Thursday, May 25, 2006

SSDP educates "The Nation"

That's right, The Nation magazine covered SSDP's lawsuit that challenges the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty. You need a subscription to see the full piece on the magazine's website, but here's a juicy taste of the piece's last two paragraphs:
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was "not available" to comment on the lawsuit or any of its claims. Her department has been equally forthcoming in making information about who is affected by the HEA provision available to the public. Responding to inquiries from legislators and the media, SSDP filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the department in December 2004 for a state-by-state breakdown of students who answered the FAFSA drug question the "wrong" way. After months of sometimes farcical bureaucratic stonewalling, SSDP was presented with a bill of more than $4,000 to conduct what should have been a simple database search--a mark-up on product worthy of the Cali cartel and one far beyond the means of a struggling nonprofit. Though its FOIA request was intended to reveal the activity of government and served no commercial purpose, the student group was denied a fee waiver. "As SSDP's campaign could directly benefit those who would profit from the deregulation or legalization of drugs," a department official explained in his final rejection letter, "I cannot conclude...that SSDP has no commercial interest in the disclosure sought."

"I guess the suggestion is that if people know how many students in every state are affected by the HEA provision, the drug war will end," says SSDP campaigns director Tom Angell, whose organization filed a separate federal lawsuit against the Education Department with the aid of Public Citizen to secure a fee waiver for its FOIA request. In response to the lawsuit, the department finally relented, agreeing in late March to waive the fee and provide the data by the end of the month. After handing over incomplete spreadsheets on March 31, the government finally sent the full data on April 12. Should the drug war end as a result, SSDP promises to donate any ensuing profits to repairing the damage caused by decades of foolish drug-control policies.

Ya gotta love that ending. By the way, the article is titled "Drug War Flunks Out." Brilliant.


Jesse said...

nice quote tom. "the drug war will end." i like it.

800 pound gorilla said...

What will we do to "rehabilitate" those addicted to the big money to prosecute this war? Can we send them to Iraq and Afghanistan to do their commando style raids on foreigners? And how will we fund our covert ops to disrupt other countries' internal affairs? Might they divert a portion of the drug war monies saved to openly fund our worldwide mischief?

As much as I detest the scam known as the War on Drugs human nature dictates that people are motivated more about preventing loss to status quo than gaining rewards for change of status quo. It's not going to be that easy. The drug war may even become a running gag before they finally dismantle the bureucracies that feed off others' misery.