Drug Policy

Sure, He Lies, but He's 'an Outstanding Testifier'


The Drug War Chronicle cites more reasons to worry about President Obama's appointment of Michele Leonhart to head the DEA (a role she has been filling on an temporary basis since November 2007). Leonhart not only oversaw medical marijuana raids as acting administrator; she "stood beside US Attorney Michael Yamaguchi when he announced in a January 1998 press conference that the government would take action against medical marijuana clubs" and "as SAC [special agent in charge] in Los Angeles up until 2004, she was the ranking DEA agent responsible for the numerous Bush administration raids against patients and providers." She was also enthusiastic about the federal government's crackdown on raves, telling The New York Times in 2001 that "some of the dances in the desert are no longer just dances, they're like violent crack houses set to music." But the most disturbing detail mentioned by the Chronicle is Leonhart's steadfast defense of Andrew Chambers, "who earned an astounding $2.2 million for his work as a DEA informant between 1984 and 2000" but "was caught perjuring himself repeatedly." Leonhart's reaction to Chambers' perjury is troubling, to say the least:

Michele Leonhart defended Chambers. When asked if, given his credibility problems, the agency should quit using him, she said, "That would be a sad day for DEA, and a sad day for anybody in the law enforcement world… He's one in a million. In my career, I'll probably never come across another Andrew."

Another Leonhart statement on Chambers is even more shocking, as much for what it says about Leonhart as for what Leonhart says about Chambers. "The only criticism (of Chambers) I've ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand," she said, adding that once prosecutors check him out, they will agree with his DEA admirers that he is "an outstanding testifier."

I discussed Leonhart's appointment on Tuesday.

NEXT: The Howard Zinn/Nation Critique of Obama

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  1. Man that is messed up.

  2. I think it was in Prince of the City where Jerry Orbach’s (cop) character said something like “if we can’t lie, we’re never going to put any of these guys away.”

    1. I saw that movie at the theater with my parents when it first came out. I haven’t seen it since. I remember liking it at the time (of course I was like 11 so what did I know). That is a good line though. I will have to re-watch it sometime.

      1. One of the most interesting things about the movie is that they mentioned the “French Connection” bust – not only for the meta-film moment, but for the fact that the heroin seized in the French Connection was stolen out of the evidence locker and sold – by cops.

        But yeah, we’re gonna win that War on Drugs any day now…

        1. And the actual “French connection” busts were in the mid 1960s. Forty five years and nothing has changed.

    2. Treat Williams!

      1. He was in Miss Congeniality 2! Also, he played Echo Base Trooper #3 in Empire Strikes Back.

      2. Prince of the City was a huge deal when it came out. Treat Williams was billed as the next Pachino. No kidding. He kind of took a wrong turn somewhere.

        1. The Substitute 3! Ironically, I know the guy who wrote and produced all the Substitute movies.

          Treat’s a good actor. I don’t know what happened to him.

          1. He was good in Prince. Timothy Hutton is another wtf? Good actor, but has he done an A-list movie since Falcon and the Snowman?

            1. Someone, I forget who, put the greatest H&R Post ever about that very topic a few months ago. It was about the movie Taps and how the casting turned out to be weirdly prescient.

              In the movie, Hutton plays a good kid with a lot of potential who makes some mistakes and never amounts to much. Tom Cruise plays a complete raving lunatic. And Sean Penn plays a whinny anti-establishment bitch.

              Rarely do I read something and go “damn why didn’t I ever think of that”. But that post was definitely one of those times.

              1. Thx, that was me. I saw Taps when it first came out, and it remains one of my favorite movies.

                1. That was a great post, Penguin. Thanks for coming forward, because I was about to credit Episiarch (d’oh!).

                  1. Art, given the crap I usually post, I couldn’t blame you for giving credit to someone who actually posts witty comments on a regular basis.

                    Or even Episiarch.

                    1. My comments are so witty, I outwit myself.

            2. The Dark Half. Not near Romero’s best, but before he became terrible.

          2. She asks me why
            I’m just a hairy guy
            I’m hairy noon and night
            Hair that’s a fright
            I’m hairy high and low
            Don’t ask me why
            Don’t know
            It’s not for lack of bread
            Like the Grateful Dead

            Gimme head with hair
            Long beautiful hair
            Shining, gleaming,
            Streaming, flaxen, waxen

            Give me down to there hair
            Shoulder length or longer
            Here baby, there mama
            Everywhere daddy daddy

            Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
            Flow it, show it
            Long as God can grow it
            My hair

            Let it fly in the breeze
            And get caught in the trees
            Give a home to the fleas in my hair
            A home for fleas
            A hive for bees
            A nest for birds
            There ain’t no words
            For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
            Of my…

            Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
            Flow it, show it
            Long as God can grow it
            My hair

            I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
            Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
            Oily, greasy, fleecy
            Shining, gleaming, streaming
            Flaxen, waxen
            Knotted, polka-dotted
            Twisted, beaded, braided
            Powdered, flowered, and confettied
            Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

            Oh say can you see
            My eyes if you can
            Then my hair’s too short

            Down to here
            Down to there
            Down to where
            It stops by itself

            They’ll be ga ga at the go go
            When they see me in my toga
            My toga made of blond
            Biblical hair

            My hair like Jesus wore it
            Hallelujah I adore it
            Hallelujah Mary loved her son
            Why don’t my mother love me?

            Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
            Flow it, show it
            Long as God can grow it
            My hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
            Flow it, show it
            Long as God can grow it
            My hair

            1. I watched “Hair” (on VHS, I believe) when I was on CQ (fireguard) back in 2007. My NCO was awesome like that. Good times, and that was totally the next Treat Williams reference I would have made.

  3. “The only criticism (of Chambers) I’ve ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand,” she said, adding that once prosecutors check him out, they will agree with his DEA admirers that he is “an outstanding testifier.”

    The new curriculum at the DEA Academy includes “Profesional Testifier” for those that would like to go into a growing and profitable business…

  4. Yo fuck Michele Leonhart.

    1. she’s a pitbull yes, but she’s our pitbull

  5. This looks like another campaign promise down the crapper.

  6. The justice system and the justice department in particular is completely broke. And I don’t know how to fix it. If only it were just a red team blue team get our guys in there kind of problem. It is anything but. What do you do when you have not just one or two but hundreds or maybe thousands of people like this in positions of authority?

    1. There are no “right people in charge.”

    2. End the War on Drugs. No, that won’t be a total fix, but it would be a huge start.

      John, you are one of the few conservatives I’ve met who actually acknowledges there are problems with the CJ system. Is my perspectives skewed, or do most conservatives still think that we just need to keep locking people up?

      1. I am probably in the minority. My experience is that conservatives who have never had any direct experience with the Justice System, either through working as a cop or as a prosecutor or defense attorney, tend to look at the Justice system the way liberals look at other government bureaucracies; they honestly think it works.

        Interestingly enough, I am aquanted with a fair number of cops and lawyers who actually work in the system and are also very conservative, and almost all of them think the system is broken and think the drug war is primarily to blame. My limited experience is that the closer a person is to the front lines of the drug war, the more cynical they are about it.

        1. My limited experience is that the closer a person is to the front lines of the drug war, the more cynical they are about it.

          Cynical, yes, but not necessarily willing to publicly advocate for an end to their gravy train.

          Same thing happens in a lot of government contracting.

        2. …the closer a person is to the front lines of the drug war, the more cynical they are about it.

          If the front line troops are cynical, think about what that says about the rear echelon (higher ranking) motherf****ers.

  7. The only criticism about our star witness is that he lies on the stand. Bravo.

    1. But look a the convictions he got. Hey, 12 honest men agreed with him. Who are we to say they were wrong.

      1. Those 12 honest men were serving on what defense attorneys would characterize as a “jury”.

  8. … he is “an outstanding testifier.”

    Should be: he is “an outstanding testiliar.”

    1. “He has astounding testicles.”

      1. Thank you. I am quite proud of them.

        1. Monique Junot: He keeps putting his testicles all over me.
          Lane Myer: Excuse me?
          Monique Junot: You know, like octopus? Testicles?
          Lane Myer: Ohhhh. Tentacles. N-T. Big Difference.

          1. Oh, Diane Franklin… you were so naked so many times…

            1. Not in Bill & Ted’s she wasn’t.

              1. That’s Keanu’s fault.

                1. What Keanu Reeves lacks in acting range he makes up for in imperturbability.

                  1. Jaysus, what a thread, first Treat Williams then Keanu.

          2. Better Off Dead references….how can I not stop and give credit where it’s due.

            1. Two dollars!

              1. My grandma dropped acid this morning and hijacked a bus full of penguins, so it’s kind of a family crisis here…

                1. blew a seal…no, just had some ice cream.

            2. Someone threw away a perfectly good white-boy.

            3. I’m really sorry I blew your mom up Ricky.

            4. I think I just froze the left half of my brain!

  9. Can Jacob Sullum expand on this please? I thought an informant was a one-time thing. How do you do it for 16 years, and how do you make millions doing it?

    1. http://www.newsweek.com/id/85342?tid=relatedcl

      There is a newsweek article on him. It is a seriously fucked up story.

  10. “violent crack houses set to music”

    Nice expression. She *could* have been referring to the criminal justice system.

    1. Someone needs to kidnap that bitch and haul her to Burning Man.

  11. “violent crack houses set to music”

    A bunch of drugged out middle class whtie kids dancing to bad music and pretending to be angst ridden. Yeah, that sounds like a violent crack house to me.

    1. “pretending to be angst ridden”

      Anybody with a child in high school has to find this pretty funny. Honestly, tell me this isn’t your kid. I’ve bought my son expensive pre-torn and stained clothing so others could see just how down with it he is. One might think that as inwardly focused teens are they might see through their own bullshit, but amusingly that doesn’t usually seem to be the case. Ah, life….

      1. Word.

        One of the worst arguments I had with my son was that I would not pay for pre-torn jeans. Stupid fucking kids.

  12. And nobody will give a damn and she’ll get the appointment. Because if congresscritters start giving a shit about lying, they’d have to stop and that won’t happen.

  13. *jaw on the floor*

    You know, I really shouldn’t be surprised about this, but for some reason I am. I’m guess I never thought even a government agent whose livelihood depends on the continuation of the War on (some) Drugs would say “Yeah, he lies. But he’s really good at it!”

  14. So, how’s that liberaltarian thing working? At least Obama’s good on civil rights and the WOD, right?

    1. Yes, thank God McCain didn’t win. He’d just have continued all of Bush’s policies.

      1. Damn. Now that’s deadpan irony.

        1. Of course, if someone were to continue Bush’s policies without being Bush or a Republican, well, that would be cool. Wish someone could do that.

          1. Heh heh heh heh, but maybe if such a person could spend even more?

            1. That’s unpossible. One man can only accomplish so much!

  15. Speaking of film and informants, One of Guy Ritchie’s recent ones, RocknRolla, has a subplot about how someone can make a semi-career out of being an informant.

    1. How well does informing pay? I happen to know about a group of libertarians.

      1. Not to ruin the ending or anything. Wait, forget I said that.

        1. Crap. I was considering whether to add a “SPOILER ALERT”. Anyway, if you watch the movie, you still don’t know who, which is the most important part.

      2. We’re not doing anything illegal yet, ProL. Give Lessig some time to get his amendment passed, though, and we’re probably all screwed then.

        1. Oh, please. You right-wingers are all terrorists. It’s in the secret law!

          1. Well, I am a veteran with libertarian sympathies who voted for Ron Paul. three strikes, I’m a terrorist.

            1. Hey, thanks. All this confessing will definitely help my take from this horrific betrayal.

              1. Don’t be so hasty, ProL. You know what they say – snitches get stitches.

                1. Very well, then, you can join my crack squad of betrayers.

                  1. What’s my take? If I’m going to sell out to the man (again) I expect a better deal than the one I got when I was 17.

                    1. A lifetime pass on the bullet train.

                    2. A train pass? Two car companies the government owns and you’re offering train passes? Not the best inducement, ProL.

                    3. And a ride on the Space Shuttle.

                2. That’s what universal heatlhcare is for.

        2. We don’t have to worry about that. You will confess to us everything you have done wrong during the self criticism session.

          1. Sorry, John, but you’re already betrayed. The bounty is higher for people who’ve defended any Republican ever for any reason whatsoever. Especially female Republicans, which are legally an oxymoron.

  16. Well, I am a veteran with libertarian sympathies who voted for Ron Paul. three strikes, I’m a terrorist.

    I’m going to come to your house and put a Gadsden Flag decal on your car. And then rat you out.

    1. The doormat that says “Come Back With A Warrant” should be sufficient evidence, I think.

    2. Ha, I’m safe. I only have a Culpeper Minuteman flag as the front license plate on my car.

  17. If an attorney knowingly puts someone on the stand who lies under oath, that attorney’s risking disbarment, right?


    1. Subornation of perjury, yes. One of the biggest no-nos for a lawyer.

      1. With an exception for prosecutors.

        1. No they just have to lie about knowing it was perjury.


  18. Again, justice can never be well served when the state has a monopoly on the administration of justice. It is a prescription for chaos, mayhem, murder and for gangster rule. History demonstrates that I am right.

  19. I occasionally testify as a forensics expert in Houston. Once, in answer to a DA’s direct question on the wittness stand, I testified that I had seen frank fakery from the local Police departments DNA lab. And more than once.

    The judge stopped the trial, sent the jury out of the room and proceded to ream me good for saying something like this in front of a jury. Basically telling me that she didn’t care how many degrees I had, she would put me in jail for contempt if I ever said anything like that again. My hesitant answer was that I was under oath to tell the truth and had done so. This only made her angrier.

    About six months later, the state department of public safety shut the whole lab down for just the sort of fakery I had testified too.

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