Barry McCaffrey

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Drug Czars Past and Present Oppose Prop 19 Marijuana Init

In an absolutely unsurprising turn of events, current head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske and five former drug czars have come out against Proposition 19, California's marijuana legalization initiative. The six bureaucratic drug warriors all signed on to an op-ed, Why California Should Just Say No to Prop 19, published in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday.

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske with President Obama
Joining Kerlikowske in the broadside against legalization were former drug czars John Walters, Barry McCaffrey, Lee Brown, Bob Martinez, and William Bennett.

The drug czars claim that Prop 19 supporters will "rely on two main arguments: that legalizing and taxing marijuana would generate much-needed revenue, and that legalization would allow law enforcement to focus on other crimes." Then they attempt to refute those claims.

Noting that marijuana is easy and cheap to cultivate, the drug czars predict that, unlike the case with alcohol and tobacco, many would grow their own and avoid taxes. "Why would people volunteer to pay high taxes on marijuana if it were legalized?" they asked. "The answer is that many would not, and the underground market, adapting to undercut any new taxes, would barely diminish at all."

Ignoring the more than 800,000 people arrested for simple marijuana possession each year, including the 70,000 Californians forced to go to court for marijuana possession misdemeanors (maximum fine $100), the drug czars claim that "law enforcement officers do not currently focus much effort on arresting adults whose only crime is possessing small amounts of marijuana."

They then complain that Prop 19 would impose new burdens on police by making them enforce laws against smoking marijuana where minors are present. Those laws already exist; Prop 19 does not create them.

The drug czars warn that if Prop 19 passes, "marijuana use would increase" and "increased use brings increased social costs." But they don't bother to spell out just what those increased costs would be or why.

The drug czars' screed has picked up a number of instant critiques, including those of Douglas Berman at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, Jacob Sullum at Reason Online, and Jon Walker at Firedoglake.

We're waiting for a drug czar to come out for pot legalization, not oppose it. Now, that would be real news.

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Former Drug Czar Doesn't Care if you Grow Marijuana


From our friends at SSDP, here's video of former drug czar Barry McCaffrey sounding strangely agnostic about the marijuana debate:



It's really a remarkable statement from a guy who presided over a massive escalation of the war on drugs. He says now that he's "not in public life" he doesn't care anymore. So I guess as drug czar he was just doing his job? Unbelievable.

Video: Barry McCaffrey doesn't care if people grow marijuana

First Glenn Beck, then Pat Buchanan... now former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQTw6-qQl3g

Czar Wars

The nomination of Gen. Douglas E. Lute as the new White House "war czar" raises the old question of what a "czar" is and why they are needed.

According to Wikipedia, a "czar" (sometimes "tsar") is basically an emperor:

Originally, and indeed during most of its history, the title tsar meant Emperor in the European medieval sense of the term, i.e., a ruler who has the same rank as a Roman or Byzantine emperor due to recognition by another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch).
Ralph Peters at The New York Post explores the latter question, arguing that the appointment of various "czars" is an indulgent and frivolous exercise. Unfortunately, just as I'm nodding in agreement, Peters' train of logic leaps the tracks and nosedives into a perplexing abyss:
I worked for the most effective "czar" of the past half-century. As director of the Office for National Drug Control Policy, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey did a remarkable job of getting the government's cats and dogs (and not a few monkeys) to work together for the common good.

But the major players could blow off even McCaffrey. The general could beat our nation's deadly enemies, but not the Washington bureaucracy.
Here we go again. Drug war supporters talk about Barry McCaffrey like conservatives talk about Ronald Reagan, an unfortunate but necessary absurdity now that the name John Walters has become highly toxic even within Congress and the anti-drug community.

Apparently, it really is necessary to point out that America wasn't drug-free from 1996-2001 and that Barry McCaffrey's legacy would be considered disastrous outside the accountability-free sphere of revisionist drug war history.

Of course, it's also possible that Peters knows "our nation's deadly enemies" are far from beaten and is merely shielding himself from the wrath of accused war criminal Barry McCaffrey. In either case, this article, which questions the efficacy of appointing various war czars, while simultaneously casting Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey as a glorious hero, is a confusing thing to have bothered writing.

Location: 
United States

Drug Czar Blasted for Lack of Leadership

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
NPR
URL: 
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9413890

Op-Ed: Dionne L. Koller: Athletes' due process rights

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Sacramento Bee
URL: 
http://www.sacbee.com/110/story/148094.html

A Failure Cake with Poison Icing

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- With profits from this spring's record opium crop fueling a broad Taliban offensive, Afghan authorities say they are considering a once unthinkable way to deal with the scourge: spraying poppy fields with herbicide.

Apparently Karzai is opposed to the idea…

But U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington are pushing for it. And on Thursday the country's top drug enforcement official said he would contemplate spraying opium crops - even with airborne crop-dusters - if other efforts fail to cut the size of the coming year's crop.

So if these “other efforts” that have never worked in the history of the world don’t suddenly start working this year, we’ll be pouring poison on the problem. It’s an idea so bad it could cost us two wars at once.

But former Drug Czar and herbicide evangelist Barry McCaffrey is all for it:

We know exactly where these fields are. They're absolutely vulnerable to eradication. And it is immeasurably more effective to do it with an airplane," McCaffrey said by telephone from Virginia. "I've been telling the Pentagon, if you don't take on drug production you're going to get run out of Afghanistan."

But Lt. Gen. Mohammed Daoud Daoud points out that Afghanistan’s biggest opium producing region might be hard to hit:

"They have rockets," the bearded general said, fingering a string of prayer beads. "We can't spray there."

We’ll see about that. General Daoud might be underestimating us if he thinks our leaders are afraid to risk American lives in order to spray chemicals on poor farmers in a foreign country. We’ve done it before, and we seriously don’t care who gets hurt or whether it works at all.


Location: 
United States

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