This is the press release for a talk I’m giving in Portsmouth tonight, sent out last week, and as of this morning, still absent from any local paper.
Does the US government itself bear some responsibility for the heroin epidemic now plaguing our nation? Do some federal agencies work at cross purposes in the war on drugs? Why are certain drugs illegal in the first place? What is the “Deep State”?
These are among the questions that writer and activist Michael Hasty will explore in a presentation in the Portsmouth Library’s Levenson Community Room, on Wednesday, September 7th at 7 pm.
“Drugs and the US Deep State: An Examination of Official Complicity in the Nation’s Heroin Epidemic,” will look at America’s drug problems past and present, and the history of US covert operations that have contributed to those problems. Hasty will also discuss the role drugs play in the global economy, US foreign policy, and domestic social control, and their role in introducing and acclimating American citizens to a gradual loss of basic constitutional freedoms.
Michael Hasty grew up in a CIA family and worked for the Central Intelligence Agency himself in his youth. He has known senior intelligence officers and defense contractors throughout his life. His official association with the government ended with a “troublemaker’s discharge” (honorable) from the US Air Force in 1972, after he organized a strike at an airbase in Germany.
In the decades since his discharge, he has been an activist on various peace and social justice issues. He was appointed by the mayors of Washington DC and Takoma Park MD to their respective city’s nuclear weapons freeze advisory boards in the 1980s, both of which he served as secretary. In the early ‘90s, he co-chaired the Committee on Restructuring the UN, on the board of the National Capitol Area chapter of the United Nations Association. His 1995 lawsuit against the federal government, Hasty v. United States, established the right to pray under the US Capitol dome, when the DC Court of Appeals reversed his conviction for that act.
He is also a journalist, whose “Thinking Locally” column in West Virginia’s oldest newspaper, the Hampshire Review, was named “Best Column” by the West Virginia Press Association in 2000. His essays and articles have appeared in a number of newspapers and periodicals, including the Washington Post and the Charleston Gazette, and on hundreds of websites, including Counterpunch, Common Dreams, Buzzflash, Global Research, Information Clearinghouse, Tikkun and Pravda. He currently blogs at Free Radical Maine.
A series of articles he wrote on the drug war for the Washington Peace Letter in 1989 led to the formation of DC Citizens for HEALTH—a coalition of white progressive activists and black drug counselors and reformed addicts from across the Anacostia River in DC—to encourage local officials to turn to a public health approach to DC’s drug problem. He drafted the founding principles and served as the coalition’s secretary. The mayoral forum that DC HEALTH sponsored in 1990 was notable in that every candidate expressed agreement with taking a public health/harm reduction approach to drugs—the consensus opinion among city officials ever since.
The presentation at the Portsmouth library will also be based on Hasty’s personal experience as someone who has used both legal and illegal drugs. A “child of the ‘60s” who also had an opioid prescription for ten years, and currently a medical marijuana patient in Maine for his glaucoma, he will use his personal knowledge of retail drug markets and the hundreds of drug users from all walks of life he has encountered to bring a human dimension to the discussion, and help bring to light the personal consequences of this national tragedy.
The talk is sponsored by Seacoast 9/11 Questions, which has been presenting speakers, educational programs and films in the New Hampshire Seacoast area for over a decade, to encourage the public to ask for a new and complete investigation of the events of September 11, 2001.