JERRY BROWN ON DRUGS AND STATE POWER
"THAT'S THE WAY I SEE IT"
Guilty until proven innocent! The Supreme Court has turned the Bill of Rights upside down and joined the Congress of the United States in a massive assault on the liberties of the American people. Little children now may be subjected to government drug tests without a scintilla of evidence-or even suspicion-of drug use. In a 6-3 ruling on a school district case out of central Oregon, the Court decided that every child, in order to play badminton or volleyball or football or handball, can be asked to provide a sample of urine to a stranger, to the government, to some school operative. Here's what Associate Justice Scalia said: "It seems to us self-evident that a drug problem largely fueled by the role-model effect of athletes' drug use is effectively addressed by making sure that athletes don't use drugs.
Is there a study to prove that a drug problem is "largely fueled by the role-model effect of athletes' drug use"? How do we know this is what's fueling the drug problem and not the 23 billion dollar-a-year drug war that is raising the price of drugs astronomically-an irresistible pressure for young people and others in our society? What about the drug problem fueled by the enforcement agencies, by the intelligence agencies, by the U.S. government giving money to corrupt drug-running generals in Haiti and Columbia and Central America-all part of the foreign policy in Central America under Reagan and Bush?
In Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America, Dennis Daley, former chief of an elite DEA enforcement unit, said, "In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration, the major targets of my investigations invariably turned out to be working for the CIA." Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, in Cocaine Politics, point to Washington's covert operations overseas as "a major factor in generating changes in the overall pattern of drug flows in the United States." Their book has been out for three years and no one has disputed their findings about the Vietnam-generated heroin epidemic of the '60s, the Afghan-generated heroin epidemic of the '80s, and the Central American cocaine epidemic of the Reagan years made possible by the Reagan-Bush covert operation to overthrow the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was right there, opened branches in notorious drug centers in South America and in Florida, handled accounts for 200 drug traffickers and tax evaders, laundered nearly one billion dollars in Colombian drug profits. So what's the government doing about that? Nothing! They let them off the hook. They settled the case. They copped out. So much for drug-testing the kids!
This is an effort to insinuate a fascist idea in the vulnerable, impressionable minds of young children who have to give up a precious right, even before they're aware they have it, in order to play sports. When are people more vulnerable than standing naked in the bathroom, providing a urine sample? Once you do that, it's embedded in your mind. You, as a person, have no dignity. What do they do when they torture people, when they interrogate people? They take their clothes off! That's what they're doing here. When Big Brother says, "Take down your pants and urinate in this little bottle, so we can take it to a laboratory and then tell you whether you're good or bad"-that's a very insidious, destructive lesson. That's not going to teach someone to be independent, to be a critical thinker, to have that spirit of rebellion that built this country. That's another step forward in creating a nation of sheep in a totalitarian state, saying, "Yes sir, yes sir! Is that what you want? Do it to me again!" By the time they graduate, kids won't even know they have rights. They'll be little stooges for a fascist state.
Here's what else Scalia said: "Deterring drug use by our nation's school children is at least as important as enhancing enforcement of the nation's laws against the importation of drugs." Making our laws effective against importing drugs would be great. Tell that to the FBI and the CIA and the Reagan and Bush administrations, the people bringing the stuff into Maine and Arkansas, and the people who were swapping guns and drugs as part of the Iran/Contra! But why would a law against importing a drug be the same as random, invasive searches of the bodies of our nation's school children? The two are not comparable at all.
Justice Scalia said the physical invasion would be negligible. "The conditions of undergoing a drug test are nearly identical to those typically encountered in public restrooms." In other words, when a man is standing next to a urinal, that can be equated to a government agent telling you to provide a sample of your urine out of your body? Having to offer up bodily fluid is a violation of your right not to incriminate yourself!
Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in dissent, "This ruling means that millions of student athletes, an overwhelming majority of whom have given school officials no reason whatsoever to suspect they use drugs at school, are open to an intrusive bodily search." The dissenters blasted the majority for ignoring years of precedent requiring individualized suspicion of wrongdoing for government searches. They criticized intrusive blanket searches of school children, most of whom are innocent. The High Court has only upheld suspicionless drug testing in the past in a case of train railroad personnel involved in train accidents and federal customs officers who carry weapons or who are involved in drug interdiction.
Here's what the White House had to say about the decision. Clinton welcomed it. (If Clinton's two appointees had voted the other way, the case would have been struck down.) He said, "It sends exactly the right message to parents and students. Drug use will not be tolerated at our schools." Clinton, you're dead wrong! This isn't the right message! It tells parents they do not really have children who belong to them. Their children can be tested and probed and poked and looked at and used for somebody's campaign. Clinton is jumping on this because he needs to win over the South; he needs some conservative cover.
Lee Brown, the czar of national drug policy, hailed the ruling saying, "It gives school districts around the country another weapon in their arsenal to combat drug use and drug related violence among America's youth." Get that! Another weapon! The children are the enemy, folks, as is your freedom! Make no mistake about it. We have 44 million children from kindergarten through high school. How many tens of millions of drug searches? How often?
Sandra Day O'Connor said, "It cannot be too often stated that the greatest threats to our constitutional freedoms come in times of crisis. I cannot avoid the conclusion that the suspicionless policy of testing all student athletes sweeps too broadly and too imprecisely to be reasonable under the constitution."
Real kudos to Sandra Day O'Connor, John Paul Stevens, and David Souter. Their dissent points out that mass searches without suspicion of wrongdoing have been illegal for most of U.S. history. Now the war is in the classroom, another step in getting Americans to accept the loss of liberty, the loss of the Fifth Amendment, the right not to incriminate themselves-and doing it in the most infamous, deceitful, despicable way, to kids who don't have the maturity and the critical faculty to fight back!
School is about teaching children. If the child doesn't do well, if the child doesn't pay attention, if he is stumbling along the field high as a kite, if there's a report of drug use-fine, take action. On the other hand, if you can't tell that anything's wrong, why do you need a drug test? In that case, the kid is not going to be a "role model for using drugs," is he? Either way, there is no justification for this invasive testing of kids' bodily fluids. I remember being in high school when a bunch of the football players went to the field house where they got drunk one night and tore the place up. They were punished, but they weren't kicked out, and there was no testing. People could figure this stuff out. To bring in the apparatus of a licensed drug testing, profit-making company and then start applying this to 40 million U.S. kids and then feed that back into our taxes, how in the world are we going to have enough money to teach the kids what they're supposed to learn? And who do you think is going to lobby for these tests? When you're on the school board, running for election, you're going to want some money, right? Drug testing pays back potential campaign contributors and creates a gigantic multi-million dollar industry that, I promise you, a year from now will be ten times as big as it is today. Here the system is creating an industry around the drug issue when it does nothing to stop the corrupt military that moves the drugs, and the big banks that are all in cahoots with the President and the big shots in the Congress. That is where the problem is-not a bunch of little kids who don't even exhibit symptoms.
Do you think a good private school is going to have random drug testing? They wouldn't need it. The parents would scream bloody murder. People who come out of upper-class families go to private schools where there's no testing. And if the government said they were going to test for alcohol, you can be sure that Budweiser and all the big liquor companies would kill it. See? Look at what this is-politics, pure and simple!
Let me be real clear about the whole matter of drugs and terrorism. The government is looking at poor people in ghettos, they're looking at peasants in the hills of Peru and Colombia, they're looking at school children to get their urine samples, but they're not looking at the politicians, the enforcement intelligence agencies, their buddies the bankers, the jet-setters, and all the other big shots that are bringing the drugs into this country. And all the while they're coming up with new stuff like the Anti-terrorism Bill which enlarges government in frightening, unprecedented ways.
Here is the final coup de grace to American freedom. I'm reading from Section 315 of the latest House Bill to combat terrorism. The new definition of terrorism means "the use of force in violation of the criminal laws of the United States, or of any state, that appears to be intended to achieve political or social ends by intimidating a segment of the population or by influencing a government official or officials." Is that terrorism, or is that labor union activity? Is that terrorism or civil rights sit-ins? Is that citizens acting in solidarity? Is that a consumer boycott? Is that a scuffle out there while having protected associational rights to march down a street? With Section 315, there is no more dissent! Forget it! The police can push you around, get a few people to start a few fights and pretty soon there is a terrorist act because you've broken the peace, some kind of disturbance. It didn't say it had to be a felony. It said it had to be a criminal law of a state or the United States. This is federalizing under the term terrorism every two-bit criminal statute that may happen to exist in this country. And there are tens of thousands of them.
You don't even have to intend to achieve a political or social end by your act. It just has to appear that way. The other element is intimidating some people, some segment of the population, or influencing a government official. Some civil rights/civil disobedience marching could get out of hand-a very minor violation of law. But converted into "terrorism"-a federal crime-wiretapping, infiltration, surveillance, draconian penalties, the entire weight of government can now be invoked against you. That's what's happening. This is not your local police. This is a federal government, that apparently knows no limit.
The bill would also make nonviolent, peaceful, protected political activity into a crime and impose a ten-year imprisonment on citizens and deportation of non-citizens for doing nothing more than supporting lawful activities of an organization that engages in both lawful and unlawful activities. The net here is going to be very hard to escape if you should oppose the government.
This bill authorizes unlimited preventative detention, preventative surveillance (surveilling people before they do wrong). David Cole, a lawyer who testified at the hearing, said, "These bills [the anti-terrorism bills going through Congress] would have the effect of authorizing, indeed obligating, the FBI to investigate, infiltrate, and conduct surveillance on a myriad of domestic charitable, religious, and political organizations that provide humanitarian aid and political support for organizations engaged in struggle abroad."
It's called anti-terrorism, but it's really a blanket authority on the part of the state to snuff out any kind of opposition. Dissent, civil disobedience, used to be a proud tradition in this country, practiced by Martin Luther King. It's the way Ghandi liberated India. It has been the stuff of American independence, and it's about to be snuffed out, with the media quiet and complicit, the liberal and conservative politicians, like yapping dogs, going along with Clinton to prop him up so that they can get themselves a buddy in the White House again.
This is bigger and wider than the Communist control net. This is making Joe McCarthy look like a piker. Joe McCarthy had a reign of terror with his insinuations and innuendoes against anybody who was red, pink, or a fellow traveler. Now they've got a word that is much more elastic. They've got terrorist. And to top it off Clinton starts his pro-police expansion of the death penalty operation. The NRA gets an unfavorable story because they've been attacking the ATF. Now the IRS is going after them. I've never been a big NRA supporter but I find it very suspicious that all this stuff comes down in the same 30 days. Step by step, they are shaping the laws of this country, and now they are working on the minds of children to get them habituated to bowing down to increasing government authority.
When I say the U. S. government is taking another step down the road to totalitarianism, I'm not just saying that for rhetorical effect. There is a systematic movement to extinguish the liberties of the American people. If the American people do not begin to resist very soon, their capacity to do so will be severely curtailed. Please call "We The People," in Oakland, 1-800-426-1112 or write us at 200 Harrison St., Oakland, CA 94607. We'll send you some material and ask you to join our efforts. Together we can build a new movement of real democratic activism.
Material for this article was excerpted and edited by Doret Kollerer from Jerry Brown's "We The People" radio broadcasts. North Coast XPress, August/September, 1995
Copyright 1996, We The People Organization