Sheriffs' Association Urges 'Investigation' Of Assistant Attorney General Nominee For Her Pro-Drug Legalization Comments


When it comes to the business of law enforcement, there’s one golden rule: thou shalt not derail the money train. Drug enforcement is a multi-billion dollar industry — not just here in the US, but all over the world. “Industry” is the correct term. Drug busts push people into private prisons. The pursuit of drug dealers and users gives local law enforcement agencies access to federal funding and cheap (or free) military gear. Millions more are spent on “educational” programs like D.A.R.E., which teaches children subtleties like “all drugs are bad” and “so are all drug users.” Just Say No, anyone?

These billions are wasted. Four decades into the drug war Nixon formally kicked off by deputizing multiple-substance abuser Elvis Presley as a “Federal Agent at Large” for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, and we have nothing to show for it. Drugs are as widely-available as ever, often featuring both higher quality and lower prices.

If law enforcement agencies were honest, they’d admit they want this war to go on forever. It’s profitable, plays well with much of the voting demographic, provides them with new toys and it gives them the excuse to claim property that isn’t theirs.

That explains this bit of noxious stupidity from the National Sheriffs’ Association (the other NSA) [via The Drug WarRant]:

On behalf of the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) and the 3080 elected sheriffs nationwide, Sheriff John Aubrey, NSA President and Sheriff of Jefferson County, Kentucky wrote today to The Honorable Chuck Grassley to advise him of our strong concerns over the potential nomination of Vanita Gupta as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. NSA believes that Ms. Gupta’s previous statements on a range of issues make her ill-suited for this important post.

If Ms. Gupta is formally nominated, NSA urges Grassley to investigate her previous statements on the legalization of drugs. As recently as 2012, she wrote in the Huffington Post that “states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs.” Decriminalization of all drugs—including heroin, LSD, cocaine, and more—would have disastrous effects on our communities and our citizens. Communities have been crippled by drug abuse and addiction, stifling economic productivity and destroying families. Ms. Gupta’s short-sighted statements on legalization and her apparent beliefs would put her at odds with the goal of public safety day in and day out. As the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, it is imperative that any nominee understand the challenges faced by law enforcement in protecting our communities.

The NSA “urges” Sen. Grassley to “investigate” statements publicly made by Ms. Gupta. In what reality does that sentence make sense? How do you “investigate” opinions that were offered freely and publicly? What this association wants isn’t an “investigation.” It just wants to throw some mud and hope it’s enough to head off a nominee that might tamper with the money train’s tracks.

Look at the wording it uses to describe what’s happening because of “drug use and addiction.” As if tossing tons of people in prison for violating outdated drug laws doesn’t “stifle economic productivity” or “destroy families.”

The NSA also completely ignores the fact that four US states have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use and many more are working towards decriminalizing possession. If there’s a drug problem in America, at least half the blame lies with the enforcement of drug laws. The US locks up more people per capita than any other country in the world, and has led to an expansion of law enforcement power at the expense of Americans’ civil liberties. No-knock raids — almost all of which are propelled by drug charges — have placed both citizens and police officers in the line of fire. A cottage industry of law enforcement-focused surveillance technology has sprung up over the past decade, thanks to this constant and narrow focus on one section of criminal law.

These sheriffs want an assistant AG that works for them, rather than for the public. That’s the most disgusting message this letter sends. Hopefully, Sen. Grassley will file this in the recycling bin shortly after reading it. Without a doubt, Gupta will be questioned about her views on legalization, but let’s hope that’s just because there’s still too many reactionary, tough-on-crime types circulating Capitol Hill, rather than this self-serving agency being capable of wielding any significant amount of influence.

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Comments on “Sheriffs' Association Urges 'Investigation' Of Assistant Attorney General Nominee For Her Pro-Drug Legalization Comments”

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Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There are no conservatives and no liberals involved here.

Because conservatives are opposed to change, or want change very slowly, and sure as hell they don’t want outlaw abortion which was legal since the middle ages. And because liberals are concerned with liberty, and not specifically with “health-care”. But liberty happens to include the right to bear arms…

So whatever the names of these two groups, they’re probably neither conservative, nor liberal.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In the US at least, ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ basically share the same definition, and that is ‘Someone that I don’t agree with, or that disagrees with me’.

Any time someone calls something, or someone, liberal or conservative, that’s basically what they are saying, ‘That is someone, or something, that I don’t agree with’.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Huh, well, if that article is anything to go by, if she does take Holder’s place, looks like it’ll be more of the same, with absolutely no interest from that office in stopping or even investigating the NSA’s actions.

There was at least one tiny sliver of good though, apparently she was pretty blunt regarding at least waterboarding being torture, and didn’t try to brush it off with the revolting ‘enhanced interrogation’ label.

Asked by Grassley whether waterboarding constitutes torture, Lynch said, “Waterboarding is torture.”

“And thus illegal?” Grassley replied. “And thus illegal,” Lynch responded.

Of course, whether or not she’d actually do anything about it is another matter entirely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m not an Obama fan but he has a point when he says that Congress has had 6 years to solve this issue (and many others) since he came into office and the Republicans have fought tooth and nail against making any progress whatsoever. Bush overreached his powers and the Republicans praised him for it. It all sucks for the American people, but it’s not like his opposition would balk at taking such power if they were in his shoes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

It’s debatable as to whether he has the authority to do it (based on precedents set by his predecessors and what they were able to get away with). But if Congress refuses to do its job, the President should be able to take executive action to do the things that need to be done. You can’t say, “the President can’t do that, but it’s okay that Congress won’t do that.” If you indict the president for overreaching with his powers, you should likewise indict Congress for not fulfilling its responsibilities.

The Republicans wanted this situation and that’s why they created it. They created a scenario where they just refused to support anything Obama wanted (even if it was originally their idea, like the fundamental aspects of the Affordable Care Act). And they’re going to use this history in 2016 to pretend like the President was the reason that nothing got done during his administration.

I think Obama has made a lot of mistakes and bad judgments and too often did what a Republican would do in the same situation (prolong wars, persecute journalists and whistleblowers, etc.), but the Republican circus in Congress has held the country hostage.

David says:

How unpatriotic of you.

The US locks up more people per capita than any other country in the world

You make it appear as if the US can only win in competitive jailing if one looks at the relative incarceration rates.

The truth is that the US does not need to revert to “per capita” accounting to put countries like China and India to shame. It is also the world leader in absolute incarceration numbers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unwinnable Wars

So the “War On Drugs” has been going strong for 40+ years without any clearly defined goals for what a victory would look like, no plan how to reach the undefined goal, no defined upper limit to the amount of treasury being spent in the persuit of the unknown win condition, no milestones defined so any progress towards the undefined goal can be gauged.
In short; spend money indefinitly until something happens that for all intents and puposes looks like a “win”. However, since noone knows what this mythical “win” actually looks like, this will never occur. At least until the stream of public money dries up.

Does this sound an awful lot like the “War On Terror” to anyone?

Richard (profile) says:

The point is this

“Communities have been crippled by drug abuse and addiction, stifling economic productivity and destroying families. “

All this has happened under the current prohibition regime.

We don’t know what would happen if Ms. Gupta’s ideas were followed because people like the NSA have made damn sure that it hasn’t been tried on a large enough scale.

Einstein’s definition of insanity springs to mind.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: The point is this

Yep – in fact the whole “prohibition” thing started when the drinks companies got drugs like heroin, cocaine etc banned in order to preserve their own business models.

Unfortunatley for them, having started the prohibition bandwagon, they found they couldn’t control it and alcohol got banned too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, this makes sense doesn’t it? Surely it has to be illegal, or at the very least highly suspicious, to hold a political view that differs from that of the current government or government agencies.

Having a different opinion is bad enough, but exposing it openly in such blatant defiance of law and order has to be illegal, right?

Give it a few more years and it’ll finally be illegal to suggest changes to taxes as well. With all the finance and drug questions out of the way, we can finally focus on the important part of politics: the candidates’ status with the church and how their daughters dress.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why we must keep the 2nd ammendment

Four decades into the drug war…Drugs are as widely-available as ever

I know this is off topic, but this is why we must keep the 2nd ammendment. If we outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns. It is cliche, but true. You only have to look at drugs, and alcohol from the prohibition era, to see what affect outlawing something people want has.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why we need to keep the 2nd ammendment

Four decades into the drug war…and we have nothing to show for it. Drugs are as widely-available as ever

This is exactly why we need to keep the 2nd ammendment. You can see from the drug war and prohibition, that if we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. This is cliche, but true.

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: This is why we need to keep the 2nd ammendment

This is exactly why we need to keep the 2nd ammendment. You can see from the drug war and prohibition, that if we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. This is cliche, but true.

This is a total bogus argument. “We outlawed alcohol, and the Mafia has guns, therefore we also need guns”?

This is not what the 2nd amendment says. The 2nd amendment says you need guns if the government turns against the people, like by putting everyone under surveillance (4th amendment), or by incarcerating people for minor infractions (8th amendment), or by torturing prisoners (5th-7th amendment). In that case, your duty would be to depose of the government.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:2 This is why we need to keep the 2nd ammendment

I’d like to see ANYONE try that hypothesis out. To date, only the Cliven Bundy case is an example and it seems you need a) a lot of supporters, also with guns, and b) to ensure that they don’t figure out that targeting the supporters’s homes to force them to choose between you and their own homes would break up the party.

Let’s not kid ourselves: guns are no defense against government actions and you wouldn’t win a revolution with them, however many you’ve got.

JMT says:

Re: This is why we need to keep the 2nd ammendment

“…if we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. This is cliche, but true.”

Except there has never been a serious argument about outlawing guns. It’s simply never been on the table for anyone other than the rabid gun nuts looking for a strawman to attack. Bringing it up removes any chance of your comment being taken seriously.

pete says:

All the problems of drugs are crimes in and of themselves

-robbing the gas station [for drug] $ -> crime
-beating your wife [while high] -> crime
-walking around naked outside [on PCP] -> crime
-murder over an unpaid [drug] debt -> crime
-screaming, fliping trash cans, and bouncing around like a monkey on the sidewalk [while on bath salts] -> crime
-crashing car [while high] -> crime (DUI convictions have never required passing or failing any drug test, only the testimony of a Drug Recognition Expert, or you will be charged with reckless driving)

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

let’s make drugs illegal because drug use is known to cause some criminal behaviors. brilliant. that would definitely solve the problem of crime. we should’ve thought of this four decades ago, imagine where we’d all be to be free of drug induced crimes. if only we had more crime we could blame on things instead of the people committing them.

sorrykb (profile) says:


The NSA “urges” Sen. Grassley to “investigate” statements publicly made by Ms. Gupta. In what reality does that sentence make sense? How do you “investigate” opinions that were offered freely and publicly?

I’ve investigated Vanita Gupta’s statements, and I think her suggestions make a great deal of sense.

But I’m guessing that’s not what the NSA meant.

Anon says:

NSA - National Sherrif's Assoc - "The *Other* White Meat"

The idea that the Law Enforcement Business makes a lot of money off drug enforcement, doesn’t want it to stop – reminds me of the other side – the only partial joke that organized crime lobbies politicians to ensure that drugs stay highly illegal. Otherwise, their profits, based on “risk”, would plummet.

As for issues of immigration – the Canadian government firstly has a better policy. Any employer who hires someone without a valid Social Insurance Number will be fined. They keep an eye on these, you don’t have a dozen different people across the country using the same number. It’s on their tax return too, someone will get nailed if a person earns 10 normal salaries… the employer will be told to withhold all their pay as taxes, all their bank accounts will be frozen, etc. If there were a will to enforce US laws against hiring illegals, the illegal workforce would mainly disappear.

Anonymous Coward says:

“crippled by drug abuse and addiction” = If it’s only abuse because it’s illegal, then why not make it legal and stop the abuse?

“stifling economic productivity” = they aren’t buying from a taxable regulated market as well as arrests and jail time negatively affect their ability to work and their ability to contribute to society. Legalize it and this clears up right?

“and destroying families” = Yes you do when you lock up family members and punish them for the rest of their life

This NSA sure doesn’t care about anything more than making people live the way they want to live their own life. Mistreatment of other people including family members is already illegal. Making drugs illegal doesn’t do anything but stop someone momentarily and harm them more in the long run. I wonder if they want to tally how many lives they have destroyed against the lives ‘saved’. Or maybe it’s ok because one of those lives was a child, or maybe a teen, or young adult, um.. what age is it a person’s life is worth more than another’s again? Maybe it was a formula, one that also included expected lifetime earnings.

This self-righteous ‘Take you’re freedoms because I know best’ is exactly what the country was founded against. Helping is not the same as Hiding. They are counter productive in not addressing the real problems and actually helping people, but that’s actually more difficult than burying them away when they get caught and hoping they get better at hiding. Which is usually the case for people who try to impress their superior morals, they actually are just accepting behavior that presents itself in a way they find proper, as long as immoral behavior is hidden to whatever arbitrary degree. Which comes down to they just don’t want to be offended by others doing what they dislike.

If you want to ensure public safety day-in and day-out (which I take as in their own home and outside of it) the sure-fire way is to remove everyone’s limbs and tongues and there won’t be any more physical or mental abuse. If it’s not there they can’t be tempted right? I’m sure it’ll cut down on 90% of crime too. It’s that or we could handle things like civilized humans that hopefully care for more than just themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Didn’t all the prohibitionists say the same thing about alcohol?

‘Alcohol is destroying our communities! We must make it illegal!’

We’re simply witnessing history repeat itself in the war on drugs. Obviously the National Sheriffs’ Association skipped out or played hooky during history class in school.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

-George Santayana

We can say a lot of things about the National Sheriffs’ Association. That they’re intelligent, wise, and educated isn’t one of them. Do we really want such an ignorant organization dictating national policy?

Personanongrata says:

Sheriff John Aubrey Cretin of Jefferson County Kentucky

Sheriff John Aubrey, NSA President and Sheriff of Jefferson County, Kentucky is a tax-feeding cretin.

Has the cretin known as sheriff Aubrey heard of the Bill of Rights?

Perhaps John Aubrey believes only his cretinous ideology should be publicly espoused?

Whats wrong with destroying families and lives because some American serfs have the audacity to ingest substances that the moral busybodies and petty authoritarians infesting the US government have arbitrarily decreed verboten?

Raven says:

Really Quite Simple

I can’t believe that Obama would nominate this woman for U.S. A.G. and then nominate Gupta for Ass. A.G. makes no sense. Especially after Steve Cohen’s grilling of Eric Holder over Title 21 (sub chapter I) last summer.

Sub chapter I gives a clear path of the maintenance of drug schedules starting with the U.S. A.G. as long as H.H.S. Secretary, U.S. Secretary of State, U.N. Secretary General and “The World Health Organization are all in the loop. This is all that’s needed to change cannabis from schedule I. And here’s the best part; No treaty violation! Well Shazam!

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