by Scott Morgan, February 14, 2011, 10:03pm
Kevin Ring has an appalling piece in The Daily Caller spelling out the careless and politically-motivated process through which new drug laws are created. This is some really jaw-dropping stuff.
I know it happens because I did it. I had the high honor of working as a counsel for then-Senator Ashcroft on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the late 1990s. After deciding to forgo a presidential run in 2000 and instead focus on keeping his Senate seat in Missouri, Ashcroft needed to show he was focused on the threats facing the Show Me State — and none was scarier at that time than the growing menace of methamphetamine abuse and production. Meth was becoming known as the crack of rural America. We drafted a bill to impose the same mandatory minimum sentences on meth trafficking that applied to crack.
People can debate whether the effects of this law have been good or bad, but I can tell you that when we put the bill together, I did not know half of what I should have known. I did not know what the average sentence imposed on meth traffickers was at the time, whether those sentences were sufficient at deterring use, whether alternatives to prison might have been more effective at reducing recidivism, or how much these new, longer sentences would cost the federal government. These are things policymakers — or, at least, the staff they entrust to craft their legislation — should know before making national policy.
If I did not know these critical facts as the lead staffer on the bill, how little did other Hill staffers (and their bosses) know when they agreed to let this bill pass? I know this for certain: If someone had objected, I would have recommended that we accuse the objector of not being serious about saving Americans from this deadly threat.
This is just incredible. Rarely, if ever, have we seen the twisted agendas and rank idiocy of drug war politics displayed with such precision. Indeed, only a true insider could issue such a devastating indictment and I have no doubt that the countless other guilty parties will be quick to single out Ring as a hack seeking to tarnish the broader anti-drug effort by exposing his own incompetence.
Unfortunately for them, this story couldn't more perfectly diagnose the origins of the ill-conceived fiasco that festers before us. The credibility of Ring's account is upheld by the tragically obvious fact that nothing else could possibly explain the magnitude of the errors that have long characterized Washington's mindless anti-drug crusade. These people were never looking for solutions to anything except their own immediate political interests and they've left a legacy of incalculable waste and destruction as a result.