Satire is dead. Again.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it harder and harder to distinguish national “news” stories from those in The Onion. Take this one, in yesterday’s Washington Post:

U.S. blocks some anti-drug funds for Mexico over human rights concerns

Fifteen percent of the money provided for the Mexican military and police is subject to provisions that the country make progress on protecting human rights, including enforcing rules against torture and prosecuting people for forced disappearances.

This would be finger-wagging by the same United States that instituted a worldwide torture regime and rendition program—and still refuses, in violation of its international treaty obligations, to prosecute the architects? The same country that holds vast numbers of its enormous prison population in solitary confinement? Yes, we’re lecturing Mexico about torture and human rights, and refusing to give it some money to fight its powerful drug cartels—the very existence of which is a direct result of US demand. Jeezus fucking Christ.

The War on Drugs is an abject failure by any reasonable metric. You know it, I know it, and the US government has long known it too:

In 1986, the U.S. Defense Department funded a two-year study by the RAND Corporation, a private organization with a long and close relationship with the U.S. government, which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have little or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers. The 175-page study, “Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction,” was prepared by seven researchers, mathematicians and economists at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND, and was released in 1988. The study noted that seven prior studies in the past nine years, including one by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.

President George Bush Sr. disagreed, arguing that “the logic is simple. The cheapest way to eradicate narcotics is to destroy them at their source….We need to wipe out crops wherever they are grown and take out labs wherever they exist.”

We’ll bomb everywhere! It’ll be cheap! Let’s turn all the fertile land and jungles of Central and South America into ash-charred barren deserts. THE LOGIC IS SIMPLE, PEOPLE. There’s just no denying that.

It is perhaps worth mentioning here the fact that before serving two terms as veep in the Reagan administration, George H.W. Bush was a Director of the CIA. Anyway:

During the early- to mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study, again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three more times effective than the supply-side “war on drugs”. President Clinton’s drug czar’s office disagreed with slashing law enforcement spending.

Obviously the drug war is wildly successful as a pretext for the exploitation of Latin America on behalf of US-based banks and multinationals, and generates an endless stream of profits for weapons manufacturers and private prisons. WIN-WIN. Nevertheless, the very premise of the entire Post article requires us all to pretend that there is a military, law enforcement and incarceration solution to the illicit drug trade, when over here in the real world, there just… isn’t.

Similarly, as I’ve noted before, domestic mass surveillance programs do not work for their alleged purposes, and they are being used on targets that have nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever. Don’t you think those two facts should be highlighted in every news report about these programs? Headlines like these should be the norm:

Failed terrorist surveillance programs now targeting reporters and editors at The Associated Press.

NSA’s useless terrorist surveillance data now used to secretly tip off local police to suspected drug activity: cops paper over source of information, claim it’s only about 60 percent accurate anyway.

NSA, FBI and CIA agents say they can flush out terrorists by playing World of Warcraft all day: “deconfliction” groups ensure they aren’t accidentally spying on each other instead. 

If the truth is not Onion-worthy, well, I don’t know what is.

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