Eco Mann | 23 Mar 23:56 2010

MMM. My Experience with a Psychedelic Plant. Alternet

Quote: "I would still be seeing trailers and auras a week later."


=== article begins ===

My Experience with a Psychedelic Plant That Thousands Have Used for Release from Severe Addictions.

AlterNet - Charles Shaw - ‎Mar 20, 2010‎

"The first sign that ibogaine is working is generally a loud buzzing or ringing in the ears ... Soon after that I begin to feel warm and things take on a light golden glow."
March 20, 2010


Before Clare gives me the ibogaine she has me write out my intention for my journey, what I hope to get from the experience, and whatever questions I may want to ask the iboga spirits. She takes my intention and places it on a small altar she has built with candles and feathers. She runs my body over with burning sage and then spreads the smoke around the room, clearing spiritual energy and opening up the space for the iboga spirits to enter and do their work.

She has me lie down on the bed. Next to me on the pillow are a set of headphones hooked up to an ipod, and a special kind of visor allegedly designed by famed psychedelic and spiritual artist Alex Grey that improves psychedelic visions. Clare takes my hand into hers.

“As part of the treatment plan here, I make a life contract with all of my clients. Sometimes the medicine will open a door to the other side and it will tell you you can go into it if you want. I make my clients promise me they’ll stay here in this life. They came here to live, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do. I know you’re not in that place, but I gotta say it anyway. Who knows what you may want to do once you’re up there.”

“No problem,” I laugh, “I’ve got a lot to live for,” and was warmed by the truth of it. It was the perfect last thought before I began.

“Good,” she replied. “Here’s your test dose to get things started.”

She hands me two large yellow and green capsules containing an 85% pure mixture of ibogaine hydrochloride and alkaloid extract, In total I would be administered 1.42 grams in three doses between 11:15 pm and 2:15 am for a 17mg/kg overall dose, substantial for iboga. Clare puts on some ethereal music with elegant and comforting female voices and then turns off the lights in the room and leaves Joaquin, Jeff and I in candlelight to await the onset.

The first sign that ibogaine is working is generally a loud buzzing or ringing in the ears, which for me begins within the hour. Soon after that I begin to feel warm and things take on a light golden glow. I begin to see tracers following any movement, and it grows increasingly difficult to focus my eyes on anything. That’s when I decide it’s time to put on the visor and headphones and settle into the journey.

The shift to inner space almost immediately kickstarts a visionary phase. The blackness that is enveloping me suddenly forms depth and texture, morphing into a paisley-like tapestry that floats backwards, forming a three dimensional space that looks like I can reach out and touch it. The tapestry floats up and to the right, and then sails away out of my vision like the magic carpet of Aladdin. This pantomime, repeated over and over, would become the transitional metaphor for each new vision I would have as the journey unfolded, as if the floating tapestry was the stage curtain between acts of a play, or the title card between scenes of a film.

I begin to see kaleidoscopic fireworks, bursts of color and light, geometric patterns casting across the inner transom. They look almost like neurons and synapses firing, like molecules passing back and forth, valent energies interweaving. Then they begin to take on more animation and I sense—have an intuitive understanding—that the lights and patterns each have individual consciousness, that they are alive.

When Clare returns with my second dose, I remove the visor and see elongated grey spirits resembling the paint splotches of Jackson Pollack rapidly circling the room behind Clare’s head. Floating suspended in the same space are glowing blue orbs like energetic jellyfish. The spirits would plow through the blue orbs, separating them into droplets like oil in water. Just outside the sliding glass doors on either side of the room are pools of spirits and blue energy that cannot enter my room. In the background, massive spirit shapes bigger than city buses pass by. I relate this information to Clare, pointing out where I am seeing the shapes. She smiles and nods, knowingly.

“They are busy,” she says. “Not all of them have time to stop in.”

Clare changes the music and puts on a compilation of traditional African tribal music that has beautiful, acrobatic vocalizations and harmonies mixed in with powerful sounds of nature: water flowing, thunderclaps and lightning, fire, rain and wind. This begins a new phase of the journey that is not visual, but rather, emotional. I understand the stories behind the songs, not through the words, but though the emotions in the words, the tones, timbre, and energy of the voices. I feel the loss of death, the joy of love, the fear of displacement and hatred, the love of the land, the cries of freedom. This is our land, this is our medicine, these are our spirits, we welcome you, do you welcome us? What have you to offer?

Then the tapestries return, but instead of flying away they fold back to form what looks to me like a space under my blanket, like a bed fort a child would build with pillows and a flashlight. This “bed fort,” however, has the feel of an opium den, with Persian rugs and glowing lamps.

It was about then I realize that I no longer have any fear about the journey, that I feel comfortable and right. I am eager to go deeper, to see more. I want to see what my vast and uncharted shadow has in store for me. I feel confident I can handle anything now. Almost as if it was waiting for me to think that, a voice says, not vast and uncharted! Known!

Another vision begins. Before me are caricatures of myself, jerky low-res avatars like in a video game or graffiti art. These caricatures communicate various aspects of my personality to me, not through words or even scenes, but through symbolic movements, repetitive motions somewhat similar to the “tape loops” others have described, but significantly more symbolic in nature.

In this loop, I /the caricature of me begins with my hands folded together in prayer, and I am still. Perpendicular to me is a long row of what looks like giant playing cards as tall as me. Like any deck of cards, there are number cards and face cards, except the face cards are people in my life, and the number cards represent “situations, consequences and outcomes.” From the praying position I then suddenly flail my arms backward and shake my head. Each time I do this I knock down these cards like a row of dominoes. They race around in a big loop until they come back full circle and knock me over.

The message is clear to me the entire time. This scene represents the ongoing ebb and flow between my ego self and my higher self. When I am in the praying position, it symbolizes the times when I am coming from a place of humility and grounding, and as such, nothing is disturbed. Each time I flail my arms wildly it represents me falling back into ego, and invariably starting a chain reaction, symbolized by the cards falling over like dominoes, which eventually come back to bite me in the ass.

It was such a painfully simple representation of one of the hardest personal lessons of my life, and yet, as I’m watching it, a voice says, you know’ve known this for a while, your only challenge is to be vigilant and remember it. I kept expecting this stern, paternalistic, tough-love, brutal assault on my character. What I got was kind frankness instead.

You were afraid that you would come in here and see painful things about yourself that you weren’t ready to handle, but you’ve already done all that work, and you didn’t need us to do it. You know yourself, because you took the time to get to know yourself, honestly and critically, because you didn’t want anymore pain. You wanted us to show you how to be a better man, and yet, you already know. The question is, will you BE that man? You’ve got everything you ever asked for. You are lucky and loved and can speak to many. How will you honor this every day? Will you help those who need it, who suffered as you once suffered? How will you remind yourself that it’s not about you, that you are just a messenger? Go enjoy what you have built, but always remember to spread that love and fortune, and always be kind to yourself.

The true believers will tell you that the iboga spirits are speaking to us every day through messengers and mediums, signs and symbols, and all we need do is seek and we shall find. As if to reinforce this from beyond the grave, the distinctive voice of Howard Lotsof (he was missing many teeth) periodically comes through the headphones in short clips that Clare had interspersed on the playlist. The plants are alive and their speaking to us all the time, we just need to find a way to listen to them. That’s good medicine!

I describe all of this to Clare when she returns for the last time before my session officially ends. She is flummoxed by my ability to coherently describe the depth and breadth of my visions.

“You are the single most coherent person I have ever witnessed on ibogaine. Most people can’t speak or think clearly for a couple days, much less move around.”

When I tell her I am hungry too, she looks at me like I am from Mars. Aside from some ataxia (a loss of balance and motor control), which causes me to crack my forehead on some marble in the bathroom, I feel great, but worn out. Unfortunately, I will not be able to sleep until the following night, and I can’t focus my vision for a whole day. I would still be seeing trailers and auras a week later.

Removing me from the pulse/ox monitor, Clare tells me she’s been in constant contact with my partner in San Francisco, who also works with plant medicine, giving her updates on my session. This tiny personal gesture touches me deeply, and reveals so much about Clare’s true nature: evangelistically inquisitive and inclusive. I feel much gratitude, which is what I tell Clare when she asks me how I’m doing.

“I get it, now” I say. “Remarkable plant. And you guys are incredible at what you do.”

She laughs. “Good. And to think that we’ve been called a ‘back-alley abortion’ ibogaine clinic.”


“Oh you haven’t heard that? Hmpf. Deborah Mash said that.”

“Deborah Mash? Really?”

“You know Deborah Mash?”

“I know of her,” I say, and can’t believe she would say such a thing.

The Academic

“Absolutely I said that,” Dr. Deborah Mash tells me when I contact her at the University of Miami. “I think that addicts deserve the best. I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt someone. I didn’t take this cause forward to put others in harms way.”

Mash is one of my heroes. Back in the Nineties she discovered coca-ethylene, a chemical that is formed in the human body by the liver when both cocaine and alcohol are ingested. Coca-ethylene is longer acting, more potent, and substantially more addictive then cocaine itself. I can tell you first hand about that one. No matter how hard I tried to quit, alcohol always led to a relapse, and her discovery helped me realize that to quit cocaine, and to stay quit, I had to stop drinking for a while too.

One of the world's foremost scientific experts on ibogaine, Mash also identified the active metabolite, noribogaine, that is credited with the ability to detoxify and sustain a newly recovering addict (for the record, she says “noribogaine” is a misnomer and that the metabolite should be called “decmethylibogaine”). Mash also opened an off-shore healing center on the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts, which she used for research and development, gathering data on over 286 ibogaine treatments.

“This was the only study conducted to my knowledge that had qualified professionals associated with it,” she adds.

This not-so-subtle dig at the underground begins to touch on where Mash and the rest part ways. As ibogaine was forced underground, Mash’s biggest concern became lay-providers and activist types, like Polanco, Dana Beal, Eric Taub, Mark Emery, and, of course, Howard Lotsof, who administer treatments in what she considers to be unsafe conditions.

“What you have got are people who don't know what they’re doing. They think they do, but they don’t. And things can go wrong. Very, very wrong. People have died in their care. I take that very seriously.”

Mash is coming from a very different place than the addicts and the ibogistas. She believes that addiction is a neurological disorder in the same way as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's or cancer or diabetes, and that addiction needs to be corrected medically. More importantly, addicts need to be viewed with the same compassion as people suffering from any of those other illnesses.

“It’s in their genes, it’s not their fault. They couldn’t help getting sick, they’re not morally defective. We first have to humanize them. These are sick people!” she says.

Here you start to see what really makes Mash tick. Despite her gruff manner and her corrosive distrust of the underground, she really cares about curing addiction. Addicts aren’t lab rats to her, they’re suffering people. She’s a doctor. You do the math.

“I would love to be able to give young addicts an ibogaine dose and then stick them in treatment. As an adjutant to treatment, its perfect, but its not the treatment itself. Think about if we could help just a third of the people addicted to drugs, wouldn’t that be absolutely amazing? Well, we had a chance once, and we blew it.”

Mash has certainly made her fair share of enemies in the ibogaine underground. If the “back-alley abortion” comments didn’t exactly ingratiate her to her colleagues, her relationship with Howard Lotsof is what sealed the deal. Lotsof is beloved by this community, a sacred cow, yet Mash believes, ironically enough, that he’s the one ultimately responsible for ibogaine never going mainstream.

Back in the mid Nineties when she first discovered noribogaine, Mash claims she offered Lotsof, who held the legal patents, a 50/50 partnership to move forward with research and get a study funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). This could have led to FDA approval of the drug and a pharmaceutical contract, which could have reaped billions. Lotsof refused the offer and in turn “sicked his lawyers” on Mash to prevent her from, as she puts it, “taking away his baby.” Lotsof then cut off her access to ibogaine, a move which she took personally.

“Howard shot an arrow into the heart of the only scientific team to ever get behind him,” she says, the pain and frustration still evident in her voice.

The net result was that NIDA refused to fund a formal study, Mash’s research was forced off-shore, and they did not get the millions in R & D money that it takes to get a drug to market before Lotsof’s patents expired in 2003. Eventually, their feud spilled over into the underground, and would end up polarizing along ideological lines.

“We were trying to get the medical community on board, and instead, we got totally derailed,” Mash laments. “The medical community wasn’t too crazy about the psychedelic aspects of ibogaine, and I felt (and still feel) that the data supports that we can isolate that part of the drug and have the metabolite without the psychotropic effects. Crazy left-wing Howard and his buddies didn’t go for that.”

She says that the “obsession” the underground has with the visionary aspect of the drug is at the expense of all those people they could be helping. She still believes, however, in the potential of iboga-related metabolites to revolutionize the field of addiction treatment, even if she’s given up hope on ibogaine itself. The problem, she points out, is the hundreds of millions of dollars it takes to develop a new drug.

“Who’s going to pay for that? Dana Beal? Eric Taub? Marc Emery?”

The Activists

Unfortunately, as far as public relations goes, the underground hasn’t done itself any favors, that’s for sure. The most visible leaders of the movement are mired in public controversy involving drug allegations. Howard Lotsof ends up being the cleanest of the lot. These include Polanco, Beal, Taub, and Emery.

Dana Beal is a suspected marijuana trafficker who was busted twice between June of 2008 and September of 2009. He is currently free on $500,000 bond facing a case in Nebraska in which he was caught with 150 pounds of weed, shortly after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in an Illinois case in which he was caught with $150,000 in suspected drug money.

Eric Taub is considered, along with Lotsof and Mash, to be one of the three main luminaries of the ibogaine movement. He is also what Deborah Mash calls the prototypical “dangerous evangelizing lay-provider.” Taub has come under fire for allegedly running laissez faire clinics in places like Costa Rica and Italy, and even more so for setting up a mail-order business so that anyone who wants to obtain iboga can. He’s also got something of a god complex, according to sources close to him who prefer to remain anonymous.

And then of course there’s Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana activist/entrepreneur who was arrested in 2005 for “Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Seeds” in a controversial cross-border raid by the D.E.A. who used the Vancouver police to do their dirty work. Emery’s defiant stance, and the widely held public view that he has committed no crime and is the target of harassment, has earned him folk hero status and the nickname, “The Prince of Pot.”

In 2002 Emery opened the Iboga Therapy House outside Vancouver and for the next three years funded dozens of free treatments for addicts and those seeking “psycho-spiritual therapy.” When he was arrested in 2005 he handed over ownership of the house to a not-for-profit organization, and longtime therapist Sandra Karpetas assumed much of the day-to-day operations. Karpetas, who along with Valerie Mojieko is responsible for initiatiing the MAPS study which began in Canada, is another autodidact with no formal training in addiction like Clare Wilkins, except Karpetas was turned on to ibogaine by Marc Emery “for purely initiatory purposes,” she says.

Karpetas used a grant from the Women’s Entheongen Fund, an offshoot of the Woman’s Visionary Congress, to reopen the Iboga Therapy House. She went on to treat 65 patients between 2006 and 2008 before financial constraints forced her to close it down. She is just now preparing to reopen, with 700 people on her waiting list, and a renewed focus on getting a formal study funded through Health Canada, the Canadian health care system.

“Here in Canada we consider ‘treatment’ a much longer focused program, so we define ibogaine use as ‘therapy,’ because its mostly a detox program. We don’t call iboga ‘medicine’ or a ‘drug’ or ‘psychedelic.’ We want to legitimize it here as a natural health product, an herbal detoxification program. Its an important distinction we make.”

Karpetas relates how everyone who has had the iboga experience now feels that they are part of an amazing global phenomenon, a movement of compassion, of one helping another.

“The plants are urging us on. They are incredibly evolved life forms. Look at the genome of a human compared to that of a simple plant, and the plant wins. There is more to life than meets the eye, they are telling us.”

The Shaman

When I finally speak to him on the phone, after connecting on Facebook, Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis tells me he’s in a hotel room in New Jersey on day three of detoxing a young male heroin addict. Dimitri is part of the neotribal wing of the ibogaine underground. He’s what’s known as a “ritual/spiritual provider” who administers iboga in its traditional root bark form in a Bwiti ritual. His New York City based company, Iboga Life, conducts traditional Bwiti medicine ceremonies, mostly for addicts, although, there are psycho-spiritual clients.

He’s no dilettante; this is a cat who’s been around. He has undergone several Bwiti iboga initiations in Gabon, and now refers to himself euphemistically as a member of “Bwiti USA.” He’s also the cofounder of the New York City Drug Users Union, and the subject of a new documentary called “I’m Dangerous with Love,” by acclaimed filmmaker Michel Negroponte, director of Methadonia. The point is that this man understands addiction. He has a serious, no bullshit New York frankness to him.

“My role as a Bwiti is to detox junkies. That’s what I do. And junkies are very spiritual people and they’re looking for this kind of thing. What we’re lacking is community and ceremony and a rite of passage, a way to frame our lives.  Bwiti is a system of plant medicine where people can find healing and purpose. In particular, it offers a way to help men reclaim their manhood.”

Dimitri argues that addicts and indigenous peoples have a common bond because they are both dislocated and disenfranchised, two of the last social groups where it is still acceptable to portray them with vicious stereotypes.

“Colonization and addiction are about infantilization, desexualization, dehumanization, imprisonment, enslavement, and expropriation, whether its land, family, your body or your will. We help people reclaim all of it.”

I ask him if he thinks the treatment will ever go above ground.

“Here’s where I separate myself from most of the iboga community. Most want this to be a pharmaceutical drug administered in hospitals, right?  But prescription, by definition, is not about access, its about limiting access.”

But what about safety? What about the people who have died?

“I don’t give a fuck about that shit. Iboga has been around for 3900 years! It’s fucking safe. I’ve seen babies eat it, I've seen pregnant and breastfeeding woman eat it, dogs, old people, you name it. The shit is safe! And if we can eat a natural bark or drink a vine that cures our illness, we won’t need the goddam people in the white coats anymore. If we could drop the price and train thousands of lay providers, than we’ve really got something going on.”

His strategy, and critique, is simple. The psychedelic medicine community, the “entheogen movement,” as he calls it, is almost exclusively made up of upper middle class, white male academics. But the medicine comes from poor people in Africa, and yet it is unknown to poor people in America, particularly African-Americans. This focus on this racial and economic aspects of iboga has made Dimitri “the red headed stepchild of the movement.”

“Ibogaine gives us a real chance to bridge that socioeconomic gap, but the medical establishment is afraid of who we are and the people we are bringing in. So, really, this is the most revolutionary aspect of this movement. It’s turning on the Puerto Rican gang banger who would otherwise never have taken this stuff that really inspires me. I wanna make that happen.”

Dimitri has deep love for Howard Lotsof, calling him “my father.” He tells me how Howard wanted to go into the African-American community and throw open the doors to ibogaine for them, but the reception was not what he expected.

“In the beginning we would stand out on 125th street in front of the methadone clinics handing out fliers. You can probably guess hardly anyone responded. But slowly those folks are starting to come to us. Yeah...they’ll get there.”

He laughs and clears his throat, and then settles on a final thought.

“Look, we don’t need to be here to help people. We just need to be here for people who want to help themselves. How we do that is we meet them where they are at.”

It’s all part of the vision

You hear those words uttered by nearly everyone iboga has touched, we meet them where they are at. It’s the mantra of this remarkable collection of passionate, difficult people who come from the perspective that the addicts are the real healers and iboga is merely the catalyst, the inspiration. It’s here, in the humanization, and in many respects, elevation of these former scourges of society that we see the real revolution, and why the medical establishment is simply not interested in ibogaine. The underground’s existence is a natural consequence of that repudiation.

There’s a philosophy known as “Dual-Power Strategy” that espouses the creation of alternative institutions that embody the beliefs and practices of breakaway, sub- or countercultures, a sort of positive antidote to trying to change a system from inside that is hopelessly ineffective and corrupt. The fundamental idea is to channel transformative energy not into changing existing institutions but rather into building viable alternatives.  As these alternative structures grow, like the cooperative movements in Argentina, eventually they take on more and more of the functions of a larger social system. Eventually they grow into an alternative infrastructure that fulfills economic, political, social, and cultural needs, like we have seen develop in America’s evangelical community.

This is precisely what we see happening with alternative medicine, whether its the burgeoning natural health industry, the integration of eastern medicine, organic nutrition, addiction, or even the movement against vaccines, the response to the Western model of medicine has been profound. It is not surprising then that this alternative philosophy is attractive to those in the ”exile nation” who feel oppressed, disempowered or disenfranchised within the greater society. Addicts inhabit ground zero of this realm. So if an addict can be treated with respect, have their spiritual pain acknowledged, and feel the support of people around them who do not judge them, then they not only have a chance at healing themselves, but also bringing that healing to others. The ripple effect could change the world.

This became clear in the weeks following my experience with ibogaine, when I realized that now I too was part of this revolutionary underground. People who followed along on my Facebook and Twitter pages began contacting me. One friend told me just he returned from a traditional Bwiti initiation ritual in Costa Rica. Most people told me about their friends, brothers cousins, mothers, who were addicted to heroin, nicotine, crack, meth, K, alcohol. They need help, they didn’t know what else to do, they’ve run out of options, should they try ibogaine? It becomes abundantly clear that there will never be a shortage of people wanting it, so does it really matter whether this medicine is ever sanctioned by the medical establishment? It’s clear already that people who need it will find it anyway, when they’ve had enough.

I spoke with Clare over Skype a few weeks later to check some facts. I had asked her to give me more information on the short recordings of Howard that she had interspersed on the playlist she set up for my journey.

“I went through fifty gigabytes of music and I have no recordings of Howard Lotsof talking about iboga. It sounds like it was part of your vision.”

“That’s impossible,” I replied. I know what I heard.”

I was dumbfounded. She could see it in my face.  But she smiled, and I thought I saw a tear form, but it could have been the light reflecting off her glasses.

“Looks like Howard made it after all,” I said.

Charles Shaw is a regular contributor to Alternet, Huffington Post and Reality Sandwich, and the author of Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics & Spirituality (2009, Reality Sandwich).

======= end of article ========



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Eco Mann | 24 Mar 04:49 2010

MMM. Akha Journal. We arrive at the UN. Day 382. (Fwd)

There is a Thai consulate in New York, too. - Map: 

From 2003:
"A recent letter from the Thai Embassy in the United States ..." - 2500 drug-war, death-squad killings in Thailand in 2003.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Matthew McDaniel <>
Date: Mar 23, 2010 10:46 PM
Subject: [AkhaWeeklyJournal] Akha Journal: We arrive at the UN. Day 382

Dear Friends:

At 8 am on March 22, 2010 Hampton and I crossed First Street in New York City to the UN building.

After an 18 hour ride from west of Newark, across the George Washington Bridge, to New York City, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center we arrive at our destination during a light rain, and almost no one to hold the camera and take a picture.

We would like to thank God for all our health and safety during a very long trip across America, a different town every night, a thank you to all the hundreds of people who helped in every possible way, to people who donated, to the newspapers and TV stations who ran stories, and to all the people who gave rides or took the time to hear our story about the Akha people. We'd also like to especially thank the police of New Jersey, the Port Authority and the New York Police Department for their exceptional help in the last 18 hours of the Ride for Freedom. As we were making our way across the George Washington Bridge, a huge architectural structure, one escort patrol car of the Port Authority began playing Ray Charles "America" over his PA system. I was walking Hampton, who upon hearing this, quickened his pace and I had to run to keep up.

We crossed through Times square at 6 am to bright lights and still mostly empty streets, having come down Broadway.

I'd also like to remember our board member of many years, John Nance who passed away a few weeks ago.

And I'd also like to remember Rob, a fantastic accordion player in Grants Pass Oregon, who also passed away a couple weeks ago.

We had many difficult experiences, few bad experiences. Always somehow by the skin of our teeth we held on and moved on. 

Our goal was to educate as many people as possible about the Akha. We gave out thousands of business cards and flyers across America and talked to thousands of people about the situation of the Akha people.

During our trip the Queen of Thailand had to take down her website for Hooh Yoh Akha where she stole Akha land. 

There will still be  more videos, and there will be more projects.

Currently we are waiting for the start of the UNPFII at the UN come April 15. After that we head back to Oregon.

There is writing to do, video to compile, and time needed for a good rest. Maybe even go fishing. We weathered one of the worst winters in US history on the east coast. 

Hampton is eating green grass, grain, and enjoying retirement. One great horse.

The videos are all now up

Thank you for all your help and friendship.

Matthew McDaniel

==== end of forwarded email ====

Thai consulate in New York. 

  1. Consulate General of Thailand
    351 East 52nd Street
    New York, NY 10022-6373
    (212) 754-1770
    Get directions - Is this accurate?This address, phone number, map or business info is not accurate. Confirm CancelThank you for the feedback.
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From 2003:

A recent letter from the Thai Embassy in the United States ...

President Bush appreciated Thailand‘s leadership in hosting one of the largest and most successful U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operations in the world as well as the U.S.-Thai International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). ...

On 12th June, Thailand‘s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was escorted by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz through an honor cordon into the Pentagon. ...

The large and growing U.S. military base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean was built in the 1970s after the forced and illegal removal of the entire native population. ... Although the islanders won their London High Court case to return to their native Diego Garcia and neighbouring islands in November 2000, the U.S. still blocks their right to return. B52 and B2 Stealth bombers use the base for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Remember more from 2003:

281 Akha Analysis:U.S.-Thai Relations Override Human Rights Abuses Akha Analysis:U.S.-Thai Relations Override Human Rights Abuses
Dear Friends: A recent letter from the Thai Embassy in the United States states clearly that killings in Thailand were drug related more than likely and that...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 1, 2003
10:48 am

282 Akha Terror, Asia Week Revisited Akha Terror, Asia Week Revisited
This article is from 1999 and things have only gotten worse. Asia Week OCTOBER 29, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 43 The Struggle for the Highlands Accused of endangering...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 3, 2003
11:37 am

283 Update, web site, Akha Update, web site, Akha
Dear Friends: Due to a server administrator glitch our website will be down a couple more days. For the meanwhile post all messages to me at...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 11, 2003
9:47 am

284 Akha Journal: back on line, Mr. Ah Nay beaten, released Akha Journal: back on line, Mr. Ah Nay beaten, released
Dear Friends: A server domain name error caused the website to go off line, not a hacker or any other interference. Thankyou for your patience re...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 16, 2003
3:40 pm

285 Akha Man Law Urh kidnapped second time Akha Man Law Urh kidnapped second time
The Akha man Law Urh shown at with the beaten face was kidnapped the second time by the army and beaten before being loaded into a truck and taken...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 17, 2003
3:43 pm

286 Akha: Will you help the Akha struggle for life? Akha: Will you help the Akha struggle for life?
Dear Friends: Are you willing to help the Akha in their struggle against the US backed death squads (DEA and YOUR tax dollars) and the Thai culture of death? ...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 18, 2003
4:03 am

287 Akha: The search for Law Urh, kidnapped, beaten, disappeared by Tha Akha: The search for Law Urh, kidnapped, beaten, disappeared by Tha links for photos. Thai Death Squads Take another man. Law Urh Beaten- Missing. Thai authorities give us the run around. Demand the Thai...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 19, 2003
8:12 am

288 Law Urh's Release demanded, Law Urh released. Law Urh's Release demanded, Law Urh released.
Dear Friends: On 16 July Law Urh was taken away by the army for time. He was taken to Huai Mo Army Camp for commandos at Haen Taek, Amphur Mae Faluang,...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 21, 2003
6:36 am

289 Akha: With Great Sadness Asaw Nimit Dies, Beaten to death in Chiang Akha: With Great Sadness Asaw Nimit Dies, Beaten to death in Chiang
Dear Friends: It is with great sadness that I relay the message that my Akha friend Asaw Nimit of San Chai Mai Village, Chiangrai, who was incarcerated a year...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 21, 2003
10:26 am

290 Asaw Nimit's Picture Asaw Nimit's Picture
Ah Saw Nimit on left, about six years ago. His sister and brother. His brother died several months ago. I say good by to a man I wish I had known longer, a...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 21, 2003
10:39 am

291 Akha Journal Update, Cases Akha Journal Update, Cases
Dear Friends: In this editorial piece there is a lot of information which is useful for letters to government officials both in Thailand and the west,...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 25, 2003
1:42 pm

292 Akha Prisoners Ethnic Cleansing, Loh Guuh Case Update, Churches Tra Akha Prisoners Ethnic Cleansing, Loh Guuh Case Update, Churches Tra
Dear Friends: I just filed today the statement of the families involved in the case of Loh Guuh who was shot by police. The letter is below. I am working on...
Matthew McDaniel
Jul 31, 2003
5:45 am



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Eco Mann | 29 Mar 08:34 2010

MMM. The war on WikiLeaks and why it matters.

A related story:
Apple joins Fox News boycott.

Tying it all together with the drug war:


The war on WikiLeaks and why it matters

BBC's "The Culture Show"
Julian Assange, editor of WikiLeaks.

A newly leaked CIA report prepared earlier this month (.pdf) analyzes how the U.S. Government can best manipulate public opinion in Germany and France -- in order to ensure that those countries continue to fight in Afghanistan.  The Report celebrates the fact that the governments of those two nations continue to fight the war in defiance of overwhelming public opinion which opposes it -- so much for all the recent veneration of "consent of the governed" -- and it notes that this is possible due to lack of interest among their citizenry:   "Public Apathy Enables Leaders to Ignore Voters," proclaims the title of one section. 

But the Report also cites the "fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan" and worries that -- particularly if the "bloody summer in Afghanistan" that many predict takes place -- what happened to the Dutch will spread as a result of the "fragility of European support" for the war.  As the truly creepy Report title puts it, the CIA's concern is:  "Why Counting on Apathy May Not Be Enough":

The Report seeks to provide a back-up plan for "counting on apathy," and provides ways that the U.S. Government can manipulate public opinion in these foreign countries.  It explains that French sympathy for Afghan refugees means that exploiting Afghan women as pro-war messengers would be effective, while Germans would be more vulnerable to a fear-mongering campaign (failure in Afghanistan means the Terrorists will get you).  The Report highlights the unique ability of Barack Obama to sell war to European populations (click on images to enlarge):

It's both interesting and revealing that the CIA sees Obama as a valuable asset in putting a pretty face on our wars in the eyes of foreign populations. It is odious -- though, of course, completely unsurprising -- that the CIA plots ways to manipulate public opinion in foreign countries in order to sustain support for our wars.  Now that this is a Democratic administration doing this and a Democratic war at issue, I doubt many people will object to any of this.  But what is worth noting is how and why this classified Report was made publicly available:  because it was leaked to and then posted by, the site run by the non-profit group Sunshine Press, that is devoted to exposing suppressed government and corporate corruption by publicizing many of their most closely guarded secrets.

* * * * *

I spoke this morning at length with Julian Assange, the Australian citizen who is WikiLeaks' Editor, regarding the increasingly aggressive war being waged against WikiLeaks by numerous government agencies, including the Pentagon.  Over the past several years, WikiLeaks -- which aptly calls itself "the intelligence agency of the people" -- has obtained and then published a wide array of secret, incriminating documents (similar to this CIA Report) that expose the activities of numerous governments and corporations.  Among many others, they posted the Standard Operating Manual for Guantanamo, documents showing how corrupt offshore loans precipitated the economic collapse in Iceland, the notorious emails between climate scientists, documents showing toxic dumping off the coast of Africa, and many others.  They have recently come into possession of classified videos relating to civilian causalities under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, as well as documentation relating to civilian-slaughtering airstrikes in Afghanistan which the U.S. military had agreed to release, only to change their mind.

All of this has made WikiLeaks an increasingly hated target of numerous government and economic elites around the world, including the U.S. Government.  As The New York Times put it last week:  "To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret."  In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report -- obtained and posted by WikiLeaks -- devoted to this website and detailing, in a section entitled "Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?", ways it would seek to destroy the organization.  It discusses the possibility that, for some governments, not merely contributing to WikiLeaks, but "even accessing the website itself is a crime," and outlines its proposal for WikiLeaks' destruction as follows (click on images to enlarge):

As the Pentagon report put it:  "the governments of China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe" have all sought to block access to or otherwise impede the operations of WikiLeaks, and the U.S. Government now joins that illustrious list of transparency-loving countries in targeting them. 

It's not difficult to understand why the Pentagon wants to destroy WikiLeaks.  Here's how the Pentagon's report describes some of the disclosures for which they are responsible:

The Pentagon report also claims that WikiLeaks has disclosed documents that could expose U.S. military plans in Afghanistan and Iraq and endanger the military mission, though its discussion is purely hypothetical and no specifics are provided. Instead, the bulk of the Pentagon report focuses on documents which embarrass the U.S. Government:  information which, as they put it, "could be manipulated to provide biased news reports or be used for conducting propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, perception management, or influence operations against the U.S. Army by a variety of domestic and foreign actors."  In other words, the Pentagon is furious that this exposing of its secrets might enable others to engage in exactly the type of "perception management" which the aforementioned CIA Report proposes the U.S. do with regard to the citizenry of our allied countries.  

All of this is based in the same rationale invoked by President Obama and the Democratic Congress when they re-wrote the Freedom of Information Act last year in order to suppress America's torture photos.  It's the same rationale used by all governments to conceal evidence of their wrongdoing:   we need to suppress our activities for your own good.  WikiLeaks is devoted to subverting that mentality and, relatively speaking, has been quite successful in doing so. 

For that reason, numerous governments and private groups would like to see them destroyed.  Corporations have sued to have the site shut down.  And in addition to this 2008 Pentagon report, WikiLeaks has acquired, though not yet posted, other U.S. Government classified reports on its activities, including a U.S. Marine Intelligence Report and an analysis prepared by the U.S. military base in Germany, both of which speak of WikiLeaks as a threat.  Moreover, the FBI has refused to provide any information about its investigations and other activities aimed at WikiLeaks, citing, in response to FOIA requests, national security and other excuses for concealing it.

* * * * * 

In my interview this morning with Assange, he described multiple incidents that clearly signal a recent escalation of surveillance and other forms of harassment directed at WikiLeaks.  Many of those events are detailed in an Editorial they just published, which, he explained, was part of an effort to publicize what is being done to them in order to provide some safety and buffer.  A good summary of those events is provided by Gawker.  As but one disturbing incident:  a volunteer, a minor, who works with WikiLeaks was detained in Iceland last week and questioned extensively about an incriminating video WikiLeaks possesses relating to the actions of the U.S. military.  During the course of the interrogation, the WikiLeaks volunteer was not only asked questions about the video based on non-public knowledge about its contents (i.e., information which only the U.S. military would have), but was also shown surveillance photos of Assange exiting a recent WikiLeaks meeting regarding the imminent posting of documents concerning the Pentagon.

That WikiLeaks is being targeted by the U.S. Government for surveillance and disruption is beyond doubt.  And it underscores how vital their work is and why it's such a threat.

WikiLeaks editors, including Assagne, have spent substantial time of late in Iceland because there is a pending bill in that country's Parliament that would provide meaningful whistle blower protection for what they do, far greater than exists anywhere else.  Why is Iceland a leading candidate to do that?  Because, last year, that nation suffered full-scale economic collapse.  It was then revealed that numerous nefarious causes (corrupt loans, off-shore transactions, concealed warning signs) were hidden completely from the public and even from policy-makers, preventing detection and avoidance.  Worse, most of Iceland's institutions -- from its media to its legislative and regulatory bodies -- completely failed to penetrate this wall of secrecy, allowing this corruption to fester until it brought about full-scale financial ruin.  As a result, Iceland has become very receptive to the fact that the type of investigative exposure provided by WikiLeaks is a vital national good, and there is real political will to provide it with substantial protections.

If that doesn't sound familiar to Americans, it should.  At exactly the time when U.S. government secrecy is at an all-time high, the institutions ostensibly responsible for investigation, oversight and exposure have failed.  The American media are largely co-opted, and their few remaining vestiges of real investigative journalism are crippled by financial constraints.  The U.S. Congress is almost entirely impotent at providing meaningful oversight and is, in any event, controlled by the factions that maintain virtually complete secrecy.  As I've documented before, some alternative means of investigative journalism have arisen -- such as the ACLU's tenacious FOIA litigations to pry documents showing "War on Terror" abuses and the reams of bloggers who sort through, analyze and publicize them -- but that's no match for the vast secrecy powers of the government and private corporations.

The need for independent leaks and whistle-blowing exposures is particularly acute now because, at exactly the same time that investigative journalism has collapsed, public and private efforts to manipulate public opinion have proliferated.  This is exemplified by the type of public opinion management campaign detailed by the above-referenced CIA Report, the Pentagon's TV propaganda program exposed in 2008, and the ways in which private interests covertly pay and control supposedly "independent political commentators" to participate in our public debates and shape public opinion.  

Last month, I was on a panel at the New School's Conference on how information is controlled in a democracy, and also on the panel were Daniel Ellsberg, who risked his liberty to leak the Pentagon Papers, and The New York Times' David Barstow, who won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the Pentagon's propaganda program.  Ellsberg described how massive is the apparatus of secrecy in the National Security State, and Barstow made the vital point -- which I summarized in the clip below when speaking later that day at NYU Law School -- that the public and private means for manipulating public opinion are rapidly increasing at exactly the same time that checks on secrecy (such as investigative journalism) are vanishing:

Aside from the handful of organizations (the ACLU, the NYT) with the resources and will to engage in protracted FOIA litigations against the government, one of the last avenues to uncover government and other elite secrets are whistle blowers and organizations that enable them.  WikiLeaks is one of the world's most effective such groups, and it's thus no surprise that they're under such sustained attacks. 

This is how Assange put it to me this morning in explaining why he believes his organization's activities are so vital and why he's willing to make himself a target in order to do it:

This information has reform potential.  And the information which is concealed or suppressed is concealed or suppressed because the people who know it best understand that it has the ability to reform.  So they engage in work to prevent that reform . . . .

There are reasons I do it that have to do with wanting to reform civilization, and selectively targeting information will do that -- understanding that quality information is what every decision is based on, and all the decisions taken together is what "civilization" is, so if you want to improve civilization, you have to remove some of the basic constraints, which is the quality of information that civilization has at its disposal to make decisions.  Of course, there's a personal psychology to it, that I enjoy crushing bastards, I like a good challenge, so do a lot of the other people involved in WikiLeaks.  We like the challenge.  

The public and private organizations most eager to maintain complete secrecy around what they do -- including numerous U.S. military and intelligence agencies -- are obviously threatened by WikiLeaks' activities, which is why they seek to harass and cripple them.  There are numerous ways one can support WikiLeaks -- donations, volunteer work, research, legal and technical assistance -- and that can be done through their site.  There aren't many groups more besieged, or doing more important work, than they.

==== end of article ====



Global Marijuana March.

Marijuana polls after 10 years of Global Marijuana Marches.

U.S. cannabis arrests 1965 to 2008. Charts.

Universal healthcare, and drug-war harm reduction.



Global Million Marijuana March. Cannabis Action.
Hundreds of cities worldwide have signed up for MMM!
First Saturday in May. Worldwide since 1999.
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