April 16, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Washington, D.C. — The DEA made headlines last month when an Inspector General’s report found that on multiple occasions, over a period of years, DEA agents were using drug cartel money to fund sex parties with prostitutes. In spite of the flagrant hypocrisy and corruption this story underscores, Congress is choosing the wrong battle with the DEA.
This week, Michelle Leonhart, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, faced the House of Representatives to address the sex scandal. To shows bipartisan indignation, Leonhart revealed that they had not fired the offending officers; an absurd example of a pervasive lack of government accountability. The House of Representatives should know full well that, as Leonhart explained, she could not fire the agents because of government policies regarding termination.
Nevertheless, the House Oversight Committee issued a vote of no confidence to Leonhart:
From her testimony, it is clear that she lacks the authority and will to make the tough decisions required to hold those accountable who compromise national security and bring disgrace to their position…Ms. Leonhart has lost the confidence of this Committee to initiate the necessary reforms to restore the reputation of a vital agency.
While the underlying regulations that made the agents’ termination impossible are well worth addressing, Congress is ignoring the most fundamental problems of Leonhart’s tenure.
Leonhart is a career law enforcement officer who went from being a cop to a DEA officer. She was nominated by George W. Bush as Deputy DEA Administrator in 2003, confirmed in 2004, and became DEA Administrator in 2010.
She sat in front of a House subcommittee in 2012 and refused to answer whether or not marijuana was as dangerous as heroin or crack. Rather, she repeatedly spouted the talking point, “I believe all illegal drugs are bad.” She claimed that all Schedule-I drugs (including marijuana) are addictive as she dodged questions about the addictive nature of painkillers (which kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined).
Leonhart also said dog owners should oppose marijuana legalization. She claimed edibles were dangerous to canines (this was in the face of a study that showed 125 dogs that ingested edibles, only 2 died).
Leonhart suffers a serious deficiency of rationality when it comes to evidence-based positions, but Congress has not scolded her for this. She runs an agency responsible for controlling drugs, yet consistently demonstrates her ignorance (or feigns it) on the very subject she is an “expert” in; this is alright with legislators.
Congress has no problem with the policies that put drug cartels in a position of power and wealth in the first place, but it is outraged with the sex and drug scandals that result from those very policies. The House and Senate have fueled the decades-long, disastrous Drug War with continual funding, encouraging the DEA’s restrictive, puritanical stances on drugs.
While some members of Congress have moved to create more tolerant policies on marijuana, the overarching federal policy continues to bully the plant and its advocates irrationally. Further, stances on other drugs are even more draconian
—even as increasing studies show the medicinal benefits of mushrooms, LSD, DMT, and MDMA.
As usual, members of Congress are reacting to a superficial symptom of a much deeper problem in order to create the false illusion that they are disturbed by corruption.
For example, Congress had no problem with Leonhart when, in 2011, she had the audacity to claim that the Drug War was working. In spite of statistics showing over 1,000 children deaths as a result of drug-related violence. Congress did not issue a vote of “no confidence” for her then, nor were they moved to care for the children
—whose safety is the alleged reason for the Drug War in the first place.
The Congressional reaction to Michelle Leonhart’s refusal to fire corrupt agents is unsurprising, but just as predictable is its deliberate ignorance of the deeper problems and flaws in the failed “War on Drugs.” If members of Congress were truly outraged at the DEA scandal, they would work to dismantle the DEA and it’s destructive, violent foundations. Instead, they are simply calling for a new administrator to continue these backwards policies, demonstrating their devotion to the establishment and their lack of concern for the well-being of citizens.
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