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Marijuana's true potency and why the law should change

The U.S. war against marijuana has failed and actually threatens public safety and rests on false medical assumptions.
The laws against marijuana should be changed.

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John McKay, Seattle Times | WA

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I don't smoke pot. And I pretty much think people who do are idiots.

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This certainly includes Marc Emery, the self-styled "Prince of Pot" from Canada whom I indicted in 2005 for peddling marijuana seeds to every man, woman and child with an envelope and a stamp. Emery recently pleaded guilty and will be sentenced this month in Seattle, where he faces five years in federal prison. If changing U.S. marijuana policy was ever Emery's goal, the best that can be said is that he took the wrong path.

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As Emery's prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I'm not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety.

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Congress has failed to recognize what many already know about our policy of criminal prohibition of marijuana — it has utterly failed. Listed by the U.S. government as a "Schedule One" drug alongside heroin, the demand for marijuana in this country for decades has outpaced the ability of law enforcement to eliminate it. Perhaps this is because millions of Americans smoke pot regularly and international drug cartels, violent gangs and street pushers work hard to reap the profits.

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Law-enforcement agencies are simply not capable of interdicting all of this pot and despite some successes have not succeeded in thwarting criminals who traffic and sell marijuana. Brave agents and cops continue to risk their lives in a futile attempt to enforce misguided laws that do not match the realities of our society.

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These same agents and cops, along with prosecutors, judges and jailers, know we can't win by arresting all those involved in the massive importation, growth or distribution of marijuana, nor by locking up all the pot smokers. While many have argued the policy is unjust, few have addressed the dangerously potent black market the policy itself has created for exploitation by Mexican and other international drug cartels and gangs. With the proceeds from the U.S. marijuana black market, these criminals distribute dangerous drugs and kill each other (too often along with innocent bystanders) with American-purchased guns.

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New York Times demands criminal investigation of Bush officials

Medical experiments conducted on torture victims

IndictBushNow

The latest shocking revelation that the Bush Administration performed medical experiments on its torture victims has caused a new wave of outrage and a demand for criminal prosecution by the New York Times, and human rights and legal organizations.

Based on a newly released physicians report the New York Times is demanding that the “White House and Congress to investigate the potentially illegal human experimentation and whether those who authorized or conducted it should be punished.”

IndictBushNow and a wide variety of organizations are working non-stop to collect evidence on all of the Bush-era crimes, take testimony, organize public events and build global pressure.

Here is the latest news:

Following a six month long investigation a preeminent physician’s organization has published a major report revealing that the Bush Administration carried out medical experiments on its torture victims. This is a gross violation of the Nuremberg Code that barred the use of medical experimentation on detainees, following the exposure of Nazi experiments during WWII.

The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) used public records showing health professionals worked under the supervision of the Central Intelligence Agency during interrogations of "war on terror" detainees after the 2001 attacks.

PHR's new report, "Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program," provides new evidence that CIA used doctors and other health care personnel and engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation on detainees who had been tortured under the direction of the Bush Administration.

The “Experiments in Torture” report is the result of six months of investigation and the review of thousands of pages of government documents. PHR says it has been peer-reviewed by outside experts in the medical, biomedical and research ethics fields, legal experts, health professionals, and experts in the treatment of torture survivors.

The purpose of the medical experiments during the Bush years was apparently to measure the effectiveness of particular torture techniques on the victims. This is an abomination.

"Such acts may be seen as the conduct of research and experimentation by health professionals on prisoners, which could violate accepted standards of medical ethics, as well as domestic and international law," states the Physicians for Human Rights in a report it has now made public.

"Not only are these alleged acts gross violations of human rights law, they are a grave affront to America's core values," the report said.

"The CIA appears to have broken all accepted legal and ethical standards put in place since the Second World War to protect prisoners from being the subjects of experimentation," states Frank Donaghue, chief executive of the organization.

Take action now!

IndictBushNow joins in the growing call by many, including the Physicians for Human Rights, that the Obama Administration order "an immediate criminal investigation of alleged illegal human experimentation."

The PHR also called for a probe of violations by the CIA of protections against human research experiments and for Congress to amend the War Crimes Act "to eliminate changes made to the act in 2006 which weaken the prohibition on biological experimentation on detainees."

"In their attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime -- illegal experimentation on prisoners," said PHR leaders.

We urge all IndictBushNow members to send another letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding a criminal investigation into Bush era crimes based on the new information that not only did they torture those who had been arrested or kidnapped but they violated international law by engaging in medical experimentation to further refine their torture techniques. Click here to send a letter today.

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Online ranters increasingly pay a legal price

While bloggers may have a free-speech right to say what they want online, courts have found they are not protected from lawsuits, even if comments are anonymous. Some postings have led to criminal charges.

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David G. Savage,  Seattle Times | WA

The Internet has allowed tens of millions of Americans to be published writers. But it also has led to a surge in lawsuits from those who say they were hurt, defamed or threatened by what they read, according to groups that track media lawsuits.

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"It was probably inevitable, but we have seen a steady growth in litigation over content on the Internet," said Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center in New York.

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While bloggers may have a free-speech right to say what they want online, courts have found they are not protected from lawsuits, even if comments are anonymous. Some postings have led to criminal charges.

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Hal Turner, a right-wing blogger from New Jersey, faces up to 10 years in prison for posting a comment that three Chicago judges "deserve to be killed" for having rejected a Second Amendment challenge to the city's handgun ban in 2009.

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Summary: Holding Political Leadership Accountable Before the Law: Week of August 22

"In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy." Justice Louis Brandeis

4 New Items including:

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  • ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
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  • Center for Torture Accountability lists St. Thomas Professor  Delahunty as deserving probe
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Bob Englehart

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Big Brother: Obama Demands Access to Internet Records, in Secret, and Without Court Review, Tom Burghardt, Global Research

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  • Internet users do not give up their privacy rights when they log on, and the FBI should not have the power to secretly demand that ISPs turn over constitutionally protected information about their users without a court order.
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  • ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
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ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies, Deborah Weinstein,  TruthOut.org, in AlterNet

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  • Fear of an unchecked, unaccountable government permeates the report, particularly in the section about targeted killings.
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  • On torture, U.S. must clean house
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Other Countries Probing Bush-era Torture — Why Aren't We? Shashank Bengali, the McClatchy Newspapers, in Common Dreams
"That's part of why we're so concerned. The Obama administration, rather than investigate the abuses of the last eight years, has increasingly become an obstacle to accountability."

Center for Torture Accountability lists St. Thomas Professor Delahunty as deserving probe, The Center for Torture Accountability
Delahunty helps John Yoo write memos making legal case for suspending constitutional rights and protections

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Second Circuit Ruling Reverses Lower Court's Decision in ACORN

A deeply conservative panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the multiple victories we had in the lower court.

Bill Quigley, Center for Constitutional Rights

We have gotten some of our best feedback from friends and allies this year on our work defending ACORN, so I am sorry to have to pass along the news that a deeply conservative panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the multiple victories we had in the lower court.

The panel somehow found that ACORN was not being punished when Congress cut off its funding based on rightwing grandstanding, FOX news rants and a video that turned out to be a lie. The court did find that ACORN had standing to sue, just not on Bill of Attainder grounds, and they sent the case back to the District Court to look at possible First Amendment and due process violations.

The Bill of Attainder provision in the U.S. Constitution says that no person or organization may be singled out for punishment by the government without benefit of a trial. The appeals court turned our argument on its head and declared that since hundreds of unspecified allied organizations might be affected by the de-funding it was perfectly legitimate since Congress did not just single out ACORN!   

Though ACORN has obviously been seriously damaged by this campaign, they continue to struggle on and make the best of their situation, while government and independent investigations clear them of wrongdoing again and again. But because we cannot stand by and let this ruling empower the targeting of other politically vulnerable groups like ACORN, we will fight this deeply flawed decision. We will be seeking en banc review by the entire Second Circuit, and will keep you posted on our progress.

For more information visit our case page. Thank you for standing with us and our allies at ACORN. The fight continues!

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