In 1971, then President Richard Nixon declared this nation to be engaged in a “War on Drugs.”
war he promised would end the growing menace of the effects of illegal drugs on the citizens of this country.
In the forty years hence, this nation – and all of the U.S. presidents after Nixon – have struggled mightily with the execution of this war, and the fallout, some would say “collateral damage” – mainly in the deaths of innocent civilians caught up in every twist and turn toward the light at the end of the tunnel which has resulted from the sometimes feckless execution of the Drug War, both here and abroad.
Since 1971 The Drug War has gone global, and now includes many other nations and military and intelligences engaged in the execution of a war where there are no defined rules of engagement, no borders, no end in sight, and no exit strategy should one open.
The United States and her allies now spend untold billions to fight the production, transport, sale and use of illegal drugs.
And the cartels who produce and transport and sell the drugs, have profited hugely in those forty years, to the tune of untold billions of dollars…untold because the people who run those enterprises do not have to produce a profit and loss sheet.
However, just a guestimate, using the street value of the drugs which are actually interdicted, will tell you the profits are large enough to view the losses as mere ‘chump change.’
The public has grown weary of the procouncements of the ‘end to the drug war’, and wearier still of the civil rights stepped upon, the draconian sentences imposed for mere possession collars, due to sentencing guidelines imposed as a political veneer to show we were actually doing something.
And law enforcement and judicial authorities are tired of the sentencing guidelines which punish the users of the drugs far more harshly than the people at the top of the drug cartel food chain.
In 2002, the DEA designed and then mounted an exhibit entitled “Target: America, Opening Eyes to The Damage Drugs Cause.”
The exhibit was presented at the DEA Museum in Arlington, where it stayed for one year.
Since 2003, the powerful – indeed gripping – exhibit has toured this country, staying in place for one year – In Dallas, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Omaha.
And now, the Exhibit has landed in Tampa, where it opened on September 16, at the MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) and where it will stay for one year, closing on September 3, 2012.
This exhibit does not hold back. Nor should it.
It’s all here, the people, the places, the crimes, the damage, the sorrow, the efforts at prevention, interdiction, treatment, eradication, prosecution et all.
And death. The deaths directly related to the production, transport and sale of illegal drugs, and the painful and indisputable truth of the deaths of the thousands and thousands of people who are the collateral damage.
The civilians who must interact, either in their own family, or by getting in the way of the cartels the taxpayers who must foot the bill for all of this action and/or the military and intelligence agencies who participate in the eradication, and interdiction of the illegal drugs here and on the killing fields abroad.
If you are in Tampa, visit the exhibit, it’s worth it. And take the children. They are the next ‘collateral damage,” and hopefully, if they would see this exhibit early enough in their lives, would not be among the other innocents who fall victim to the fires of addiction created by the distribution of illegal drugs.
The MOSI is open 365 days a year. Just like the War on Drugs.
MOSI 4801 East Fowler Avenue Tampa, Florida 33657 www.mosi.org
Hours: 9-5 M-F Saturday 9-6 Sunday 9-4 Admission: 21.00 adult 13.00 children