Fired for Questioning the Quagmire

What happens when a Border Patrol agent, off the clock, suggests legalization would stop drug cartel violence? He gets fired. Bryan Gonzalez, along with the ACLU, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, as reuters reports:

His suit alleges that the dismissal followed a conversation with a colleague, agent Shawn Montoya, during a work break in April 2009, in which he said he thought legalizing drugs would end cartel violence south of the border.

He also remarked to Montoya that he understood the economic factors that drive undocumented migrants to cross the U.S. border to seek work — although he says his views did not affect his ability to police the border.

A lot of drug war supporters don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. Legalization would force the cartels to become legitimate enterprises that don’t require violence, especially since the threat of law enforcement would be removed. The report continues:

His termination letter stated, in part, that he held “personal views that were contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps,” according to the lawsuit.

Curbing raging drug cartel violence, which has killed more than 34,000 people in Mexico since late 2006, is key concern to both Washington and Mexico City.

It seems to me that Agent Gonzalez didn’t hold personal views that were “contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol agents” more than he was holding views contrary to current government policy. A policy, apparently, that Agent Gonzalez is supposed to honor more than his his oath to the Constitution or even his own ability to think for himself and speak his mind:

“I believe that the drug war just hasn’t worked, and I think it’s important for people to realize that it hasn’t worked,” he said.

Speaking more than a year after he was fired, Gonzalez says the “tragedy” unfolding in El Paso’s sister city of Ciudad Juarez, where more than 3,000 people were slaughtered last year in drug-related violence, was “devastating.”

“It is … something that I saw every day. All the violence that is happening hit home very much … it’s devastating to know that the city is pretty much a war zone.”

As I said the other day, it is disappointing that President Obama isn’t willing to fully step up and call for a reexamination of this policy, and it is deplorable that the government would punish anyone for suggesting a different approach to the drug problem might bring about the reduction in violence Washington and Mexico City claim they are eager to achieve. If now isn’t the time to suggest reexamining the drug war, when is? When we have 30,000 more dead neighbors? And, seriously, if not this President, then who?

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