Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rumsfeld Proposes Pullout on Drug Effort

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to end Army helicopter support for a joint U.S.-Bahamas drug-interdiction program that over the past two decades has resulted in hundreds of arrests and the seizure of tons of cocaine and marijuana.

The Army's seven Blackhawk helicopters and their crews form the backbone of Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration credits with helping drive cocaine and marijuana smugglers away from the Bahamas and its easy access to Florida.

But in a May 15 letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Rumsfeld said it was time after more than 20 years to shift the equipment elsewhere. The military is being stretched thin by the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and other commitments around the globe.

The Bahamas anti-drug program, Rumsfeld wrote, "now competes with resources necessary for the war on terrorism and other activities in support of our nation's defense, with potential adverse effects on the military preparedness of the United States."

The letter asks Gonzales to help identify "a more appropriate agency" to provide the air support. Rumsfeld said he wants to complete the military pullout from the program by Oct. 1, 2007.

Rumsfeld (now hypocritical) quote on the drug issue:

Drugs are an enormous problem for the world. The damage that it does to human lives and the million of dollars that it puts in the hands of criminals, terrorists, hostage takers, people who are trying to deny freedom and opportunity to other people; it poses a very serious threat to the world. Drugs are fueling terrorism and terrorist networks and it is something that like-thinking people need to work together to deal with. It is a regional problem, it is a global problem in a very real sense. It is not simply a problem that one country can deal with alone. The drug problem, if you isolate it, is in many respects a demand problem as well as supply problem and it is an education problem. I don’t know how much more education the world ought to need, when you see the carnage from heroine and cocaine, spread in country after country, the human damage that is done. But it is more than just that problem. Those billions of dollars are available to people who are willing to sell drugs and do that damage and who are antisocial, who do not believe in legitimate governments, and free people, and civil societies, and normal behavior. They are people who take hostages; they are people who try to terrorize other people. It is in the interest of all like-thinking people who want to be free and want to live sensible lives to be against that with determination and conviction. As I say, I am enormously impressed with this national security team’s conviction as well as the success that it achieves.


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