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Award-winning investigative journalist (and dad) Peter Gorman has spent more than 20 years tracking down stories from the streets of Manhattan to the slums of Bombay. Specializing in Drug War issues, he is credited as a primary journalist in the medical marijuana and hemp movements, as well as in property forfeiture reform. His work has appeared in over 100 national and international magazines and newspapers.

Peter Gorman's love affair with the Amazon jungle is well-known to people in the field. Since 1984 Mr. Gorman has spent a minimum of three months annually there generally using Iquitos
Peru as his base. During that time he has studied ayahuasca the visionary healing vine of the jungle with his friend the curandero Julio Jerena. He has collected artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History botanical specimens for Shaman Pharmaceuticals and herpetological specimens for the FIDIA Research Institute of the University of Rome. His description of the indiginous Matses Indians’ use of the secretions of the phyllomedusa bicolor frog has opened an entire field devoted to the use of amphibian peptides as potential medicines in Western medicine.


 

THE McCAFFREY SCANDALS
In his five years as federal Drug Czar, General Barry McCaffrey has paid homage to corrupt cops and coke brokers from all over Latin America, fed tax-funded payola to the networks to insert Drug War propaganda in TV shows, claimed that medical-marijuana doctors recommend reefer for writer’s cramp and the Netherlands has a higher murder rate than the US. Here we unravel the web of scandals.

by Peter Gorman

When President Bill Clinton tabbed the recently retired General Barry McCaffrey to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in January 1996, his appointment was meant to put to rest forever Clinton’s appearance of waffling on the Drug War. In McCaffrey, America was getting a straitlaced West Pointer, a war hero who’d earned a chestful of medals during two years in Vietnam and later as a division commander in the Gulf War. Moreover, he was fresh from heading the Southern Command in Panama, the US pivot point or all operations in Central and South America, which meant he knew about drugs and drug trafficking.
For Clinton it was a brilliant political maneuver. For the rest of us it has been hell. During his five-year tenure as Drug Czar, McCaffrey has proven to be arrogant, intractable and visionless, a man oblivious to facts and unwilling to learn—in short, a perfect military officer but a lousy civilian leader. His behavior has at times been incomprehensibly bizarre, at times simply cruel. HIGH TIMES has been following McCaffrey’s performance, and here are the high—oops!—lowlights:


The Medical-Marijuana Issue
Almost immediately on being appointed Drug Czar, McCaffrey weighed in on the medical-marijuana debate. At issue were the initiatives in California and Arizona, which the ONDCP fiercely fought in a blitz of advertising, press releases and newspaper editorials. In a September 1996 press release on California’s Proposition 215, he noted, erroneously, that “marijuana compromises brain function, the immune system, lung function and hormonal responses to stress and metabolic change.” In an opinion published in the San Francisco Chronicle, he suggested that Prop 215 would “legalize marijuana for youngsters,” and called it “an attempt to exploit human suffering.”
When both the California and Arizona laws passed handily, McCaffrey called voters “asleep at the switch.” On Dec. 30, 1996, he threatened to have the DEA yank doctors’ licenses to prescribe other drugs if they backed their patients’ right to use medical marijuana.
McCaffrey also brought out a phony flip chart listing some of the disorders for which medical marijuana was allegedly used. The list, written by his staff, was credited as “Dr. Tod Mikuriya’s (215 Medical Advisor) Medical Uses of Marijuana” and included such items as “Removal of corns; Laxative; Writer’s cramp; Recalling forgotten memories.”
“This is not medicine, this is a Cheech and Chong show,” he announced.
McCaffrey has continued to fight medical marijuana throughout his tenure. To his credit, he did commission the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine to review the research on medical marijuana. To his non-credit, he has ignored most of the report’s recommendations.
He also ignored scientific evidence that needle-exchange programs help prevent the spread of AIDS, quashing Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala’s plans to end the federal ban on funding those programs in 1998.

The Hemp Debacle
The Drug Czar also doesn’t like hemp. But what he is really afraid of—once you get past nonsense like how the DEA wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between industrial hemp and smokeable marijuana and “kids are boiling down their hemp shirts”—is that hemp foods blow drug testing out of the water, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let his drug-testing buddies lose all those billions to a bunch of long-haired hempseed bakers (HighWitness News, Sept. ’00 HT).
McCaffrey’s admission that it’s the drug testing he’s afraid of came in a letter faxed from his office last Feb. 28 to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), as the state legislature was debating whether to authorize a two-year hemp study. It argued that the DEA had learned that “individuals who tested positive for marijuana use subsequently raised their consumption of the [hemp] food products as a defense against positive drug tests.”

McCaffrey and the Third World
McCaffrey doesn’t limit his gaffes to US soil. In October 1996 he took time out of stumping against medical marijuana in Arizona and California to meet with Peru’s President Alberto Fujimori and his special advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos, head of Peru’s secret police—who have killed thousands.
Montesinos, also the broker of nearly every major deal between Peru’s cocaine-base manufacturers and Colombia’s cocaine finishers, was at that time under a cloud because one of Peru’s largest base (or pasta) makers had just accused him of receiving $50,000 monthly from another trafficker. But Montesinos, as a graduate of the CIA’s School of the Americas (a.k.a. School of the Assassins), the place where we train all those who will one day be put in charge of those pesky countries south of the border, was quickly exonerated after McCaffrey’s visit.
Then, in a visit to Mexico in December 1996, McCaffrey met with General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico’s Drug Czar, whom he described as “a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity.” Two months later, Rebollo was arrested for working with the Juarez cocaine cartel. He was subsequently convicted.
In July 1999, McCaffrey congratulated General Fernando Tapias, the head of the Colombian armed forces, for his work against both the country’s rebels and the paramilitary squads who roam Colombia as freelance killers. What McCaffrey either didn’t know or didn’t care about was that Tapias is very closely tied to the same paramilitary forces he was being congratulated for fighting.
Most recent was an August 1999 meeting with Hugo Banzer, Bolivia’s new president and another graduate of the School of the Americas. Banzer, Bolivia’s dictator from 1971-1978, was an early cocaine baron and the man who protected Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyon,” from the French. Nonetheless, McCaffrey congratulated Banzer on his good work at not only making Bolivia a true democracy (free of those damned commies) but on his work at eliminating those rotten coca bushes as well.

The Hiett of Absurdity
In 1997, McCaffrey angrily decried the short sentences—five years—that Colombia meted out to two Cali cartel cocaine barons. But when Laurie Hiett, wife of Colonel James Hiett, the US’ number-one military man in Colombia, was found guilty of shipping shoeboxes full of heroin and cocaine to New York via the US Embassy in Bogota last year, and her husband pled guilty of getting shoeboxes full of money in return, not a peep was heard from McCaffrey. And he remained silent when Laurie Hiett got less than the mandatory minimum and James Hiett was allowed to keep his military pension. The Drug Czar’s office was quick to remind us that he has no control over our military men. But does anyone really believe the military placed Colonel Hiett in Colombia as our top antidope guy there without consulting with the retired four-star general Drug Czar? He was McCaffrey’s boy all the way. Way to pick ’em, General.

The Dutch Lies (charts go near this section, please)
In July 1998, McCaffrey toured Europe. Shortly before a visit to the Netherlands, he told CNN that the Dutch drug policy was “an unmitigated failure.” On July 13, he stated that “The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States,” and that “9.1% of teenagers in the US had ever smoked marijuana, while 30.2% of Dutch teens had.”
All of the statements were lies. The Dutch have far fewer heroin users per 100,000 population than the US, a dramatically lower rate of incarceration, and spend considerably less money per capita on drug-related law enforcement. The Dutch homicide rate, 1.8 murders per 100,000 at the time, was actually less than a quarter the US rate of 8.2 per 100,000. And at the time of his remarks, 30.2% of Dutch teens had tried pot, while the US number was actually 38%.

That Darned TV Thing
In September 1997, McCaffrey’s office announced a Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which would “explore initiatives involving the entertainment industry.” Newspapers, magazines and television shows were eventually offered a piece of the ONDCP’s $775 million ad-dollar pie if they would run antidrug messages. The kicker: If the message were inserted into a story line, it would count as—and be paid for as—an advertisement, thus freeing the media outlet to sell their ad space twice.
Congress didn’t even find out about how it all worked for two years, until October 1999, when McCaffrey was asked by a House appropriations subcommittee to explain it. As noted in Mark Groubert’s “High Ratings” (Jun. ’00 HT), the Drug Czar responded that, “An on-strategy story line that is the main plot of a half-hour show can be valued at three thirty-second ads,” and so on. McCaffrey’s office swears it never suggested a story line, or asked that one be changed. But as Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) asked ONDCP youth-media director Alan Levitt during a subcommittee hearing on the arrangement: “You believe that millions of dollars in windfall money wouldn’t influence them to change a script?” Levitt didn’t think so.

Colombia: The Staging Zone
As he nears the end of his Drug Czar reign, McCaffrey has recently gotten congressional approval for $1.6 billion in aid to Colombia to help fight drugs. Among the items in the package are nearly $400 million in helicopters to be manufactured by his military-industrial chums, as well as nearly $100 million in pesticides and fungicides that will be spread over Colombia’s burgeoning coca-plant and opium-poppy fields. The primary fungicide, however, mutates quickly and is liable to be disastrous to Colombia’s biodiversity. Moreover, in hospital studies it has been shown to kill 76% of humans with compromised immune systems exposed to it.
Oh, and the other billion? For guns, ammo and to pay the US Special Forces advisors we’re going to put there to train the Colombians. Vietnam, anyone?

The Cookie Chips Event
The most recent McCaffrey scandal was exposed last June, when the Scripps-Howard News Service revealed that the ONDCP had placed “cookies” on the computers of an unknown number of unsuspecting visitors to its Websites. Web users who typed drug terms such as “marijuana” or “weed” into several popular search engines were greeted by banner ads from the ONDCP. Clicking on most banners linked the curious to Freevibe.com, an ONDCP site aimed at young people, while simultaneously placing a cookie—a piece of code used to gather information on individual Web surfers—onto users’ computers.
What the cookies do is trace the user’s Web movements: i.e., if someone read the ONDCP banner and subsequently bought pot seeds from an illegal site, the people working for the ONDCP would know it. Get the picture? Some cookies even have the ability to scan, search and extract data from Internet users’ hard drives.
The ONDCP’s Don Maple assured the press that the cookies only collected “anonymous gross-number data” to determine which ads were the most effective, and promised the contractors would “destroy whatever data” had been collected. Meanwhile, the White House instantly distanced itself from the issue, claiming complete ignorance of the practice and promising to “take all steps necessary to halt these practices now,” said spokesman Joe Lockhart.—Web Friendly

The Next Scandal?
It’s only July as we put this issue to bed. General McCaffrey has several months to go before he’ll probably be put out to pasture. Plenty of time for a man of his keen intellect to dream up and implement another scandal or two. Your move, General.

Oh, And Another Thing…
General Barry McCaffrey was not entirely scandal free in his military career either. In Vietnam, Mad Dog, as his Airborne Ranger buddies knew him, was thought to have helped facilitate the safe movement of tons of Khun Sa’s opium via Air America. And in the Persian Gulf War, where McCaffrey was the Commander of the 24th Infantry Division, allegations were made, most recently in Seymour M. Hersh’s article, Overwhelming Force (The New Yorker, May 22), that McCaffrey ordered his troops to fire on retreating Iraqi forces the day after a ceasefire was declared, “destroying some seven hundred Iraqi tanks, armored cars, and trucks, and killing not only Iraqi soldiers but civilians and children as well.” Though several military investigations cleared him of any wrongdoing, according to Hersh, a number of former high-ranking officers in McCaffrey’s command during that period stand by their claims that McCaffrey may be guilty of war crimes.—PG

 

 

 

When President Bill Clinton tabbed the recently-retired General Barry McCaffrey to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in January 1996, his appointment was meant to put to rest forever Clintonís appearance of waffling on the Drug War. In McCaffrey, America was getting a straight-laced West Pointer, a war hero who’d earned a chestful of medals during two years in Vietnam as an Airborne Ranger and later as Commander of the 24th Infantry Division in Desert Storm. Moreover, he was fresh off having been head of the Southern Command in Panama, the US pivot point or all operations in Central and South America, which meant he knew about drugs and drug trafficking. For Clinton it was a brilliant political manouver.
For the rest of us it has been hell. During his tenure as Drug Czar, McCaffrey has proven to be arrogant, intractable and visionless, a man oblivious to facts and unwilling to learn—in short, a perfect military officer but a lousy civilian leader. His behavior has at times been incomprehensibly bizarre, at times simply cruel. HIGH TIMES has been following McCaffrey’s performance during his four years and here are the high-oops!-lowlights:

The Medical-Marijuana Issue
Almost immediately on being appointed Drug Czar, McCaffrey weighed in on the medical marijuana debate. At issue were the med-mar referendums in both California and Arizona, fiercely fought by the ONDCP in a blitz of advertising, press releases, and newspaper editorials. In a Sept 5, 1996 press release on Californiaís Prop 215, he noted, erroniously, that “marijuana compromises brain function, the immune system, lung function and hormonal responses to stress and metabolic change.” In an editorial published in the San Francisco Chronicle (Oct. 7, 1996), he suggested that prop 215 would “legalize marijuana for youngsters,” and called the proposition “an attempt to exploit human suffering.”
When both the California and Arizona bills passed handily, McCaffrey called voters “asleep at the switch,” and in his December 30, 1996 official response to the votes, threatened to have the DEA yank the licenses-to-prescribe drugs of doctors who backed their patients’ right to use medical marijuana.
At that same December 30 press briefing, McCaffrey brought out a phony flip-chart listing some of the disorders for which medical marijuana was allegedly used. The list was credited as “Dr. Tod Mikuriya’s (215 Medical Advisor) Medical Uses of Marijuana” and included such items as “Removal of corns; Laxative; Writer’s cramp; Recalling forgotten memories.” In showing the phony list his office had written, McCaffrey said: “Recalling forgotten memories? This is not medicine, this is a Cheech and Chong Show.”
McCaffrey has continued to fight medical marijuana throughout his tenure. To his credit he did call for the commission of a National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine review of medical marijuana. To his non-credit he has ignored most of their recommendations.

The Needle-Exchange Fiasco
Needle-exchange programs were already forbidden to be funded by federal bucks when McCaffrey was appointed. But since he’s been the Drug Czar several studies, including a 1997 report by the National Institutes of Health, have concluded that needle-exchange saves lives. Simple as that. But as recently as 1998, when Health and Human Servises director Donna Shalala was set to end the federal ban on needle-ex funding, McCaffrey lobbied against it and successfully got her to reverse her position. His reasoning: funding clean needles ‘sends a message to children’ that drug use is okay.

McCaffrey and the Third World
McCaffrey doesn’t limit his gaffes to US soil. In October, 1996 he took time out of stumping against the Arizona and California propositions to meet with Peru’s President Fujimori and, among others, Fujimori’s special advisor and head of Peru’s secret police—who have killed thousands—Vladimiro Montesinos. Montesinos, also the broker of nearly every major deal between Peru’s cocaine base manufacturers and Colombiaís cocaine finishers, was at that time under a cloud because one of Peru’s largest base (or pasta) makers had just accused him of receiving $50,000 monthly from another trafficker. But Montesinos, as a graduate of the CIA’s School of the Americas, aka School of the Assassins, the place where we train all those who will one day be put in charge of those pesky countries south of the border, was quickly exhonerated after McCaffrey’s visit.
Then, in a visit to Mexico in December, 1996, McCaffrey met with, among others, General Guitierrez Rebollo, Mexico’s Drug Czar, whom he described as ‘a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity.’ Two months later, on February 19, 1997, Rebollo was arrested and subsequently convicted for working with the Juarez cocaine cartel.
Subsequently, on July 26, 1999, McCaffrey congratulated the head of the Colombian Armed Forces, General Tapias, for his work against both the Colombian rebels and the paramilitary squads who roam that country as freelance killers. What McCaffrey either didn’t know or didn’t care about was that Tapias is very closely tied to those same paramilitary forces he was being congratulated for fighting.
Most recently was an August 25 1999 meeting with Bolivia’s new President and another graduate of the School of the Americas, Hugo Banzer. Banzer, Bolivia’s dictator from 1971-1978, was an early cocaine baron and the man who protected Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, from the French. Nonetheless, McCaffrey congratulated Banzer on his good work at not only making Bolivia a true democracy (free of those damned commies) but on his work at eliminating those rotten cocaine bushes as well.

The Dutch Lies (charts go near this section, please)
In early July, 1998, McCaffrey toured Europe. Shortly before a visit to the Netherlands he made a number of comments on their drug policy: On CNN on July 9, he called the Dutch drug policy “an unmitigated failure;” on July 13, he stated that “The murder rate in Holland is double that in the United States;” and that “9.1% of teenagers in the US had ever smoked marijuana, while 30.2% of Dutch teens had.” All of the statements were lies. On the “unmitigated failure,” the Dutch have far fewer heroin users per 100,000 population than the US, they have a dramatically lower rate of incarceration, and spend considerably less per capita on drug-related law enforcement than the US does. The murder rate remark suggested that the US rate was 8.2 murders per 100,000 population while the Dutch rate was 17.58 per 100,000. In fact, the Dutch murder rate was really 1.8 per 100,000 at the time. And as for teen pot use, at the time of his remarks, while 30.2% of Dutch teens had tried pot, the US number was not 9.1%, but actually 38%.
The Dutch were quick to point out the discrepencies to McCaffrey, who, during his visit, praised their methadone clinics, but scorned their heroin maintainence programs.

The Hiett of Absurdity
On January 19, 1997, McCaffrey angrily decried the short sentences—five years—that Colombia was meteing out to the Cali Cartel cocaine baron Orejuela brothers. But when Laurie Hiett, wife of Colonel James Hiett, the US’s number one military man in Colombia, was found guilty of repeatedly shipping shoeboxes full of heroin and cocaine to New York via the US Embassy in Bogata last year, and her husband was found guilty of getting shoeboxes full of money in return, not a peep was heard from McCaffrey when Laurie Hiett’s judge departed down from her mandatoryminimum. And when the good Colonel pled guilty to the felony of not reporting his wife’s activity he was given time to retire and assured that his military pension would not be jeopardized by his actions. When asked why there was no Orejuelan-style-outcry from McCaffrey on that one, his office was quick to remind us that he has no connection over our military men. But does anyone really believe the military placed the Colonel in Colombia as our top anti-dope guy there without consulting with the retired 4-Star General Drug Czar? He was McCaffrey’s boy all the way. Way to pick’em, General.

The Hemp Episodes
General McCaffrey doesn’t like hemp. He initially objected to it because he said that the DEA wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between industrial hemp and smokeable marijuana. Sure. He’s also called hemp “a stalking horse for legalizing marijuana,” and in March of this year he even told a group of high ranking DEA and US Customs officials that “kids are boiling down their hemp shirts and mixing the essense with alcohol to make marijuana.”
All nonsense, of course. What McCaffrey is really afraid of, and has finally admitted, is that hemp foods blow drug testing out of the water and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let his drug-testing buddies lose all those billions to a bunch of long-haired hempseed bakers. This past January 5, McCaffrey issued orders on January 5, 2000 to Customs to seize “any hemp product, or part thereof, which contains any amount of THC,” which he reiterated in a March 5, 2000 directive to both Customs and the DEA.
McCaffrey’s admission that it’s the drug testing he’s afraid of came in a letter faxed from his office on February 28, 2000 to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) as Illinois was debating authorization of a two year hemp study. It reads, in part, the “DEA also learned from the Armed Forces and other federal agencies that individuals who tested positive for marijuana use subsequently raised their consumption of the (hemp) food products as a defence against positive drug tests.”

That Darned TV Thing
On September 29, 1997, McCaffrey’s office announced a Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (then awaiting Congressional approval) which would, among other things, “explore initiatives involving the entertainment industry. Newspapers, magazines and television shows were eventually offered a piece of the ONDCPís $775 million ad-dollar pie if they would run anti-drug messages. The kicker: if the message were inserted into a storyline, it would count as—and be paid for as—an advertisement, thus freeing the media outlet to sell their ad space twice.
Congress didn’t even find out about how it all worked for two years, until October, 1999, when McCaffrey was asked by a House appropriations subcommittee to explain it. As noted in Mark Groubert's High Ratings (HT June 2000), McCaffrey responded that "An on-strategy story line that is the main plot of a half-hour show can be valued at three thirty-second ads," and so on. McCaffrey's office swears it never suggested a story line, or asked that one be changed, but as Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) of the subcommittee looking into the influence trading asked ONDCP's youth-media director Alan Levitt: "You believe that millions of dollars in windfall money wouldn't influence them to change a script?" Levitt didn't think so.

Colombia: The Staging Zone
As he nears the end of his Drug Czar rein, McCaffrey has recently gotten Congressional approval for a 1.6 billion dollar aid package to Colombia to help fight drugs. Among the items in the package are nearly $400,000,000 dollars in helicopters to be manufactured by his military chums, as well as nearly $100,000,000 in pesticides and fungicides that will be spread over Colombia’s burgeoning coca plant and opium poppy fields. The primary fungicide, however, mutates quickly and is libel to be disastrous to Colombia’s biodiversity; moreover, in hospital studies it has been shown to have a human kill rate of 96% among those exposed to it who have compromised immune systems.
Oh, and the other billion? For guns, ammo and to pay the US Special Forces advisors we’re going to put there to train the Colombians. Vietnam, anyone?

The Cookie Chips Event
The most recent McCaffrey scandal was exposed on June 21, when the Scripps-Howard New Service revealed that Drug Czar’s office had placed “cookies” on the computers of an unknown number of unsuspecting visitors to ONDCP Web sites. Web users who typed drug terms such as “marijuana” or “weed” into several popular search engines were greeted by banner ads from the ONDCP. Clicking on most banners linked the curious to Freevibe.com, an ONDCP site aimed at young people, while simultaneously placing a cookie—a piece of code used to gather information on individual Web surfers—onto users’ computers.
What the cookies do is trace the user’s web movement; ie, if someone read the ONDCP banner and subsequently bought pot seeds from an illegal site, the people working for the ONDCP would know it. Get the picture? Some cookies even have the ability to scan, search and extract data from Internet users’ hard drives.
The ONDCP’s Don Maple assured the press that the cookies only collected “anonymous gross-number data” to determine which ads were the most effective, and promised the contractors would “destroy whatever data” had been collected, while the White House instantly distanced itself from the issue, claiming complete ignorance of the practice and promicing to “take all steps necessary to halt these practices now,” said spokesman Joe Lockhart.




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