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PRESS RELEASE -- from the Drug Policy Foundation

PRESS RELEASE -- from the Drug Policy Foundation For more information,
contact: Dave Fratello or Rob Stewart, at (202) 537-5005

Four-Star Drug Czar Nominee `Offers False Hope for a Failed Strategy' Political Motives Behind McCaffrey Choice Criticized

WASHINGTON, February 27 -- The Drug Policy Foundation today announced its opposition to the nomination of Gen. Barry McCaffrey, now head of the U.S. Southern Command, to be the Clinton administration's new drug czar.

DPF President Arnold Trebach said, "President Clinton's choice of a four-star general to lead drug control efforts offers false hope for a failed strategy."

Trebach continued, "Interdiction of drugs coming from abroad has not worked, does not work, and cannot work. The president is trying to suggest, symbolically, that all we need is a higher-level coordinator for drug interdiction. The reality is that we need a more sensible drug strategy from the ground up."

President Clinton nominated Gen. McCaffrey during his State of the Union speech January 23. Senate hearings on the nomination begin this afternoon.

On January 24, President Clinton said he had chosen Gen. McCaffrey because he "proved to me that we could use the military ... to cut off drugs coming into our country."

Trebach remarked, "Both Clinton and McCaffrey know better. Even if we station a U.S. Army division at every port, border crossing and airport to search incoming cargo, we cannot expect to intercept more than five to ten percent of the drugs intended for U.S. consumers."

"This is not about who has the fastest ships and planes," Trebach said, "which our armies surely do. It is about profit motive. The traffickers win hands down."

DPF also criticized the choice of Gen. McCaffrey in political terms, noting that McCaffrey would serve mainly to defend the administration's drug policies during the campaign.

DPF Executive Director David Condliffe said, "We ask simply: What will Gen. McCaffrey's primary duty be for the next nine months? If the answer is to serve as the Clinton campaign's lead spokesman on drug policy, we oppose the use of public funds for that purpose. Americans should not have to pay for a campaign-season drug czar. Let's start over next year."

Condliffe continued, "Should he be confirmed, as we expect, our hope is that Gen. McCaffrey will use his military experience to assess the logistics of the drug war and be willing to tell his commander-in-chief that it will not succeed. Unfortunately, our fear is that he will instead be a foot soldier to White House political lieutenants."


Note: C-Span will be airing the Senate's nomination hearings sometime this evening.

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