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Published:February 21st, 2007 10:27 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Dan Baum, The New Yorker

Judyth Piazza chats with Dan Baum, The New Yorker

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

Dan Baum has worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, and as a freelance writer for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune, and many other newspapers and magazines. At the Constitution, Baum was assigned the "major crime" beat, which in 1985 and 1986 was largely a matter of covering the state-and-city`s war on drugs and the appearance of crack cocaine.

During his two years at the Constitution Baum contributed his share of dispatches from the war front. "I myself wrote some of the most egregious crack-scare stories," admits Baum. "I didn`t question the police propaganda at the time, and didn`t understand how central to their budgets it was to keep the drug panic alive."In the summer of 1991, the drug war came to Dan`s home town of Missoula, Montana, and police began arresting people for growing small amounts of marijuana in their basements, confiscating their homes, and sending them to prison for five years or longer.

After writing short pieces for the Nation and the Journal of the American Bar Association about the drug war and civil liberties, Baum began work on Smoke and Mirrors, a history of the war on drugs from the Nixon Administration to the present. As he discovered, "for more than a quarter century the United States has been on a rampage, kicking in doors and locking people up in the name of protecting its citizens from illegal drugs. Hundreds of billions of dollars into the Drug War, nobody claims victory. Yet we continue, devoted to a policy as expensive, ineffective, delusional, and destructive as government gets."



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