The below commentary came from the Boston Globe (10 February 09), and points to an potentially more serious issue in light of strongly suspected “narco-terrorism” connections between South American and Mexican cartels, Latin street gangs, and Al Qaeda. There has long been concern that the flow of drugs across our borders includes terrorist cells, weapons, fissile material, and possibly chem/bio agents.

US authorities are reporting a spike in killings, kidnappings, and home invasions connected to Mexico’s murderous cartels. And to some policymakers’ surprise, much of the violence is happening not in towns along the border, where it was assumed the bloodshed would spread, but a considerable distance away, in places such as Phoenix and Atlanta.

Investigators fear the violence could erupt elsewhere around the country because the Mexican cartels are believed to have set up drug-dealing operations all over the United States, in such far-flung places as Anchorage; Boston; and Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The violence follows the drugs,” said David Cuthbertson, agent in charge of El Paso’s FBI office. State and federal governments have sent millions of dollars to local law enforcement along the Mexican border to help fend off spillover drug crime. But investigators believe Arizona and Atlanta are seeing the worst of the violence because they are major drug distribution hubs thanks to their webs of interstate highways.

With an opportunistic, adaptive enemy (AQ) who does not need to share ideological goals with its criminal associates, is America facing a merging of the Global War on Terror (or whatever name it will be given in the new administration) and the decades-long War on Drugs? If so, America will be required to fight a fight firmly in that middle ground between national defense and law enforcement that we are so uncomfortable in.

The approach that terrorist suspects are a law enforcement matter has been proven entirely inadequate time and again. Yet, the universal treatment of those same suspects as wartime combatants, and illegal ones at that, is anathema to many who fear a precedent of impingement of civil rights.

What will be the role of our Armed Forces? We have maintained a strict prohibition against use of Title X forces in a police role since the end of Reconstruction. Is that about to change? If not, do police, as some fear, begin to take on paramilitary characteristics that go well beyond the traditional mantra of “Protect and Serve”?

For the purposes of this blog, we can also examine US Navy capabilities to influence the action in our own hemisphere. What are we equipped, trained, and allowed to do? I invite your comments.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Homeland Security

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • You could roll the piracy problem into the mix, too.

  • RickWilmes

    The simple solution to this problem is to legalize drug use and no I am not a drug user other than the usual beer and wine before, during and after dinner. As expressed in another post’s comments concerning the ethics of retired generals profitting from their affiliations and public statements, the same principal applies. You can not legislate morality.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The “legalize drugs” solution overlooks secondary and tertiary effects of addictive narcotics, both to the user and to the community in which he/she lives. Pot is one thing, though I am not advocating that either, but cocaine, heroin, and their respective street derivatives would have devastating effect on American society if legalized. Which is why they were made illegal in the first place.

  • Byron

    URR, take the time and look what happened with England back in the early 60s and the problem they had with heroin. Legalized it for distribution from gov’ stores only, users registered, very severe sentences for illegal use and sale. Problem dwindled to a very tolerable, much lower level than with the “illegal” solution.

    Not to mention, making booze illegal a) didnt’ stop people from drinking, and b) more or less created the Mafia. And don’t think for a second that alcohol isn’t a drug. Alcohol abuse causes more deaths, property damage, and destruction of families than all illegal drugs put together.

  • pk


    most of the people that want to legalize the various recreational drugs have never seen the practical problems that this causes.

    two examples.

    a notorious pot smoker hopps onto a forklift (normally a community tool) and when maneuvering to pick up a pallet with it crushes a lady walking by into a bridge crane column and kills her. his attitude afterwards is “whats the big fuss about”.

    a locomotive engineer on a high speed 4 track railroad is parked with a set of diesel locomotives weighing approximately 500 tons and pulls out onto the track in front of a 2200 ton train traveling at 125 mph. terrrrrrrrriffic train wreck. his attitude was “why are you prosecuting me???”

    these people do not realize just what danger they place the folks around them in unless they are quite literally kept in a rubber room.

    the police used to figure that if a person was acting drunk but there was no field testing evidence of alchohol that he was on pot.


  • Byron

    PK, faulty logic: laws are already in place prohibiting use of any drug, including alcohol while while performing a wide range of functions, including simply sitting at your workstation. And forklifts haven’t been a “community tool” for at least 25 years; you have to have a good driving record (to prove you’re insurable) and you have to take mandated training (by OSHA) in order to qualify for workmens comp and liability coverage. And your license is good for only 4 years…then you retest.

    I never said make the use of drugs (of any kind) legal in the workplace; I only said to make the use of them legal. All we’re doing now is enabling the enormous criminal underclass to become richer selling the crap. Make it legal, put them out of business. How much damn crime would we stop if drugs were legal? Would the crack or heroin addict have to break in houses like mine to get the coin for a dime hit? Or go down to the clinic, sign in, and get stoned? They’re going to get high one way or the other, and all the laws in the world won’t stop that. Get your head wrapped around that, because it’s either legalize it, continue suffering a crime wave all around you to make the money for the stuff, or start racking up a really big body count.

  • pk


    in the federal work place (unless they have changed it in the last ten years which is entirely possible) certain equipment in the work area, including but not not restricted to: pickup trucks, natural gas torches, overhead cranes with a capacity of xxxx pounds, forklifts up to a capacity of xxxx pounds, aceytelene torches, all types of machine tools, all types of presses, all types of furnaces, all types of industrial equipment….. were operated by the people working in the section where they were assigned.

    it was simply to expensive or impractical to send all of the machinists down to the training center for a week for training sufficient to pass the examination for a ticket for a 2000# jib crane. then send him down for a government drivers liscence then send him down to get a torch ticket, then send him down to get a ……..

    we had very few to no cases of owcp injury claims or suits (of course if somebody died all bets were off) as a result of non certification.

    at one time, ending in the middle 70’s, sedans, pickups and light trucks up to 1.5 tons rating required a “government drivers licience” but because the yard was only allowed xxx of those for that size vehicle our yard decided to allow anyone with a california drivers liscence to use those vehicles.

    a great deal of it had to do with the fact that under those rules if you sent a crew of 4 men to san diego to work on a ship you had to schedule a driver and he simply sat around while the others worked down there getting paid straight time for the non driving hours with over time applying as necessary.

    we had a situation where we were sending an NDT crew down on a job where they left at normal starting time they rode to 32nd street (about a two hour trip, remember its rush hour) worked till lunch, returned during evening rush hour. what it amounted to was 5 people (including the driver) at 8 hours was 40 hours per day with 16 mh actually on the job. when their supervisor was questioned he simply said that we just wouldn’t understand.

    we knew that many people in the yard were using and abusing various substances but when we tried to enforce discipline we ran into a wall from the industrial relations office about “did we have legal proof”?

    it totally enraged line management that the security department could and did conduct field sobriety tests which were admissable in court in vehicle operation cases but would not conduct the same tests in the work place for use in disciplinary hearings. if the testing was for administrative uses (disciplin) the dispensary would allow the person to sit around in the waiting room so long that even a bottle of scotch could pass the blood alchohol test.

    byron, it’s not usually the people that work in the industrial work place that drive me nuts on this situation, its the office types and acedemics that just don’t see the things that happen as a result of this behavior. those people say that you can’t arrest your way out of this problem yet i say we haven’t even made a good try.

    it is my direct experience that if you have a 135 people leaning a certain illegal way with 5 really extreme types and you solve the problem very harshly with one of them then all of a sudden you have 134 angels.


  • Byron

    PK, 30+years of “War on Drugs”, and nothing has changed. You ever wonder why?

    And for the last 20 years, minimum, you had to qualify to operate overhead cranes, forklifts, telehandlers, high reaches, etc. I’m qual’d on most them. I can speak hydraulic crane, but don’t have a license. I am authorized to flag (which is as important as the operator, since he can’t see what the flag man sees).

  • UltimaRatioReg

    To get back on topic, what will the role of DoD and the US Navy in particular be in this blending of the GWOT and War on Drugs?

  • pk

    byron: i see what you mean, hear what you say but can’t quite reach you. so many times assigning work that was critical and comming back later or checking the morning reports and nothing, nothing, nothing. i have a number of friends in the railroad operations world (locomotive engineers etc.) and they went through drug tests etc. many years ago because they were getting people killed because of the problem. i have a shirttail relative by marraige who managed to get incarcerated by the state of california for a few years, did his time and then managed to arrange for a second stay within 14 hours of his release.

    nuff said i guess we will have to agree to disagree.

    usn got pretty bloodthirsty about drug use in the uniformed community many years ago.

    i firmly believe that they have the equipment skills and resolve to solve the problem in short order.

    they simply have to neutralize the various lawyers and politicians that hamper the swift and certain soloution to the problem


  • Not to get into the question of legalization (legalize pot like hard liquor or prescription medication – tax the daylights out of it – maximum penalties and mandatory rehab for all else)

    I think the USN (via the SEALs via SOCOM) is already involved in the War on Drugs, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Producing 70% or more of the worlds supply of heroin, Helmand is the Talibans version of an MSR.

    The merge took place years ago.


  • I just wanted to say that I love this site

  • RickWilmes

    Senator Jim Webb is addressing the drug issue at Why We Must Fix Our Prisons. I left the following comment.

    “I think it is courageous for Senator Webb to take on this issue. However, as long as Mr. Webb does not recognize that drug use is up to each individual to decide than this problem will never be resolved. The government cannot legislate morality. Want to fix the problem than recognize that the fundamental issue here is a man’s individual right to decide what he can and can not put into his body.
    In other words, the proper solution is to legalize drugs and let each individual make their choice and either benefit or suffer from that decision. That is fairness.”