Talkin’ Liberty is the segment of Liberty Nation Radio where Tim and I focus on a few of the week’s stories affecting our liberty that deserve a little more focus or may have been overlooked in part or whole. Here is the latest episode where we go over the latest drugs war troubles, Cuba and Americans’ dealings with Cubans, and AG Sessions again, on marijuana. You can listen here.
Shortcuts In Drug War?
Tim Donner: Justice officials fear the nation’s biggest wiretap operation may not be legal. Explain please.
Scott Cosenza: Well, Tim, I thought this was a fascinating story from USA Today, Brad Heath is their correspondent that handles these sorts of issues, and he does a very good job. It’s a fascinating story that comes out of Riverside County, California. The discussion is that federal law enforcement agents, chiefly fighting the drug war, have instead of going to federal court to try to get wiretap permissions for some of the suspects that they’re chasing, have instead gone to state court to avoid the increased scrutiny, both within their own departments before being able to seek those warrant and wiretap permissions from a court, and then from the courts themselves, that they would then have to go seek the permission from.
The story details how these often anonymous justice department employees are talking about how its problematic that they’re doing so. I think it’s sort of setting the case for us to read about how, in the future, millions of dollars in investigatory funds have basically been blown. When these people are eventually tried, if their attorneys challenge these warrants and wiretaps in court, which one presumes they would, especially if they were secured under less than, what we might say, the best circumstances from a law enforcement perspective.
Tim Donner: Less than optimal?
Scott Cosenza: Then we might see some of those, or most, or all of those warrants stricken down by federal courts.
Tim Donner: So, what happens then?
Scott Cosenza: Then it’s just a giant waste of the millions of dollars spent, the thousands of hours of resources of federal law enforcements time, would just go down the drain. That’s the point of the story. What’s troubling about it is that our federal law enforcement officers are not doing the most they can in order to secure their own investigations, and also, do the most they can in order to make sure that the constitutional rights of Americans are upheld.
Tim Donner: New US Government rules are restricting travel and trade with Cuba, in something that many people, Scott, are saying is a return to the days of the Cold War, because Cuba no longer represents any kind of threat to us. Is this what Trump has in mind? To take us back to where we were before Obama?
Scott Cosenza: We talked, a number of times on this program, over the past couple of years, in various stories, about the opening up of Cuba to persons of the United States, including the opening up of airline routes, regularly scheduled commercial air traffic, and so on and so forth. Those airlines are now canceling their flights, and what we’re seeing is these rule changes, they say that they’re designed to hurt the government owned, and state mechanisms, where and infusion of tourist cash will basically buoy the Castro’s and their lieutenants, right? You can understand that.
But there are also a number of restrictions that have now been added on, by the Trump administration, that seem to really go against freedom. Both the freedom of the American’s who may travel to Cuba, and of Cuban citizens. I think the most troubling aspect is that it’s harder for people to travel there individually. So, just buy a ticket and go to Cuba, like you would any other country, you need to be able to show “a full-time schedule, with activities that support the Cuban people” , show “meaningful interaction, going beyond merely staying in rooms, and private homes, and eating in private restaurants.”
Now, to try to teach-
Tim Donner: What’s the definition of meaningful interactions?
Scott Cosenza: Well, that’s the thing though, too. We’re trying to teach these people about what a free market economy could be, right? What would be more meaningful than that? What would undermine the Castro regime more than private Americans going over and dealing privately with other Cubans? That seems to be a-
Tim Donner: Well, this is the fundamental issue, and you can see it from both standpoints. On the one hand, if everybody says the goal is to make Cuba more free, then do you do that by restricting the capacities and the cashflow to a corrupt communist government? Or do you do that by bombarding the island with all kinds of private capital that will expose real capitalism to the people of Cuba, who have never been exposed to it? It’s a tough argument. I’ve always come down on the side that more freedom, more capitalism, will ultimately break down the system in Cuba, but others disagree.
Scott Cosenza: We know that trade makes for good neighbors. Look at what happened to Vietnam. Donald Trump’s in China, right now, right? We have a great relationship with them, we’re not on the brink of war with China. Why is that? Well, I would say because of our strong trade ties. We don’t have strong cultural or other ties to them, no. They are our most valued trading partner, and we are theirs.
Tim Donner: Of course, China’s an anomaly because they’re at once communist and capitalist. Communist in terms of the ability to speak freely and to express yourself, and have first amendment-type rights. They are communist through and through, really, but on the other side, they’re a rapidly developing industrial power, with a growth rate that has ranged from 6% to 10% over the last several years.
Scott Cosenza: For me, the key difference is they don’t shoot you if you try to leave.
Sessions Clarifies On Marijuana
Tim Donner: That’s a big one. That’s kind of a baseline one, that we’re not going to gun you down if you want to leave the country. All right, Jeff Sessions says that the Obama Marijuana Policy will remain in effect while he’s Attorney General, and during his Trump administration. So, what is the Obama Marijuana Policy? And will it, in fact, remain in effect? Will it remain unchanged from the days of the 44th, to here, to the 45th president?
Scott Cosenza: Sessions testified yesterday, on the Hill, and all the press was basically about the Russian stuff, which is important, but this, I think, is a very important guidance that was up in the air until yesterday, which was where does Sessions come down on this? His previous statements, both to congressional leaders, and to the press, left people wondering, “Is he going to, at any moment, try to reverse the course?” And, as more states, and more business, and more billions of dollars, depend on the justice department’s treatment of these issues, it becomes very consequential. So, what we’re talking about is the Obama/Holder/Lynch Justice Department, basically, and congressional funding restrictions said as long as people were obeying state laws, in the states they were operating in, the federal government wasn’t going to enforce federal marijuana laws against them.
Tim Donner: Kind of like don’t ask, don’t tell [crosstalk 00:07:13].
Scott Cosenza: That’s the idea. Now, the federal government hasn’t always upheld this operating rubric I guess you might call it. In fact, when Obama first came in, he was horrible, from the perspective of those of us that are anti-prohibitionist, and he directed federal authorities to basically smash and grab at California-
Tim Donner: It was one of the most surprising elements of the Obama administration.
Scott Cosenza: Yeah, and Sessions has basically made these statements, same sort of wildly inflammatory, about marijuana and marijuana users. So, the question is, is the policy going to be the same? At least the articulated policy. Again, it may differ in terms of its execution, but that was the question, and Sessions said, unequivocally, our policy’s the same. Fundamentally, as the Holder-Lynch policy, and that the federal law, basically, they’re not going to send federal agents in to prosecute these people. So, as long as they’re operating, again, under state law, legally. So that’s the current position. It’s good to see some clarification on this matter from the Justice Department. I think we desperately need some changes in the federal law to recognize how far the country has moved in the last 20 years, but in any case, this is good news from Sessions.
He also said, which was nice to see, given his previous statements, that cannabis isn’t as dangerous as heroin, which is, I think, a strong admission from the AG.