All Notebook Entries

  • Shooting the messenger in the war on drugs

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, N.J., recently announced that Jorge Reyeros was slated to be sentenced in April of this year for conspiring with his brother, Juan, and their Colombian contacts to smuggle 150 kilos of cocaine into the United States in 1999.

    Jorge Reyeros also was convicted of accessing a U.S. Customs Service computer without authorization. He is facing a prison sentence for his crimes of up to 30 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    On the surface, there is nothing remarkable about Reyeros’ story. He appears to be just another number in the war on drugs. But according to former U.S. Customs inspector John B. Conroy, Reyeros’ indictment in 2000 for his crimes should have happened some four years earlier – which is when Conroy first blew the whistle on his activities.

    For Conroy, the Reyeros case is emblematic of how law enforcement itself has been corrupted by the war on drugs.

  • U.S. Election: Ohio Lost?

    On January 7 on and reprinted January 10 on guerilla news network, Russ Baker reported that fraud did not change "the outcome of the most important presidential election in recent times."  Baker's expansive definition of fraud includes even voter suppression.  He wrote:

    The [House Judiciary Democrats'] report concludes that the "massive and unprecedented" voting irregularities in Ohio were in many cases caused by "intentional misconduct and illegal behavior."  Sounds like fraud to me.

    Baker then runs through a handful of claims, but he does not draw these claims from the report cited above (available in .pdf format).  Instead, he takes the claims from laywers suing to overturn the election, writing that the report takes much from the lawsuits.

    Baker finds only one claim to be true, the misallocation of voting machines, and states that this was "probably not" intentional.  He thus concludes in "Election 2004: Lost or Stolen" that it was lost.

    As he wrote about those ambitious lawyers he hung out with, Baker has good intentions but he is wrong.

  • Legalizing Drugs?

    The Supreme Court has taken a step in the right direction by giving judges more discretion at sentencing time. But we still have a long way to go. Unlike some, maybe most that read columns on this site, I am not in favor of total legalization of drugs. If I were, getting that done is an unattainable goal. It ain’t going to happen.
  • The Rule, Not the Exception -- The "Salvador Option" in Context

    Newsweek reports that the Pentagon is considering having U.S. Special Forces train death squads in Iraq, modeled on U.S. death squads in El Salvador.

    What Newsweek fails to note is that:

    1. This policy represents standard U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, employed around the world since the 1960's.  
    2. Two suspicious kidnappings in Iraq last year suggest that death squad activity may already exist in Iraq.
    3. The "Salvador Option" is not an extreme option being considered by a few neo-cons at the Pentagon, rather it reflects a policy that could easily develop bipartisan support, and which John Kerry may have been hinting at during the presidential campaign.
    4. The leak of the "Salvador Option" may be a conscious attempt to test the waters regarding public sentiment about Iraqi death squads and to pad the impact of later revelations about U.S. actions in Iraq.

  • Homeland Security softens secrecy directive, slightly

    Narco News reported earlier this year that The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) -- the government monolith created in the wake of 9/11 -- had adopted a draconian secrecy classification scheme for any information it deems sensitive.

    In a directive issued in May 2004, DHS created a new “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) classification process covering a wide range of information that the government bureaucracy deems “sensitive but unclassified.”  

    The directive required DHS employees and private contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements prior to being given access to FOUO information.

    However, Secrecy News, an e-mail bulletin put out by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, reports that DHS has now eliminated the non-disclosure agreement mandate for DHS employees.

  • The Salvador Option

    The latest Pentagon strategy under consideration, according to Newsweek, for the Iraq debacle has the hairs on the back of my neck rising. They intend to re-create the Salvadoran death squads using Kurdish and Shiite militia to pursue a more "aggressive" approach to quelling the so-called insurgents.

    [] [Newsweek article on MSNBC]

  • New Paraguay-Brazil Cocaine Smuggling Routes

    Yesterday's daily Folha de São Paulo (registration required), Brazil's largest newspaper, reports that a recent policy enacted by the Brazilian government to shoot down suspected drug smuggling airplanes has simply caused narco-smugglers to change their routes from the air to the land.

    It's the classic drug-war story of "the golf ball under the rug." You can swat down that bump in the carpet in one place, only to find that it will pop up somewhere else.

    And so it is with the failed policy of "interdiction" of drug shipments, as the Folha article explains...

  • Bolivia: El presidente Mesa dice "No me dejan gobernar"

    En un mensaje presidencial a la nación el presidente Carlos Mesa advierte a la población boliviana que renunciara si no le dejan gobernar, no está dispuesto a ejercer violencia y a actuar como su antecesor Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada en vista de las movilizaciones que se presentan en contra del alza de los carburantes y en busca de una nueva Ley de Hidrocarburos que recupere la propiedad de los hidrocarburos para los bolivianos.

    Mesa asegura estar respaldado por el 90% de la gente que respondió afirmativamente a las preguntas del Referéndum vinculante del gas, mientras que otras fuerzas políticas, que tienen entre el 5 y 7% de respaldo popular, hoy están interesadas en colocar un “candado” a su administración gubernamental.

  • Heroes of Democracy

    "For that night, that moment, this country was someplace I was proud to call home," writes library worker Vivien Lorelied in her account of the determined voters at the Shepard Branch Library in Columbus, Ohio— one of the precincts severely shortchanged of voting machines because Republican officials could predict the community's commitment to save the country from George W. Bush.

    Here is Lorelied's complete account, of people who show why democracy is worth fighting for:

  • Venezuela's Possible Black Golden Future

     While the Venezuelan ship of state, for a while, still encounters itself in the revolutionary doldrums, let us look at our black, golden future.

    Sometime ago, Alfredo Bremont wrote a most interesting commentary: "The US shooting Venezuelan (Russian built) MIGs could be really dangerous".

    He summed up the current politico-economic global context of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution as follows:

    "In this decade black gold has displaced the yellow one ... it is no longer how many billions of gold bars that a nation has in his national bank reserves that signify anything, but rather how many billions of petrol reserves you have. ... The Venezuelan bolivar should break away from parity with the US dollar and create its own measure ... Venezuelan oil reserves are valued more than gold bullion in a bank."

  • Wealthy Nations Give Haiti Under Dictatorship Aid Denied Democracy

    Three days ago the most powerful governments in the world confirmed their support of dictatorship over democracy in Haiti.  On January 6 the World Bank Group approved $73 million in loans and grants for the illegitimate and discredited government of the suffering nation, with the bulk of it to be distributed immediately.

    The money given previously has not consolidated the violent rule of this government.

  • Goings on in the Bolivarian Republic

    Greetings, Narconewsians, from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Right now, I´m watching Alo Presidente on the TV, broadcasting for the first time in 6 weeks from their new studio.
  • Simón Bolívar and the Art of a Country Called América

    Atop the webpage of Narco News is our motto, as originally spoken by General Simón Bolívar, who led the battles that liberated much of this hemisphere from foreign rule and imposition, a credo that guides our vision for this half of the world where we live and report: “The Name of Our Country Is América!”

    Last year a group of artists and readers of Narco News contacted me about their desire to bring this motto to a larger audience inside the United States, where General George Washington – who led the liberation of another large part of our hemisphere from European rule and imposition – appears on every dollar bill but the legacy of General Bolívar is largely unknown.

    Bolívar’s (and Narco News’) credo now appears prominently in Los Angeles, California (formerly part of Mexican territory), where the artists responsible for bringing this concept to a wider audience, Sabine Bitter and Helmut Webber, have raised it high above 6150 Wilshire Boulevard…

    The artists’ statement about this Boliviarian work, North of the Border, appears at the jump…

  • Elections and Protests Part III

    Elections and Protests Part III
    By Nancy Davies         December 26, 2004

        “Big Tent”, inclusionary politics is another word for tolerance. Tolerance is shorthand for “We’re different but we can tolerate each other.” It suggests, as the very word “party” suggests, that in a particular short-term situation we can get along. Historically, tolerance has implied that the top dog was willing to admit the bottom dog, that the ones with superiority or control were willing to bend.
        Disparities in power were never addressed by inclusion, and are not addressed now. How many of us screamed at Kerry to denounce the Iraq war? How many marched in the streets? How many letters and e-mails flew around the globe? And so what?
        Participatory politics intends to be a bottom up proposition. Participation is construction, of a different kind of entity, with all contributions equally valued and all contributors involved in the decision-making. If participation becomes “we’ll let you in” it has reverted to the bad old days and lost it’s meaning. Participation must do more than step over the gap of “irreconcilable differences”.

  • Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Mandatory Minimums

    At the time, I had no idea just how fortunate I was to have been busted when I was. The year was 1986, the arrest my second after a year spent as a fugitive in the remote mountains of Northern Mexico, an area referred to as the despoblado.

    While I awaited my sentence, the “new law” came into effect. I saw people coming in for similar offenses—smuggling drugs—only they were subject to a different standard than I was. Many of these inmates were unable to understand the legalese so I studied the guidelines to help decipher what they were facing. Not even their defense attorneys fully understood the implications of this new law.

  • Running out of minutes in the war on terror

    Do you feel safer since 9/11?

    Apparently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thinks we’re back to business as usual. How else can we explain the new national cell-phone contract recently put into place within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

    Remember, ICE is one of the DHS agencies on the front lines of the so-called wars on terror and drugs. But according to sources within DHS, federal bureaucrats apparently don’t want ICE agents to do much talking among themselves, or with their confidential informants, in the course of going into the battlefield in those wars.

  • Authentic Journalism Hasn't Arrived in the United States

    Today is Thursday, January 6, the day of the certification of the electors, and after this (part-time) reporter got home from his paying job he sought some true news about the challenge to this in Congress and the protests on the streets.  Where to look but the internet?  After trying,, and, I was forced to go to to find the bury-the-news headline "Bush carries Electoral College after delay" and the nearly information-free story that followed it.

    That CNN story proves the need for a network of authentic journalism that can at least report honestly on public events.

  • Congress Must Investigate Ohio Vote, say House Judiciary Democrats

    Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives called for thorough investigation of the disenfranchisement of voters in Ohio before the U.S. presidential election is certified in a report released yesterday:

    We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards.

    When Congress meets in joint session to certify the electoral college vote today, it appears "all but certain [as of early evening yesterday] that House Democrats had secured the support of up to half a dozen Senators to formally challenge the Electoral College slate from Ohio," reported Keith Olbermann at yesterday.

  • Portrait of a dope-smuggling cowboy

    Don Henry Ford Jr. is a polite fellow. He’s likely to end most sentences with “sir” or “ma’am” and has all the mannerisms of a down-to-earth Texas cowboy.

    And like many cowboys I’ve run across, Ford has a knack for telling stories. But in this cowboy’s case, the stories are true.

    Ford has a love for nature, for ranching, for growing crops, herding cattle and tending to horses. He’s ridden bucking broncos that can break your back, stared down bulls that will rip open your abdomen and delivered foals in the open range. Ford also can make refried beans from scratch, serve up a mouth-watering plate of Texas barbeque, raise crops on the scorched earth of West Texas and find water in the parched desert of northern Mexico.

    Yes, he is a true cowboy, who spent a good part of his youth on a ranch in West Texas along the Pecos River, where he learned that the only cash crop in that part of the world is the one that takes money out of a rancher’s pockets.

    That economic reality helped drag Ford into the heart of the drug war. That is Ford’s story, which he tells from the heart in his new book: Contrabando, Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy.

  • A Response to George Salzman's Open Letter

    My friend and fellow expat George has written me an “open letter” and published it on the Internet.

    I’ve never had an open letter addressed to me before. And neither Emily Post’s nor Quentin Crisp’s guides to good manners indicate what is the proper etiquette when receiving one. So I’ll improvise and respond simply as if it is a regular letter or email from a valued colleague and truth-teller…

  • Kerry Wins Ohio and the Presidency, Counting Uncounted and Prevented Votes

    People stand in place in a line turning a corner from the Shepard Branch Library, into the rain and the dark, down a hill and then a path in the woods.  "Oh my goodness," said the volunteer from Election Protection, four times, as she walked up the line and videotaped the citizens of this part of Columbus, Ohio.  Another volunteer who has monitored the situation all day at this precinct, 6C, explained that there were just three voting machines for more than 1,100 registered voters.  Waits have ranged from one to two-and-a-half hours, which is where it stood at 6 o'clock with at least 150 people in the line.  "Are you going to pass out food?" someone jokes to the Election Protection volunteer.  "We're waiting in line to vote.  We're waiting in line to vote," a Black woman's voice calls from the darkness.
  • Gary Webb on Military Penetration of Civilian Society

    They're doing it with video games.

    In Gary Webb's final weeks, The Sacramento News & Review published his piece on the U.S. military's devising and releasing some video games to recruit, profile its recruits, and generally penetrate civilian society. cover.asp.  Released so far are the shooter games "America's Army," "Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror," and the more tightly targeted recruitment tool "Special Forces."

    Some quotations from Webb's article:

  • The New Year's Military-Civilian Uprising in Peru

    "We may be through with the past but the past is not through with us."

    - Ricky Jay (from the film "Magnolia")

    A New Year's Eve rebel uprising takes the police station, and several blocks, by surprise, in the Peruvian town of Andahuyalas. The insurgents include - according to a report by Reuters - at least seven women soldiers. Their spokesman - Major Antauro Humala - is one of two brothers who led a similar rebellion against president-dictator Alberto Fujimori, a largely symbolic uprising that led to Fujimori's downfall.

    The other brother - Ollanta Humala - was recently purged from Peru's military and is in a kind of reserve exile in South Korea, where he had been sent as the military attaché of his country's Embassy.

    The rebels, according to Reuters, believe "in nationalizing industry and legalizing the coca crops that make cocaine." And they call for the resignation of President Alejandro Toledo - currently at only nine-percent support according to public opinion polls - as they did against Fujimori in the year 2000.

    Today, in the town square, after shaking the nation and the hemisphere with this bold act, Major Antauro Humala announced that at noon tomorrow (Monday) his 200-plus soldiers will lay down their arms and turn themselves in.

    There are two recent historic parallels: One in Mexico, the other in Venezuela... And history, again, as a New Year begins, knocks on the door of our América...

  • Connecting the dots in the House of Death

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release earlier this month announcing a plea agreement had been reached with an accused cigarette smuggler, Jorge Abraham. What the press release does not mention is that the Abraham case is linked to another major smuggling case involving Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who, U.S. prosecutors allege, is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes’ Juárez drug organization.

    Santillan is charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder allegedly carried out as part of a continuing criminal enterprise – a crime that can get him a death sentence in the U.S. justice system. A confidential informant, who allegedly had attained high standing within the Juarez organization, played a critical role in snaring Santillan.

    The informant’s name is Jesus Contreras, who is also known by the nickname “Lalo.”

    Narco News published a major exposé in late April of this year (called The House of Death) that revealed Contreras, as part of his role in infiltrating the Santillan organization, was implicated in a series of murders in Ciudad Juárez -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

    Between August 2003 and mid-January 2004, about a dozen people were tortured, murdered and then buried in the yard of a house in the Mexican border town. Contreras, according to sources, participated in many of those murders.

  • The Narco-Terrorist Who Came in From the Cold

    U.S. authorities have remained strangely silent regarding the Colombian government's decision to delay or cancel the extradition of AUC Chief Salvatore Mancuso on cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges.
  • Elections and Protests Part II

    Participation and  Democracy: Why aren’t the people the government?

    In the USA if you bring an uninvited guest to a sit-down meal you’re violating a profound commitment to exclusion. In Oaxaca, on the other hand,  the host is appreciative. The more the people who participate, the more confirmed everyone feels. One has support in what one undertakes, one is part of a community, and everyone provides mutual reification.

  • Bush's "victory" strongly contested in Ohio. Don't give up!

    The election is being strongly contested. Join in! Don't give up!

          This is not the time to fall into a state of depressed resignation over Bush’s supposed victory. Although the mainstream media has continued for almost two months now to foster a belief in the inevitability of renewed Republican rule for another four years, the chips aren’t all in yet. The corporate media is struggling mightily to hide them.

          Representative John Conyers of Michigan and his Democratic colleagues on the House Committee on the Judiciary have held meetings in Washington DC and in Columbus OH revealing the presence of massive fraud in Ohio. The website has substantial coverage, but in the so-called mainstream these revelations are . . .

  • Bolivian Bill to Nationalize Gas Feared by Foreign Interests

    The subhead of the December 20 Miami Herald article "Bolivia approves natural gas law" is enough to know that the proposed law is a victory, of sorts, for the social movements: "Law may stop investment in the sector, cause massive lawsuits."

    In November, Herald reporter Tyler Bridges wrote, the House gave preliminary approval to a Movement Toward Socialism measure to have the state unilaterally seize control of the natural gas reserves and impose an immediate and much higher tax than President Carlos Mesa proposed.

  • Guantanamo: Detainee torture in US operated prisons

    Here are some documents obtained under FOIA by the ACLU, detailing some of the torture techniques employed by the army investigators in Irag and at Guantanamo Bay. They are heavily edited and they don't reveal a lot of new information (it's been known for a while that the prisoners are being tortured), but they do link some of the torture techniques with executive orders signed by Bush.

  • En Bolivie il y a de l'eau dans le gaz...

    Comme dans beaucoup de pays dits « en développement » la question de la gestion de ressources naturelles et le coût d’accès à celles-ci est au cœur des conflits politiques boliviens. Un an après la « Guerre du Gaz », la gestion des hydrocarbures boliviens oppose de plus en plus les boliviens entre eux et sert de miroir de la ségrégation de plus en plus criante – non seulement dans la société bolivienne, mais des pays.

    Loin de se prétendre exhaustif, cet article retrace les événements qui ont conduit à la situation actuelle, où il y a de l’eau dans le gaz…

    *NOTA A LOS NARCONUSISTAS: Se trata de un articulo que intenta dar cierta perspectiva al problema del gas en Bolivia, destinado al publico francés que conoce poco la cuestion. Una version corregida aparecera en una revista trimestral independiente francesa. Una version en español estara disponible dentro de poco*

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