Counter-narcotics Authorizations


Background/Description ||Section 124||Section 1004||Section 124/1004 combined

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Background/ Description:

"Section 1004" and "Section 124" Counter-drug Assistance

With the 1989 inclusion of section 124 in Title 10, U.S. Code, the Department of Defense became the lead U.S. agency responsible for detecting and monitoring illegal drugs entering the United States by air or sea. Section 124 does not authorize the provision of assistance. It permits the use of funds for drug-interdiction operations, such as radar sites, surveillance flights and intelligence-gathering, being carried out by U.S. military personnel stationed in Latin America and the Caribbean. Section 1004 of the 1991 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 101-510) detailed further the Pentagon's role in counter-narcotics. This provision allows the military to provide specific types of support to domestic U.S. law-enforcement agencies, and -- unlike section 124 -- permits some assistance and training for foreign security forces.


Section 1004 authorizes U.S. military training of foreign police forces, an activity that the Foreign Assistance Act -- a separate law governing most security-assistance programs -- does not authorize for counter-narcotics purposes. Types of support allowed under section
1004 include the following:


1.Maintenance, repair and upgrading of equipment;

2.Transport of U.S. and foreign personnel and supplies;

3.Establishment and operation of bases of operation and training;

4.Training of foreign law enforcement personnel;

5.Detection and monitoring;

6.Construction to block drug smuggling across U.S. borders;

7.Communication networks;

8.Linguistic and intelligence services; and

9.Aerial and ground reconnaissance.

Though this provision authorizes a wide variety of activities, it has received little scrutiny on the part of congressional oversight bodies. While large when compared with many other programs that provide assistance to Latin American security forces, section 1004 activities in the region make up about one-tenth of one percent of the Defense Department's overall budget.


Programs authorized by sections 124 and 1004 apply only to the Defense Department's involvement in counter-narcotics. Activities authorized by section 1004 must fulfill a counter-narcotics mission.
Section 124 establishes that the Defense Department is "the single lead agency of the Federal Government for the detection and monitoring of aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs into the United States." Defense Department personnel may operate equipment necessary to intercept vessels or aircraft suspected of smuggling drugs outside the land area of the United States. Section 124 does not authorize the provision of assistance.

Unlike section 124, which is part of Title 10, U.S. Code, section 1004 of the 1991 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is not a permanent authorization. Originally authorized for four years, through 1995, section 1004 was reauthorized until fiscal year 1999. Unless reauthorized again, this provision of law will expire in 1999. (Congress has passed the 1999 NDAA (S. 2060); the bill awaits the President's signature. Section 332 of the bill will extend section 1004 through the year 2004.)

No legal conditions prohibit a country from receiving assistance under section 1004. In fact, the law states that "the Secretary of Defense may not limit the requirements for which support may be provided ... only to critical, emergent, or unanticipated requirements." Section 1004 funds are appropriated within the Defense Department's counter-narcotics "central transfer account." The authorization includes no reporting requirements.

No functional breakdowns by country are available for sections 124 and 1004, so it is impossible to know how much of the funds obligated through these accounts went to foreign military training.
While section 1004 expands the Defense Department's overseas anti-drug role, several of the activities it authorizes (such as "aerial and ground reconnaissance") fit within the original mandate of section 124. As a result of this overlap, the Defense Department's accounting of assistance provided through sections 1004 and 124 divides it into three categories:

*The "Section 124" category refers to assistance that, according to the Defense Department's interpretation, is allowed under section 124 but not section 1004.

*The "Section 1004" category refers to assistance that, according to the Defense Department's interpretation, is allowed under section 1004 but not section 124.

*The "Section 1004 / 124" category refers to assistance that, according to the Defense Department's interpretation, is authorized both by section 124 and section 1004.


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