The following is an alert relating to the nomination of General Barry McCaffrey for the "Drug Czar" position, plus the press release from the Drug Policy Foundation. It's only a few days since DRCNet posted an alert on the same topic -- but it's not every day we get a new Czar, is it? Our last alert asked readers to write the President; this one asks you to write to the media.
Following is a press release DPF put out this morning and we will mail shortly to our contact list. There is much more to be said, and we are busily compiling quotes from McCaffrey, which we'll distribute in a future note.
For now, DRCNet members can make a difference by WRITING LETTERS TO LOCAL NEWSPAPERS to comment on the McCaffrey nomination. Feel free to appropriate quotes from our press release and to raise new issues. The point is to get the message out about reformers' reaction to this nomination. Potential McCaffrey supporters will be relatively silent on this issue, so we have a good chance to create the first wave of publicity about the nomination.
The president's unprecedented use of the State of the Union speech to make this nomination underscores the political theater involved. It also shows just how low the administration has sunk into campaign-season positioning on drugs. The issue is not whether McCaffrey is an admirable American, it is: Why him, Why now? These questions almost answer themselves, and Clinton doesn't look good for it.
As always, remember to keep your letters brief (100-200 words), to the point, and to stick to substantive issues, not name-calling. This is also a great chance to offer your own quick assessment of the Clinton drug war. WRITE TODAY!
MCCAFFREY CHOICE TO "PROTECT CLINTON'S
RIGHT FLANK" IN DRUG WAR POLITICS
DPF Criticizes President's Political Motives
WASHINGTON, January 24 -- The Drug Policy Foundation
today criticized President Clinton's nomination of Gen. Barry McCaffrey to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The president made the announcement in last night's State of the Union address.
DPF Executive Director David C. Condliffe said,
"President Clinton's choice of a four-star general to lead drug control efforts sends the wrong message at a time when the nation's greatest needs are in the areas of drug treatment and prevention."
Condliffe continued, "It seems clear that after months of being under fire for its drug policies, the administration has chosen Gen. McCaffrey to protect Clinton's right flank on drugs during the campaign season. During confirmation hearings, Congress should demand that the administration justify the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for such a political purpose."
DPF President Arnold S. Trebach was also disappointed with the president's choice. "By choosing a four-star general as drug czar and reviving talk of efforts to reduce drug abuse as a `battle,'" Trebach said, "the president has undercut one of his most significant achievements in the drug field -- the elimination, until now, of the `war' metaphor for drug policy."
"It is sad," Trebach said, "that an election year has caused the president to appear to abandon his public health approach to drug control."
Condliffe added, "The president himself has spoken of the danger of massive GOP-led cuts in drug education and treatment programs, but he has chosen an individual to head the drug office without the background or credibility to fight for those programs."
Trebach noted that military officials, including Gen. McCaffrey, have often been skeptical of drug interdiction efforts. "It appears from some of Gen. McCaffrey's statements that he is a realist when it comes to drug interdiction. He has noted that interdiction merely changes the routes traffickers use; it does not seriously curb the flow of drugs. That realism is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps he can bring a fresh view to Washington."
(Note: DRCNet has received funding and office space from the Drug Policy Foundation, but is a separate organization. For more info on DPF, e-mail i[email protected], call (202) 537-5005, or write to Drug Policy Foundation, 4455 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite B-500, Washington, DC 20008-2302.)
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