the terrible cost of (anti-)drugs

Did our insane obsession with a "war on drugs" cost us September 11, and will it continue to compromise our defense against repeat attacks, even after the Bureau's vaunted reorganization plans?

While Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida minions were diligently preparing for their murderous mission, the FBI was looking the other way with equal determination. More than twice as many FBI agents were assigned to fighting drugs (2,500) than fighting terrorism (1,151). And a far greater amount of the FBI's financial resources was dedicated to the war on drugs.

And this pathological prioritization of the drug war extended well beyond the allocation of money and manpower. It was ingrained in the culture. Counterterrorism units were treated like the bureau's ugly stepchildren, looked down upon by FBI management because they weren't making the kind of high-profile arrests that spruce up a supervisor's resume and make the evening news.

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Published on June 7, 2002 11:50 AM.

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