Although the federal government is no longer running those ads that accuse drug users of supporting terrorism, the Drug Enforcement Administration has a traveling exhibit with the same message. After stops in Arlington, Virginia (home of the DEA's museum); Dallas, Texas; and Ashland, Nebraska, "Target America: Drug Traffickers, Terrorists, and You" opened today in Times Square, missing the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks by just a few days.
USA Today reports that "the exhibit includes a large display of debris collected from [the Pentagon and the World Trade Center]. The exhibit does not specifically tie the attacks to drug trafficking, but it uses the events to explain how terrorists use the drug trade as one of several methods to fund attacks. It cites U.S. intelligence linking the Taliban in Afghanistan, and by extension its thriving heroin economy, to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda."
Never mind that any link between drugs and terrorism is an artifact of prohibition, or that Afghanistan's heroin ends up in the veins of Europeans (many of them French, no doubt) rather than Americans. The latest government figures indicate that three-quarters of illegal drug users are pot smokers. In what sense were they complicit in the murder of 3,000 Americans?
"The ONDCP spent millions on ads that blamed U.S. teenagers for murder and torture," says Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance. "With this exhibit, is the DEA saying that Governor George Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, and hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers who have used illegal drugs are responsible for [9/11] and other acts of terrorism?"
Good question. I doubt the DEA knows the answer.