Three months after 9/11, George W. Bush said drug trafficking funded terrorist networks. Two months after that, the White House bought two Super Bowl ads saying the same for $1.9 million each. Now, 15 years into the merging of the war on drugs with the war on terror, ProPublica's Ginger Thompson has followed every public "narco-terrorism" case the DEA has made – and the results are shocking. We collaborated on a video about what she found:
The story of the DEA and narco-terrorism is an important reminder that the specter of terrorism is often used to justify reactions that go far beyond the actual threat. The Bush administration famously linked Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks during the ramp-up to the US invasion of Iraq.
The DEA story is similar: As the video shows, the cases the DEA follows around the world are as fantastical as they are problematic and disturbing. A FARC commander collaborating with al-Qaeda to supply drugs through West Africa to Spain, all caught on undercover video? It sounds too good to be true. And if you watch the video above, you'll find out exactly how well that case, and the rest of the DEA's cases, turned out.