JFP 9/24: Morsi's presses US on Palestinian state; Warren: cut Pentagon, end war

Just Foreign Policy News, September 24, 2012
Morsi presses US on Palestinian state; Warren: cut Pentagon, end war

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Video: Imran Khan on drone strikes: "you must protest this indiscriminate killing"
In an appeal to American and British citizens, Imran Khan - leader of Pakistan's most popular political party - urges Western protests against drone strikes in Pakistan.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxWLl6jk35g

*Action: JFP/NIAC: Tell Meet the Press: Real Journalism Requires Challenging False Information on Iran
Meet the Press allowed Netanyahu to give his stump speech for war on the Iran nuclear issue, without challenging his scaremongering with reference to known facts. Just Foreign Policy and the National Iranian American Council are teaming up to challenge pro-war distortions in the mainstream media with our "Iran Fact Check" campaign. Tell Meet the Press: real journalism requires challenging politicians when they spew false information on Iran.
http://www.iranfact.org/tell-mtp-challenge-false-information-on-iran/

Elizabeth Warren: Cut the Pentagon and end the Afghan war
"...we need to make cuts in our defense budget, targeted cuts. We need
to end the war in Afghanistan, that's two billion dollars a week..."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2DfGW8_Hfs
[Send us examples of Senate candidates in contested races saying this and we'll post them here - JFP.]

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said the U.S. needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, helping build a Palestinian state if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger, the New York Times reports. If Washington is asking Egypt to honor its treaty with Israel, he said, Washington should also live up to its own Camp David commitment to Palestinian self-rule.

In an interview with the Times, Morsi praised Obama for moving "decisively and quickly" to support the Arab Spring revolutions, and said he believed that Americans supported "the right of the people of the region to enjoy the same freedoms that Americans have."

But he also argued that Americans "have a special responsibility" for the Palestinians because the U.S. had signed the 1978 Camp David accord. The agreement called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza and for full Palestinian self-rule. "As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled," he said.

2) Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's permanent representative to the IAEA, says Iran has again offered to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent in return for easing sanctions against Iran, Gareth Porter reports for Inter Press Service. "We are prepared to suspend enrichment to 20 percent, provided we find a reciprocal step compatible with it," Soltanieh said.

The US and its allies ruled out such a deal in the two rounds of negotiations in Istanbul and in Baghdad in May and June, demanding that Iran not only halt its enrichment to 20 percent but ship its entire stockpile of uranium enriched to that level out of the country and close down the Fordow enrichment facility entirely. Even if Iran agreed to those far-reaching concessions the P5+1 nations offered no relief from sanctions.

3) Antonio Trejo Cabrera, a leading human rights lawyer who represented several Honduran agrarian groups in disputes with large landowners, was killed by gunmen on Sunday, AP reports. The lawyer had recently helped farmers gain legal rights to several plantations. Trejo "had denounced those responsible for his future death on many occasions," said Vitalino Alvarez, a spokesman for Bajo Aguan's peasants. "Since they couldn't beat him in the courts, they killed him."

4) Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Mitt Romney is undermining hopes for peace and democracy in the Middle East with his claim that Palestinians have no interest in peace, AP reports. "No one stands to gain more from peace than the Palestinians, and no one stands to lose from the absence of peace like the Palestinians," Erekat said. Those who tolerated Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian territories, are "working against democracy and peace," he added. Erekat said he expects up to 170 countries to support the Palestinians' bid this year for "nonmember state" status in the UN General Assembly.

[AP calls the move symbolic, but it could give the Palestinians access to the World Court and the International Criminal Court to pursue legal claims against the occupation - JFP.]

5) Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak called for a broad unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if talks with the Palestinians remain stalled, AP reports. He said Israel would keep heavily concentrated settlement "blocs." These blocs, home to most of the settler population, are mostly located near the frontiers with Israel proper, though one of them, Ariel, is located deep inside the West Bank. Barak also said Israel would need to maintain a military presence along the West Bank's border with Jordan.

Palestinians rejected Barak's proposal, since it falls short of their demand for a full withdrawal from the entire West Bank and east Jerusalem. They also say a continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank is unacceptable.

6) The ACLU welcomed the government's release of the names of 55 of the prisoners approved for transfer from Guantánamo. The prisoners were unanimously designated for transfer by President Obama's inter-agency Guantánamo Bay Review Task Force, which announced a summary of its findings in January 2010. These men have now spent three years in prison since our military and intelligence agencies all agreed they should be released, the ACLU notes.

Iran
7) It was in 1992 that Netanyahu said Iran was three to five years from nuclear capacity, writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times. The best reading ahead of Netanyahu's U.S. visit is the bipartisan experts' report, "Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action against Iran," Cohen writes. Among its findings: "It would take Iran a year or more to build a military grade weapon, once the decision was made to do so. At least two years or more would be required to create a nuclear warhead that is reliably deliverable by a missile." The US does not believe that decision has been made by Iran's supreme leader, Cohen notes.

And this: Iran is likely to retaliate and "we believe there are at least the preconditions for a major escalation and a bloody conflict in the Levant." In addition, "We believe that a U.S. attack on Iran would significantly increase Iran's motivation to build a bomb."

Colombia
8) President Santos' administration approved the Mayor of Bogota's proposal to supply illicit drugs by prescription, according to Colombia Reports. Bogota's mayor, Gustavo Petro, confirmed the national government authorized his proposal to supply illicit drugs to addicts, if they have a medical prescription and meet a strict set of criteria. "The Constitution states…drugs are prohibited, except when treatment is prescribed by a doctor...As there is this exception, we dared to publicly present the proposal, but we could not implement it without a permit from the national government," claimed Petro. Colombia decriminalized the carrying of small doses of drugs last year.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Egypt's New Leader Spells Out Terms for U.S.-Arab Ties
David D. Kirkpatrick and Steven Erlanger, New York Times, September 22, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/world/middleeast/egyptian-leader-mohamed-morsi-spells-out-terms-for-us-arab-ties.html

Cairo - On the eve of his first trip to the United States as Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi said the United States needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.

A former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mr. Morsi sought in a 90-minute interview with The New York Times to introduce himself to the American public and to revise the terms of relations between his country and the United States after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, an autocratic but reliable ally.

He said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize the alliance with Egypt, long a cornerstone of regional stability.

If Washington is asking Egypt to honor its treaty with Israel, he said, Washington should also live up to its own Camp David commitment to Palestinian self-rule. He said the United States must respect the Arab world's history and culture, even when that conflicts with Western values.

And he dismissed criticism from the White House that he did not move fast enough to condemn protesters who recently climbed over the United States Embassy wall and burned the American flag in anger over a video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad.

"We took our time" in responding to avoid an explosive backlash, he said, but then dealt "decisively" with the small, violent element among the demonstrators.

"We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely," he said, noting that the embassy employees were never in danger.

Mr. Morsi, who will travel to New York on Sunday for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, arrives at a delicate moment. He faces political pressure at home to prove his independence, but demands from the West for reassurance that Egypt under Islamist rule will remain a stable partner.

Mr. Morsi, 61, whose office was still adorned with nautical paintings that Mr. Mubarak left behind, said the United States should not expect Egypt to live by its rules.

"If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment," he said. "When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt."

He suggested that Egypt would not be hostile to the West, but would not be as compliant as Mr. Mubarak either.

"Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region," he said, by backing dictatorial governments over popular opposition and supporting Israel over the Palestinians.

He initially sought to meet with President Obama at the White House during his visit this week, but he received a cool reception, aides to both presidents said. Mindful of the complicated election-year politics of a visit with Egypt's Islamist leader, Mr. Morsi dropped his request.

His silence in the immediate aftermath of the embassy protest elicited a tense telephone call from Mr. Obama, who also told a television interviewer that at that moment he did not consider Egypt an ally, if not an enemy either. When asked if he considered the United States an ally, Mr. Morsi answered in English, "That depends on your definition of ally," smiling at his deliberate echo of Mr. Obama. But he said he envisioned the two nations as "real friends."
[...]
He praised Mr. Obama for moving "decisively and quickly" to support the Arab Spring revolutions, and he said he believed that Americans supported "the right of the people of the region to enjoy the same freedoms that Americans have."

Arabs and Americans have "a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion," he said, adding that he hoped for "a harmonious, peaceful coexistence."

But he also argued that Americans "have a special responsibility" for the Palestinians because the United States had signed the 1978 Camp David accord. The agreement called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza and for full Palestinian self-rule.

"As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled," he said.
[...]

2) Iranian Diplomat Says Iran Offered Deal to Halt 20-Percent Enrichment
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, Sep 24 2012
http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/09/iranian-diplomat-says-iran-offered-deal-to-halt-20-percent-enrichment/

Washington - Iran has again offered to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, which the United States has identified as its highest priority in the nuclear talks, in return for easing sanctions against Iran, according to Iran's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who has conducted Iran's negotiations with the IAEA in Tehran and Vienna, revealed in an interview with IPS that Iran had made the offer at the meeting between EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Iran's leading nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul Sep. 19.

Soltanieh also revealed in the interview that IAEA officials had agreed last month to an Iranian demand that it be provided documents on the alleged Iranian activities related to nuclear weapons which Iran is being asked to explain, but that the concession had then been withdrawn.

"We are prepared to suspend enrichment to 20 percent, provided we find a reciprocal step compatible with it," Soltanieh said, adding, "We said this in Istanbul."

Soltanieh is the first Iranian official to go on record as saying Iran has proposed a deal that would end its 20-percent enrichment entirely, although it had been reported previously. "If we do that," Soltanieh said, "there shouldn't be sanctions."

Iran's position in the two rounds of negotiations with the P5+1 – China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain, the United States and Germany – earlier this year was reported to have been that a significant easing of sanctions must be part of the bargain.

The United States and its allies in the P5+1 ruled out such a deal in the two rounds of negotiations in Istanbul and in Baghdad in May and June, demanding that Iran not only halt its enrichment to 20 percent but ship its entire stockpile of uranium enriched to that level out of the country and close down the Fordow enrichment facility entirely.

Even if Iran agreed to those far-reaching concessions the P5+1 nations offered no relief from sanctions.
[...]
The U.S. justification for the demand for the closure of Fordow has been that it has been used for enriching uranium to the 20-percent level, which makes it much easier for Iran to continue enrichment to weapons grade levels.

But Soltanieh pointed to the conversion of half the stockpile to fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, which was documented in the Aug. 30 IAEA report.

"The most important thing in the (IAEA) report," Soltanieh said, was "a great percentage of 20-percent enriched uranium already converted to powder for the Tehran Research Reactor."

That conversion to powder for fuel plates makes the uranium unavailable for reconversion to a form that could be enriched to weapons grade level.
[...]

3) Honduras human rights lawyer for agrarian groups murdered at wedding
Associated Press, September 23, 2012
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/honduras-human-rights-lawyer-who-opposed-private-cities-murdered/2012/09/23/059ff77a-05a5-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html

Tegucigalpa, Honduras - A leading human rights lawyer who represented several Honduran agrarian groups in disputes with large landowners was killed by gunmen on Sunday, a land rights organization said.

Antonio Trejo Cabrera, 41, was shot five times while attending a wedding in the capital, Tegucigalpa, the Peasant Movement of the Valley of Bajo Aguan said in a statement.

Trejo was a lawyer from three peasant cooperatives in the Bajo Aguan, a fertile farming area plagued by violent conflicts between agrarian organizations and land owners. More than 60 people have been killed in such disputes over the past two years. The lawyer had recently helped farmers gain legal rights to several plantations.

Trejo had also helped prepare motions declaring unconstitutional a proposal to build three privately run cities with their own police, laws and tax systems.

Just hours before his murder, Trejo had participated in a televised debate in which he accused congressional leaders of using the private city projects to raise campaign funds.

The lawyer was to travel to Washington in October to participate in hearings on the Bajo Aguan situation at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said Annie Bird, co-director of Rights Action.

Trejo "had denounced those responsible for his future death on many occasions," said Vitalino Alvarez, a spokesman for Bajo Aguan's peasants. "Since they couldn't beat him in the courts, they killed him."

No arrests have been made in Trejo's killing.

4) Palestinians condemn Mitt Romney comment that they have "no interest whatsoever" in peace
Associated Press, September 20
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/palestinians-condemn-mitt-romney-comment-that-they-have-no-interest-whatsoever-in-peace/2012/09/20/286e4d62-0314-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html

Ramallah, West Bank - Mitt Romney is undermining hopes for peace and democracy in the Middle East, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday in response to recent remarks to donors by the Republican presidential candidate that Palestinians have "no interest whatsoever" in peace.

Saeb Erekat, a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, rejected Romney's claim.

"No one stands to gain more from peace than the Palestinians, and no one stands to lose from the absence of peace like the Palestinians," Erekat told reporters. Those who tolerated Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian territories, are "working against democracy and peace," he added.

The Palestinian official called on leaders to "create hope and opportunities, not despair." In an apparent swipe at Romney, he said, "anyone who says Arabs are not ready for democracy is a racist."

Erekat spoke ahead of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York at which Abbas is expected to present a plan to seek a "nonmember state" status for the Palestinians.

With peace talks with Israel stalled for the past four years, Palestinians have turned to the United Nations for international recognition of their sovereignty in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
[...]
Last year, the Palestinians asked the U.N. Security Council to admit them as a full member state. They failed to receive enough votes, in part because the United States fiercely opposed their bid. Next week, they will seek the lesser status of "nonmember state" in the General Assembly, a much larger body dominated by developing countries sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Erekat did not say when Palestinians would officially submit their application, but hinted it could be in late November, after the U.S. presidential elections.

He said he expects up to 170 countries to support the bid.
[...]

5) Israeli defense chief proposes West Bank pullout if peace talks remain stalled
Associated Press, Monday, September 24, 3:39 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israeli-defense-chief-proposes-west-bank-pullout-if-peace-talks-remain-stalled/2012/09/24/fc292af8-0631-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html

Jerusalem - Israel's defense minister on Monday called for a broad unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if talks with the Palestinians remain stalled, saying in published comments that "practical steps" are needed to breathe life into the stalemated peace process.

The proposal drew attention to the dire state of affairs with the Palestinians, which has been overshadowed by Israel's focus on the Iranian nuclear program. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons, says the Islamic Republic must be stopped and has devoted his 3 1/2 year term to rallying international support against the Iranians. At the same time, he has largely ignored the Palestinian issue.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom daily, Defense Minister Ehud Barak implied that the deadlock with the Palestinians cannot be sustained indefinitely.

"It's better to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, but if that doesn't happen, we must take practical steps to start a separation," he said. "It will help us not only in dealing with the Palestinians, but also with other countries in the region, with the Europeans, and with the American administration - and of course (will help) us."

Barak's proposal is unlikely to be implemented, at least in the short term. Netanyahu has shown no interest in one-sided concessions, and his governing coalition is dominated by hard-liners who would be reluctant to embrace the plan.
[...]
Barak has previously floated the idea of unilateral action, most recently in May. But in Monday's interview, he was far more detailed.

"We have not been a year or two in Judea and Samaria, but 45 years," Barak said, using the biblical terms for the West Bank. "The time has come to make decisions based not only on ideology and gut feelings, but from a cold reading of reality."

He said Israel would keep heavily concentrated settlement "blocs." These blocs, home to most of the settler population, are mostly located near the frontiers with Israel proper, though one of them, Ariel, is located deep inside the West Bank. Barak also said Israel would need to maintain a military presence along the West Bank's border with Jordan.

The remaining settlers would be given financial incentives to leave, or be allowed to remain in their homes under Palestinian control for a five-year "trial period," Barak said.
[...]
The Palestinians also rejected Barak's proposal, since it falls short of their demand for a full withdrawal from the entire West Bank and east Jerusalem. They also say a continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank is unacceptable.

Sabri Sedam, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said continued Israeli control of the settlement blocs and east Jerusalem would make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible.

"These settlement blocs are not isolated populations. They are connected communities, passing through the Palestinian land, which kills any geographical contiguity for a Palestinian state," he said.
[...]

6) Government Releases List of Prisoners Approved for Transfer from Guantánamo
Zachary Katznelson, ACLU, 09/21/2012, 4:36pm

http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/government-releases-list-prisoners-approved-transfer-guantanamo

Today, just weeks after the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the information, the government released the names of 55 of the prisoners approved for transfer from the prison at Guantánamo Bay. The prisoners were unanimously designated for transfer by President Obama's inter-agency Guantánamo Bay Review Task Force, which announced a summary of its findings in January 2010. But before today, the government had said the list could not be released because doing so would hamper efforts to repatriate and resettle prisoners in other countries.

Today's release is a partial victory for transparency, and it should also be a spur to action. These men have now spent three years in prison since our military and intelligence agencies all agreed they should be released.

Not on the list, of course, is Adnan Latif, who died in his cell earlier this month despite having been repeatedly approved for release from Guantánamo.

It is well past time for our government to release and resettle these unfairly imprisoned men.

(The 55 men listed are apparently not the only prisoners still in Guantánamo who have been approved for transfer. In its filing today explaining the release, the government said that it is moving to vacate court orders that have sealed the identity of other men who have been approved for transfer.)

In late August, the ACLU filed a FOIA request seeking the identities of the prisoners in each of the task force's four designated categories: transfer, prosecution, indefinite detention and conditional detention. Knowing who exactly is in each category is key to an informed public debate on America's broken Guantánamo policy. We have not yet received an official substantive response, nor have the names of people in the other three categories yet been released.

Iran
7) Netanyahu's Iran Blunders
Roger Cohen, New York Times, September 24, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/opinion/roger-cohen-Netanyahus-Iran-Blunders.html

London - Shaul Mofaz, the leader of Israel's centrist Kadima party, posed three questions this month to Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaking in the Knesset, he said: "Prime minister, tell me, who is our biggest enemy, the U.S. or Iran? Who do you want replaced, Ahmadinejad or Obama? How low are you prepared to drag relations with our closest ally?"

Ouch.

Netanyahu has talked himself into a corner on Iran. He has set so many "red lines" on the Iranian nuclear program nobody can remember them. He has taken to fuming publicly over President Obama's refusal to do the same. Of late he has juggled metaphors: Iran is now "20 yards" from "touchdown." His cry-wolf dilemma comes right out of a children's book. It was in 1992 that he said Iran was three to five years from nuclear capacity.

(One achievement of Netanyahu's Iran obsession has been to relegate the critical question before Israel - the millions of Palestinian people on its doorstep - to somewhere between the back burner and oblivion. The best primer for Netanyahu's thinking is these words from his coached buddy Mitt Romney: "I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, 'There's just no way."')

The mistake Netanyahu has made is to believe he can go over the head of President Obama. He has tried through Congress, where his speech last year earned 29 standing ovations. He has greeted Romney in Israel as if he were on a state visit. He has said those "who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel." He has given critical interviews on U.S. TV networks in the midst of a presidential campaign. And he hath protested far too much that he has no intention - none - of swaying the outcome.

Some adjectives that come to mind are: brazen, reckless and irrational. Another is disingenuous: Obama has set a clear red line on Iran - he will not permit Iran to become a nuclear-armed state.
[...]
Barbara Boxer, a senator and California Democrat, was outraged. In a recent letter to the Israeli leader, she said she was "stunned" and disappointed by his questioning of American support for Israel.

"Are you suggesting that the United States is not Israel's closest ally and does not stand by Israel?" Boxer wrote. "Are you saying that Israel, under President Obama, has not received more in annual security assistance from the United States than at any time in its history?"

When Congressional support for Israel shows cracks, that is a seismic event.

The best reading ahead of Netanyahu's U.S. visit is "Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action against Iran," an excellent bipartisan paper [http://www.worldaffairs.org/assets/documents/iranreport_091712r_final.pdf] (and lesson in sobriety) from The Iran Project signed by two former national security advisers, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Senator Chuck Hagel, retired military leaders including Gen. Anthony Zinni and Adm. William Fallon, and a host of other experts.

Among its findings: "It would take Iran a year or more to build a military grade weapon, once the decision was made to do so. At least two years or more would be required to create a nuclear warhead that is reliably deliverable by a missile." The United States does not believe that decision has been made by Iran's supreme leader.

And this: Any Israeli military strike is "unlikely to succeed in destroying or even seriously damaging" the underground Fordow enrichment facility with its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. It could set back Iran's ability to make a bomb "for up to two years." Only an extended U.S. military campaign "carried out to near perfection" could delay it "by up to four years."

And this: Iran is likely to retaliate and "we believe there are at least the preconditions for a major escalation and a bloody conflict in the Levant." In addition, "We believe that a U.S. attack on Iran would significantly increase Iran's motivation to build a bomb." It might "end all cooperation" with the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors are in Iran. An attack would also "enhance the recruiting ability of radical Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda, to recruit" and give Muslims "even more reason to believe that the U.S. and Israel are at war with Islam."

In short, the facts are against Netanyahu. After Iraq, Americans, if they are go to war in a third Muslim country, want that war to be fact-based.
[...]

Colombia
8) Govt gives green light to prescription drugs in Bogota
Esteban Manriquez, Colombia Reports, Friday, 21 September 2012 16:41
http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/26147-govt-gives-green-light-to-prescription-drugs-in-bogota.html

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos' administration approves the Mayor of Bogota's proposal to supply illicit drugs by prescription, reported local media Friday.

Following a meeting with the president, Bogota's colorful mayor, Gustavo Petro, confirmed Friday that the national government authorized his proposal to supply illicit drugs to addicts, if they have a medical prescription and meet a strict set of criteria.

"The Constitution states…drugs are prohibited, except when treatment is prescribed by a doctor...As there is this exception, we dared to publicly present the proposal, but we could not implement it without a permit from the national government," claimed Petro.

Petro floated the idea of drug consumption centers in Bogota back in early August. "A large part of the violence and crime that still persists in the city derives from the small-scale consumption and trafficking of drugs ... We should allow some centers for addicts that provide treatment ... where the addict can consume under relative control, without doing damage to society," said the mayor.

Days later Santos said, "this leap into the dark seems irresponsible to me because one could cause a lot of damage to society, youth and the country."

Colombia decriminalized the carrying of small doses of drugs last year.

---
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