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Fight Terrorism by Ending the War on Drugs

Dear editor,

A few days ago President Bush stated that the sale of illegal drugs is funding terrorism around the world. To halt this, Bush is now calling for stepping up the War on Drugs.

This is a disastrous and illogical approach to a serious problem. 

It is true that terrorist organizations -- including Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda -- have long used the sale of illegal drugs to fund their horrific activities. On May 31, 2000, CBS News observed: "For the first time, there is...evidence that Afghanistan's heroin producing poppy fields are funding bin Laden's organization, Al-Qaeda, as well as the Taliban."

And this is nothing new. Back in 1994. Interpol's chief drugs officer, Iqbal Hussain Rizvi, noted: "Drugs have taken over as the chief means of financing terrorism."

Bush is wrong, however, to think that the War on Drugs is the answer to this is. In fact, it is the Drug War itself that makes it possible for terrorists to earn millions of dollars from producing and selling drugs
By outlawing drugs, the government has created a massive black market in which those willing to take the risks of selling illegal drugs can make huge profits. These huge profits -- only possible because drugs are illegal -- are the only reason terrorists and other criminals sell drugs. The Drug War, and *only* the Drug War, makes it possible for them to earn fortunes from drugs -- just as alcohol Prohibition made thugs like Al Capone rich in the 1920s.

So the Drug War is, in essence, a massive government subsidy to terrorists. Trying to fight  terrorism by stepping up the War on Drugs is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it.

Drugs were legal in America until well into the 20th century, and we had none of the violence and crime associated with drug use today. Nor did terrorists or other criminals profit by the sale of drugs. Those problems are caused by the Drug War, not the drugs themselves. 

If President Bush really wants to get serious about cutting off funding for terrorists, he will listen to the growing coalition of anti-Drug War libertarians, conservatives and liberals, and end the failed Drug War. We should re-legalize the manufacture, use and sale of drugs for adults, while holding users responsible for any criminal actions committed under the influence of drugs. That's the same as we now do with alcohol and tobacco. Liberty and responsibility -- this was our traditional American approach, and it worked far better.

Re-legalization will immediately halt the chief source of terrorism funding around the world -- as well as curing a whole host of other Drug War-spawned evils.


James W. Harris

(Written December 2001; not sure if it was published or not)

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