New House Bill Would Enforce U.S. Drug Laws In Other Countries

Friday, October 7th, 2011

I have a new piece at Huffington Post with the details.

Also, I can now say I once got up to write and file a story by 10am . . . all from a bar.

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41 Responses to “New House Bill Would Enforce U.S. Drug Laws In Other Countries”

  1. #1 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    allows prosecutors to bring conspiracy charges against anyone who discusses,

    What about “thinking about”? Can we outlaw that, too?

    I wonder how this law would have effected Oliver North and Ronald Reagan. Or, would they have been exempt?

    I’m pretty sure my discussions on Durkinland have me breaking several Federal laws now.

  2. #2 |  overgoverned | 

    Reading Radley Balko at the Huffington Post is like, I don’t know, reading William Kristol at Antiwar. It’s like seeing Justin Raimondo swapping spit with Kimberly Kagan. It’s like seeing Al Gore publish in a Cato newsletter. It’s like…okay, I’ll stop now.

    God bless you for landing the gig, but it still takes some mental adjustment on this end.

  3. #3 |  Mattocracy | 

    The commenters at Hoff Po are just awful. Lambasting Republicans for introducing this bill while ignoring that a Deomcratic Senate and Executive Branch will more than likely pass this law too.

  4. #4 |  Brandon | 

    Radley, I can’t disagree with overgoverned. Your articles have remained superbly written, researched and documented, and I understand that you’re reaching a wider audience, but HuffPo is excruciating. They’ve ignored gunwalker and Solyndra, and they’re completely obsessed with Sarah Palin. The level of hackery there makes the New Republic look objective.

  5. #5 |  CyniCAl | 

    “… One World, under POTUS, with no liberty and no justice for all.”

  6. #6 |  PeeDub | 

    @#2 … it’s like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu?

  7. #7 |  Brandon | 

    I’ve also been looking there for the past 3 days for a mention of DOJ’s crackdown on California dispensaries or the Oregon raids. So far, el zilcho. But they did have a huge front page feature on Scott Brown implying that Elizabeth Warren might be unattractive.

  8. #8 |  Brandon | 

    #6, nice.

  9. #9 |  Dale B | 

    Writing and filing from a Bar? Hunter S. Balko?

  10. #10 |  Matt I. | 

    What the US is trying to do is hold anyone anywhere in the world, citizen or not, to U.S. law, which they can then manipulate anyway they want.

    There was a recent case where someone from Colombia was hauled out of the waters right off the Colombian coast by the DEA (he had been supposedly operating a drug running submarine). He was taken to the US, charged with ‘operating a submersible vehicle’ – a US federal crime, convicted and sentenced to a very long prison term in the US.

    The laws that supposedly allow this are maritime law related, which generally state that a person who isn’t under a country’s official protection in international waters is fair game to be captured and punished under the laws of which ever state run gang can get to him.

    That sounds ‘fair’ to some people when the individual is a drug runner or Somali pirate, but I wonder what people would think if a US citizen in a boat 12 miles off the Carolina coast was captured and taken to another country to be punished under say, Islamic law.

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Even in the darkest hours of Prohibition they never went so far as to prosecute Americans who imbibed abroad.
    This resembles Bobby Moak’s Smoke a Joint, Lose a
    Limb bill in that it’s all about promulgating a moral stance, in the
    form of a Bill with zero chance of passing.

    This drug enforcement stuff is getting way too kooky; they should resort back to Witch Trials.

  12. #12 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    “Last May, one U.S. citizen saw how the police can apply in reverse.”

    You mean policy here, correct?

  13. #13 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    Wonder if this has to do with the fact that many of the south american producer countries are talking (re)legalization / decriminalization?

  14. #14 |  RandomReal[] | 

    Sometimes I dream of a Constitutional Amendment:

    Any bill passed by the Congress and signed by the President that contains either new criminal or regulatory statutes shall be applied only to elected Federal Officials and their staffs, Federal Agencies, and all federal employees (contractors excluded) for a period of 2.5 years. After this period, the bill will become law for the entire population. Any statute can be repealed at any time and upon signing by the President the statues will be repealed immediately. Immediate implementation of a statute for the country as a whole requires a 2/3 majority in both houses. Normal veto rules apply. If an appropriations bill is amended with new statutes, the amendment(s) will be treated as above.

    Well one can dream.

    When you mentioned this in your talk yesterday, excellent by the way, I wish I could say that I was surprised, but no. Thought crime, 1984, and Big Brother come immediately to mind.

    Hello, I’m from the government and I am here to help you from ruining your life by…

    ruining your life. Have a good day :-)

  15. #15 |  Randy | 

    And the tyranny not only continues, our tyrants are trying to ramp it up a couple more notches.

    Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, showing everyone your moral bona fides by pointing sticks at disfavored people has a long and proud tradition in the Christian West.

  16. #16 |  Big Al | 

    #1 Boyd- I’ll just tell em I was thinking about something else.

  17. #17 |  Irving Washington | 

    Lamar Smith is a colossal buffoon.

  18. #18 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    My head hurts. Hell, let’s just conquer the world, and have done with it. It won’t be nearly as messy, and at least people will know where they stand.


    I didn’t say that, did I?


    This is simply the flip side of the coin from the folks who want us to take “international law” into account in our internal court decisions. Nobody wants to remember that there are such things as national borders, everybody is going globaloney, and to hell with all of them.

  19. #19 |  Carl Bussjaeger | 

    This is news?

    Anyone recall Operation Just (Be)Cause?

  20. #20 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    Haven’t we been doing this for a while? Didn’t the DEA go into Canada back in 2003 and arrest Marc Emery (a Canadian citizen) because he was violating U.S. drug laws?

    Ya know, I could almost respect these neo- fascists if they would just stop all this bullshit about freedom and safety and just call it what it is:

    We’re the U.S. Government. We can do anything, to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

    Who the hell are you?

  21. #21 |  Curt | 

    I think some people (especially the ones commenting at HP) have gotten pretty off-track. There’s nothing about criminalizing thought, there’s nothing about prosecuting non-Americans, and there’s nothing about criminalizing smoking up while in Amsterdam.

    That said, it’s still a very f’ed up bill. If two people buy tix to Amsterdam and talk about smoking up when they get there, that counts as planning activities that violate CSA.

    I took a quick look at the bill and it says, “To amend the CSA to clarify that persons who enter into a conspiracy within the US to posses or traffic illegal controlled substances outside the US, or engage in conduct within the US to aid or abet drug trafficking outside the US, may be criminally prosecuted in the US.”

    So, to commit the crime, you have to be located in the US when you make such plans. It also requires you to plan it with one or more other people. So you can tell someone that you plan to smoke up in Amsterdam, but you can’t say that *we* should plan to smoke up in Amsterdam.

  22. #22 |  Mark | 

    I am a liberal, decidedly less appalled with the government than most of those who post here. Yet even I find this ridiculous, outrageous, confounding, and just plain wrong.

  23. #23 |  MassHole | 

    Stick around Mark, it won’t be long until you’re one of us.

  24. #24 |  Ted S. | 

    @ #9 | Dale B

    For some reason my first thought was of Robert Benchley’s character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent.

    That having been said, Huntley Haverstock might be a nice nom de plume for Radley.

  25. #25 |  Dupree | 

    Charles Taylor, Jr.’s sentencing in Florida is the saddest of all.

  26. #26 |  Bergman | 

    It’s long been U.S. judicial policy that the judge simply does not care how a defendant came to be in their courtroom. The judge simply rules on the evidence presented. But I can just imagine how much U.S. officials would HOWL if someone kidnapped a U.S. citizen from U.S. soil and tried them for something not illegal in the U.S.

  27. #27 |  JdL | 

    What form of communication will be required for government thugs to understand that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated?

  28. #28 |  Dupree | 

    But I can just imagine how much U.S. officials would HOWL if someone kidnapped a U.S. citizen from U.S. soil and tried them for something not illegal in the U.S.~Bergman

    While Ernst Zundel was not a bonafide American citizen, he was living with his American wife(on a legal visa) in THEIR home in Pidgeon Ford, Tennessee when he was kidnnapped on false charges by “immigration” and sent to Canada where he was put in solitary confinement and ultimately deported to Mannheim, Germany.

    There was no HOWL from the US. Zundel and his German lawyer were sentenced to five years in Mannheim prison for “denying the holocaust.”

    Thre was “howl”

  29. #29 |  (B)oscoH | 

    @overgoverned #2: Did Hitler go to Paris, or did he wait for Paris to come to him? It most certainly would have in short order. But I jest (obviously)…

    Radley is baiting them, and he is a master of the craft. One day, many of them will come to realize that power is the primary problem, not ideology.

  30. #30 |  Doc Tom | 

    The liberal rebuttal to Radley’s presentation at Tulane was a nice example of the problem with power worship. The rebuttal was mainly to agree with what Radley was saying but then point out that more laws were needed so that we can more effectively prosecute white collar crimes. This type of thinking that it is more important to concentrate on the identity of the prosecuted rather than the justness of the law is what promotes overcriminalization in the first place. The person rebutting Radley’s examples as outliers or imaginary probably would not think the same way if it were her that was being prosecuted…

  31. #31 |  Jerith | 

    I’m curious how it would play out for all the athletes or other abusers or pushers of performance steroids. The danger to doctors and health professionals regarding normal medical steroid use, the law could be misapplied onto the innocent.

    Does just leaving the country for a planned operation in which controlled opiates are used for surgery apply? If it isn’t clearly covered as allowed someone will try to use the vaguest definition to apply the charges. The use of devils advocate can be more important than the actual plans in many cases. When the devils advocate IS common sense there is a problem.

  32. #32 |  Michael G | 


    Don’t worry! We American doctors are disposable There are plenty of medical graduates around the world to take their place!

  33. #33 |  Michael G | 

    (That should be our place)

  34. #34 |  Windy | 

    @ 26, the government would only howl about a US citizen being kidnapped by a foreign government to be tried for something that is not a crime in these uSofA, if said kidnapped citizen were someone “important”, they could not care less about us peons being in such a situation.

  35. #35 |  Eliza Divine | 

    Mr. Balko,

    I have recently read your article: “The Drug War’s Collateral Damage.” I found it to be very informative.

    I’m concerned with the federal government’s proposed new law, and I was wondering…with as much attention as online petitions have brought to several social issues, do you think it would be possible or wise to create a petition requesting that the UN condemn the actions of the US by considering that some of the actions taken by the federal government in the War on Drugs could be considered Crimes against Humanity?

    Thanks for your time,

    Eliza Divine

  36. #36 |  Jerith | 

    RE: “US citizen being kidnapped by a foreign government” happened in Pakistan with Raymond Davis correct? -Someone- paid the blood money for the families of the two dead. Officials ‘Kidnapped’ Raymond when taking him into custody for the murder of two alleged robbers. Other sources alleged that the two dead were from Pakistan’s own secret service.

    Now its come out at that Raymond is a dick in general. Off topic, sorry.

    Its like using eminent domain into other countries justice systems. Oh wait, they already have a big government department for that called the CIA.

    Which makes me wonder. This would be enforced by.. the federal prison system? CIA and extradition treaties? Drug tourism no-fly lists? Grrr.

  37. #37 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I’d like to see where the constitution grants jurisdiction over the entire world to the federal government.

  38. #38 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I am a liberal, decidedly less appalled with the government than most of those who post here.

    So, those boots aren’t quite so tasty when they might be kicking your ass for smoking dope in Amsterdam, eh?


  39. #39 |  pierre | 

    I actually got an email today from a shamanic center in Peru that performs Ayahuasca ceremonies. Apparently because of this law they can no longer sponsor the journey of Americans to receive treatment with Ayahuasca.

    Due to the change in US law, Shimbre effective immediately will remain as a private shamanic cultural center. The shaman will retain his open door policy, those that seek his knowledge and treatment, those that seek him and come to the jungle are welcome to seek shamanic treatment or initiation by the shaman.

    This law, will no longer allow us to sponsor US Citizens, nor the organization of special event dates for US citizens. Shimbre will ALWAYS continue to exist as the Shaman’s home and our personal retreat. Over the next few weeks we will launch our new ezine, of human evolution, topics and discussions we have on FB.

    We have many ideas and visions for the human movement and many other ways to help our unification and change in society.

    We are deeply saddened, that we can no longer help people in need who can not afford treatment (from the US) , based on the new applicable laws passed this week by the US government, sponsoring someone (from the US) to go to Peru or organizing an event would be deemed illegal.

    Shimbre as i stated will continue as our private retreat and shaman’s home. Citizens of the world are welcome to find shimbre and join the shaman for his teachings and treatment. We will not be able to answer any questions to or give any advice in regards to ancient medicines which are not legal in the USA to US citizens. As we evolve into the new phase or our project of change we will share with the community. Everything happens for a reason.. We will continue our work with the local communities, helping families financially, educating children and helping to fight for the preservation of the Amazons. We will work together for the unification of humanity, for positive change and will continue to spread the message of SELF, of ENERGY, or evolution and ONE. Until the law stops of from speaking about who we are and why we are here, we will continue to shout the message LOUD AND PROUD… WE ARE ONE, ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE
    x rob

    p.s. this does not affect the international community for sponsorship, however we politely ask that US citizens no longer email us asking for sponsorship or questions in regards to the treatment methods or medicines involved- our hands are tied.


  40. #40 |  Newsouthzach | 

    There was an amendment proposed to [only make it illegal to plan acts that would be illegal in the host country] and it was voted down on party lines.

    Who voted for relative sanity, and who against?

  41. #41 |  Be Free | 

    I’m sorry America has so much influence and power. This is a sick law. Other countries should stand up for themselves and resist American bullying when it comes to privacy in banking and in sharing information with American law enforcement. This country has long been a police state but it keeps evolving into a worse one. Like some kind of weird virus.