Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Little Grudging Respect For Bob Barr

Back in August of this year I came across this at The Libertarian Enterprise:

“Bob Barr (who was knocked out of office by anti-drug-war libertarians) voted for the Patriot Act, was active in pursuing the war on drugs, he helped weaken habeus corpus appeals, voted to establish the Department of Homeland Security, and he worked for the CIA.” ~Kat Kanning, Funeral for the Libertarian Party

At the time I said

That’s really not what I have against Bob Barr. Not that he did these things, we’ve all done bad thing. I know I have. It is that he has not renounced and made amends for the things he’s done.

  • If he were to come out and say voting for the Patriot Act was a mistake and wrong and that as President he would not seek to tinker with it, but to repeal it completely

  • If he were to abjectly apologize for the people he helped to send to prison for non-violent drug offenses and offer complete pardons with restitution

  • If he were to advocate repealing the Military Commissions Act, abolishing the Department of Homeland Security and make public his knowledge of all CIA operations that did not impact immediate immanent national security threats;
If he were to do all these things then I would support him with my time and my money and vote for him in a heart beat.

Till then? Not a chance.

Well, today I came across this.

It is obvious that, like Prohibition's effort to eradicate alcohol usage, drug prohibition has not succeeded. Despite enormous law enforcement efforts -- including the dedicated service of many thousands of professional men and women -- the government has not halted drug use. Indeed, the problem is worse today than in 1972, when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase "War on Drugs."

Whether we like it or not, tens of millions of Americans have used and will continue to use drugs. Yet in 2005 we spent more than $12 billion on federal drug enforcement efforts. Another $30 billion went to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

These people must live forever with the scarlet letter P for prison. Only luck saved even presidents and candidates for president from bearing the same mark, which would have disqualified them from not only high political office, but also many more commonplace jobs.

We simply must bring our system back into balance. First, the federal government should get out of the "drug war" and allow states to determine their own drug policies. Rather than continuing to arrest and imprison people for offenses that do not directly harm other people, we should focus federal law enforcement on crimes involving serious fraud or violence, with identifiable victims. Even then, only where there is a clear and specific federal interest, should the federal government be involved.

As president, I would also begin dismantling the vast bureaucracies that have grown up as part of the drug war. My drug "czar" would diminish rather than expand the office. Importantly, the vast power of the federal government would no longer be employed to override the decision of the citizens of the states to reform their drug laws.

I also would review my presidential pardon and commutation powers as a possible means to reduce the number of people in federal prison for non-violent drug offenses. We can no longer afford the human and economic costs of imprisoning so many thousands of people for drug possession. This is the most destructive impact of drug prohibition. Federal Drug War Rethought, by Bob Barr...
OK, it's a start. Patriot Act? Military Commissions Act?

I'm still waiting.

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