Legalize This and Prosecute That

Marijuana and torture, respectively

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent - and short - post today about the similarity between the Wars on Drugs and Terror. The ending paragraph is so awesome it needs no comment:
It's the perfect deceit. [The Wars on Drugs and Terror], in an endless loop, sustain and strengthen the very menaces which, in turn, justify their continuous escalation. These wars manufacture the very dangers they are ostensibly designed to combat. Meanwhile, the industries which fight them become richer and richer. The political officials those industries own become more and more powerful. Brutal drug cartels monopolize an unimaginably profitable, no-competition industry, while Terrorists are continuously supplied the perfect rationale for persuading huge numbers of otherwise unsympathetic people to join them or support them. Everyone wins -- except for ordinary citizens, who become poorer and poorer, more and more imprisoned, meeker and meeker, and less and less free.
Pot leafWhile Greenwald is widely recognized as one of the best (or worst, if you're batting for the other team) commentators on U.S. terrorism policy, he is also an important voice for the decriminalization of drugs. He wrote a comprehensive report earlier this year on Portugal's experience with decriminalization. And he wrote an op-ed today about Proposition 19 in California, which seeks to legalize marijuana. No argument from me. The War on Drugs has been so destructive and the tax revenue that legalization would generate so needed, that I agree whole-heartedly with this:
I’m convinced that drug prohibition, and especially the 'War on Drugs' which enables it, is going to be one of those policies which, decades from now, future generations will be completely unable to understand how we could have tolerated.
Meaning in the absence of mass fear-mongering - and the state and private industry benefits of it - in thirty years young people won't be able to comprehend why the "War on Drugs" ever existed. Let's hope so.

Fransico Botero, Abu Ghraib series, 2005
On the other hand, torture enablers are allowed to escape prosecution, and in most people's cases, even personal judgment. John Yoo recently came to the University of St. Thomas' law school for a debate that included his former underling, Robert Delahunty, who is a law professor at UST. The event was billed as a symposium titled "Presidential Powers: Prudence or Perversion?" Coleen Rowley picked "Perversion." I missed the protest, which was during the day on October 7, but I'll readily agree. William Mitchell College of Law Professor Peter Erlinder concurs in an online commentary at MPR.

I couldn't find any mention of the event in the professional press, and only the student paper, TommieMedia, from a non-activist source: Protesters at St. Thomas law school rally against panel participants. The picture it portrayed wasn't pretty.
University spokesperson Chato Hazelbaker, graduate marketing director, said the debate isn’t about Delahunty as a professor or about torture. “What we have is a robust debate about presidential powers,” Hazelbaker said. “Professor Yoo is the primary target. He was invited here by a student group. It’s a legal disagreement, actually.” He said the protesters claim Delahunty did something illegal, but Hazelbaker said Delahunty was doing his job as a lawyer. “He provided advice to a client, and it’s essentially still advice the Obama administration uses, so we disagree [with the protesters] over what he did,” Hazelbaker said.
Awful. Disgraceful. Outrageous. Lies. See the comments on the story for more opinions. What about student reaction?
[Hazelbaker] said the protesters show up about every six weeks, but the group was larger Thursday because Yoo had been invited to St. Thomas as well. Hazelbaker said he hasn’t heard reactions from law students regarding the protests. “We really don’t hear much from students about this,” he said. “They started to look at more substantive issues and this dropped off their radar.”

Most law students walked past the protesters without stopping to look at the signs or take the material the protesters were handing out. When asked, students said they either didn’t know about the issue or didn’t have an opinion. One student, Robin Prochazka, said she didn’t really know about the issue, but wanted to look into it after seeing the protesters. “I’m kind of happy there’s activism on campus,” Prochazka said. “I don’t see it as a threatening thing. Of course, I don’t believe in torture or war crimes. This will be an opportunity to find out more.”
Sad. Although there is some comfort in the fact that as of a week later, the story is the second most popular on TommieMedia. Keep hope alive?