Last Sunday, I was up before dawn to prepare for a radio show called All Politics Is Local, on WCRN-Radio 830 AM in Boston. The initial purpose of my appearance was to give my opinion about the interview and interrogation process that possibly took place between FBI agents and Hillary Clinton. The Clinton interview was a widely publicized event and the radio show hosts (Jon Fetherston and Terry Hendrix) wanted to know my thoughts about some of nuisances that may have been involved.
After my morning cup of coffee, I retrieved the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times from the front door. Given current events in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas, I was surprised to see the front page headline: More than 1 million OxyContin pills ended up in the hands of criminals and addicts. What the drug maker knew. As a former supervisory agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, it certainly piqued my interest. I scanned the piece briefly, then I sat down to prepare for the upcoming interview. Little did I know, I would shortly be speaking about the article to a large New England audience.
The radio interview was fast-paced with excellent questions and no shyness on the part of my hosts. Being as it was a conservative radio show, they were no fans of Hillary and/or the decision by FBI Director James Comey. Politics aside, my job was to provide solid information based on my 50+ years of experience conducting hundreds of interviews and interrogations, teaching the subject matter at the Departments of Justice and Treasury and in over 60 foreign countries as a federal agent.
My initial focus was to paint a picture of the interview process – which I did:
- The goal of the FBI agents would simply be to let Mrs. Clinton answer their questions. They would not care what the answers were, that would come later when they would compare answers to previous testimony and comments made during her speeches.
- Mrs. Clinton’s goal was to simply answer honestly and try not to provide any evidence to the contrary.
- The FBI agents performing the interview would most certainly be the “best of the best.” They should be anyway, because this adversarial confrontation was with a subject who has been tried and tested for many decades. (Mrs. Clinton was just coming off a grueling 11 hours before the select committee on Benghazi.)
- I spoke next about watching Director Comey lay out his case against Mrs. Clinton. He was straightforward, methodical, thorough and precise in his assessment of her alleged wrong-doing. He indicated errors in her previous statements and contradictions in her words and deeds. Halfway through his presentation, I was positive he would be recommending that Mrs. Clinton be indicted. When he dramatically “changed horses in midstream,” I must admit I was surprised.
- I tried to articulate some things that no one (including myself) knew about the interview. Was there an Assistant United States Attorney in the room assisting the agents? They certainly would not want an AUSA there, you can be assured. Was Mrs. Clinton represented by an attorney? I think she would definitely want that guidance. Was the interview videotaped? My guess would be yes.
At the halfway point of my radio segment, the host asked if they could veer off into other subjects related to my experience. I agreed, and the first question was my thoughts on the OxyContin problem in this country. They specifically advised that the Northeast part of the country was getting hit especially hard. I told them this perception was probably because they live in the area; the Northeast does not have a overwhelming market share for this problem – it is rampant throughout the entire United States.
I mentioned the LA Times article, which I’ve since read thoroughly. An excellent piece of journalism, there are two points in it that really stand out for me.
First, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and based in Stamford, Connecticut, tracked the sales and surges of the same. They seemed to pass the buck to the wholesalers when it came to the obscene number of prescriptions being written for the popular pill, the 80-milligram dose. To put in perspective, one 80 (as they were known on the street) had the same strength as 16 Vicodin tablets.
Second, it appeared that Purdue left my previous employer, the DEA, in the dark about the statistics they were gathering. Others would argue the DEA did not do enough to obtain the data which would prove the drug maker knew that the OxyContin was being diverted causing mayhem, crime and addiction.
Also, below this article was one written by the same three journalists who penned the one above titled One town’s descent into crime, addiction and heartbreak. The stories in this piece are heart wrenching. A great read, it follows the drug trail of OxyContin from Los Angeles to areas in and around Everett, Washington.
Since 1999, more than 165,000 people have died from overdoses of opioid painkillers (including OxyContin).
Where the road becomes more convoluted is when the OxyContin runs out. With no more prescriptions available, the supply chain cut of product becomes no longer available. How do the addicts feed their dragon addiction? They turn to the cheaper and readily available backup drug called heroin. The results are astonishing. Remember the days when heroin addicts were typically the poor? No longer in 2016. Heroin is now the drug of choice for all races, creeds and colors.
Law enforcement topics will continue to dominate the news – be it Clinton, Comey, shootings, or riots. Meanwhile, a nation of good people become addicts throughout the land, and dozens die everyday without notice or fanfare. I wonder if the tenor and malaise toward this problem ever change in America.
Since 1999, more than 165,000 people have died from overdoses of opioid painkillers (including OxyContin) – and these are only the ones we know about. Maybe if the public and the law enforcement community knew this fact, maybe things would start to change.
On March 9, 2016, I wrote a post titled Opiate addiction, drug doctors & millions of dollars. It was well-received, stimulated a number of calls to our offices and maybe it will provide a little guidance on a horrendous U.S. drug addiction problem.