Indiana Republican Congressman Dan Burton hates marijuana. Just look what it did to his little boy Danny Jr.
Of course, marijuana is a plant that lacks the ability to do anything to anybody on its own. In the case of little baby Burton, the pot plant was more like a rape victim.
It was the not the instrument of the crime, nor did it cause the crime ? it was chosen by the criminal who did the crime.
In 1994, pot plants were doing what they usually do, growing or drying, when young Burton tried to make money smuggling eight pounds of marijuana from Texas to Indiana.
Police caught Danny Jr. with the dried plants in Louisiana; he was charged with trafficking for sale.
This was a particularly embarrassing arrest for his dad, who in 1990 introduced legislation requiring the death penalty for drug dealers.
“We must educate our children about drugs,” Burton said at the debut of his legislation, “and impose tough new penalties on dealers.”
Dad was angry that the legislation was defeated in the 1990-91 Congressional session, but was later happy about it after his son’s arrest, glad that his darling replicant was not going to the electric chair for a plant crime.
Not that the drug criminal children of Republican politicians ever really have to worry about suffering the full penalties of drug laws that are so vigorously enforced against other people’s children. You’ll see an article on that in an upcoming issue of Cannabis Culture.
Burton’s case is a perfect example of this selective lenience. Dad pulled strings to get Louisiana officials to release Danny on bail back to Indiana, where Danny was caught six months later in his Indiana bachelor pad, growing pot and in illegal possession of a shotgun and ammo.
If the child had not been the son of a powerful conservative politician, he would have probably faced federal charges for both incidents and been sent to prison the rest of his life.
But guess what, Danny Jr. wasn’t even prosecuted for the cultivation and gun crime, and was sentenced only to community service for the Louisiana smuggling crime.
This after some backroom chicanery during which drug warrior Burton and attorneys convinced federal prosecutors to turn the cultivation arrest over to Indiana authorities, who inexplicably weighed the 30 marijuana plants as containing only 25 grams of cannabis, which reduced a possible felony charge to a misdemeanor, and then to nothing.
The elder Burton wanted compassion and leniency for his son, and got it, but his hard heart remained flinty. In subsequent years, Burton has emerged as a Congressional pit bull, always hammering for more drug laws and harsher penalties. He even voted against legislation to expand drug treatment and community services as an alternative to prison for drug offenders.
Now, he’s the leading attack dog behind a chronic plan to kill some of the earth’s most useful plants, using a genetically-engineered fungi assassin.
Burton, chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, has joined with rabid and doughy Indiana Congressional Republican Mark Souder, to push the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to quickly provide a scientific assessment that will lead to approval of widespread domestic and international use of killer fungi, applied as “mycoherbicides,” intended to eradicate marijuana, poppies and coca plants.
Some people might think this is a startlingly insane new drug war tactic, but they’d only be half right. It is insane, but it’s not new.
Indeed, mycoherbicides have long been part of America’s illegal Iraq-like intervention in South America, which is typified by its war on plants, peasants, and insurgents in Colombia, known as Plan Colombia.
As reported in Cannabis Culture several times during the last five years, US agents and contractors have been spraying mycoherbicides, standard herbicides and other poisons on South American countries since the year 2000.
It’s all just a recycled version of previous war tactics. During the Vietnam War, the United States committed ecocide on a massive scale, aerially spraying the defoliant Agent Orange indiscriminately.
The American military wanted to destroy the country’s ecosystems so that its citizens could not grow their own food and would starve to death, and so that Viet Cong insurgents would be unable to hide under dense forest canopy and wage war against the American invader-occupiers.
The death spray failed to stop the Viet Cong insurgency, but thousands of US soldiers became ill from Agent Orange. The Pentagon until a few years ago denied that soldiers had become ill due to Agent Orange and finally was forced to admit it after being sued. The Pentagon lied; people died.
The US was driven out of Vietnam by poorly-armed “terrorists,” but only after a million acres of Vietnamese countryside had been poisoned and an estimated million Vietnamese killed.
Echoes of Iraq, perhaps, except that Iraq is a desert country so the US doesn’t have any forests to kill; it only has to murder innocent Iraqis using illegal napalm, other types of firebombs, cluster bombs, and uranium weapons.
The script is the same: US invades a country that never invaded the US, ruins the country, kills lots of innocent people, gets lots of its own soldiers killed and maimed, and then leaves the country a bloody mess while declaring victory and preparing for an invasion of the next unlucky small country that never threatened the US.
According to sources who’ve been in Colombia, US forces and their allies in the Colombian government have been using mycoherbicides and herbicides there for several years.
Opium poppies and coca grow especially well in lowland areas of southeast and southern Colombia, and US-backed eradication programs have ruined the health and economies of settlers and indigenous groups.
These are not unintended consequences. The US and its allies in the Colombian government are not authentically concerned about coca and cocaine use. They’re concerned about oil reserves, oil pipeline safety, and the control of oil-rich regions by US-Colombian government interests, rather than by rebels and native Colombians fighting for human rights against the US and its oil company allies.
By spraying poison on coca and marijuana, the US can also destroy the food crops used by rebels and their campesino supporters, while ruining the peoples’ health at the same time. How efficient!
The “fumigation” programs designed by the US to kill illegal plants have created much resentment amongst Colombians.
Colombian officials have repeatedly asked the US Congress to stop aerial fumigation, and both houses of the Colombian Congress, along with governors from several states in southern Colombia, have asked for an end to aerial spraying. They have all been ignored.
Human rights observers say the drug warriors’ use of Monsanto’s fumigant herbicide “Roundup Ultra” has caused birth defects, blindness, respiratory problems and gastrointestinal illnesses.
Monsanto is one of the most immoral corporations in the world; anyone who cares about justice, human rights, nature and freedom would do well to boycott any of Monsanto’s products and actively work to shut down the corporation (Watch the movie called “The Corporation” to get the lowdown on Monsanto).
Monsanto apparently lied to investigators about the side-effects of its products being used in Colombia, where US aerial spraying has resulted in crop losses, damage to humans, and long-term ruination of entire ecosystems.
Even the heartless United Nations drug control program calls the US fumigation programs “inhumane and ineffective.”
Burton’s prodding of the ONDCP is partially aimed at ramping up drug war fumigation programs to include more dangerous mycoherbicides such as Fusarium.
Cannabis cultivation experts who’ve studied his proposal and the already-existing program of using biological warfare against cannabis, coca and poppies, say such fungi are impossible to control and target for one type of plant, and will invariably cause harm to other plants. These fungi can attach to other crops, lie dormant in soil for years, be spread by wind and contact, pose a danger to humans, and potentially eradicate all life forms in an affected area.
Plant diseases, sometimes referred to as fungi, rusts and molds, are already being used against cannabis and other illegal plants in these programs, sources say, noting that food farmers worldwide spend billions of dollars a year trying to defeat such pathogens, which often manifest as a plague that wipes out an entire region’s food crops within a few weeks.
It’s likely the US government has been researching the use of deadly pathogens since World War Two, but the government has destroyed records and silenced officials to the extent that we will probably never know for sure.
Official records do indicate that top secret ecocidal drug war research increased during the 1960’s when US researchers in Hawaii discovered fungi that could kill coca.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, US scientists eventually isolated strains of Fusarium oxysporum from diseased coca, believing they’d discovered a drug war gold mine.
From the supposedly radical-liberal bastion of the University of California at Berkeley came a proposal from mad scientist Dr. Arthur McCain, who gleefully said: “Just introduce a couple of pounds of pathogenic fungus into an area, and while it wouldn’t have much of an effect the first year, in several years it would spread throughout the country with devastating results.”
Much research has been conducted by the diabolical Dr. David Sands, who patented a special kind of Fusarium called EN-4.
Sands and military officer Colonel Jim McDonough teamed up in Florida to push a Fusarium-based pot eradication program beginning in 1998.
McDonough is a combat veteran who had been the second in command to former ONDCP head General Barry McCaffrey during McCaffrey’s tenure at ONDCP during the Clinton years.
McCaffrey, now a “war analyst” and “drug war expert” who appears on propaganda networks like Fox and MSNBC, likely committed war crimes as a commanding general by burying surrendered Iraqi soldiers alive during the first invasion of Iraq in 1991.
The president’s brother and the guy who helped rig the 2000 presidential elections, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, became the first governor to have his own state drug czar when he hired McDonough in 1998.
McDonough quickly militarized Florida’s drug war, using spies, military jets, naval blockades and National Guard troops.
He and Sands, along with Florida Congressman Bill McCollum and Senator Bob Graham, who garnered a $23 million in taxpayer’s money to study development of genetically-modified drug war fungi, wanted to test Fusarium Oxysporum in Florida.
Joining in support was Tim Moore, commissioner for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, who said the fungus could be a valuable addition to the state’s anti-drug arsenal, and Betty Sembler, wife of developer and now-US ambassador to Italy Mel Sembler, one of the Republican Party’s biggest fund-raisers.
Cannabis Culture readers will no doubt remember the Semblers, who were exposed in our article about severe abuse problems at their Straight, Incorporated “drug treatment” centers, and for the hysterical rantings of their subsequent front group, the Drug Free America foundation (look for a revealing update on the sleazy Semblers in a future issue of CC magazine).
Betty, a close friend of the Bush family and drug warriors everywhere, said that using deadly bioweapons in Florida was a great idea. She said it might be slightly less harmful to drug users than the US government’s previous pot-spraying effort, the one carried out by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970’s, when the US convinced Mexico to spray the poison Paraquat on Mexican marijuana, which at the time made up a huge percentage of the marijuana being smoked in the US.
Smoking cannabis sprayed with Paraquat caused health problems for US tokers. The US-Mexico spray program prompted then-head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Keith Stroup to get into a public tussle with the Carter administration, which led to the eventual disgrace of Stroup and NORML, the firing of Carter’s drug czar Peter Bourne, and the withdrawal of Carter’s unprecedented offer to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
The original McDonough-McCollum plan as proposed in the late 1990’s was delayed and then partially carried out in secret by drug warriors after Florida Department of Environmental Protection scientists vehemently opposed the fungi plan, warning that the fungi could mutate, spread, and kill ecosystems, agricultural crops, and endangered plants.
McDonough said at the time that he didn’t much care about plants or ecosystems.
“Unfortunately, we have wonderful climate and wonderful soil for growing marijuana,” McDonough told Cannabis Culture. “I’m concerned about people growing it here. Florida is off the map in its marijuana usage. It is not a benign drug. It is a dangerous drug. We need every weapon we can get against it.”
Marijuana advocates researching the Fusarium issue found that the head of the USDA’s BioControl of Plant Diseases program, the University of Montana’s Dr. Robert Lumsden, had long been at work making genetically-modified biological agents for use in the drug war.
Yet despite Fusarium’s popularity with drug warriors and their amoral scientific allies, David Struhs, then-secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, had enough courage to tell McDonough:
“Fusarium species are capable of evolving rapidly. The fungus could mutate, spread and kill off everything from tomatoes to endangered plants. It is difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of Fusarium species.”
It seems too late to put the Fusarium back into the dark hole it came out of, however.
Motivated by a thirst for profits, Dr. Sands set up a company called Ag/BioCon and went to Colombia to try to convince the Colombians to let the US use his company’s drug war bioweapons in South America.
Allies of Sands in the US government, including then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright, tried to convince the United Nations to lobby Colombia on behalf of Sands and Fusarium.
Skeptical scientists researched Sands’ claim that Fusarium was safe for humans and that it could be modified so that it only attacks illegal plants.
They found that fungi can mutate and attack any plants, and that it posed a clear risk to humans, especially those with compromised immune systems.
According to medical studies, the rate of human death from Fusarium infection could be as high as 76%.
Other experts warned that using bioweapons against illegal plants was a lunatic idea for several reasons.
Genetic engineering of pathogens creates stronger pathogens that most plants and ecosystems have not evolved defenses for.
Genetically-modified Fusarium and other drug war bioweapons would kill hemp as well as marijuana.
Genetically-modified bioweapons could mutate and spread to potentially destroy the entire web of life that has evolved on earth, making our planet a sterile, dead globe floating silently around the sun.
Nevertheless, Burton and Souder are pushing hard to get ONDCP to find scientists who will give the green light for use of Fusarium and other bioweapons in the US and abroad.
Souder is hoping that a drug war victory will take attention away from his politically-damaging financial and personal connections with corrupt House leader Tom DeLay, who is embroiled in an ethics scandal.
Burton is still acting out his revenge fantasies, hoping to smack down the wicked plants that ensnared son Danny Jr. so many years ago.
“We spend millions of dollars every year on counter-narcotic efforts, including drug crop eradication and interdiction, especially in our joint efforts in Colombia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, yet the flow of illegal and lethal narcotics continues to be a major problem in our country,” Burton thunders. “The advent of mycoherbicides and other counter-narcotic alternatives offers us the possibility to cut off the source of these drugs literally at their roots.”
Joining in the chorus of those who would potentially destroy all life on earth by using genetically-engineered bioweapons in the drug war, Souder intoned:
“If proven to be successful, mycoherbicides could revolutionize our drug eradication efforts. Mycoherbicide research needs to be investigated, and we need to begin testing it in the field. The potential benefit of these fungi is tremendous. My Hoosier colleague should be commended for advancing this initiative.”