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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE News From the Home Front NEWS FROM THE FRONT. With the generals reporting progress in the war in Afghanistan, this might be a good time to pause for a few updates from America’s war on itself. In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Bush’s unfortunate nomination of John Walters as drug czar \(head of the White House’s Office of National Drug was W’s last cabinet spot to fill, and once again he went to the well for one of his dad’s cronies. Walters, who served under Bush senior’s drug czar William Bennett, is known as a lock ’em up hard-liner with little interest in drug treatment, which made his nomination controversial in the Senate, where some murmurings of reform have been heard of late. Bush was almost out-cronied by opponents: None other than Betty Ford herself showed up to testify against Walters. Nobody knows more about drug treatment \(and which famous people have been with Ford, a host of drug policy reform advocates, and Judiciary Committee chair Pat Leahy \(Dfour Democrats joined Republicans voting aye, allowing Walters to limp through. He’s expected to be approved by the full Senate. Back in Texas, more grim tidings. In a case closely watched by the Texas ACLU, a Caldwell man was convicted in early November of deliv ery of cocaine on the testimony of a Sentencing is pending for the defendant, who is facing 25 years to life. The case was considered a likely candidate for the first application of one of the “Tulia bill” drug reforms passed last session, specifically, the law stipulating that a conviction may not be obtained solely on the uncorroborated testimony of a confidential informant. Although the judge instructed the jury about the new law, the prosecution did present some tape recordings \(described by trial observers as marginally incrimiwhich apparently satisfied jurors. There is some hope: Defense attorneys plan to appeal based on the Tulia law, which they will argue was not properly explained to the jury. Also in Austin, drug war critics were disappointed to learn that there will be no interim legislative study of the state’s drug task forces. Speaker Pete Laney declined to include that as a subject of study for the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, as Chairman Juan Hinojosa \(author disappointed but not discouraged. “It’s an issue that’s not going to go away,’ he said. There are some promising developments in the Panhandle. In an unexpected turn, the last two remaining defendants charged in the original 1999 Tulia bust, Zuri Bossett and Tony White, have been set for trial February 2. Neither defendant was in Tulia when the initial slew of arrests were made, and what little effort authorities initially made to track them down dwindled to zero as the entire operation became the subject of nationwide controversy last year, following revelations about the character and methods of the undercover narc, Tom Coleman. This fall, Bossett’s warrant came to light during an unrelated traffic stop and she was arrested and returned to Tulia. Shortly thereafter, White turned herself in, after retaining ace Amarillo attorney and drug war critic Jeff Blackburn, who will be representing both defendants. The defendants have announced their intention to fight the charges in a jury trial, setting up a showdown in which Coleman would be required to return to Tulia to testify in person. “I’m looking forward to it,” Blackburn said. Meanwhile, Tulia defendant Billy Wafer, who had charges against him dropped when Coleman’s testimony did not stand up, has finally won a settlement from Swisher county. PAPER WARS. Living wage advocacy groups around Texas recently received letters from the Employment Policies Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, requesting copies of their past tax returns, annual reports, and taxexempt application forms. But it wasn’t the information requestedwhich nonprofits have to provide all requestors as a condition of their taxexempt statusthat has groups concerned, as much as who is doing the asking … and why. The Employment researches issues regarding socalled “entry-level” or minimum wage workers, is partially funded by 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11123/01