Pubdate: Sun, 29 Oct 2000
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Contact:  PO Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191
Fax: (619) 293-1440
Author: Kevin B. Zeese


Re: "War on drugs leader to leave" (A-section, Oct. 17):

I realize that when a cabinet-level official leaves office there is a 
tendency to write a puff piece about him, but your story on the exit of 
drug czar Barry McCaffrey did not mention some important points from his 

The story implied that McCaffrey had turned the drug war into a treatment 
war. In fact, he increased its militarization, and did nothing to deal with 
the crises of drug-related AIDS and record overdose deaths.

Military leadership is now consistent at all levels of the drug war. There 
are more National Guard troops working on drug control than Drug 
Enforcement Administration agents; para-military police units trained by 
the military now commonly serve drug-related search warrants; and McCaffrey 
led the charge for U.S. military action in the Colombian civil war.

During his tenure, the ratio of spending on the drug war continued to favor 
law enforcement and interdiction by a margin of 2-1. Thanks to McCaffrey's 
advocation of in-prison treatment and court-coerced treatment, voluntary 
treatment needs are still unmet. Thus, we are developing the strange 
situation where someone needs to be arrested in order to get treatment.

Despite increased availability of heroin and cocaine, prices lower than 
those in 1980 and purity reaching new records, McCaffrey claimed victory to 
the end. He took on a very difficult job, but the reality is that we are a 
less healthy society after five years of his leadership.

Kevin B. Zeese, President Common Sense For Drug Policy Falls Church, Va.
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