Sunday, January 31, 2010

More of Obama Continuing the Bush Legacy...

... this time in the drug war.

Remember when Obama said that it didn't make sense to expend federal resources on marijuana prosecutions in states that had passed medical marijuana laws?

Well, his new nomination for head of the DEA knocks that in the head- it's Michele Leonhart, who has been the acting director since 2007 and was assistant director since 2004:

...a career DEA agent who has been the agency's deputy administrator since March 2004 and its acting administrator since November 2007. That means she oversaw all those gratuitous raids on medical marijuana providers in California, continuing well into the Obama administration despite his promised change of course.

Last February The Washington Times reported that Obama planned to suspend the DEA's raids once he "nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers." Leonhart was the most conspicuous and important of those holdovers. The Times quoted a White House spokesman who said, "The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind." Although that assurance did not, strictly speaking, constitute a promise to change the senior leadership at the DEA, that's the way it sounded. Now what? It certainly seems implausible that the hard-line drug warrior who was all for circumventing state medical marijuana laws when she was only the acting DEA administrator will have a change of heart now that her position is more secure.

But maybe she might moderate her position somewhat under Obama? Don't bet on it: was Leonhart who overruled a DEA administrative law judge's recommendation that University of Massachusetts at Amherst scientists be allowed to produce marijuana for research, a function currently monopolized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is more interested in showing how dangerous marijuana is than in exploring its medical utility.

And it's not just marijuana, as this follow-up article states:

She was also enthusiastic about the federal government's crackdown on raves, telling The New York Times in 2001 that "some of the dances in the desert are no longer just dances, they're like violent crack houses set to music." But the most disturbing detail mentioned by the Chronicle is Leonhart's steadfast defense of Andrew Chambers, "who earned an astounding $2.2 million for his work as a DEA informant between 1984 and 2000" but "was caught perjuring himself repeatedly."

. . .

Another Leonhart statement on Chambers is even more shocking, as much for what it says about Leonhart as for what Leonhart says about Chambers. "The only criticism (of Chambers) I've ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand," she said, adding that once prosecutors check him out, they will agree with his DEA admirers that he is "an outstanding testifier."

That's right- Obama has nominated a law enforcement official who supports suborning perjury for the sake of a conviction- to the tune of, in one "informant's" case, over $2,000,000.

Today, friends, I really am not seeing the Change I voted for. Not an ounce of it.

No comments: