Thursday, March 4, 2010

Whatever happened to bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden - remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?

Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the killing of two key Taliban commanders and an increase in drone attacks.

But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon.

“No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban."

Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he’s [bin Laden] protected by the ISI,” Tanner says.

Tanner says that rogue elements within the ISI - if not the Pakistani government may be using bin Laden as a “trump card” to exert leverage over the United States. Tanner says that Pakistani leaders are concerned that the U.S. will draw closer to India, Pakistan’s chief rival.

Flashing the bin Laden trump card will insure that the U.S. will continue to send aid to Pakistan because it considers it a bulwark against radical Islam, Tanner says. Without the bin Laden trump card, though, Pakistan would be in danger of being abandoned by the U.S., Tanner says.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner says. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Even if the U.S. draws a bead on bin Laden, he won’t be captured alive, says Thomas Mockatis, author of, “Osama bin Laden: A Biography.”

Mockatis says bin Laden has bodyguards who are tasked with shooting him if his capture seems imminent.

“Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

Many in the Arab world wouldn’t even believe reports that bin Laden had been killed, Mockatis says. They would dismiss the news as CIA propaganda and any photographs of bin Laden’s body as fabrications.

Killing bin Laden is important, but what’s more vital is the ongoing U.S. campaign to “constrict” al Qaeda’s operation, Mockatis says. The U.S. has become more successful at taking away al Qaeda’s safe havens, their ability to move agents and finance operations around the globe.

“It’s a grinding down process, the way you deal with organized crime,” Mockatis says. “You constantly keep the pressure on.”

That pressure may have led to several purported bin Laden sightings, says Ivan Kenneally, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York who teaches courses on American foreign policy and war and the state.

Some of those alleged sightings have placed bin Laden in Chitral, Pakistan, the northwest region of the country. One bin Laden tip from last fall was credible enough that the U.S. military and Pakistani special forces cordoned off an area and kept it under 24-hour surveillance by drones, Kenneally says.

“There has been more general information that bin Laden is moving about North Waziristan, complicating his detection by constantly moving back and forth over the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Kenneally says.

Finding bin Laden might not come down to super-sleuthing or aggressive military action, says William Martel, associate professor of international security studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School in Massachusetts.

“You need a healthy dose of luck to actually produce the capture of someone like that who doesn’t want to be captured,” says Martel, also author of “Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy.”

Martel, like others interviewed for this blog post, says that bin Laden is probably still alive.

It may actually be better if bin Laden isn’t captured, Martel says. The debate over handling bin Laden in captivity would be explosive.

“Do we read him his rights; do we run him through a military tribunal or civilian courts?” Martel says. “Capturing him would pose more problems than not.”

Trash Fee, Soda Tax Are Go

Top aides to Mayor Nutter today said the proposed trash fee and soda tax in the mayor’s budget plan would stave off service cuts and improve quality of life in the city.

City officials today laid out the details of the $3.87 billion budget plan for the 2011 fiscal year, which starts July 1. As first reported by the Daily News, the plan will contain a trash fee and a tax on sugary drinks. Here are the details:

  • The trash fee would be $5.77/week or $300/year for property owners and would be placed on your real estate tax bill. Some low income households will qualify to pay a $200 fee instead. This fee would be effective July 1 and is expected to bring in $108 million annually.
  • The sugary drinks tax would be 2 cents per ounce of soda, juice and other sugar beverages. That tax would be charged to retailers, as part of their business privilege tax. Presumably they would pass the charge on to consumers. It will yield $77 million a year, but because it won’t start until January 2011, this tax would generate $39 million in the 2011 fiscal year.

Officials said these new charges mean they will not have to make any major service cuts to close a projected budget gap of up to $150 million in the 2011 fiscal year. Over five years, that number will grow to $500 million to $700 million. That’s due to lower than expected tax revenues, coupled with some unplanned expenses, like the cost of snow removal.

“The budget was designed to avoid more service cuts,” said city Finance Director Rob Dubow. “When we looked at the budget this year there were two things we didn’t want to do: service cuts and we didn’t want to increase the rates of any of our existing taxes."

Last year the mayor had to close two budget gaps in several months, slashing $2.4 billion from the city’s five-year financial plan and drawing community outrage over his proposals to close libraries and cut services. This year's budget plan -- which the Mayor will formally unveil in his budget address tomorrow -- must now go to City Council for approval.

Nutter officials said the two new charges – which they said would be permanent -- would help them combat obesity and clean streets, in addition to generating revenue to balance the budget. A small amount of revenue from the charges would go to anti-obesity programs and street cleaning efforts. Mechanical leaf collection will be restored in the neighborhoods.

But some questioned the new charges. Brett Mandel, former head of the tax-reform organization Philadelphia Forward, said the trash fee would disproportionately affect those with lower incomes. The proposed trash fee is structured differently than in many cities, which use a “pay as you throw” model, meaning the fee is based on how much trash you put out.

“It’s a horribly regressive thing to do,” Mandel said. “It would be applied equally to folks regardless of their means. Even worse, if you’re going to make this a charge based on trash, it should be a charge based on what you throw out.”

Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler said the city chose a flat trash fee for the simplicity. She also said that citizens can get a financial boost through the Recycling Rewards Program, which provides coupons to neighborhoods with high recycling rates.

Tony Crisci, general counsel for the Pennsylvania Beverage Association, slammed the soda tax, saying it would cost jobs in Philadelphia, where there are two soda bottling companies.

“What ends up happening there, is there will be a reduction in sales. If there’s a reduction in sales, there will be a reduction in production. If there’s a reduction in production, there’s a reduction in jobs,” Crisci said. “This is clearly a grab for money.”

Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Don Schwartz said a soda tax would help Philadelphia, which has the highest obesity rate of the top ten cities in the nation.

“We expect that over time, this will provide a good revenue source for obesity prevention,” Schwartz said.

Entire February 2010 Issue of the American Behavioral Scientist Devoted to State Crimes Against Democracy: The Case of September 11, 2001

For 50 years the American Behavioral Scientist has been a leading source of behavioral research for the academic world. Its influence is shown by the fact that it is indexed by an extraordinary 67 major database services, causing its papers to be widely exposed on the international scene.

The publisher, Sage, is headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices in London, New Delhi, Singapore, and Washington DC.

Each issue offers comprehensive analysis of a single topic.

The six papers in the February 2010 issue are devoted to the recent concept of "State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD's)," with emphasis on 9/11 and on how human behavior has failed to recognize its reality. [Ref. ]

What are SCAD's?

"SCADs differ from earlier forms of political corruption in that they frequently involve political, military, and/or economic elites at the very highest levels of the social and political order," explains one essay.

"Negative information actions" are defined by another as "willful and deliberate acts designed to keep government information from those in government and the public entitled to it. Negative information actions subvert the rule of law and the constitutional checks and balances."

One paper shows that "preexisting beliefs can interfere with people's examination of evidence for state crimes against democracy (SCADs), specifically in relation to the events of September 11, 2001, and the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Another refers to TV's "popular culture passion plays" as "displacing interrogation of real-event anomalies, as with the porous account given by the 9/11 Commission for what happened that fateful day." …2

And another deals with "the actual destruction of sovereignty and democratic values under the onslaught of antiterrorism hubris, propaganda, and fear," in response to 9/11, asking whether the Patriot Acts of 2001 and 2006 are themselves state crimes against democracy.

The papers extensively quote the independent academic researchers who have been studying the 9/11 problem for years, including Dr. David Ray Griffin; Dr. Niels Harrit, Dr. Steven Jones, Chemist Kevin Ryan, and the rest of the team that studied nanothermite in the World Trade Center dust; and Dr. Peter Dale Scott, Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, Barrie Zwicker, Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, and The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.


Papers Listed in the February 2010 Issue, Amer. Behav. Sci.

Matthew T. Witt and Alexander Kouzmin, "Sense Making Under 'Holographic' Conditions: Framing SCAD Research." American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 783-794.

Lance deHaven-Smith, "Beyond Conspiracy Theory: Patterns of High Crime in American Government.," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 795-825.

Christopher L. Hinson. "Negative Information Action: Danger for Democracy." American Behavioral Scientist, 2010 53: 826-847.

Laurie A. Manwell, "In Denial of Democracy: Social Psychological Implications for Public Discourse on State Crimes Against Democracy Post-9/11," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 848-884.

Kym Thorne and Alexander Kouzmin, "The USA PATRIOT Acts (et al.): Convergent Legislation and Oligarchic Isomorphism in the 'Politics of Fear' and State Crime(s) Against Democracy (SCADs)," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 885-920

Matthew T. Witt, "Pretending Not to See or Hear, Refusing to Signify: The Farce and Tragedy of Geocentric Public Affairs Scholarship," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 921-939.

Notable Monetary Quotes

Larry Parks, Executive Director, FAME “With the monetary system we have now, the careful saving of a lifetime can be wiped out in an eyeblink.”

George Bernard Shaw “You have to choose [as a voter] between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the Government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the Capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.”
Voltaire (1694-1778) “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value —- zero.”
Daniel Webster,
speech in the Senate, 1833 “We are in danger of being overwhelmed with irredeemable paper, mere paper, representing not gold nor silver; no sir, representing nothing but broken promises, bad faith, bankrupt corporations, cheated creditors and a ruined people.”
Thomas Jefferson to
John Taylor, 1816 “I sincerely believe … that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
Daniel Webster “Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effective than that which deludes them with paper money.”
St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank,
Review, Nov. 1975, p.22 “The decrease in purchasing power incurred by holders of money due to inflation imparts gains to the issuers of money–.”++
Federal Reserve Bank, New York
The Story of Banks, p.5. “Because of ‘fractional’ reserve system, banks, as a whole, can expand our money supply several times, by making loans and investments.”++
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia,
Gold, p. 10 “Without the confidence factor, many believe a paper money system is liable to collapse eventually.”++
Federal reserve Bank of New York,
I Bet You Thought, p.19 “Commercial banks create checkbook money whenever they grant a loan, simply by adding new deposit dollars in accounts on their books in exchange for a borrower’s IOU.”++
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago,
Modern Money Mechanics, p.3 “The actual process of money creation takes place in commercial banks. As noted earlier, demand liabilities of commercial banks are money.”++
U.S. Supreme Court,
Craig v. Missouri,
4 Peters 410. “Emitting bills of credit, or the creation of money by private corporations, is what is expressly forbidden by Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.”++
James A. Garfield “Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.”++
Frederic Bastiat,
The Law “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”++
Irving Fisher,
100% Money “Thus, our national circulating medium is now at the mercy of loan transactions of banks, which lend, not money, but promises to supply money they do not possess.”++
John Maynard Keynes,
The Economic Consequences of the Peace,
1920, page 240 “If, however, a government refrains from regulations and allows matters to take their course, essential commodities soon attain a level of price out of the reach of all but the rich, the worthlessness of the money becomes apparent, and the fraud upon the public can be concealed no longer.”
John Maynard Keynes,
The Economic Consequences of the Peace,
1920, page 235ff “Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalistic System was to debauch the currency. . . Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million can diagnose.”
Ralph M. Hawtrey,
former Secretary of Treasury,
England “Banks lend by creating credit. They create the means of payment out of nothing.”++
Robert H. Hemphill,
former credit manager,
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta “Money is the most important subject intellectual persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it is widely understood and its defects remedied very soon.”++
Sir Josiah Stamp, former President,
Bank of England “Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money and control credit, and with a flick of a pen they will create enough to buy it back.”++
Rt. Hon. Reginald McKenna, former
Chancellor of Exchequer, England “Those who create and issue money and credit direct the policies of government and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.”++
John Adams, letter to
Thomas Jefferson “All the perplexities, confusion and distresses in America arise not from defects in the constitution or confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, as much from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.”++
Wm. Jennings Bryan “Money power denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.”++
George Washington, in letter to
J. Bowen, Rhode Island,
Jan. 9, 1787 “Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.”++
George Bancroft,
A Plea for the Constitution (1886) “Madison, agreeing with the journal of the convention, records that the grant of power to emit bills of credit was refused by a majority of more than four to one. The evidence is perfect; no power to emit paper money was granted to the legislature of the United States.”++
Article One, Section Ten,
United States Constitution “No state shall emit bills of credit, make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts, coin money—.”++
John C. Calhoun,
Speech 5/27/1836 “A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various powerful interest, combined in one mass; and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in banks.”
Andrew Jackson: To delegation of
bankers discussing the
Bank Renewal Bill, 1832 “You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the eternal God, I will rout you out.”
Treasury Secretary Woodin,
3/7/33 “Where would we be if we had I.O.U.’s scrip and certificates floating all around the country?” Instead he decided to “issue currency against the sound assets of the banks. [As opposed to issuing currency against gold.] The Federal Reserve Act lets us print all we’ll need. And it won’t frighten the people. It won’t look like stage money. It’ll be money that looks like real money.” [Emphasis added.] (Source: ‘Closed for the Holiday: The Bank Holiday of 1933′, p20 – Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)
John Kenneth Galbraith “The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.” Money: Whence it came, where it went – 1975, p15
John Kenneth Galbraith “The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.”
Money: Whence it came, where it went – 1975, p29
Senator Carter Glass,
Author of the Banking Act of 1933 “Is there any reason why the American people should be taxed to guarantee the debts of banks, any more than they should be taxed to guarantee the debts of other institutions, including merchants, the industries, and the mills of the country?”
Chief Justice Salmon Chase, formerly Secretary of Treasury in President Lincoln’s administration, in dissent of Knox vs. Lee (The Legal Tender Cases, 1871) “The legal tender quality [of money] is only valuable for the purposes of dishonesty.”
Dr. Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, 11/20/2003 “As long as we issue fiat currency, I see no alternative to a legal tender law.”
John Adams “All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.”
Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) Austrian Economist, Author and 1974 Nobel Prize-Winner for Economics “With the exception only of the period of the gold standard, practically all governments of history have used their exclusive power to issue money to defraud and plunder the people.”
Dr. Edwin Vieira, FAME Foundation Scholar “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, and that’s good enough.”


















































Drugs, Guns and Dirt

In April 2004, agents from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service surrounded a trailer outside Grants, New Mexico, to execute a search warrant.

A couple of weeks earlier, "N" (who asked that his real name not be used), the BLM case agent for archaeological crime in New Mexico, received a tip that an exceptionally rare pair of Anasazi leggings made of human hair had been stolen from a private home. The leggings had been found on federal land, making their sale, transport, or possession a crime. Officers quickly identified the thief and "flipped" him, that is, they got him to help catch the person to whom he sold the leggings. The agents set up a controlled buy--they had the thief repurchase the leggings using marked bills, and then obtained a search warrant to retrieve the money.

As the agents stormed the trailer, the suspect ran out the back, where the cover team stopped him at gunpoint. "What are you guys here for?" he said. "Are you here for the meth?"

The Buffalo Soldier case, in which old-school treasure hunters crossed a legal line from collecting to looting (see "The Case of the Missing Buffalo Soldier"), was an anomaly, according to N. Most of his cases come from the poverty-stricken trailer parks of Farmington, Bloomfield, and Aztec in the state's archaeology-rich northwest corner. But history buffs aren't his targets: "All I've been dealing with is tweakers," he says, using the slang term for methamphetamine addicts, who loot sites for artifacts they can sell or trade for more drugs. The locus of archaeological crime in the Southwest and across the nation is shifting into the world of drugs and guns. It is a far cry from the traditional, familial world of pot hunters and metal detectorists.

In the trailer home of the human-hair leggings suspect, N and the other agents found a pound and a half of meth (with a street value of a few hundred thousand dollars, depending on how it was cut), at least five loaded firearms, and 16 pounds of marijuana. On the kitchen counter, where he cut meth for sale, and on shelves around the house were at least 30 or 40 intact prehistoric Anasazi pots. "You could see what he was doing his business in," says N. "This was the perfect example of how the drug trade has overlapped with the illegal artifact trade."


Federal agents investigating illegal antiquities found Anasazi pots--presumably acquired in exchange for drugs--on the same counters where methamphetamine was cut for sale. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

Meth--crank, ice, crystal, glass--is a cheap, nasty stimulant and one of the most addictive and destructive of all drugs. It can be injected, smoked, snorted, or swallowed and causes feelings of high energy and euphoria, in addition to paranoia, delusions, and violent behavior. In many parts of the country, it is a major player in the hard-core drug culture.

In the Southwest, antiquities are what a stolen car stereo might be in New York--an untraceable commodity of the criminal underground. "This is what the West has, so this is what the West gives up for its drugs," says N. Artifacts can be looted from remote public lands near impoverished communities with acute drug problems, and there is an infrastructure of shady galleries and trading posts that can "launder" them for sale. A kind of strange synergy is developing with meth in particular that puts every archaeological site and collection at greater risk. Law enforcement officials in the Southwest even have a term for those who combine tweaking and digging--"twiggers."

The looting-meth connection is reported by federal archaeologists and law enforcement officers across the region. "It's not a straw man," says Garry Cantley, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "I've seen it."

An interagency undercover operation--code-named Silent Witness--in the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in 12 indictments and convictions and revealed a network of twiggers linked by a single meth dealer, according to Phil Young, a former agent with the National Parks Service. It was one of the first times federal authorities saw the connection first-hand. "It was a very destructive process to the cultural resource, and of course to the individuals as well," says Young.

Blythe Bowman, a criminologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has conducted a worldwide survey of archaeologists to gauge their experience with looting. At first she knew nothing about the connection with meth, but it emerged in her data. More than a dozen archaeologists from all over the country volunteered the same information--that they had heard about meth and artifacts from local law enforcement, or had direct contact with tweakers in the field. "It's not something I went looking for," she says. "I was extraordinarily shocked. I had to read it several times." And her results did not come from the Southwest alone--reports came in from California, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oregon, Georgia, and other places. "It seems to be everywhere," she says. There were drug problems before the rise of meth, but not a particular tie to looting. The looting-meth nexus probably has much to do with the drug itself.

Meth addicts build a tolerance, so they have to take more and more--and need more money--to continue achieving a high. Meth provides a surplus of energy that tweakers need to work off, as well as increased focus and obsessive sorting behaviors: they might stare at a patch of carpet for hours, meticulously clean and reclean a kitchen, or repeatedly dismantle and rebuild home electronics. The energizing and obsessive effects make it fun, almost pleasurable, for tweakers to do the tedious work of artifact hunting. They have the steam to wander sites and dig holes for hours, the focus to scan the ground closely, and the compulsive need to find more and more. According to those who have spoken to twiggers directly, the ability to sell artifacts seems almost secondary to the addictive thrill of discovery. It makes them the perfect, tireless looting workforce.

[image] [image]
Over the past decade or so, the illegal antiquities trade in the Southwest has become inextricably linked with the trade in meth and guns. Meth, like the pile at left, found in a suspect's trailer home, along with at least five firearms, including the semiautomatic rifle above- is one of the most addictive and destructive drugs. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

Twiggers, to some extent, are also changing the way sites are looted. Because of their obsessive behavior, according to Glenna Dean, former New Mexico state archaeologist, they tend to "hoover" sites, pick them clean in ways that more discerning looters would not. Online auction sites then provide a market for any stray bits of history that turn up. Because long-term meth use leads to agitation and violent behavior, and because of the ubiquity of guns in the Southwest, the discovery and policing of looting has become more dangerous. "I think you have to be a little more wary," says N. "Meth makes people completely and utterly unpredictable."

Whether they learn looting from relatives, friends, or fellow tweakers, or are recruited as a scrounging army, twiggers are changing the face of looting in the United States (Southeast Asia and Europe, where the drug is also popular, may be next). In the broad shift from the treasure hunters of the 1960s and '70s to the profit-motivated commercial looters of the 1980s and '90s--both still significant problems--the meth connection represents a third phase. It is looting with no knowledge or regard to the objects being taken, the purest commodification of the past.


Likely taken in trade for drugs, the prehistoric pottery in the meth dealer's home could not be seized--there was no proof it was acquired illegally, a difficulty often faced by federal agents who investigate cultural resource crime. (Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico)

Convictions for archaeological crimes are difficult to obtain even under the best circumstances. Federal officers are spread impossibly thin across the Southwest and there are hurdles to making a case, such as proving that an artifact was illegally taken from federal land. In fact, in the case of the dealer in Grants, who is serving 11 years in prison on narcotics charges, only the Anasazi leggings could be seized. The rest of the archaeological material had to be left behind, as there was no evidence it was illegally obtained (though N and his colleagues are confident it was). "It became a drug case after that," says N. In fact, many of the cases he works on come directly from narcotics task forces who stumble across artifacts when they make busts.

The involvement with drugs is a mixed bag for officers who specialize in cultural resource crime. On one hand, meth makes the looters careless and more likely to make mistakes (though paranoia may temper that). But once a suspect is caught, looting offenses take a back seat to drugs charges--violators of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act face two years in prison, but only if the value of the artifacts exceeds $500, while drugs and firearms carry much steeper penalties. Bowman and others also wonder how well-equipped narcotics officers are to notice, assess, or know what to do with antiquities they find. Some, especially federal agents in the Southwest, know to call in specialists. That is not always the case.

Drug cases can make it easier to recover artifacts--suspects relinquish them more easily when they have drug cases hanging over them--- --but also encourage prosecutors to plead out or simply drop looting cases. The result is that there is little additional risk for a tweaker or drug dealer to diversify into the antiquities trade. Furthermore, the looting-meth connection is difficult to quantify--looting alone is nearly impossible to assess accurately--complicating policy-making. And many still see looting as a victimless crime.

While the connection with meth can draw attention to the problem of looting, it also carries the implication that looting is only important to law enforcement when it intersects with wider criminal behavior, says Bowman. Meth happens to intersect with a lot of other social ills, from identity theft and child neglect to HIV infection and toxic waste (from its production), that can make looting seem to pale in comparison. According to Rusty Payne of the Drug Enforcement Agency, "This is just another horrible ripple effect of meth, unfortunately."

by Samir S. Patel
Samir S. Patel
is a senior editor at ARCHAEOLOGY.

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