The agency that enforces federal government’s war on drugs is full of hypocrisy, and the bosses don’t care.
Recent media investigations have found that Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) employees have used drugs, distributed drugs, lied to authorities and committed other serious offenses such as “improper association with a criminal element.”
What’s shocking is that the vast majority of these people have not been fired or even seriously reprimanded, let alone faced criminal charges like normal citizens would.
The USA Today reports:
“The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed its employees to stay on the job despite internal investigations that found they had distributed drugs, lied to the authorities or committed other serious misconduct, newly disclosed records show.
The DEA’s internal affairs log shows investigators review more than 200 cases each year and often clear the agents involved. When they do find wrongdoing, the most common outcome is either a letter of caution — the lightest form of discipline the agency can impose — or a brief unpaid suspension.
In fewer than 6% of those cases did DEA managers recommend firing. In some of those cases, the agency allowed employees to quit. More often, it settled on a lesser punishment.”
Of the 50 who were recommended to be fired by the Board of Professional Conduct over the five-year period, only 13 actually got fired. Some went back on the job after a federal appeals board intervened.
A follow-up look at the new documents, conducted by the Huffington Post, revealed that numerous employees have failed drug tests, only to receive minor reprimands such as short suspensions. No one was fired, despite policy that states drug users will not be considered for employment.
The list of bad behavior continues.
“Indeed, a closer look at the internal log turns up numerous examples of disturbing behavior being punished with suspensions of a few days, at most. From 2010 through 2015, HuffPost found 62 instances of an employee losing or stealing a firearm; more than 30 violations for driving while intoxicated, including four while driving a government-owned vehicle and one that involved a hit-and-run; two occasions in which employees deprived individuals of their civil rights; nine instances of employees losing or stealing drug evidence; 10 cases in which agents lost or stole a defendant’s property; four violations for committing fraud against the government, two of which were punished by a letter of caution; and two more general violations of DEA policy on drug use. The DEA didn’t fire anyone as a direct result of these actions.”
These revelations come on top of scandals and human rights abuses uncovered in spring.
Daniel Chong was left handcuffed in a holding cell for five days with no food and water, yet the six DEA agents involved received only brief suspensions or letters of reprimand.
When the inspector general found that agents had attended cartel-funded sex parties with prostitutes while stationed in Colombia, then-administrator Michele Leonhart said federal law doesn’t allow her to fire the employees.
“There is a culture of protection internally that has to change. If there’s a bad apple, they need to be fired, if not prosecuted, and that’s just not happening,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The inspector general in the Justice Department pointed out years ago that the DEA’s disciplinary process was extremely lax. But it takes public embarrassment to make anything happen in government accountability, or appear to happen.
The internal ethics watchdog is still undergoing a “systematic review” of DEA’s disciplinary process, according to a spokesman. By the time that is done, the agency will have a new list of crimes and misconduct to hand over.
What a profound irony that we have a government continuing to throw people in cages for possessing or trafficking certain psychoactive substances, while their own go unpunished for the very same behaviors and worse. Even the most loyal supporter of prohibition must find this moral crusade a sham.
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