Pubdate: Mon, 18 Oct 1999 
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 1999 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Tom Barrus and David Carter


To the editor:

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, director of the Clinton administration's
Office of National Drug Control Policy, claims that: "In addition to
concealing their real agenda, those who want to legalize drugs also go
to extremes to confuse the public about America's efforts to fight
drug use." (Dangerous drug smokescreen," Commentary, Oct. 7)

Who is confusing whom? How can Gen. McCaffrey be fighting drug use
when tobacco and alcohol, the most harmful drugs, are exempt from the
drug laws?

Gen. McCaffrey says drug use among youths is down, but tobacco use
among youths actually is up. He says the primary goal of the "National
Drug Control Strategy" is to teach youth to avoid drugs. Why then is
the government imprisoning more than 700,000 cannabis smokers but not
imprisoning any tobacco smokers? I don't see any police officers
stopping the tobacco drug pushers from selling their type of drug to
our children.

Gen. McCaffrey says drugs are illegal because they are dangerous. If
this is so, then why are tobacco and alcohol legal? Tobacco and
alcohol are the most dangerous of all drugs. Gen. McCaffrey speaks of
52,000 drug-related deaths a year, which is more on the order of
10,000 or less, but is strangely silent on the 400,000-plus
tobacco-related deaths and the 100,000 alcohol-related deaths each
year in this country.

Why is Gen. McCaffrey soft on these drugs like alcohol and tobacco?
Why has Gen. McCaffrey surrendered to the alcohol and tobacco drug
lords? Why won't Gen. McCaffrey demand that Congress either make
tobacco and alcohol the controlled substances they are or else repeal
restrictions on the drugs he targets?

American Federation for Legal Consistency
Golden, CO

To the editor:

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey's column ("Dangerous drug 
smokescreen,"Commentary,Oct.7) seems to confuse fact and fiction.

He is fond of describing his intellectual opponents' political
positions with such words as "smokescreen," "subterfuge" and
"concealing," which all suggest deceit. Drug policy reform groups,
such as the Lindesmith Center and the Drug Policy Foundation, are open
and forthright about the ideas they espouse. No one is hiding anything
here, with the possible exception of Gen. McCaffrey, who has a vested
interest in the drug war.

I find it disturbing that a man whose profession once was waging war
is now unable to recognize a war when he sees it and wages it. Yes,
the drug war is a war, fought with armed soldiers (we call them
police) and aimed at killing people -- people such as Mario Paz, a
California grandfather killed in an August drug raid that turned up no
drugs at all. Nor have law-enforcement authorities been able to link
him and his family to drugs since. Gen. McCaffrey's Office of National
Drug Control Policy considers these deaths collateral damage  but
as in all wars, some innocents must die.

Vietnam has come home. Gen. McCaffrey's agency would rather destroy
the drug user before he can do it himself. The most dangerous thing
going on today is not groups' discussing different drug policy
approaches, it is a drug czar who is afraid to discuss ending a bad

Houston TX

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