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Friday, June 17, 2011

More on Outsourcing Drug War

Several days ago Border Lines reported on the study by Sen. Claire McCaskill's subcommittee on outsourcing counternarcotics operations in Latin America in Outsourcing the Drug War.  In that post, I noted: "The problem isn’t oversight or outsourcing. The central problem in U.S. counternarcotics funding and programming is the federal government’s continuing commitment to drug prohibition."
In a statement on her website, the Subcommittee chair Claire McCaskill (D-MO) claimed that this amounts to a failure in management, saying the U.S. is “wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we're getting in return.”
Interestingly, the Senator has also used her subcommittee position to denounce not just the lack of oversight of U.S. drug policy, but its efficacy as well. "It's becoming increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America, especially as it relates to the government's use of contractors, have largely failed,” said McCaskill.
Officials in the White House have loudly rejected such claims, and said that they are doing much more than previous administrations to stop the northward flow of drugs. According to a recent LA Times article, the Department of Homeland Security has seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more cash and 64 percent more weapons under the Obama administration than in the previous two and a half years.
While this may be true for recent years, the data on overall cocaine prices does not seem to reflect a reduction in supply, as InSight has pointed out. Instead, the long term price trend is overwhelmingly downward.
Ultimately, however, neither the issue of seizures or accountability is the major problem with U.S. drug policy. Drug trafficking is estimated to be a $35 billion per year industry, which is driven almost entirely by the high rates of drug consumption in the U.S. Until officials in this country effectively drive down this massive level demand, it is unlikely for either oversight reforms or increases in drug operations to end this hemisphere’s drug-fueled violence.

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