Drug War

My position on this issue is to face it directly, though other politicians run away from it. I agree with the many law enforcement officials and experts in the field that we must find a new way of dealing with illegal drugs.

I have studied the issue for decades and recognize that our “War on Drugs” has failed. In fact, because our War on Drugs drives up the price, it encourages violence. Prohibition simply doesn’t work. It only creates thousands and thousands of Al Capones. Prison should be for people who hurt other people, not themselves. We don’t jail people for merely drinking. We jail people when they drink and drive or hurt another human.

Drug use can and should be reduced. But a continuation of our current War on Drugs will not do it. Instead, the current policies have only helped increase drug use and foster violence across the country. California was able to cut teenage tobacco use in half with a straightforward ad campaign that was financed by a tax on cigarettes. Not a shot was fired.

The supporters of the drug war have only one solution to this debacle — more money for law enforcement, more people, more power, more prisons — with no end in sight. Of course, these happy drug warriors who justify their living hunting down drug users come on TV and promise us that they see light at the end of the tunnel. They promised us a drug-free America by 1995, and instead we see new and more exotic drugs constantly being added to the mix.

I know that proponents of the Drug War will say that I am pro-drugs. I am not. As mayor of Cleveland, I saw first-hand the damage done by addiction to drugs, including alcohol. I also witnessed that the wasted resources and collateral damage did not promote a safe society. It is unconscionable that only one bed exists for every ten people that apply for drug treatment. Our priorities and our resources are being put in the wrong place. The primary job of law enforcement should be protecting our country and its citizens — not protecting people from themselves.

The shredding of our rights to privacy and property promoted by the Drug War is inconsistent with a free society. Criminalization of private or self-destructive behavior is not acceptable in a free nation.

The racism evident in the Drug War, and the clearly preferential treatment for offenders with connections, undermine our concept of a just society. Draconian prison sentences that dwarf those for violent crimes, like murder and rape, destroy respect for our laws.

The rampant corruption of the criminal justice system spawned by the $400 billion-a-year black market could be ended with the stroke of a pen. So also would be the wholesale devastation we have brought to other countries. Countries like Colombia, where we send billions of dollars of military aid and spray hundreds of thousands of acres of populated land with dangerous herbicides in a country with nearly a million displaced people. And each military campaign or spraying is like a squeezing a balloon; production merely shifts to another site or goes into a temporary hiatus.

Drug addiction is a medical and moral problem that should be treated by professionals, not dumped on the criminal justice system. Setting up a national commission of medical professionals to develop an intelligent program, based on the experience of drug experts from around the world, would be a first step. Allowing doctors to treat drug addiction humanely and intelligently, including the prescription of maintenance doses, would allow us to quickly eliminate most of the black market and much of the damage to a safe, free, and just America.

It is time for an honest dialogue on this issue. Time to stop the documented lies, half-truths, and propaganda that got us into this mess in the first place. It is time to face the facts.

Floor Statements, 109th Congress:

Prevent an Arms Race Between Pakistan and India

Dennis Kucinich speaking from the Floor of the House

Link to this entry in the Congressional Record
Jul 26, 2006

Speaking in support of the Sherman [Brad Sherman (D-CA)] Amendment to H.R. 5682, United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006, Congressman Kucinich said:

“Mr. Chairman, as Congressman Markey just said, as this proposal now stands, there is nothing stopping India from using more and more of its domestic uranium for weapons program. Without the safeguards provided by the Sherman amendment, India could produce dozens more nuclear weapons per year under the US–India deal, which would surely lead to an arms race with neighboring rival, Pakistan.

“Mr. Chairman, I am a great supporter of India and of stronger US–India relations. India is the world’s largest democracy. It has contributed measurably to the legacy of peace of the great leader, Mahatma Ghandi. India’s long-standing goal of universal nuclear disarmament has not been acknowledged enough in this debate.

“This proposal will be harmful to security in India, in the region, and the world. And this proposal will be harmful to the people of India, in that it could escalate an arms race between India and Pakistan.

“I support Representative Sherman’s amendment, which requires the President to certify annually that India is not dedicating more domestic uranium to its weapons program, as a condition for the US to cooperate with India on nuclear technology.

“Pakistan wants a deal with the US on nuclear technology, but the US has refused. Instead, Pakistan has turned to China for this technology. To add fuel to the fire, it was just reported that Pakistan has begun building a powerful new reactor for producing plutonium, signaling a major expansion of the country’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

“Instead of giving India more uranium to develop nuclear weapons, the United States should take leadership in preventing an arms race in the region. A good first step would be to pass the Sherman amendment.”

[Ed. note: The Sherman Amendment failed by recorded vote: 155 ‑ 268 in Roll No. 408.]

Legislation:

  • H.R. 5682, United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006
  • The Sherman Amendment

Also See:

Let’s Stand Up for the Constitution

Dennis Kucinich speaking from the Floor of the House

Link to this entry in the Congressional Record
Sep 29, 2006

Speaking during debate on S. 3930, Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congressman Kucinich said:

“Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. SKELTON] for his defense of basic constitutional principles. I would say that the basic premise of military commissions, that the US military should try unlawful enemy combatants using draconian rules, that basic premise is false.

“The jury of commissioned military officers are not peers of these detainees. The detainees are accused of crimes against humanity and should be tried like all other such persons. The US should hand over these detainees to the International Criminal Court. The US should offer evidence that would be legal under our Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. This model of justice would set a precedent for other nations where the rule of law remains unfair, unjust, and inhumane.

“The wrong approach is to create a court system that has more in common with the nations that torture, jail, and hold indefinitely anyone without legitimate evidence.

“The second point: H.R. 6166 and S. 3930 cast a wide net, in defining unlawful enemy combatants, that would include any American supporter of a national liberation movement which is seeking to overthrow a US Government-supported despot.

“For instance, with such a loose definition, the thousands of Americans, many of whom are church clergy, who provided support to the armed and unarmed opposition to the deposed dictatorships of El Salvador and Nicaragua, could have been designated as unlawful enemy combatants.

“This hypothetical could occur, since 1) it would only take a determination by the President or Secretary of Defense that the opposition to a US-favored dictator was engaged in hostilities against the US, and 2) the act of solidarity by the American clergymen supported the opposition group.

“This is very dangerous. It is widely known that the US conducted a dirty war throughout Central and South America to uphold repressive regimes there.

“The third point I would like to make is that H.R. 6166 and S. 3930 could make similar solidarity actions in the future a crime. Those crimes should not be triable by military commissions. They would be new crimes and expose Americans to prosecution simply for supporting unfortunate people in other countries who are struggling for their freedom.

“The other point is that H.R. 6166 and S. 3930 create a large loophole to keep Administration officials out of jail for violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. Section 4 amends the War Crimes Act to immunize from prosecution civilians who subject people to horrific abuse that may fall short of the definition of torture.

“It is clear that senior administrative officials signed off on aggressive and illegal techniques and are potentially liable under the War Crimes Act of 1996. Instead, Congress is going to gut the War Crimes Act to protect those who permitted torture of detainees.

“If those who think the so-called war on terror is about ideas such as good versus evil and democracy versus thuggery, then H.R. 6166 sends the wrong message about the true values of Americans. Let’s stand up for the principles that this country was founded upon. Let’s stand up for the Constitution, for the land of the free, for the home of the brave.”

[Ed. note: S.3930 was agreed to by recorded vote: 250 ‑ 170 in Roll No. 508.]

Legislation:

  • S. 3930, Military Commissions Act of 2006, to authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war

Also See:

In the News:

Aid to Africa

It is an outrage that President Bush is proposing to cut core funding for overseas humanitarian aid while millions in Africa and worldwide face the threat of hunger and poverty. The United States should fully fund efforts to improve the lives of the world’s poor by dramatically increasing our allocations to international relief organizations such as the UN World Food Program, whose work saves countless lives in over 80 countries through school feeding projects, nutrition programs for HIV/AIDS sufferers, refugee food relief and many other vital tasks.

But aid is not enough. Impoverished countries are being ravaged by debt payments to global institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. $2.5 billion is transferred every year from Sub-Saharan Africa to foreign bankers and creditors, while 40% of its population experiences some form of malnutrition. We must push for the immediate cancellation of all bilateral debts of poor countries as well as cancellation of debts to the IMF and World Bank.

In addition, the economic policies dictated to poor countries by the IMF and the World Bank — so-called “structural adjustment programs” — have devastated Third World economies. Last year’s food crisis in Malawi, where as many as several thousand died of hunger, followed IMF-mandated cutbacks in agricultural aid to small farmers and in food subsidies for families. It is time that we end this cruel betrayal of the world’s hungry by working to end structural adjustment.

Less than a year after President Bush and the GOP made headlines promising a commitment to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, their backsliding is already well underway. After pledging up to $3 billion per year to combat the epidemic in his State of the Union address, President Bush submitted a budget request calling for only $2 billion in next year’s budget. Thankfully, my colleague, Rep. Dick Durbin, introduced an amendment adding an extra $289 million and shamed the Republican leadership into supporting the measure. We won that fight, but the president still has not demonstrated that his high-minded words mean anything when it comes to battling the great plague of our times.

Insight on Environment and Energy

Here are some more insights from Congressman Kucinich on this issue.

Legislation:

  • Gas Price Spike Act of 2005
    • Review Bill progress and cosponsors
    • Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor (if not already)
    • Talking points, committee members to contact
    • Record the responses you get from members of Ways and Means and Transportation / Infrastructure
    • Share resources on fuel costs, mass transit systems, and fuel-efficient vehicles.
    • Comment or ask questions
  • Feasability Study of Mustard Seed Biodiesel
    Amendment to H.R. 6, Energy Policy Act of 2005
  • H.R. 2361, Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Kucinich on the Issues:

  • Issues: Energy
  • Issues: Environment

Floor Statements, 109th Congress:

  • Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge
  • Climate Change: We Have Been Warned
  • Global Warming: How Bad Does It Have to Get?
  • Introducing GE Regulatory Framework
  • Excessive Oil Company Profits
  • Remembering Chernobyl
  • Leave Mercury Labeling Laws Alone
  • National Uniformity for Food
  • Juxtaposition of Two News Stories
  • Statement on Methyl Bromide

Home Page Articles:

  • FEMA, Security, and Global Climate Change
  • We need to change our direction
  • Help Push Kucinich Bill to Tax Windfall Profits of Oil Companies
  • Kucinich Speaks Out to Preserve Arctic Wildlife and the Great Lakes

Reports from Washington:

  • Tax Windfall Profits of Oil Companies

In the News:

  • Local Congressman Introduces Gas Price Spike Act

Discuss:

  • Discuss environmental issues and read comments from other activists in our forum.
  • Dances With Ghosts
  • Gas Price Spike Act of 2005 – H.R. 2070
  • Energy
  • Peak Oil

Recommending Integration of Croatia into NATO

Dennis Kucinich speaking from the Floor of the House

Link to this entry in the Congressional Record
Dec 14, 2005

Speaking in support of H. Res. 529, Recommending the integration of the Republic of Croatia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Congressman Kucinich said (as revised by the Congressman):

“Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from California [Mr. Lantos] for yielding me this time.

“When Croatia was struggling for its independence and survival I was one of the American political figures who challenged my own government for its lack of support for Croatia at a critical hour. I take great pride in my Croatian heritage. My grandfather was born in what is now Croatia. I take pride in the achievements of my Croatian brothers and sisters in Croatia, America and around the world.

“However, I want to make the Congress aware of the conduct of the Croatian television network HRT, which has deliberately denied an American filmmaker access to documentary film footage, so as to frustrate the commercial release of her production.

“The Croatian television network, HRT, initially gave Ms. Brenda Brkusic rights to film footage for student use in the production. Once she asked for commercial rights, HRT refused to cooperate. HRT has refused to answer her questions about the specific price for rights to the footage, giving her general, estimated quotes much higher than are quoted to other people who have inquired for footage rights, and they have suggested unreasonable limitations on those rights. Most recently, when she sent HRT a list of archives she was given by HRT for student use, HRT then informed her that they do not have the right to sell her that material. Ms. Brkusic asked HRT where she must go to get the rights, yet HRT refused to answer her questions. Furthermore, HRT has on other occasions sold that same material that Ms. Brkusic requested to other individuals for broadcast on television.

“This is not a routine matter about a routine film. Ms. Brkusic’s film, ‘Freedom from Despair,’ has received great critical acclaim. She has won many awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle award, which was previously been awarded to the internationally acclaimed filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. She has been recognized by her peers as an emerging talent in the film industry. The Croatian National Foundation has agreed to be her fiscal sponsor, and Amnesty International, the largest human rights organization in the world, has endorsed her film for its strong human rights advocacy.

“The fact that numerous media outlets have agreed to donate their footage to her film at no cost is noteworthy. They include: ABC 7 Chicago, NBC 5 Chicago, CBS 2, WGN 9 Chicago, and Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries. They all granted her worldwide rights to their footage in perpetuity for free, within a few weeks of her request.

“HRT, on the other hand, has not only been uncooperative, but obstructive. This distresses me. Given the high profile on this film and the extraordinarily fast rising stardom of its director, a young Croatian-American, HRT’s antics will damage the reputation of the Croatian government in the international community.

“Croatia desires to be in NATO to protect itself from outside enemies. But who will protect Croatia from threats to freedom of expression inside the country?”

Legislation:

  • H. Res. 529, Recommending the integration of the Republic of Croatia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Global Warming: How Bad Does It Have to Get?

Dennis Kucinich speaking from the Floor of the House

Link to this entry in the Congressional Record
May 18, 2006

During debate on H. R. 5386, Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007, Congressman Kucinich said:

“Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman [Mr. Hinchey].

“It is sad that as we stand on the cusp of the most profound change in our environment the civilized world has ever seen, the actions of a few in Congress can stop desperately overdue action.

“The science is clear. This is not a problem of the future. It is happening now. The United Nations has declared that at least 5 million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths every year are attributed to global warming. The 2003 European heat wave killed over 20,000 people. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years. Two consecutive record-breaking hurricane seasons. The problem will not fix itself.

“And yet we will not allow a provision in this bill that has no timeline, no specific targets, and no commitment. The committee inserted text that merely expressed the sense that we should take action on global warming, but the Rules Committee chose to leave it open to challenge by anyone, and I understand that challenge will be coming on a technicality. So we cannot even say we should be doing something about this.

“Just how bad does it have to get?”

[Ed. note: H. R. 5386 was agreed to by recorded vote: 293 – 128 in Roll No. 172.]

Legislation:

  • H. R. 5386, Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007

Go to Paper Ballots

Dennis Kucinich speaking from the Floor of the House

Link to this entry in the Congressional Record
Sep 20, 2006

Speaking in opposition to H.R. 4844, the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006, Congressman Kucinich said:

“Mr. Speaker, today’s Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006 has nothing to do with protecting the right to vote and everything to do with restricting it. The real threat to our electoral system is not a contrived conspiracy of noncitizens illegally voting in Federal elections. The true threat is vulnerable electronic voting machines.

“It is machines with no paper trail. It is poll workers with inadequate training and resources. It is voter alienation because people have lost faith in the political process. Congress has the ability and the duty to act on real voting reform that addresses the real issues that mar our electoral system, issues researched and documented by countless activists and academics.

“There is a reason the article in the Washington Post, ‘Major problems at Polls Feared,’ does not once mention concerns about noncitizens voting. It is not a real issue of voting reform. If we want to strengthen democracy, we want to protect the right to vote. We want to reengage Americans in our government.

“We need real voting reform now. Throw out electronic voting machines, that Diebold technology election hacker’s dream. Go to paper ballots, a paper trail. Make our election process honest again. Enough of stolen elections. Make every vote count, and let every vote be honestly counted.”

[Ed. note: H.R. 4844 was agreed to by recorded vote: 228 ‑ 196 in Roll No. 459.]

Legislation:

  • H.R. 4844, Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006

Also See:

In the News: