Saturday, June 25, 2011

Failed drug war fueled by hiring private contractors

Billions spent on defense contractor programs renders little results

Washington – According to two Congressional reports released last week, the federal government is throwing money at the drug problem – most of it spent with defense contractors – and has no idea what it's getting in return.

A Senate subcommittee report released on Wednesday shows contract spending increased 32% over the 5-year period 2005 to 2009, with Falls Church, Va., based DynCorp leading the pack of 5 corporations sharing the largest portion at $1.1 billion.

That company is followed by Lockheed Martin, Raython, ITT and ARINC, according to the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return, said Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight.

The contractors are paid to perform surveillance on boats and planes headed for American shores, train overseas police forces on investigative and interdiction programs, and to train foreign cops on how to use the sophisticated gear with which the Defense Department supplies them, while at the same time spraying herbicide on crops of opium poppies, marijuana and coca.

The resulting carnage in Mexico alone has cost the lives of 40,000 people over the past 4 years.

“The effort has had corrosive effects on every country it has touched, said Bruce Bagley, an expert in U.S. Anti-Narcotic efforts and chairman of international studies at the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida.

A high level group of foreign critics joined the chorus, including former Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations, past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, all of whom recommended that local governments try legalizing and regulating drugs to help stop the flood of cash taken in by drug cartels and other organized crime syndicates.

Two unintended results of the American programs have been to push the cartels deeper into central America and to step up the surveillance programs and wiretapping methods used to trace cellphone and internet transmissions.

For instance, during a visit to El Salvador in February, William Brownfield, who heads the Department of State's anti-drug programs, opened a wiretapping center in San Salvador and an office to share fingerprints with United States law enforcement agencies.

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