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Dangerous Precedent of the Day: Hot on the heels of a major crackdown by the Obama administration on medical marijuana dispensaries, the House Judiciary Committee yesterday passed a bill sponsored by chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that aims to criminalize the discussion or planning of any activities abroad that would violate the United States’ Controlled Substances Act.
This includes activities which would be perfectly legal in the countries where they would be performed.
“Under this bill, if a young couple plans a wedding in Amsterdam, and as part of the wedding, they plan to buy the bridal party some marijuana, they would be subject to prosecution,” Drug Policy Alliance director Bill Piper is quoted as saying. “The strange thing is that the purchase of and smoking the marijuana while you’re there wouldn’t be illegal. But this law would make planning the wedding from the U.S. a federal crime.”
The bill is so vague, the doctors and academics discussing drug decriminalization and needle exchange programs with foreign colleagues might be subject to charges. Even something as innocent as an email to a friend in Mexico about over-the-counter drugs that require a prescription in the US might land a person in hot water.
The law was proposed in response to a 2007 court case involving two Miami men convicted of planning to transfer cocaine from Colombia to Saudi Arabia who had their convictions overturned because the drugs were not intended for US distribution.
Piper notes that the Smith bill goes too far in making it illegal to plan legal drug-related activities.
“They could have limited this law to prohibiting the planning of activities that are illegal in the countries where they take place,” he said. “That would have allowed them to convict the guys in the Miami case. There was an amendment proposed to do that and it was voted down on party lines. They intentionally made sure the bill includes activities that legal in other countries. Which means this is an attempt to apply U.S. law all over the globe.”
What if our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and has not served our national security interests? What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?
What if propping up oppressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel? What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan is directly related to the hatred directed toward us? What if some day it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair trade off for the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistani, or Afghan people are killed or displaced?
What if we finally decide that torture even if called “enhanced interrogation technique” is self destructive and produces no useful information and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil? What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy? What if all war time spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing? What if we finally see that war time conditions always undermine personal liberty?
What if conservatives who preach small government wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government? What if conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world? What if the American people woke up and understood that the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?
What if we as a nation came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations? What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq? What if a military draft is being planned for, for the wars that will spread if our foreign policy is not changed?
What if the American people learn the truth that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security and that it never changes from one administration to the next? What if war and preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests? What if president Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam - put together?
What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression? What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?
What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded? Nothing.But what happens if my concerns are justified and ignored? Nothing good.
As we circle Union Square, about twenty NYPD officers haul out orange plastic nets (the kind used to fence off construction sites) and close off the road, diverting the crowd. But the detour, too, was closed, leaving us only one other option: straight down Broadway. The lighthearted carnival air begins to get very heavy as it becomes clear that we are being corralled. The main group, about 150 protesters, keeps on down the street, but the police are running behind with the orange nets, siphoning off groups of fifteen to twenty people at a time, classic crowd control.
A new group of police officers arrives in white shirts, as opposed to dark blue. These guys are completely undiscerning in their aggression. If someone gets in their way, they shove them headfirst into the nearest parked car, at which point the officers are immediately surrounded by camera phones and shouts of “Shame! Shame!”
Up until this point, Frank and I have managed to stay ahead of the nets, but as we hit what I think is 12th Street, they’ve caught up. The blue-shirts aren’t being too forceful, so we manage to run free, but stay behind to see what happens. Then things go nuts.
The white-shirted cops are shouting at us to get off the street as they corral us onto the sidewalk. One African American man gets on the curb but refuses to be pushed up against the wall of the building; they throw him into the street, and five cops tackle him. As he’s being cuffed, a white kid with a video camera asks him “What’s your name?! What’s your name?!” One of the blue-shirted cops thinks he’s too close and gives him a little shove. A white-shirt sees this, grabs the kid and without hesitation billy-clubs him in the stomach.
At this point, the crowd of twenty or so caught in the orange fence is shouting “Shame! Shame! Who are you protecting?! YOU are the 99 percent! You’re fighting your own people!” A white-shirt, now known to be NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, comes from the left, walks straight up to the three young girls at the front of the crowd, and pepper-sprays them in the face for a few seconds, continuing as they scream “No! Why are you doing that?!” The rest of us in the crowd turn away to avoid the spray, but it’s unavoidable. My left eye burns and goes blind and tears start streaming down my face. Frank grabs my arm and shoves us through the small gap between the orange fence and the brick wall while everyone stares in shock and horror at the two girls on the ground and two more doubled over screaming as their eyes ooze. In the street I shout for water to rinse my eyes or give to the girls on the ground. But no one responds. One of the blue-shirts, tall and bald, stares in disbelief and says, “I can’t believe he just fuckin’ maced her.” And it becomes clear that the white-shirts are a different species. We need to get out of there.
Jesus H. Christ.
It’s happening. Prepare for the fight of our lives.