January 12th, 2012

The War on Drugs is a War on American Citizens

Over 100 times a day, militarized police officers throughout America raid the homes of individuals suspected of possessing, using, and sometimes distributing drugs.

These increasingly frequent raids subject many peaceful individuals, including innocent people such as family members, roommates, and bystanders, to the horror of having their homes invaded.

Often, these raids are conducted while the home’s occupants are sleeping, and are executed by officers who look more like soldiers than peace officers, decked out as they usually are in paramilitary gear and guns galore.

Between 1989 and 2001, criminologist Peter Kraska has found at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids which made it to the appellate level in court. Often times, the SWAT team involved got the address wrong, and thus invaded the wrong home, terrorized the wrong family, and destroyed the wrong property in the process.

Even when they get the address right, officers’ plans can go wrong. Last week’s botched raid in Ogden, for example, resulted in six officers being shot, one of who died from his wounds. But the Weber-Morgan County Narcotics Strike Force, which executed the “knock and announce” search warrant, already had a controversial and horribly botched raid to its name.

On September 16, 2010, the same unit invaded a home of an Ogden man with a “no-knock” warrant (which they forgot to even bring with them) to search for drugs.

Though the suspect was a roommate who had already moved out, they proceeded with their raid in the dead of night.

Once police busted down the door with guns drawn, they encountered Todd Blair standing in a defensive position with the only weapon he could quickly access: a golf club. Fearing for their safety, and claiming they thought it might be a sword, the officers put three bullets into Blair’s body, dropping him instantly.

Imagine yourself in this situation. It’s midnight and you’re woken out of a deep slumber by the sound of screaming men inside your home. As the adrenaline immediately surges through your veins and in the fraction of a second you have to make a decision, would you not reasonably suspect that you’re being attacked, and must therefore defend yourself, your family and your property?

Considering the numerous instances in which police officers invade the wrong home, use excessive force, and injure or kill innocent individuals as part of the so-called “war on drugs,” it might instead be argued that these policies, along with the militaristic method by which they are often enforced, are actually a war on American citizens.

Think about it: hundreds of homes are being invaded daily (or nightly, as is often the case) by highly trained police officers who often feel, as an Arizona SWAT officer once said, that “you get to play with a lot of guns… it’s friggin’ fun, man.”

This heavy-handed enforcement is often riddled with errors and accidents, resulting in the destruction of property and death of innocent bystanders. Does this not sound like war?

It’s time for a tactical offensive on the real enemy: failed anti-drug policies. Let’s stop killing peaceful people and filling the prisons with the ones who survive, but instead find a more sane, humane and reasonable approach to dealing with the drug crisis.

In short, let’s promote peace as the necessary alternative to the war currently being waged on American citizens.

14 Responses to “The War on Drugs is a War on American Citizens”

  1. Brandon
    January 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Great job, Connor. I couldn’t agree more. I can’t imagine how terrible it would be to be startled awake to the sounds of a home invasion and then face possible immediate execution if I incorrectly decide to defend myself in my own home. The drug war is an outrageous offense to peace loving people.

  2. Jasper Magee
    January 13, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    I’m rather new to learning about libertarian viewpoints. The legalization of now-illegal drugs was one of the few things I really knew about this philosophy. I would like to know more about legalizing these kinds of substances. Usually marijuana is discussed, but what about harder, more destructive drugs? Connor, is everything fair game? Should all drugs be viewed/restricted like alcohol? Or is are there only some drugs that should be legalized?

  3. Connor
    January 13, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Jasper, here is a recent op-ed I wrote which discusses some of the underlying arguments. While it refers only to marijuana, the same holds true of all other drugs.

    You ask if certain drugs should be legalized. I believe a better question is whether the government may legitimately be delegated the authority to criminalize the possession, distribution, and use of drugs. The answer is derived from understanding whether individuals themselves have the moral authority to use coercion against their neighbors who may be growing, making, or ingesting such drugs. I answer that we do not have that inherent authority and therefore cannot delegate it to the government.

  4. Jasper Magee
    January 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Thanks for the reply. I ask tho, if that standard can really be applied in every situation. Can we not collectively decide what we want and do not want in our society, even if it could not be applied on the personal level? For example, I cannot legally take money from anyone, but taxes exist (even constitutionally) and are enforced. If you don’t pay, you go to jail. Even if the taxes were being used for 100% moral and constitutional things, I, as an individual, don’t have power to enforce a tax. Same thing with speeding; I don’t personally have the power to fine someone for using their own personal choice to drive a few miles over a speed limit, but fines do exist. I’m sure there are more/better examples, but you get what I mean. Question is: can that standard really be applied for everything, including destructive drugs?

  5. Matt
    January 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    The law needs to be focused on the person, not the substance. A drug can’t commit a crime. A gun can’t commit a crime. A PERSON has to commit the crime.

    If a person murders someone do we go after the person or the gun?

    It’s bad policy and a silly game to make laws around lists of things. Having government make lists of things that are illegal is a cat and mouse game that doesn’t work.

    Let’s focus on the person. When a person harms another person they have crossed the line.

  6. Jim
    January 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    Well,the list of crimes could also include what a person does to other species, as well as humans, or to the environment. Animals or plants don’t really do crimes, but they can be restrained for undesired activities.

  7. Matt
    January 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Jim, True, if a person harms your property they’ve crossed the line as well. The key is focus on the actions of a person. Not what that persons owns, ingests, etc.

  8. Jasper Magee
    January 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Matt, while I agree with that to a large extent, I haven’t really accepted that yet as a standard for everything. It just doesn’t explain things like taxes, a speed limit, public indecency, or other things that could harm a society collectively, even if not directly violating someone else’s well-being.

  9. jim
    January 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    What you own or ingest is quite often a result of your actions. The exception would be if you have been mislead about the composition of an item. Most of the time you will know or suspect if something is legal to own or not, or something legal or illegal or unethical to consume. If you see a polar bear skin rug for sale outside of the united states, I would hope that most americans would know that would be an item NOT to bring back with you from your trip abroad. Expect it to be seized and fined if detected by government agents at customs.

    I was surprised that some americans didn’t know that eagle feathers were illegal to have in ones possession. The only exception has been if one is native american for ceremonial purposes. I know that is discriminatory, but its how the law is practiced. I informed some people who had them on their possession, and they totally ignored me. I didn’t do anything, as I knew that they found it on a trail. But the law doesn’t know how you obtained an item.

  10. jim
    January 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Jasper Magee,
    Those types of laws are assuming that certain things have inherent qualities of danger. For example, Taking into account average reaction times, and average stopping distance for cars, I can see how there is a recommended speed limit for particular areas.

    There is a possibility however that some people might be able to speed without harming others under particular conditions. But how would one go about applying different rules of conduct? Maybe some people have a speed limit of 30? while the law allows others to go 80? That would be impossible to enforce, and difficult to determine who has the right to go either faster or slower.

    Things like public indecency sometimes can be difficult to quantify, some communities may accept one standard and others require another standard. I have gone to a particular city in the united states that allowed citizens to have full nudity. I was surprised when I saw someone walking nude. Someone explained that in that city, Its only illegal if one does something specifically provocative, reguardless if fully dressed or not. The only concern that the locals had were related to hygiene.

    How do you determine what is indecency? Some countries require women to have their body completely covered. Not anything above the wrist or above the ankles on the limbs. And in some cases also the face.

    A friend of mind traveled to some part of the US where he was hiking on a trail and he took off his shirt. To his surprise a family was walking the other direction, and the father asked him to put it back on so that his children couldn’t see. So there are varying degrees of standards, and senses of what is harmful to society. Which society did you have in mind when you wrote that?

  11. Richard Twoah
    July 31, 2013 at 1:02 am #

    I believe there is more to it; when the prez declares war citizens are subject to the omission of inalienable rights. Citizens then are governed by statutes and not law. We have been under this monarchy since Washington. Many other prez used this policy to take power from Congress and give it solely to the American King. This is why there are many private agencies that control citizens of the US. After the US became bankrupt they sold the citizens for dept; make money on your birth certificate etc., own everything that you register, and are quick to put you in prison to work you like an indentured servent. The US has declared war on people born on this soil that only God can judge. So when you go to prison for DWLSR, wonder if the judge has the jurisdiction to sentence you and what law in the constitution is he upholding.

  12. outside the corridor
    August 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    there is much more to it than this–

    we have an old friend who is serving an indefinite prison sentence on false charges–

    he pled guilty, because he was told that he would get a lighter sentence–

    (when he wasn’t guilty) only to get into prison and find out that that had happened to nearly half of his fellow prison inmates; their stories are astounding–

    prisons are, like everything else, business, big business, and they make a lot of money by putting more people into them–

    no wonder that the U.S. imprisons more of its population than any other nation in the world (with the possible exception of China, who might be not telling the truth, but it is an independent commission who hae studied this)


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