DRUG WAR BRIEFS: What's Wrong With This Picture?

May 30- The New York Times reports: The director of the F.B.I., Robert S. Mueller III, acknowledged today for the first time that the attacks of Sept. 11 might have been preventable if officials in his agency had responded differently to all the pieces of information that were available.

As a result, Mr. Mueller said he was beginning an overhaul of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to aim more resources toward what he asserted is now its fundamental mission: the prevention of new terrorist operations.

He said that the changes he was putting into place, including reassigning hundreds of agents from the war on drugs to the war on terrorism, were designed to produce "a redesigned and refocused F.B.I."

As he sets about reassigning 400 of the bureau's 11,500 field agents from narcotics investigations to counterterrorism, Mr. Mueller said he was confident that the Drug Enforcement Administration would be able to pick up the slack. The move would reduce agents assigned to narcotics from 2,500 to 2,100, he said.

May 30- San Jose Mercury News reports a raid in Santa Rosa: Federal agents raided a medical marijuana buyers' club here Wednesday and arrested two people, part of a tug-of-war between local and federal officials over the sale of pot for medicinal purposes.

According to one witness, at least six DEA agents stormed the store around 10:45 a.m.

"They made a big show of it,'' Mark Nabavi, who runs the Printing Express store next door, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. ``They took down everyone's license plate number.''

In February, DEA agents raided a San Francisco medical marijuana club and arrested four people.

May 30- The West Australian reports: A Norseman grandmother who confessed to using cannabis to relieve the pain of leukemia has been convicted of intending to supply the drug to her quadriplegic daughter.

Patricia Margaret Borinelli, 60, was fined $1000 yesterday after a District Court jury in Kalgoorlie found her guilty of possessing two cannabis plants with intent to supply.

Outside court, Borinelli said she had been humiliated publicly in her small community. She claimed her home had been vandalized as a result of the charges.

She had decided to grow the cannabis because she could not afford to buy the drug and did not want to become involved with dealers.

June 3- In an article titled 'Did The Drug War Claim Another 3,056 Casualties On 9-11?', Arianna Huffington indicts the federal government's Drug War addiction.

While Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida minions were diligently preparing for their murderous mission, the FBI was looking the other way with equal determination. More than twice as many FBI agents were assigned to fighting drugs (2,500) than fighting terrorism (1,151). And a far greater amount of the FBI's financial resources was dedicated to the war on drugs.

Meanwhile, across the country in Boston, Raed Hijazi, an admitted al-Qaida member who had become an informant in exchange for avoiding jail, tried to warn FBI agents about Arab terrorists and sympathizers, particularly Nabil al-Marabh, a member of an al-Qaida terrorist cell who was arrested in the wake of 9-11. But the FBI wasn't interested in Hijazi's terror leads -- they only wanted to hear what he knew about heroin being smuggled into America from Afghanistan.

According to high-ranking FBI officials, Mueller originally intended to pull the plug on his agency's involvement in the drug war, shifting every one of his counternarcotics agents to counterterrorism activities, but was talked out of it by drug war generals who can't admit defeat.

As the soaring budget deficit reminds us, federal coffers are not a bottomless well.

Everything comes with a price. Sadly, it's looking more and more like the price of the drug war may have included the 3,056 lives lost on Sept. 11.

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

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