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Dear mom, letters from the war

A civil servant, be it Immigration, Customs, Border Patrol is likely to have a combat veteran as supervisor at some level. Or is my assumption wrong?  Might prove a good project for the Government Accounting Office. How many law enforcement officers are combat veterans? If they could answer with anonymity, a series of questions would flush out those that likely had a degree of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and dose of Political Betrayal Trauma -- a hard cocktail for human consumption it now appears, but little has been said about it for lay-people -- all the 'us' out there, living and working with combat veterans.

My father was one, and my brother did his share of training and supervising co-workers in the field. Both of them had Marine Corps training, thought in military terms even around the house, and so we might ask when we ponder this leadership quagmire in Law Enforcement Agencies -- who are they? What makes them tick?

I introduce my father, through letters to his mother during World War II -- Earl Edward Callahan. I do not 'doctor' the racist language -- as these World War II vets, recruited to build border security following World War II were not unlike my father, and likely made up the bulk of the men on the Border Patrol in the late 40's and 50's -- some backdrop for agency problems today, perhaps. For any pain it brings to readers, I'm sorry.

Open Thread


Talk about whatever you want, here.

Sin Fronteras, sin ética... y ojalá pronto sin dinero I

Los últimos años, Reporteros Sin Fronteras (RSF) se ha dedicado a trabajar cobarde y mafiosamente en contra de Cuba y Venezuela, dejando la ética periodística de lado cuando se trata de esos países. Igualmente, han ignorado casos de ataques a periodistas o cambiaron de postura cuando sus intereses políticos y económicos pudieron ser afectados. Sin embargo, esta serie de acciones podría terminar en los próximos días: RSF enfrenta una demanda de poco más de 1,400.000 dólares que podría terminar con el cierre de sus oficinas... y todo por utilizar ilegal (y suciamente) la célebre foto del Che Guevara tomada por el cubano Alberto Korda.

En este contexto, me parece por demás interesante revisar y repasar algunas de las acciones más conocidas de RSF y de Robert Ménard, su director, quien ha sido acusado de ser un agente de la CIA en varias ocasiones... esperando que el juicio que enfrentan llegue, creo que no está de más...

An Authentic Journalist in Haiti

A correspondent for a major United States daily newspaper, who just returned from Haiti, wrote me this letter today:

I'm glad to see you've opened the forum on the question of whether Aristide resigned. Well done!

Click "links/comments" to

What's really happening in Venezuela?

As most of us focus on the latest Narcocoup in Haiti, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asserts his legitimacy and warns the US away from futher intervention.

A new buzz - Political Betrayal Trauma

Having more reason, than time to focus on the myriad of feelings that comes with civil service and corruption, my brother's prison sentence lends me time to ponder, with 14 seemingly endless years and counting . . .

A common emotion rolls through each never-ending session; roars up, entwining with crushing force; surfaces again. It is absolutely underlying, cloying, persistent throughout. I find it in people and circumstance that still, years later, I'm forced to consider. It is the hardest issue to confront, reason enough to start notebooks, diaries or blogs, no doubt, the stuff made of madness throughout. It's an emotion, and also a human act.

AFP: Aristide Didn't Resign...

According to Agence France Press:

A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.

"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.

"The Americans forced him out with weapons.

"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.

"(Aristide) was not happy. He did not want to be taken away. He did not want to leave. He was not able to fight against the Americans..."

First newspaper to run with this is in Australia.

Now, his own foreign minister was on CNN earlier today confirming the resignation. But, come to think of it, we haven't seen any resignation letter, we haven't seen or heard audio or video from Aristide since he supposedly "resigned" and...

...that's exactly what happened two years ago in the first hours of the Venezuela coup. The press said the president had resigned, when he had been kidnapped.

(Thanks to Dennis Bernstien of KPFA Flashpoints Radio in San Francisco for alerting us to this report.)


Jamaica: Step Closer to Ganja Legalization

The Jamaica Observer
reports today:

The parliamentary committee that was given the job of reviewing the report of the National Commission on Ganja has recommended the acceptance of its proposal that the personal use of small amounts of marijuana be decriminalised...

We... sense that the mood in Jamaica is tolerant towards the proposed change... In this regard we expect that amendments to reflect the changes in the law will come to the House early in the new session, which starts in April...

The fact... is that to maintain the laws on ganja use as they currently are, would be to keep legislation out of step with popular sentiment and the society's instinct for justice and fair play.

The point is that Jamaicans, of all social classes, hardly view marijuana as a "drug" in the way they perceive cocaine or some other narcotic. Small amounts of ganja are culturally acceptable...

And that's the official editorial position of the newspaper.

A Letter from Tim Meehan of Pot TV

Dear Friends of Authentic Journalism:

We're at a very unique and special time in the history of our planet: Voices of marginalized peoples are now on the same level of those called on by the establishment media, thanks to the Internet.

With that in mind, I hope you will carefully consider a donation to the Fund for Authentic Journalism...

Mexico City DA Reiterates in Favor of Decriminalization

The District Attorney of one of the largest cities in the world, Bernardo Batíz of Mexico City, continued this week his public education efforts to explain why decriminalizing drug users would make for a safer city, more room in prison for violent criminals, and more effective law enforcement.

According to a report last night on the national Channel 11 News, Batíz lectured a city judge about overcrowding in the city's jails and prisons:

"There are places that are overpopulated by 100, 200 or 300 percent, where you put three or four times as many people as there should be per meter, and this harms security," Batíz warned Judge Luis Rodríguez Manzanera...

He also insisted that drug consumption should be legalized: "That can be a path to end the mafias. It is the path, also, to succeed in the rehabilitation or cure of those who are addicts, it would make that possible," he said.

Months ago, when Batíz, of the Center-Left Democratic Revolution Party, called for decriminalization, some beautiful losers claimed he wasn't serious (and they confused him with national prosecutors of a competing political party). But Batíz keeps up the fight!

Hispanic agents confront racism in U.S. Customs

The federal judge hearing a class-action discrimination case filed by a group of Hispanic U.S. Customs agents has handed down a ruling that is a major victory for the agents, according to their attorney, Ron Schmidt.

Customs was seeking to have the agents’ case dismissed upfront -- on summary judgment -- before legal discovery and a trial. The judge's ruling stopped that effort in its tracks.

The class-action lawsuit, which was filed in May 2002 on behalf of some 400 active and former Hispanic special agents, alleges that Customs has engaged in a pattern of discrimination. That discrimination, the lawsuit claims, dates back to the 1970s.

In addition to back-pay and compensatory damages, the Hispanic agents are asking the court to order Customs to cease its “illegal and discriminatory conduct," the lawsuit states.

In its pleadings for summary judgment, Customs claims that the Hispanic agents failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to them outside of federal court. Customs also argues that the agents failed to meet the legal threshold for demonstrating discrimination.

Argentina City Councilor Proposes to Decriminalize Drugs

According to the El Ciudadano newspaper, City Councilor Ricardo Barrera, of the Socialist Party in Rosario, Argentina, "wants the Council to approve a declaration to discuss changes in the current law…"

I've translated some excerpts for your reading pleasure…

Enter the Authentic Letter Scholarship Contest

This year's full session of The School of Authentic Journalism promises to be better than ever.  An absolutely astounding faculty of gifted and renowned journalism professionals is being put together for this intensive ten-day program, and this year's campus has the space for a significantly larger student body. This can mean more journalism students than ever before and more Authentic Journalists, trained in the skills, ethics, and issues of reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America, who will be challenging mass media distortions in the years to come.  

The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism has offered one scholarship slot to The Fund for Authentic Journalism as a special incentive to help us to recruit good writers in our fundraising campaign on behalf of Narco News.  This scholarship provides the ability for somebody to attend the ten-day session, tuition free, with room and board included.  Narco News already has a rigorous application process for finding the most promising scholarship applicants. Duplicating it didn't seem to make sense. Since the art of good writing and the art of successful fundraising are so entwined, here is what we're going to do:

Announcing:  The Authentic Letter Scholarship Contest


Red-baiting white paper

Given all the recent media hype over the CIA's lack of good intelligence on Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion of that country, it's easy to backburner the fact that this nation's intelligence agencies also were accused of dropping the ball with respect to the 9/11 terrorists.

Now CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Intelligence Agency top gun Lowell Jacoby are all over the news telling us that, beyond Al Qaeda, we face an even greater threat from as-yet-unknown terrorists groups who are being spurred on in the wake of rising anti-Americanism.

Gee, I wonder why we're ticking so many people off? In any event, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots and predict that because there's a rising tide of rage against the United States, there is likely more fuel being thrown on the fire of terrorism.

But what isn't being asked often enough in the media is what the current administration was focusing on prior to 9/11 in terms of perceived terrorist threats. A little-notice report prepared for the Department of Energy (DOE) some five months prior to 9/11 offers some clues.

It seems, according to that report, that some elements of the Bush administration were concerned about a potential rise in "left wing" terrorism. The title of the report says it all: Left-Wing Extremism: The Current Threat.

Warlords and Whistleblowers, civil service and cynicism

Bill Conroy's, Borderline Security has prompted me to begin this notebook, blog, or diary.

Why do we have warlords or whistleblowers, and fewer civil servants in between the extremes? The topic begs for discussion, and I have some personal thoughts of my own to share.

My father was a combat veteran of World War II, my mother a suburban pioneer with a lifetime of hurt behind her -- or thinking so when I came along in 1953. Growing up on white bread and thousands of bloody war stories, my oral history was punctuated by fantastic tales of survival in the 'hardest times there were.' The Great Depression and World War II were as steady a stream in our home as tea, coffee and old friends. I was raised under the shadow of remarkable events.

I was never sure if I was supposed to be grateful for growing up in cold war peace, and shopping ample aisles of grocery stores, or to feel guilty that I was. So I did both.

My public education included 'duck and cover' exercises in school.  People who love peace, having lots of enemies -- a tired line, revived today -- was literally drilled into me as a child.

"How is that supposed to keep us alive if the A-bomb hits?" I would ask my teacher, after we pulled our terrified bodies from under our desks. Furthermore, how do you study after a near death experience?