A column from a few days ago from The Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin points out the weirdness in the firing of a Border Patrol agent after he said that pot legalization would save lives on both sides of the border. But, when it comes to the disastrous gun-walker program, in which ATF allowed Mexican gangs to purchase in firearms, the Obama administration appears far less zealous to dismiss anybody.
I owe Kyle Vogt an apology. A former military policeman, he’s now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, a group of former cops, prosecutors and judges that supports ending the war on drugs.
When I interviewed Vogt for a column earlier this year, everything he said about the high cost and low results of the war on drugs made perfect sense. But he made one claim which, though I smiled politely, I didn’t believe and didn’t use in my column: that dozens and dozens of drug cops have contacted LEAP to express their support.
“They’re afraid,” Vogt said. “Any policeman who says he thinks drugs should be legalized gets fired.” In civil-liberties-conscious America, patrolled by attack squadrons of ACLU lawyers? Get real, buddy, I thought. The war on drugs does enough damage without piling on with paranoid delusions.
But in the war on drugs, the line between paranoia and reality turns out to be a thin one indeed. Over the weekend, The New York Times carried a story on Bryan Gonzalez, a young agent fired by the U.S. Border Patrol. Grounds for dismissal: Gonzalez told another agent that legalizing marijuana would save lives both in the United States and Mexico. And he mentioned LEAP.
When the other agent reported the conversation to his superiors, it triggered an internal affairs investigation that ended with an official letter dismissing Gonzalez for holding “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and esprit de corps.”
For starters, that sentence is a flat-out lie.