DRUGS: by Richard EganNews Weekly
'Fifth columnist' Mike Trace resigns UN drug post
, March 8, 2003
Mike Trace, former UK deputy drug czar, was, in January 2003, forced to resign from his new job as Head of Demand Reduction at the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime in Vienna after less than eight weeks in the post.
His resignation followed the release of information from documents obtained by the Hassela Nordic Network, a Swedish-based group opposed to liberalisation of drug laws, which showed that Trace was involved in an operation, funded by billionaire George Soros, to undermine the international conventions on drug-trafficking which are to be reviewed at a UN meeting to be held in Vienna in April 2003.
In a September 2002 letter to Aryah Neier, President of the Soros-funded Open Society Institute (OSI), Trace described his role as follows:
"In terms of my involvement, I think it would be of most use in the early stages providing advice and consultancy from behind the scenes, in light of my continuing role as Chair of the European Monitoring group, my association with the UK Government and some work
"I am being asked to put together by the UNDCP [United Nations Drug Control Program] in Vienna. This 'fifth column' role would allow me to oversee the setting up of the agency (I already have good quality individuals in mind with whom I could work in confidence on this) while promoting its aims subtly in the formal governmental settings."
The "agency" Trace was referring to here was Release, a London-based group, which was fronting for Trace and OSI in running an initiative, privately referred to as Project X or the London initiative but officially called "Forward Thinking on Drugs", aimed at promoting alternatives to the UN drug conventions prior to the Vienna meeting. Australia's own Cheryl Kernot was appointed in December 2002 to head this initiative. The total budget for this initiative was set at US $405,000. Funding was from Soros and from various European foundations with similar views.
Trace has apparently been successful in his efforts to win advisers of Greek President, George Papandreou over to his agenda. Greece currently holds the presidency of the European Union and is using this position to host a Conference on "Towards an Effective Policy on Drugs: Policy Choices, Scientific Facts and Day-to-Day Practice" in Greece from March 6-8, 2003.
Trace boasted in a December letter to his backers:"We have succeeded in persuading the Greek Government to hold an EU Drug Policy conference ... which will be specifically orientated towards a critical review of current policies."
Some of the drug liberalisers acknowledge that it will be impossible, in the face of opposition from the United States and from developing countries, to actually amend the UN drug conventions at this time. However, they hope that the Vienna review in April will open up the possibility of interpreting the Conventions to allow such drug liberalisation measures as decriminalisation of cannabis; heroin prescription and injecting rooms as a first step towards George Soros goal of "a strictly controlled distributor network through which I would make most drugs, excluding the most dangerous ones like crack, legally available".
The exposure of Trace's role as a self-confessed "fifth columnist" should reduce the possibility of such an outcome. As Trace's former boss and ex-UK drug czar Keith Hellawell put it, "It is an act of cowardice to masquerade behind a position of respectability, protected by public office, to undermine something you are paid - out of hard-earned taxes - to uphold. Shame on you, Mr Trace."
One of the steps identified in a November 2002 project plan for the initiative was to form a key partnership with a (then not yet identified) partner in Australia with whom they "would seek to identify a spokesperson" in Australia who would work in co-ordination with similar spokespersons in "six European countries, Canada and the US" in "place messages" in favour of liberalising the UN drug conventions during the lead-up to the Vienna meeting. It will be instructive to see who emerges in this role.
It is vital for Prime Minister Howard to ensure that the Australian delegates to Vienna fully support the Government's Tough on Drug Policy and the UN drug conventions and do not in any way support measures favoured by the drug liberalisation network and its covert operators.