Sunday Morning Think Piece:
How To Win The Drug War
To win any war several things must happen:
In all of the local anti-narcotic programs we have established over the past twenty years we have failed to perform all of the basic requirements listed above.
1. The Enemy Must Be Identified
Because enemy drug generals can draw upon recruits from every age, race, religion, socio-economic background and nationality the face of the enemy soldier changes rapidly and has remained constantly elusive to us and always on a catch-up basis. No amount of training can or will assist our cadre in the lower ranks to identify the drug dealer or courier unless the criminal makes a mistake. And because the enemy soldiers don't wear identifiable uniforms we have resorted to establishing character and behavioral profiles to assist our identification of them. By and large most of these profiles have grossly failed, resulting in many innocent people being inconvenienced, harassed and even jailed, mostly because the enemy drug generals can obtain and adjust to our profiles as instantly as we publish them, or act on them.
The fact is, there is really no way to categorically identify a cleverly disguised drug dealer or courier because their creative commanders continue to make them look exactly like us. Character and behavioral profiles don't work. At best they serve only as a low caliber deterrent or nab only the utterly stupid. The only way to identify the courier or dealer is through technology. Technology must be advanced to the point of developing portable sensing devices that can be imbedded in the seats of aircraft and other public conveyances, positioned in public passageways and corridors, that can detect known narcotics just as similar devices are now being used to detect explosives.
2. The Enemy's Spies Must Be Identified
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact year because the record has become so muddied by incest that what DEA once was and what we have now become is as different as night and day. Once we operated largely independent of state and local narcotic operations. In those days we were effective. Today we work hand-in-glove with S&L's. These days we are ineffective. This incest was increased under Thomas A. Constantine and continued under Donnie Marshall, and perpetuated under Asa Hutchinson, all for their personal political benefit. Constantine, for example, provided mountains of our intelligence to S&L agencies, which were almost instantaneously handed over to local organized crime to defeat our efforts. The pinnacle of Constantine's treachery was exposed after he opened DEA intelligence computers to Mexican General Gutierrez Rebollo. Despite the fact that Rebollo had long since been identified by us as a conduit to Mexican cartels this information and advice was ignored by Constantine who was blinded by what he determined would be a career enhancement elevating his chances of becoming chairman of the IACP.
But the traitorous betrayal by Thomas Constantine and his followers is nothing compared to the Fifth Columnist treachery going on under our very noses on a daily basis right now. Today we have no real secrets. We have only pretend secrets. Everything we know is also known to our enemies because it is made available to them by our too familial association with S&L narcotics officers, some of whom are honest but far too many are either corrupt or stupid. Even youthful readers of comic books know that organized crime cannot exist without law enforcement protection. Yet, we continue to allow ourselves to believe that when we conduct a cooperative operation in City X that nets 50-100 suspects we have taken a step to eradicate that city's narcotics problems. We have not. We have not even made a dent in it.
We walk away from our cities after brief operations just like we walked away from Afghanistan in the 1980's. But the warlords we leave behind in City X to terrorize the population are not the drug operatives we failed to catch. The real warlords are the corrupt police officers, sheriffs and prosecutors, and their counterparts working in the local jails and prisons who profit from organized crime in their areas.
It was not to enforce federal laws that federal law enforcement was created or expanded. It was because of state and local corruption, ineptidude and stonewalling that federal law enforcement became a necessity. Until we completely divorce ourselves from cooperative narcotics operations working alongside S&L's, or until we devote an equal level of resources to investigate members of S&L agencies for possible drug-related corruption we will continue to chip away only at the tip of the iceberg, leaving the vast network of narcotics activity thriving under the surface... and our noses.
Law enforcement criminals are no different than other criminals because all criminals commit crimes for the same reason: They convince themselves that they can get way with their crime. The only way to get at the root of this common cause for every crime committed in our country is to establish a new system based on watching the watchers. Because only when everyone in law enforcement is made to feel that a higher level of intelligence gathering may become aware of their improper or illegal activities can we create an environment in law enforcement that works autonomically to weed out the corrupt and reward the honest. And only when we have first eliminated the official support provided to organized crime by corrupt law enforcement officers and agents can we hope to finally eliminate the criminal organizations. Needless to say, once organized crime is eliminated crimes committed by individuals become isolated matters easily containable.
3. The Fight Must Be Taken To The Enemy's Turf
The drug turf is not the schoolyard, neighborhood or even city where the buying and selling occurs. The real turf is the operations center where the merchandise is managed. That turf can be an office, warehouse, or inside the brain of the top dog. If Adolph Hitler had dropped a bomb on Eisenhower's rear and frontline HQ's the Battle Of The Bulge would have been hugely successful for the German side. If the Japanese had succeeded in knocking out our aircraft carriers on December 7th, 1941 their hopes of invading our West coast and marching at least to the location of our future A-Bomb test site would have changed history as we now know it. The point being, our operations to gain a two-day headline for neutralizing a local drug org accomplishes nothing in the big picture. Because, as stated earlier, the minute we pack our bags and move to the next city the drug dealers left unaffected pick up where their arrested competitors left off... with greater profit because they now have more customers gained by the removal of the suppliers we arrested.
All of the intelligence gathering we have done over the past 10 years has provided us zilch when it comes to even denting the real drug problem. This is because we research in the same way giraffes nibble leaves off a tree. The giraffe's neck allows him to browse up to a certain level of branches. Unless the giraffe figures out a way to erect a structure under its feet enabling it to step higher, or construct a levy enabling it to pull the higher branches down to its mouth, the giraffe will die of starvation once it has denuded all the leaves within its browsing level. And despite the fact that there are millions of leaves waiting to be eaten the giraffe perishes because it failed to find a way to acquire them. This comparison is accurate for us. Our intelligence gathering and investigations work only up to a certain level. All of the narcotics activity we fail to devour beyond the limits of our sophomoric strategies get away from us, Scott-free. We need to vastly increase our 'browsing range'. To do this we need to investigate longer and deeper, cut off all intelligence flowing to S&L's, ensure we have no Fifth Columnists among our own S/As, and establish modular DEA-only working groups with full funding and authority, responsible only to the Administrator himself (or herself) and exempt from interference, interruption and interagency interaction until that group's designated operation/target has been completed, resulting in high-level arrests and seizures.
4. Troops Must Remain On The Ground For As Long As It Takes To Ensure That All Enemy Forces Have Been Subdued
And we must maintain residual activity in an area to net the criminals left behind.The new Homeland Security Act/Department clumsily shoved together for the purpose of providing some agencies greater freedom and opportunity to annoy, harass and persecute law-abiding citizens gives DEA no more powers than we already had for the narrow focus of criminal activity we are chartered to investigate and terminate. Our problem has not been getting authority from Congress to further our mission, our problem has always been getting authority from the ego-maniac, self-righteous, narrow-minded, political-hacks seated on their Army-Navy Drive arses. Our recent Administrators did not want to end the drug problem, they wanted to use the drug problem to enhance their personal, political ambitions. None of the pet projects these Administrators assigned three, four or five-letter abbreviations to has resulted in any appreciable supply or demand reduction. A new pet project by yet another Administrator will appear, on paper, like the magic bullet its predecessors appeared, but will similarly fail to solve the drug problem or end the 'drug war'. What we need now is a complete overhaul from top to bottom with emphasis on making DEA a completely stand-alone agency that neither solicits. supplies, nor obligates itself to another agency, with particular emphasis on S&L's... since all crimes are essentially local.
A 'new' DEA is needed. But a 'new' DEA must also be a revolutionary DEA that never announces its evolution has completed. The chameleonic nature of our natural enemies, within and without, requires us to be forever innovative and evolving. Like the giraffe we need a long neck, but because we eat people... bad people... and not tree leaves, we need to continually explore new ways to reach our best meals. We also need to retrain our S/A's to practice greater patience in their investigations in order to gain intelligence on the primary criminal elements in the narcotics food chain. We need to reward S/As for developing new ways to investigate or use technology. Above all, we need to stop the flow of DEA 'trade secrets' to other agencies.
It is never too late for us to close the barn door and go back to operating on our own as we were originally intended.
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