DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Jeb Bush's Double Standard

January 30- The (UK) Guardian reports: The United States hopes to complete a plan next month for resuming anti-drug surveillance flights over Peru and Colombia - flights that could lead to the shooting down of planes flown by suspected traffickers, a State Department official said Wednesday.

The flights have been suspended since the Peruvian military mistakenly shot down a Baptist missionary plane last year, killing an American woman and her infant daughter.

Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers said the United States is determined to resume the flights with changes in procedures to prevent other accidents. "The issue is how, not whether" to resume flights, Beers told The Associated Press after meeting with reporters at the Organization of American States.

Peru's policy of shooting down suspected drug flights is credited with the country's sharp drop in the production of coca, the raw material for cocaine. Peru had been the world's main producer of coca in the 1990s, before the shootdowns began. Now most coca cultivation takes place in Colombia, the world's leading producer of cocaine.

January 31- The Washington Post reports: Advocates of reforming Florida's drug laws say it is understandable that Gov. Jeb Bush is asking for compassion and privacy for his daughter, arrested this week on prescription fraud charges. But they also think he should reconsider his tough "drug warrior" approach to the state's other nonviolent drug offenders.

"The question is, are you going to treat other kids in trouble the way you'd want your kid treated? That is where people in Florida have fallen short, with the drug policy there- they're all willing to be tough and hard and lock everybody up," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national organization working for drug law reform.

Bush's middle child and only daughter, Noelle, 24, was arrested Tuesday in Tallahassee on charges of impersonating a doctor as she tried to fill a fake prescription for Xanax, a popular anti-anxiety drug. The Bush family released a statement acknowledging that Noelle has a "serious" substance abuse problem. They asked "the public and the media to respect our family's privacy during this difficult time so that we can help our daughter."

During his three years in office, however, Bush has cut drug treatment and drug court budgets, Nadelmann said, while also attacking a ballot initiative that will likely go to voters in November to provide treatment to an estimated 10,000 nonviolent offenders in Florida each year who otherwise would be incarcerated.

Nadelmann said Florida officials are putting out a message "that people need to get arrested before they get drug treatment. We're saying, don't have a double standard here- the Bushes want to treat this as a private family matter and well they should, but other people should have the opportunity, too."

February 3- The U.S. government spends $3.5 million tax dollars on two 30-second public service ads during Super Bowl XXXVI. The ads, advancing the claim that Americans using illegal drugs are financing international terrorists, represent the largest one-time government advertising spend ever.

Drug Control office spokesman Tom Riley said the Super Bowl was the perfect event to launch the new campaign. "It's not like every dollar you spend on pot goes to Osama Bin Laden,î Riley said, ìbut the Taliban raised $50 million a year on heroin sales."

[Ed. note: Osama Bin Laden was once trained and armed by CIA tax dollars in the early 1980s, and the Northern Alliance, key U.S. allies in the Afghan War, have been integral players in the export of raw opium.]

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at kcnelson@premier1.net.

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