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The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the University of Illinois has received the resignation of Tom Dempsey, now ex-director of UIUC's Police Training Institute. Dempsey will apparently receive a golden parachute of $75,000 from the UI, plus $12,000 for health care insurance.
While Dempsey's departure seemed a foregone conclusion since it became obvious over the summer that he generated a massive personal conflict of interest by cutting a deal tying UIUC's PTI to the mercenary corporation, Blackwater USA, at the same time he was arranging his own employment by Blackwater as a mercenary in Afghanistan, his resignation leaves many questions unanswered.
In part, this is because Dempsey's resignation called for a blanket of silence to descend on the affair, with both Dempsey and the UI agreeing to not comment further on his exit. The public would be better served by the opening of an immediate investigation of the whole affair, rather than this cover-up. Considering what is already publicly known about this mess, very oddly the Tribune reported that "The separation agreement, however, states that Dempsey 'adhered by [university] policy regarding non-university employment and use of vacation time.'"
The original agreement linking the mercenaries to UIUC was apparently approved at the UI Board of Trustees level. However, there has been no elaboration on exactly how this agreement came about in secrecy without a thorough public vetting of such an obviously controversial and problematic pact. Thus, it appears that the UI has handled this affair in this manner as much to disguise its own internal incompetence as to rid itself of an unethical administrator.
The University has previously stated that Dempsey handled the agreement through one chain of command and had his paid-by-Blackwater "vacation" in Afghanistan approved by another chain of command at the University. None of this set off any alarm bells within the UI administration and the whole situation cries out for a complete public review of both PTI's procedures to enter agreements with non-academic organizations. The University apparently continues to be engaged in another such agreement with yet another mercenary corporation, Triple Canopy.
This boondoggle also raises serious questions about the justifications for pouring millions of dollars into the so-called "war on drugs," both domestically and internationally. In justifying his actions in the affair in a commentary published in the News-Gazette after news it broke, Dempsey claimed that whatever he'd done was justified by what he claimed to be the noble necessity to carry the fight in the "war on drugs" to Afghanistan. Opium growing in Afghanistan has ballooned in the wake of the US-sponsored attack on the nation in 2001. Dempsey left unmentioned that Blackwater USA profited from helping conduct this war in the first place and is now profiting from supposedly helping clean up the mess it made.
Problem -- Reaction -- Solution. Public opinion is being manipulated for profit and personal gain by highly-paid drug warriors to support consistently failed and increasingly militarized law enforcement "solutions" to social problems like drugs. The fact that the "drug war" has been turned into a profit center by organizations like Blackwater USA and police professional advocacy organizations is yet another indication that a new policy that relies on a harm-reduction approach would better serve the public than the vain glorious expansion of secret police forces, SWAT teams banging down doors, and arrest statistics whose results clearly show that police have tended to concentrate these questionable and ineffective tactics on locking up minority populations.
Until Iraq came along, the "war on drugs" was the biggest failed American war since Vietnam. It's time to quit pouring money down this "war on drugs" rathole and adopt a common sense approach to drugs that truly pose a danger to health, like meth and cocaine, and to legalize drugs like marijuana, which do not pose any significant risk to the public. Otherwise, it is clear that public funds are largely being wasted ineffectively and that the slush funds involved tend to corrupt the police and other public insititutions, just as alcohol prohibition did early in the 20th century.
For earlier reporting on this scandal, see:
PTI’s Tom Dempsey – Martyr? Or Just Another Unethical Cop?
University of Illinois PTI, Blackwater -- "Conflict of Commitment"?