muted dismay by various and sundry indigenous and local populations at odds with whatever element the US sides with. Covert intelligence involvement in drug trafficking that as a function of national security has trumped prosecution many times. That we know of. No, the p words are power, proxies and profit, with a dash of Potemkin theatre played out upon the weak and poor for appearances sake. "  Charles I (a Canadian)


Charles, I thought you were above this sort of thing.  Not feeling well?  Surely, a person of your sophistication can do better than this?  The implied belief in a culturally, politically and regionally monolithic United States is particularly disappointing. 

"Covert intelligence involvement in drug trafficking that as a function of national security has trumped prosecution many times."  Absolute rot.  There isn't the slightest proof of that.  This is the rubbish circulated by empty headed ghetto propagandists as an excuse for their personal and collective failures.

"Prostitution is legal in some areas?"  You hold that against us?  pl

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56 Responses to A Canadian View of the US

  1. david says:

    I will infer with hope that the choice of photography means this establishment’s proprietor is on the mend.
    And here, I thought it was always cold in Canada. One can always learn something on this blog …

  2. optimax says:

    During the Carter administration marijuana was on the verge of being legalized until a group of mothers, whose children had died from hard-drug abuse, convinced Jimmy marijuana was a gateway drug. The evidence disproves that but the PR overwhelmed the greater good (how many criminals have our anti-pot laws created?)in favor the mispercieved cause of a few personal tragedies, and the push to legalize was nixed.

  3. walrus says:

    While I think I understand the general thrust of the post is arguing that drug legalisation would be a good thing, I for one would not characterise America as monolithic either. 50 States = 50 tribes as someone put it.
    I also don’t believe that the intelligence community dabbles in the drug trade. It’s too sophisticated for them ;P

  4. JohnH says:

    “There isn’t the slightest proof” of covert US involvement in drug trafficking. And if there were? The perps would certainly act assiduously to assure themselves plausible deniability. Bottom line–it’s really hard to make any definitive statement.
    However, we can say that the massive flow of illegal drugs coupled with a total absence of convictions of kingpins is mighty suspicious.

  5. lina says:

    Charles I:
    Are you related to Prince Rupert?
    Nothing wrong with Lady Gaga.
    As the mother of a teenager, I’m strongly opposed to the legalization of narcotics. I say this as a life-long liberal leftie.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    “It’s too sophisticated for them.” I suppose that might be true in Australia. pl

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    So you argue for the involvement of US Intelligence in the drug trade from the lack of evidence. You are as big an ass as walrus. pl

  8. JohnH says:

    Colonel–you ought to read what I said. You obviously don’t see any symptoms of a problem when an illegal, $100 billion dollar industry operates in the US with impunity? None of the kingpins managing lucrative US distribution and laundering ever seem to get arrested. Somewhere there has to be major protection going on, most likely from centrally placed government organizations. If you agree so far, try making a list of likely suspects. The list is short.

  9. peg says:

    something to think about, an op-ed from “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition”
    “..Policymakers tell us to fight this unwinnable war.
    Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies — and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men — have we and other police officers begun to question the system. Cities and states license beer and tobacco sellers to control where, when and to whom drugs are sold. Ending Prohibition saved lives because it took gangsters out of the game. …
    …Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do — for all of us, especially taxpayers. …
    Without the drug war, America’s most decimated neighborhoods would have a chance to recover. Working people could sit on stoops, misguided youths wouldn’t look up to criminals as role models, our overflowing prisons could hold real criminals, and — most important to us — more police officers wouldn’t have to die.

  10. graeme says:

    I haven’t read much about the alleged ties of the drug trade to US intelligence, or looked into the evidence or lack therof. But I do know that books like this exist:
    I haven’t read it. I do know it alleges that the former CIA operated airline Air America was involved in drug trafficking.
    I have no opinion as of yet about this, as I haven’t investigated any of this too deeply. But I was wondering what you meant by lack of evidence. That would imply that you believe a book like this to be largely bunk (which may well be the case….as I said, I haven’t read it).
    You worked among the Hmong, I believe, so I imagine you had a fairly good idea what was going on there at the time. I’d be interested to hear you expand a bit on this theme, as it is difficult to find good sources.

  11. robt willmann says:

    Without struggling too much with what the word “involvement” means in the phrase “involvement of U.S. Intelligence in drug trafficking”, if we assume, for the sake of discussion, that no U.S. intelligence agency has ever been involved in the trafficking of drugs illegal in the United States, then three questions relate to that assumption and assertion.
    1. Has any U.S. intelligence agency ever become aware of a person or organization which has been or is involved in the trafficking of illegal drugs into the United States?
    2. If the answer to question number 1 is “yes”, then in every instance, did the intelligence agency pass that information on to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or State, County, or municipal law enforcement so that criminal cases could be opened against the traffickers?
    3. If the answer to question number 2 is “no”, then why not?
    If the answer to question number 3 is that the law prohibits the intelligence agencies from “sharing” that information with law enforcement, then let us join hands and approach Congress to pass a law that requires all intelligence agencies, including “private contractors” of them, to disclose all information of illegal drug trafficking to law enforcement for purposes of prosecution.

  12. walrus says:

    Col. Lang, you missed the “tongue in cheek” reference 😛

  13. Charles I says:

    I’m never sure how to feel when some accuses me of being sophisticated.
    Prostitution should be legal everywhere, I hold that for you, not against you.
    You have rationalized me to the point of not believing in monolithic entities, forces, cultures, conspiracies, etc. But the trajectory of a particular school of fish or say, oil, dope, money & war vector may look conspiratorial, arrive at the same sorry pass, be the work of many of us acting not in concert, but nonetheless in accord with different dopey, political, intelligence and profitable ends.
    Over and over and over and over.
    All I meant to say is that if its puritanism maintaining you in thralldom to narcoterrorists, their bankers, armorers, and all those addicted beggars, grifters and petty theives, and then the army of narcs and jailers to feed to boot, well its a mighty sensorily selective puritanism. So I’m skeptical that popular puritanism is the charging force in this mess, and not the abiding confluence of human nature and political expediency in various hot, cold and sociocultural wars.
    I also again plead Cobain’s Razor to the effect that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out there. . . .”
    The subject of dope, war, cash and politics is so huge and complex that I despair of ever properly citing it, though I think I made a few discussing BCCI, the Bank of Nugan Hand, drugs and the CIA a while back.
    Here’s a nugget I’m refining at the moment.
    Apparently in March 1982 the Reagan administration drew up a secret memorandum of understanding between the CIA and Justice Dept exempting CIA agents from the previous duty to report to Justice the drug trafficking activities of their agents assets and contractors:
    US Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Inspector General[Frederick Hitz], Investigations Staff, Report of Investigation concerning Allegations between CIA and the Contras in Trafficking Cocaine to the United States, 96-0143-IG, vol. 2.
    It appears from my research that US foreign policy has been heavily reliant upon a revolving network of former intelligence officers, bankers, soldiers,and contractors. Especially flying contractors like General Chennault’s post WW II operations in support of the Kuomintang, and assorted other proxies of dubious composition and allegiance operating in drug or soon-to-be drug producing regions, continuously since WW II.
    I would find Dean Rusk’s quote to the effect of “locals, sabatoge, opium, whatever we’ve got”, think its in Gabriel Kolko but I’m being told to come, another time.
    Lina, I’m no royalty, another Charles popped in to spout off one time and I wanted no mistake as to whose giberrish was whose. Just to be clear, I’d like to see Lady Gaga naked, and the little white latex number they must paint on her is pretty close.
    Hard drugs and alcohol saw me jailed before I became a lawyer, and damn near killed me after. Nicotine and alcohol are the gateway drugs on this continent. I don’t have kids, if I did I wouldn’t want them smoking the pot around today, way too strong, nor indeed any at all. Good luck to you. I thank the gods for letting me be the junky who never smoked cigarettes!
    Still, from all sides of the ditch, prohibition is pathological. Good parenting, teaching and mentoring will ameliorate most everything life can throw at a kid, but authoritarian bullshit, corruption, criminalization and hypocrisy undermines democracy to your children’s peril in ways no population of stable addicts ever could. Your child probably has a higher chance of suffering gang violence or an IED in a foreign land than dying from marijuana.
    Now Pat, I thought you were sophisticated enough not to reduce the debate to “you are as big an ass as walrus. . .”
    What, I don’t measure up assdom department? I’m hurt, but they’re really yelling at me now gotta go.

  14. Cosmoskitten says:

    If it is only the profits of the illegal drug trade you want to eliminate, the answer is simple. Increase supply by having the government supply heroin and cocaine to all who want it, free of charge so that users do not need to support their drug habit, by stealing for example.
    If you also wants to reduce damage to society and to individuals, you should keep it illegal to use the same drugs that the government are selling. In order to decrease demand, you should find and punish users effectively. Dump personal integrity partially, and have all people be subject to mandatory drug tests (including profiling, extra tests for people believed to be at higher risk). Institute rewards for good snitches.
    Users who do not show any will to participate in rehabilitation will be locked up, as long as required. If they work in the labor camp, they can buy water, food any other necessities.
    People that show a will and an ability to be rehabilitated will be gradually released, carrying a GPS-locator, and be subject to drug tests. Less secure prisons, with mandatory work duties will be used as halfway houses.
    This policy would offend most peoples sense of justice, so I doubt that there have been any good thinking about the details. Since I think the damage drug money does in many less developed countries is horrendous, I think it could be worthwhile to let more than initial emotions judge such a policy.

  15. zanzibar says:

    Cartel Inc: In the company of Narcos
    Conservative estimates put Mexico’s total drug smuggling revenues at between $25 to $40 billion every year, more than the country’s oil export earnings in 2009 and rivaling the annual revenues of U.S. companies like Nike and Coca-Cola.
    I can understand where folks who oppose decriminalization of narcotics are coming from. But the reality is illegal narcotics is a big business. The demand in the US is huge. Naturally there will be supply.
    We did not have much success prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and gave up on that. Tobacco is widely distributed to adults and despite its proven record to harm human health it is yet to be regulated by the FDA. Millions of Americans use marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes. I am sure the statistics for heroin and cocaine usage would also be staggering. The “war on drugs” must have cost us hundreds of billion dollars yet our multi-billion dollar market still gets supplied. Clearly the current approach of prohibition, criminalization and supply interdiction/eradication is not working.
    Although we seem to have a stringent system for approval and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs we have heard of celebrity cases of prescription drug abuse. So that is no panacea.
    I say just as we control and distribute narcotics like morphine we should do the same for all other narcotics – decriminalizing the trade and bringing it out into the open. Lets get Pfizer and Merck along with CVS and Walmart to compete with the Sinaloa cartel to satisfy our urge for a high. The tax can go towards prevention and rehabilitation with a goal to reduce demand over a period of time.
    The reality however is that in our current political system no new approaches can be tried as it would send the prison and law enforcement lobby along with the moralists and some concerned parents into overtime creating scary TV spots of how our children would be spending their afternoon recess in crank parlors.

  16. Charles I says:

    One major player:
    “Paul Lional Edward Helliwell was born in 1915. He was a lawyer before he joined the United States Army during the Second World War. Later he was transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) where he served under William Donovan.
    In 1943 Colonel Paul Helliwell became head of the Secret Intelligence Branch of the OSS in Europe. Helliwell was replaced in this post by William Casey in 1945.
    Helliwell became chief of the Far East Division of the War Department’s Strategic Service Unit, an interim intelligence organization formed after OSS was closed down.
    In 1947 Helliwell joined the Central Intelligence Agency. In May 1949, General Claire Chennault had a meeting with Harry S. Truman and advocated an increase in funds for Chaing Kai-shek and his Kuomintang Army (KMT) in his war in China. Truman dismissed the idea as impractical. However, Frank Wisner, was more sympathetic and when Mao Zedong took power in China in 1950, he sent Helliwell to Taiwan.
    Helliwell’s main job was to help Chaing Kai-shek to prepare for a future invasion of Communist China. The CIA created a pair of front companies to supply and finance the surviving forces of Chaing’s KMT. Paul Helliwell was put in charge of this operation. This included establishing Civil Air Transport (CAT), a Taiwan-based airline, and the Sea Supply Corporation, a shipping company in Bangkok.
    It was Helliwell’s idea to use these CIA fronted companies to raise money to help support Chaing Kai-shek. According to Joseph Trento (Prelude to Terror): “Through Sea Supply, Helliwell imported large amounts of arms for the KMT soldiers to keep the Burmese military from throwing them out of the country. The arms were ferried into Burma on CAT airplanes. CAT then used the “empty” planes to fly drugs from Burma to Taiwan, Bangkok, and Saigon. There the drugs were processed for the benefit of the KMT and Chiang Kai-shek’s corrupt government on Taiwan.”
    Civil Air Transport (CAT), later renamed Air America, provided the CIA with the air power needed to sustain its covert operations for the next twenty-five years. Helliwell was to play an important role in running these covert, and often illegal operations.
    By the late 1950s it became clear that Chaing Kai-shek would never be strong enough to invade China. The main focus changed to stopping the spread of communism to countries like Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. At the time, the main group fighting communism in the region were the large private armies controlled by the drug lords. For example, General Vang Pao was employing his 30,000-man army to help the Pathet Lao. In return for joining the CIA, Helliwell helped Vang Pao to modernize the drug trade. William Corson claims that: “Portable heroin processing facilities were brought in. It was a creation of the CIA’s technical services division.” Some of these profits went to help CIA run some unofficial covert operations.
    In 1960 Paul Helliwell was transferred to provide business cover for the CIA’s Cuban operations. According to Peter Dale Scott (The Iran Contra Connection) Helliwell worked with E. Howard Hunt, Mitch WerBell and Lucien Conein on developing relationships with drug-dealing Cuban veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion. It was during this period that Helliwell met Ted Shackley and Thomas Clines. Helliwell later became CIA paymaster for JM/WAVE. In this way, Shackley was able to finance unofficial CIA operations against Cuba.
    After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Helliwell was sent by the CIA to the Bahamas where he set up offshore banks for CIA use. At first he established the Mercantile Bank and Trust Company and then the Castle Bank and Trust Company. Helliwell also ran the American Bankers Insurance Company based in Galveston, Texas. This provided insurance cover for businessmen who cooperated with the CIA. Helliwell also created the Intercontinental Holding, a company in the Cayman Islands that owned the Lear jet used by Barry Seal for his drug running activities.
    Helliwell also established a Miami office for the Sea Supply Corporation. According to Joseph Trento (Prelude to Terror): “The primary objective of Helliwell’s operations in Florida was to cement the CIA’s relationship with organized crime.” This included Santos Trafficante, who had a common business interest in Asia, the “successful exportation of Chinese white heroin.”
    According to Daniel Hopsicker (Barry and the Boys), Helliwell ran Red Sunset Enterprises in Miami. Hopsicker claims it was a CIA front company set up to recruit frogmen and explosives experts for Operation Mongoose.
    In 1973 the Internal Revenue Service began an investigation called Operation Trade Winds. During its investigation it discovered that some major organized crime figures such as Morris Dalitz, Morris Kleinman and Samuel A. Tucker were using the Castle Bank and Trust Company. It soon became clear that the bank was laundering Cia funds and drug profits. The IRS eventually announced that it was dropping its investigation of Castle Bank because of “legal problems”. According to the Wall Street Journal, the reasons for this was “pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency”.
    The CIA now needed a new bank. Later that year, Frank Nugan, an Australian lawyer, and Michael Hand, a former CIA contract operative, established the Nugan Hand Bank. Another key figure in this venture was Bernie Houghton, who was closely connected to CIA officials, Ted Shackley and Thomas G. Clines.
    Nugan ran operations in Sydney whereas Hand established a branch in Hong Kong. This enabled Australian depositors to access a money-laundering facility for illegal transfers of Australian money to Hong Kong. According to Alfred W. McCoy, the “Hand-Houghton partnership led the bank’s international division into new fields – drug finance, arms trading, and support work for CIA covert operations.” Hand told friends “it was his ambition that Nugan Hand became banker for the CIA.”
    Helliwell continued to work as a lawyer in Miami and served as legal counsel to a Panamanian holding company that controlled a Bahamian gambling casino connected with Meyer Lansky.
    Paul Helliwell died from emphysema on 24th December, 1976.”
    The original page has a lot of fruitful hotlinks.
    I argue from evidence I can find, volumes of it, as well as outta my ass and both sides of my mouth. I’ve cited other authors, ex narcs before here, from a myriad of sources I will email anyone, whatever weight you may wish to give it.
    I admit if my research to date were weighed against my ass, it might prove less convincing in the balance than it does arrayed before me in all its fantastical complexity. . .

  17. Charles I says:

    sorry, here’s the link to my previous comment source:

  18. MS2 says:

    I can’t understand how anyone could play a serious role involving money, power, and violence in anywhere like Mexico or Colombia, without becoming intimately familiar with people with drug interests. That is not to condemn or exonerate anyone, and those involved in the work are likely the only ones able to understand the context and consequences of their actions. At what point do informed choices about whom to pursue/prosecute shade into running a protection racket on behalf of a “friend?” Should work in this sphere be so heavily outsourced to private companies like DynCorp?
    I have never been farther south than a military checkpoint near Ensenada, Baja, so you can take that as a secondhand impression and therefore with a grain of salt.
    By the way, I posted once before as MS on something involving Stanislav Petrov, but I chose my name stupidly, as there is another MS here who is not me.

  19. Mark Gaughan says:

    Charles I is one Canadian. The title of this post should be: “A Canadian’s View of the US”.

  20. Redhand says:

    No, the p words are power, proxies and profit, with a dash of Potemkin theatre played out upon the weak and poor for appearances sake.”
    However much one may disagree with the rest of the post (I’m not getting into that fight) this last line has rhetorical flair. “Potemkin theatre” just might be a spot-on description of Obama’s real strategy for “change,” especially as regards the bad actors on Wall Street.

  21. 505th PIR says:

    By and large, Canada defines itself on how American it isn’t. This has been the case since its inception and before that, since the United Empire Loyalists arrived during and after the revolution.
    This said, this identity has always been an exercise in hair splitting and making the most of subtle differences. With the worlds greatest front row seat to the American experience, the use of comparisons has been of great political advantage over and over again. “If we aren’t careful we will be just like……” Comparisons have been usefull in a practical way as well, as American ideas can be improved upon, or adopted or rejected as is advantageous to the Canadian good.
    On balance a vast geography and a small population with 80% living withing 200 miles of the border has its own pushes and pulls that certainly have required a vigilent hand in terms of a national strategy of nation building. The two countries ARE different. About as different as fraternal twins in the custody who have regular contact with separated parents raising them according to similar yet different mores (govts/constitutions).
    In Canada, the US broadcasts itself via the mass media across the border. This is the dominating image of the US. Canadian MSM filters to a degree but it is a channel flick away from obsurity. The problem with this dynamic, is that the airwaves and other cross border vectors of info are just slivers of the American experience and though they appear to present a complete image of it, they are not the lives/experience of the 300 million residents of the USA.
    Stereotypes and simple explanations are easy and rule the day. I would most humbly yet forcefully suggest that the image of the Canadian experience is pretty much universally false looking North from the 49th as well.
    It is fairly absurd to present generalisms one way or the other about these two nations. It is massively useful and self-serving to do so from a posturing perspective for individuals and groups within each set of borders though I would say because of the population and power differences, it is more distilled and intensely useful from the CDN side.

  22. Pat Lang,
    I think Charley One’s message is the evidence we’ve all been looking for that even Canadians can, occasionally, erupt in frustration over whatever. Since Madame is from Vancouver, I’ve actually known this for some time.
    Cannabis grows in the wild, in gardens, in flowerpots, and in clandestine plantations.
    It also produces hemp, a valuable and useful commodity. Marijuana has a huge fan base of all ages and the criminalization of the growing and selling the stuff has been tragic for lots of our countrymen. It, contrary to Lina’s statement, isn’t defined as a narcotic, as are opiates and alcohol. Defining it as illegal hasn’t worked to the betterment of society.
    On the CIA involvement in the drug trade, there have been stories or rumors of that since the 60s. The theory is that opium from Laos and the Golden Triangle was brought into Viet Nam and sold there in order to finance operations. I don’t recall any specific evidence ever having been produced and I think its one of those stories that gets better as its passed along.
    In the current usage, Canadian girls are hot! (I’ll make sure my wife reads this)

  23. N. M. Salamon says:

    As another Canadian, I beg to differ with Charles, above. Sex, drugs and misleading advertizing is endemic to all capitalist countries, including Canada. I question the alleged incrimination of the CIA in drug trafficking, though it is certain that some officials of various government agencies are corruptible and are corrupted by the big $ of the drug trade.
    The major problem of the USA is its history of war and conquest, from the annexation of native lands to the latest wars in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the proxy war against Lebanon and Palestinians via arming Israel.
    The exceptionality and hypocriticality of USA foreign policy has the backlash that civil society is in danger, for the war costs and related corruption [both monetary and philosophical] undermines the effort and ability of the various levels of government to ensure that the actions thereof reflect the truth of the Constitution, FOR THE PEOPLE [not for the benefit of the moneyed elite], by the PEOPLE [and not by K-street and related money donors].
    It is not to say that the Canadian government system [as of today] is blameless, but at least it is closer to the notion that the people be served – e.g. universal health care. Canada [and other OECD countries] is somewhat similar to the USA with respect to short term attention, at the expense of looking out for the next generations [e.g. public debt]. It is however the USA [and UKI] which lead the world in hypocritical actions when they constantly harp of monetary help for other countries [seldom delivered, and if delivered it is at the expense of next generation], for both countries are effectively bankrupt. Canada with its current Federal/Provincial deficits is not among the angels either [though not in the infamous leader’s leque].

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    Anyone can assert anything in any piece of trash that they can manage to publish. Some of you have been harboring deeply anti-American feelings for a long time and have a nice little “stash” of articles and books filled with assertions that you particularly like. I am not going to put up with having you use my site for the purpose of venting. If you stop being posted here, you know why. pl

  25. SubKommander Dred says:

    So, let me see if I understand this correctly;
    In Canada, your health insurance is payed for out of your taxes, gay folks can get married (to each other, that is) and Marijuana use is, while technically illegal, broadly tolerated. And the USA is supposed to be the “Home of Free?” Pardon me while the needle of my irony meter pegs itself around ’11.’ It would seem to me that a society that at least makes some provision for the care of the sick and injured (without forcing it’s citizens into prolonged debt and penury based on expensive medical bills), stays out of it’s citizen’s love lives and puts up with all manner of hipsters, geeks and stoners getting high on a regular basis has something we could learn from. In particular, the current incarnation of The War On Drugs would reveal the folly of our country’s drug laws. Despite the many billions invested (blown) by law enforcement, the military and in direct US aid to other countries, drugs in the republic are more prevelant, easier to get and cheaper than they ever have been. And all we have to show for that effort is a prison-industrial complex that is bursting at the seems, full of non-violent drug offenders. I would say that the War on Drugs has gone very well for the police, the trial laywers, the corrections industry as well as the likes of Dyncorp and the coffers of various foreign governments (or, more likely, the secret bank accounts of foreign government officials). For the average American citizen, however, not so much.
    Alas, let us consider the cannibis bud. A naturally occuring species of weed who’s flower, when properly dried and ingested causes a mild to significant euphoria in the user, typically manifesting in laughing hysterically for long periods of time and consuming large amounts of Oreo cookies. Or perhaps compose lengthy, long winded posts on various blogs.
    In further defense of the hemp, one may have noticed that unlike the legal inebriant, alcohol (which is known to be damaging the the liver, central nervous system and gut) associated with moderate to heavy use, cannibis has been shown to be an effective treatment for a number of ailments (wasting syndrome in HIV, an effective anti-emetic for patients undergoing chemotherapy, anxiolytic). In fact, when compared just on the basis of lethality, alcohol, at .40 % BAC (blood alcohol content) is usually deadly to all but the most hardened alcoholic. For example, just how many college kids a year do you hear of dying from ‘alcohol poisoning?’ And this from a legal drug, readily available at the closest corner store. For the average person, that would be, for example, a fifth of Scotch consumed in about an hour. Provided of course you could keep it down. Contrast this with the lethal dose of ganja, which is estimated to be (approximately) 10 to 15% of a person’s body weight, consumed all at once…ie a 100kg man (220lbs) would have to consume at least 10kg (22lbs) within 15 minutes to acheive some level of lethality similar to alchohol. I am pretty sure that your average stoner, no matter how long he or she had been smoking the reefer, would pass out well before they got through the first ounce.
    The drug war is a failure. It’s time we declared victory and got smart about drug policy in this country.
    Pete Deer

  26. lina says:

    WPF III:
    I classify marijuana as a narcotic.
    “narcotic – noun – any of a class of substances that blunt the senses, as opium, morphine, belladonna, and alcohol, that in large quantities produce euphoria, stupor, or coma, that when used constantly can cause habituation or addiction, and that are used in medicine to relieve pain, cause sedation, and induce sleep.”
    For the record, I do not advocate returning to the 18th amendment. However, if ethyl alcohol were discovered today, it would be a class II narcotic.
    Last year I spent some time in Amsterdam talking to addicts who are trying to stay out of the coffee houses located on every corner. It’s a very grim scene.

  27. Andy says:

    Although the tendency is human, I think we should all be wary of assuming simple explanations for complex phenomenon. In that regard I offer the following factors, in no particular order:
    1. Puritanism. Yes, it exists but it isn’t often called that anymore. It is the attitude that drug use/addiction is rooted in moral failure or will and I think that attitude remains pretty strong in the US.
    2. American exceptionalism. We put most of our efforts on interdicting the drug trade in other countries. We seem to think – wrongly, IMO – that efforts to cut supply will reduce demand and that America isn’t to blame for its drug problems.
    3. Geography. We share a very long border with a country with a per-capita GDP that’s a quarter of our own. That’s a problem Europe and Canada don’t have to deal with.
    4. Politics. Lots could be said here. One area I’ll focus on is the disparity of political power in our country on these issues. Programs that are effective cannot politically compete for resources with organizations like prison guard and police unions. Just look at what’s happened to California’s prison system which was once the envy of the world.
    5. Government structure. We have a patchwork of agencies, each with their own “turf” and agendas. Effective interdiction efforts require close coordination between these various agencies which hasn’t happened and isn’t going to happen.
    There are many others factors, but I think those are the most important. Together they seem to be a more reasonable, likely and logical explanation than some largely baseless conspiracy involving the intelligence community.

  28. Arun says:

    How do you win the war on drugs by attacking only the supply but not the demand?

  29. graeme says:

    Col. Lang,
    I hope you’re not referring to me. I’m just interested in finding more information about the topic. I’m young, and have no firsthand experience of these events. As such, little of the past is self-evident to me.
    I’m not much inclined to conspiracy theories, or to taking a sinister view of events when a more banal one suffices to explain.
    You have quite strong, settled views on this topic. I don’t suppose you could expand on them in a separate post? I think it would be useful.

  30. optimax says:

    The Articles of Confederation invited Canada to join the United States:
    Article XI. Canada acceding to this confederation, and adjoining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States.
    That doesn’t mean that Canada would have joined but does show that originally there wasn’t much animosity felt by the founders for the northern colony. Whatever tensions there are between some citizens of each country are minor, not even as strong as those between rival high schools.

  31. The beaver says:

    Is the blue pill considered a drug? Viagara I mean 🙂
    Seems that CIA was distributing the blue pills to the war lords of Afghanistan in return for info on Taliban and Al-Qai’da.
    Run for cover 🙂

  32. The beaver says:

    Have you seen this article in WaPo?
    The spooks really messed up this one.
    Senior CIA and GID officials were so beguiled by the prospect of a strike against al-Qaeda’s inner sanctum that they discounted concerns raised by case officers in both services that Balawi might be a fraud, according to the former U.S. official and the Jordanian government official, who has an intelligence background.

  33. Patrick Lang says:

    I believe that is what I said earlier. pl

  34. Patrick Lang says:

    Governments like to draw lines on maps. The CIA dealt with the Hmuong people in Laos. They lived north and west of a dividing line between the area of responsibility of US forces and the CIA.
    On our side of the line were other peoples; Mnong Gar, Stieng, Jarai, and other assorted Montagnards. I also dealt with some tribal Khmer and tribal Chinese.
    Southeast Asia was saturated in opium deritaves. I don’t think Air America had anything to do with with trafficking in drugs. They may have unwittingly transported things that people like Vang Pao had in all the cargo they moved.
    I don’t suppose that anyone here is upset because the Vietnamese Communists did everything they could to market drugs to US troops. pl

  35. Bill Wade, NH says:

    “I don’t suppose that anyone here is upset because the Vietnamese Communists did everything they could to market drugs to US troops.”
    I can’t say that I was upset with the commies about drugs as I didn’t know who was providing the drugs at the time. I can say that there were hard core junkies at DaNang at the end of the war. You can spot a junkie as they are constantly itching themselves. At any rate, on our 2nd to last day there we still had about 16 Army & Air Force guys unaccounted for so a jeep with a loudspeaker was sent into DaNang proper to let anyone who cared to listen that this was their last chance to depart with the rest of us. The general consensus was that these were all hard core junkies who pretty much knew they would die if they left.
    If I learned anything there, it was to never ever underestimate the enemy.

  36. Twit says:

    As a concerned parent, I think you would be interested in this article about the impact being around all those freely available narcotics must have on the wee Amsterdamers:
    “Dutch children are again the happiest
    Friday 15 January 2010
    Dutch children have the best lives of all children living in industrialised countries, according to new research by Unicef Germany, quoted by news agency ANP.
    Dutch children consider themselves to be lucky and have better relationships with their parents, brothers and sisters than children in other countries, ANP quoted the report as saying.
    The German researchers studied children in 21 industrialised countries on the basis of six criteria: material wealth, health, education, relationships, safety and their own feelings of luck. The Netherlands scored its worst position – 7th place – for prosperity.
    Swedish and Finnish children were in second and third place. American children were bottom of the list.
    Surveys by Britain’s Child Poverty Action Group, Unicef International and the World Health Organisation have all reached similar conclusions about Dutch children.”

  37. Charles I says:

    ‘Anyone can assert anything in any piece of trash that they can manage
    to publish.”
    Which is why, the last time I was in school, we were told to search far and wide for a multiplicity of primary sources verifying where possible, weighing all against the rest, mindful today how simple it is to coddle up a little bit web tautology.
    There will be some chaff.
    To dismiss out of hand the possibility that when a multiplicity of disparate sources, theses, analysis and methodologies all tend toward cries of “Wheat! Wheat! I see some wheat through the chaff!”(think
    about the other definiton of “Chaff”, I make a wee pun) there may be some wheat to be found, well, it seems a bit limiting.
    . . .a nice little “stash” of articles and books filled with assertions that you particularly like.
    No, that’s my head.
    I try and cite the things I post, and as an idler quidnunc, I hunt down citations and delve further, so my stash is ever growing. I’ve fascinated by this for about 35 years. I was and remain a precocious, avid reader which helped me graduate 2 out of 3 years on the Dean’s Honour list of my legal alma mater. (I went Muskie fishing for 3rd year).
    I follow reading suggestions here and am sure I have acknowledged both citers and resultant shifts of view.
    Previously an avowed arnmchair cold warrior, I eventually encountered
    reporting and writing on things like the BCCI, Bank of Nugan Hand, Air America EATSCO, CAT, General Chennault, The Flying Tigers, weird tales about the murder of Jack Killam buried in an unmarked Burmese grave by
    OPC/CIA agent Sherman Joost, the CIA forward base of Ban Houei Sai in
    Laos, the Hip Sing triad in 1930’s San Francisco, Iran Contra, The Mossad, all of it fascinating. Truth is stranger than etc. Especially the wilderness of mirrors bits.
    As a druggie I devoured all the coke trafficker memoirs I could including Barry Seal’s. Max Mermelstein’s was one of the best. Many narcs have written books too. It is claimed that when Seal was shut down the aircraft he was using reverted to its registered owner, the
    aforenoted Paul Helliwell, but I digress.
    You were head of the DIA, know more than I’ll ever imagine, but I don’t just make this stuff up. I’ll gladly swap archives.
    I don’t spout visceral hate for America or Americans, but passionately devour and debate the news. I am whaling on the Israeli’s and my own government with frothing-at-the-mouth fervour, no doubt about it.
    Here, I have come to learn, gratefully opine, and when venting, at least do so with a pretense to some reasonably informed or informable view from
    my narrow perspective.
    One of the best parts of your country aside from its leading role in international affairs, is how accessible the record(s) are here compared to a lot of other countries. Apparently there are negotiations for an agreement about restoring 5 million of the missing Bush emails.
    A lot to read out there, SST’s like an Academy.
    I hope you can distinguish my bleeding heart and emotional identification the addicts, Palestinians and sundry underdogs, contextualized by my experiences, interests and education, from
    “deeply anti-American feelings”. Or enthusiastic narrow familiarity with one area of the published reference canon coupled
    with ignorance re the puritan makeup of US polity, for emotional jihad.
    I do own a tinfoil hat and eat lithium from time to time, a salt of the very earth the weed grows in, a book tells me.
    Your country is the most wonderful on earth, except for Canada. We have so much less of everything you contend with, and you shield us from so much of it. I am fascinated, ignorant and grateful about a land I cannot enter because of my drug record notwithstanding a
    pardon. I regularly say so, and I mean it, though I recall a soupcon of insecure grovelling to ensure access to my fix here at a time of maximum personal stress.
    I love you guys. I care. I’m obsessed by the covert thingy, and definitely on the defence side of the retired bar.
    Kill all the lawyers I guess. Glad I’m not one anymore.

  38. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Just out of curiosity…why were you approaching strangers at street corners in Amsterdam???
    Were you staying at the local Ritz Carlton???

  39. graeme says:


  40. Cato says:

    Dear Col. Lang:
    As a young lawyer, I worked for a man who had been an intelligence officer in the Phoenix program. I tried to run some of these drug allegations by him, to see what he thought. I said something like, “It’s been alleged that CIA ran drugs out of Southeast Asia.” He replied, “They did.” I then went on to elaborate on the allegation and he said, “Yeah, they did.” I kept using the term “alleged” or “allegation,” and he finally stopped me and said “What don’t you understand about what I’ve said? I was there. I saw them load the planes.” It took me a minute to catch up. He was as smart, low-key, and moral a man as I have ever met, and I wish that he were still alive.
    But he did set me straight on one score: there’s not really a question here. Make of it what you will.

  41. different clue says:

    My understanding is that the word “narcotic” is generally applied to opium and the opiates. Cocaine, meth, and the various amphetamines are considered “exciters”. (And I forget the technical name for that). LSD, mescaline, psylocibin, and some others; are considered “hallucinogens”. Marijuana is classed as a “euphoriant”, I believe; but not a “narcotic”.
    I think support (not unanimously shared) for the war on drugs has puritanical and prohibitionist roots. Supporters of the war on drugs are not bothered by the profitable organized crime caused by making drugs illegal or the further crime caused by making the illegalized drugs so expensive that addicts practice more crime to get money for black-market-priced drugs.
    Someone upthread suggested that the addictive drugs could be doled out to registered addicts (as is done in Great Britain I believe) and kept illegal for anyone who wants to take up their use outside the government dole-out system.
    About marijuana…I used to use that decades ago, way back before the statute of limitations. I never had a bad experience with it
    and when I took up employment which required me to be able to say that I did not have a drug problem, I stopped using marijuana so I could truthfully say I didn’t have a drug problem. I had no withdrawal problems, because I never got addicted to begin with; as one would expect of a generally non-addictive drug which I used once every month or two. My experience and the experience of people I know makes marijuana seem to me such an on-balance more-good-than-bad drug as to lead me to express the hope that it is re-legalized at some point. If that happens, America can grow all its own marijuana without any help from Mexico or anyone else; and all the money spent on it in America will stay in America.
    Is marijuana a gateway drug? It never opened a gateway to other drugs for me. Making it illegal and thereby putting it in the same criminal hands which also handle and sell heroin, cocaine, etc.; could
    certainly help make it a gateway drug for some in that the drug dealer might try to graduate the customer
    from marijuana up to the addictive drugs which would guarantee that customer’s bussiness for years to come.
    I would like to see marijuana legalized and treated like alcohol. Outlaw its sale to children.
    Outlaw driving under its influence. Recognize any employer’s privilege to refuse employment to anyone who uses it at work or whose work is affected by overuse away from work. Hopefully, the pragmatarians
    will come to so outnumber the prohitionists on this subject that marijuana re-legalization may someday be achieved.

  42. Patrick Lang says:

    As a visitor from the past I will enlighten you to the extent that you are available for such like things. (a Southernism from my youth)
    I didn’t work in Phoenix, but around them and along side them a lot. Contrary to the sado-masochistic fantasies of the left, it was quite a reasonable program from the point of view of anyone opposed to a communist victory. VN was one of the bigger COIN wars, the political part of the war was an integral part of the whole thing. The communists were committed to the overthrow of the non-communist government by means other than electoral. They had organized a political undergraound from 1947 on that sought to dominate the population by any means they could devise. (murder, etc.) If that is OK with you then obviously anything done against that effort was a crime against humanity. The Phoenix program was an effort to dig that agitprop infrastructure up by the roots. Using what they now call “actionable intelligence” they employed paramilitary units called “province recon units” to go get them. They also used US and VNAF air to the extent that the Phoenix people were capable of doing so.
    The Phoenix program was eventually subordinated to CORDS, the COIN effort countrywide, to keep it from doing things at cross-purposes with all the Nagl/McChrystal style business.
    The US people in the programe were led by seasoned CIA case officers from Europe who were generally terrified of the war environment. (Not a cafe in sight). To augment them, the CIA borrowed some Army and marine sergeants who when not supervised by military officers usually turned into worthless drunks.
    The chance that your “friend” and mentor would have been in this program is close to zero. In addition to that, someone in the program would have been carefully compartmented away from anything as “bad” as druc traficking.
    A lot of people say things to impress young people with how “Baad” they are.
    I would say that your friend was/is a liar. pl

  43. Medicine Man says:

    I thought that the title of this thread was “A Canadian View of the US” from the outset, not “The Canadian View…”. Well whichever; as much as Col Lang dislikes people stereotyping Americans at a national level, I highly doubt he’s about to do the same himself. At least I’ve never seem him do so.
    While I am Canadian, I don’t have much to add on this topic, save for this: It is an unfortunately common feature of our national character that many Canadians define our country on how it differs from the US and how its citizens differ from their southern neighbors. When I was younger, this outlook did not bother me so much, but nowadays I look upon it as a sort of peasant mentality; that this kind of blather is not unique to Canada does not make it excusable in my opinion. I’m happy enough with what my country has going for it that I don’t feel the need to compare/contrast in its defense.

  44. lina says:

    The children are happy until they get addicted to pot in an Amsterdam coffee house.

  45. wsam says:

    As a Canadian, I feel duty bound to point out that Canada right now has nothing to brag about vis-a-vis the Republic to our South.
    For example, Parliament is currently prorogued — suspended
    Facing an opposition armed with a series of awkward questions, Canada’s minority Conservative government suspended Parliament for three months. And it’s legal.
    It is impossible to imagine Obama suspending Congress because its questioning was too aggressive. But that is effectively what just happened in Canada.
    In none of the other Parliamentary democracies (Britain, Australia, New Zealand, etc …) is it acceptable political practice to prorogue, or suspend Parliament. They have the ability to do so, but only in Canada do we use it.
    I for one would love to bash the United States on any number of points. But since Canada presently has the worst democracy in the Western World, I don’t really feel I can.
    I didn’t even mention our current government’s obstruction and ignorance on global warming, or our neo-conservative foreign policy which would make Paul Wolfowitz blush.
    What is more pathetic than a Canadian neo-conservative? But those are the kind of people who are running our foreign policy.
    Ari ‘watch what you say’ Fleischer advises the Canadian government on Public Relations.
    Canada has nothing to brag about.

  46. wsam says:

    Last point. About the drug war.
    The present Conservative government is actively trying to roll back Canada’s tolerance in regards to soft drugs. If we truly have been smarter in our approach to drugs, our current govnment is trying to rectify the situation.
    The founding fathers might not have felt much animosity toward the northern colonies, but they did send Benedict Arnold north with an army.
    I think the resistence supplied by les habitants (French Canadian militia) surprised everyone — especially the British.

  47. different clue says:

    Does anyone from Holland have some actual data on how many children become addicted to marijuana in the Dutch cofee houses? My experience is limited to a single college town in the midwest; but in that limited experience I never knew myself or anyone else to become addicted to marijuana.

  48. Patrick Lang says:

    No. You are just another gullible fool. p[

  49. Twit says:

    different clue:
    Here are some relevant statistics, wrapped in an entertaining package:
    I am an American who lives in Amsterdam. I find the discussion funny because the coffeeshops (coffee ‘houses’ sell coffee) are obviously primarily tourist traps. I work in the center of the city and there are maybe 5 coffeeshops (and probably 5 brothels) within a 10 minute walk of my office. The brothels are bizaare to walk by (but reminds me somewhat of Old West movies), and the supposedly ‘grim’ coffeeshops are utterly benign.
    I think as policy, the pot legalization issue boils down to harm reduction, unless you are a true-believer teetotaler. I think the lesson from the Dutch (and the Portugese, German, and British) is that legalization or at least decriminalization/non-enforcement leads to fewer social bads (including not only problems relating to addiction/usage but also cost and the social and personal impact of sending citizens to jail for non-violent offenses) than a heavy enforcement regime like we currently have.
    I think in the US, this should also be made entirely a state issue. That way, if some states prefer gang violence and expensive prisons to, at worst, a few more reggae fans, then so be it.

  50. Charles I says:

    re “nothing to brag about,” I’ve whinged a bit here about our government, see “I am whaling on the Israeli’s and my own government with frothing-at-the-mouth fervour, no doubt about it.” above, really not often the thread topic here.
    However I’m often enjoining one and all to inform themselves, participate to the point of proselytizing one’s apathetic friend’s, and especially to write early and often – hard copies, no emails – to government nabobs assuring them they don’t act in your name and are liars if they say so, and that not everybody can stomach hearing Steven Harper stand next to President Obama last year and say “Intensity targets are just another way of saying hard caps.” without rearing up on their hind legs in fervent protest for example .If you get my drift. Once in a blue a moon I write a fervent note of congratulations or support for a particular issue where indicated by my biases, flies and vinegar and whatnot.
    Part of the problem/part of the solution kinda thing.
    I say the same to you medicine man.
    Our country does have a lot going for it. Mr. Harper is avowedly intent on reducing the ambit of the federal government in a way that would fundamentally alter the nature of the evolving Confederation until it functions as a banana republic enriching those who preside over the hewing and drawing. He’s a Parliamentary thug, seems really an altogether nasty piece of work judging from what oozes out of my monitor,, tv, radio and mailbox.
    I do a lot of muckraking not because I need to compare and contrast, but because I’m alive, the world is interesting, I’m more inclined to the secular left side of things and ignoring the bits that turn my crank and especially those I can nudge toward what I conceive as the good is the opportunity cost of a fulfilled life.
    So even when things are good, I urge you pipe up from time time. When I’m in charge and you alone are unhappy, good to be in the computer, on the Christmas card list, it’ll make me give your input, if not your position, the scintilla of weight it would not otherwise merit, let alone enjoy.
    Use it lose it, then there was nobody to speak up for me. . . , etc.
    The UN and Dutch Governments keep drug stats, I’ll dredge ’em up eventually for what their worth.
    Lina I’m always taken aback by the relation of a few ambivalent potheads on an Amsterdam street corner to the vast empire of criminalization, corruption, class war and and narcoterroism, that the impact of the former could justify, make tolerable, the latter. I just don’t get it.
    Please don’t drive impaired folks.

  51. optimax says:

    Charles I,
    “Please don’t drive impaired folks.”
    As an ex-SF cabbie, someone has to drive the drunks from bar to bar. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  52. DGH, Seattle says:

    It is foolish, after all these years, to not realign the drug list. Mary waana should not be in the worse than alcohol list. This one fact causes most of the problems with the war on drugs.
    It makes pointless any attempt to to discern what should be going on.

  53. optimax says:

    There never has been a documented fight at a pot party, maybe with some scumbag dealers though. Legalization is the cheapest and easiest way to get rid of the dealers. Make Ralph Nader the Narco Czar. Safety first.

  54. Charles I says:

    Oh optimax I’m so glad I came back to read the last, please, never never resist a pun, good or bad. . .
    My last point.
    I can dimly see how deeply held estimable religious/puritan beliefs, faith, ethos, whatever, could leave one with no cosmological wiggle room betwixt black and white, unable to countenance legalization, or use.
    In my head. If I keep my eyes closed.
    But if I then look to the source of the proscription, and if its the King James, well didn’t we get dominion over the flora, fauna, fire and the wheel, Sunday Shopping?
    and if its not, what exactly is it?
    I sincerely seek the source of whatever the primary authority, yes, to temporally flout it and undermine the manifestation of it, a personal stake, but even more so as I find it so intellectually unfathomable.
    What scripture or text, let alone faith or psychological compulsion – my chief means of propulsion – could sustain, at least in my conception of a rational universe, the positive criminalization, the present empire of misery and national security threats, and the opportunity costs to boot, for purely religious reasons of unclear provenance and inerrancy?
    From under my tinfoil hat this just does not seem rational, leads me to blaspheming mutterings and questions of sanity, carbon dating, and massive money laundering best kept to my self, and this is obviously where my comprehension ends.
    I love all the communal and sustaining functions of religion. What a blessing people can combine so beneficially notwithstanding free will and the survival of the fittest and how fun it is to drive fast and shoot a gun, and how insecure we are. If I’m told the war on drugs, as distinct from public disavowal of intoxication as public policy, is mandated or justified by words in a book, well, I’d paste Pat’s words in here to the effect that any fool can assert anything in in anything they manage to get published, but I’m afraid of the consequences!
    Obviously, I just don’t get it, though I sincerely believe in higher powers and a Creator barely comprehensible to me, to whom I pray though it is a matter of my faith none of it cares for the way Jesus apparently does. They sure don’t tell me to go nuts over a weed or the occasional bacon double cheese with a big shake.
    Whatever would the puritans make of me out in the middle of the forest, celebrating the Solstice with psychotropic sacraments, talking to the animals, to the rocks and wind and water and trees, sure they will reveal to me. . . . a sign, a sign of . . . life.
    That’s all they offer. It seems real. Its enough to go on and desire to live the golden rule. Not a war in sight.
    The WHO has reams of use data and I find this alcohol fact sheet on cause of death augmented by a map of global rates of same informative.
    As I do the fact that the similar Cannabis fact sheet has no map, no death rates for the 2.5% of global population cited as consumers.

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