The war on drugs

Prisons, profiling and propaganda: Salon's coverage of the U.S. government crackdown on illegal-substance abuse and the drug trade.

Published May 2, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Much has changed since President Richard Nixon launched a "war on drugs" in the 1970s. The U.S. government's aggressive efforts to crack down on illegal drug use have evolved in recent years to encompass everything from television programming to foreign policy.

Salon's exclusive investigative report by Daniel Forbes details the arrangement that White House officials made with Hollywood script writers and high-profile magazines to encourage anti-drug messages in their content, in exchange for financial incentives from the Clinton administration.

Many blame the war on drugs for a host of societal ills, including racial profiling, violation of privacy and civil liberties and a burgeoning prison population. Critics say the only cure for the blight of drug addiction is treatment, not incarceration. But the drug war's defenders say their efforts have brought down drug abuse and the violent crime it engenders.

Meanwhile, America's drug war extends to other drug-producing countries, heavily influencing our policy toward Colombia, Peru and Mexico. How far will the administration go to combat illegal-drug use, and is the war on drugs worth the cost? Read Salon's coverage.

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Prime-time propaganda

How the U.S. secretly paid Hollywood to put anti-drug propaganda into some of America's most popular TV shows.

By Daniel Forbes


Propaganda for dollars

When the White House and the TV networks got together to put anti-drug messages in prime-time television, were they breaking the law?

By Daniel Forbes


Washington script doctors

How the government rewrote an episode of the WB's "Smart Guy."

By Daniel Forbes


The drug-war gravy train

How the White House rewarded U.S. News, Seventeen and other magazines for publishing anti-drug articles.

By Daniel Forbes


White House blasts Salon

Drug policy spokesman responds to Daniel Forbes' report on the government's anti-drug messages in American media, and Forbes replies.


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When cops become combat troops

The controversial use of force to seize Elian Gonzalez is just business as usual in the war on drugs.

By Bonnie Bucqueroux


U.S. drug policy: Are we doing the right thing?

The White House responds to Michael Massing's critique of the war on drugs, and Massing replies.


"Dead, I can't do anything"

Francisco Santos, a former kidnap victim of drug lord Pablo Escobar, became a symbol of hope for Colombians weary of violence and fear. But when leftist guerrillas ordered him killed, he had to flee to the U.S.

By Ana Arana


"Humanitarian cease-fire" in the war on drugs

A Maine sheriff wants the Legislature to let authorities dole out confiscated pot to people who need medicinal marijuana.

By Fiona Morgan


Drug money

With our foreign policy toward Colombia hog-tied by campaign finance and business interests, the war on drugs could be better waged against Washington.

By Arianna Huffington


Methadone Rx

Your local pharmacy may be the next place to treat heroin addicts.

By Harry Jaffe


Going Dutch Can America learn from the Netherlands' drug policy of tolerance and ambiguity?

By David Downie


The elephant in the room

Presidential candidates are silent on the failure of the U.S. war on drugs.

By Michael Massing


Smoke in his eyes

After Newsweek pulls a story about Gore's pot-smoking past, a former friend speaks out.

By Jake Tapper


Washington, 90210

Defenders of the White House-network drug-ad deal lost the battle of spin.

By Sean Elder


White House defends TV drug-ad deal

President Clinton and allies promote its benefits, while the drug czar gives it partial credit for reduction in teen drug use.

By Fiona Morgan


Is being hooked a choice?

A new book argues that all addictions are a matter of free will, even heroin and coffee.

By Andy Dehnart


Murder in Colombia

American Indians seek to avenge the murder of one of their leaders by leftist rebels.

By Ana Arana


Pot pol

Texas Gov. George W. Bush's Silicon Valley point man, Tim Draper, isn't quiet about legalizing marijuana.

By Mark Gimein


Colombia's powder keg

Washington's ill-conceived policy could hurt human rights and fuel the drug trade.

By Robert D. Lamb


Museum of substance

From opium-addicted housewives to cocaine cough syrup, the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum traces the history of illegal drugs in America.

By Ron Dicker


The real Bush drug scandal

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has presided over a crackdown on first-time drug offenders from poor neighborhoods like Houston's Third Ward Bottoms.

By Debra Dickerson


Class will tell

The Bush cocaine controversy should encourage an overdue debate on why drug abuse among the rich is a "disease" while among the poor it is a "crime."

By Joe Conason


Fixin' under Nixon

A new book examines President Nixon's progressive drug policies and the deevolution of the war on drugs.

By Lori Leibovich


Miami's vice

Crack cocaine is almost dead in many cities, but immigrants, suburbanites and teenagers have kept it alive in South Florida.

By Art Levine


Cracked up

How did a drug whose addictive properties were once compared to potato chips become the scourge of America?

By Maia Szalavitz


Don't go near the mountains

From narco-tours to daily chit-chat about kidnappings, a stay in Cali, Colombia, is a plunge into the surreality of a pleasant nation engaged in an endless war.

By Dawn MacKeen

(02/18/99 )

All in la familia

For people in the Latino community, illegal drugs and the drug trade are woven into the pattern of life -- affecting relatives, friends, loved ones at every level.

By Barbara Renoud-Gonzales


By Salon Staff

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