Drug Czar Defends Clinton Administration's DCP

Drug Czar Defends Clinton Administration's DCP
Posted by FoM on September 06, 1999 at 14:11:29 PT
Both Sides with Jesse Jackson - Transcripts
Source: CNN
JESSE JACKSON, HOST: Welcome to BOTH SIDES. My guest today has led the U.S. war against drugs since 1996. He's White House drug policy chief General Barry McCaffrey. Welcome to the program. 
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. Aired September 5, 1999 - 5:30 p.m. ET GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY: Good to be with you. JACKSON: I'll talk to General McCaffrey about narcotic use in this country, his recent trip to Latin America and the drug policy of the U.S. But first, this report from John Bisney. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN BISNEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crediting its $200 million drug awareness media campaign, the Clinton administration has claimed a small victory in the battle against narcotic use. A recent study unveiled by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala reveals a 13 percent drop in teen drug use in the last 12 months. DONNA SHALALA, U.S. SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: In the battle against illicit drugs, we've turned the corner. BISNEY: But big problems still remain, both here and abroad in the war against drugs. Substance abuse among young adults, aged 18 to 25, has risen to its highest level since 1989. And according to the White House anti-drug chief, General Barry McCaffrey, there's been an explosion of cocaine production in Colombia. He recently urged Congress to triple its anti-narcotic spending in Colombia and other countries in the region by adding $1 billion to the war chest. Last week, he met with Latin American leaders seeking their cooperation to stop drug trafficking. MCCAFFREY: There is a common commitment, I would argue, throughout the hemisphere now to supporting the notion of multinational cooperation. BISNEY: Since American base closings in Panama last year, the U.S. lost strategically located posts for counternarcotics efforts and has been looking for new ways to stem the flow of drugs from South America. When Congress returns next week, it will review legislation which authorizes the president to impose sanctions against foreign companies and individuals linked to the drug trade. And in November, a summit of 34 nations from the Americas will meet in Washington with hopes of developing a multinational partnership to combat narcotics trafficking. For BOTH SIDES, I'm John Bisney. (END VIDEOTAPE) JACKSON: General, you've just returned from South America. What can you tell us about countries whose economies are largely dependent on the drug trade? What level of cooperation can we expect from them? MCCAFFREY: Well, I think Colombia is probably the biggest drug emergency facing us in the region. Coke production has doubled in three years. Ten years ago, they weren't producing opium. Today, there's 6 metric tons of heroin a year. But I would argue it does more damage to Colombia. They've lost 40 percent of their land area of their country to 25,000 armed insurgents. JACKSON: But they're making money. MCCAFFREY: Well, probably 5 percent of the economy is based on drugs: 37 million Colombians, most of them, when they get up in the morning have nothing to do with drugs. They suffer from the whole issue. JACKSON: Given this drug explosion and their dependence upon this money in some greater measure, and their capacity to intimidate, you ask for a renewed debate on the billion dollars. What -- what help will a billion dollars bring to us? MCCAFFREY: Well, we don't have a billion dollars on the table yet. What we're doing is going to have a debate inside the administration, try and sort out how do we deal with a dynamic situation. JACKSON: If we had the billion, what would we do different? MCCAFFREY: Well, a lot of us feel, first of all, the problem isn't Colombia. It's a regional challenge. The problem is worst in Colombia, enormous levels of violence and corruption and increase in cocaine production. But it affects Venezuela and Ecuador and Panama. We've seen dramatic successes in Peru, more than a 50 percent reduction in cocaine production in two years. Bolivia, dramatic reductions. So we've got to see this as a problem. It is not just the police and the army. It's alternative economic development. It's cooperation on building judicial systems that work. It's -- for that matter, you've got to address money laundering, which is a multinational challenge. JACKSON: But what does it matter if these countries are tightened up on, clamped down on if our nasals are like vacuum cleaners sucking it up? We are the largest consumer of the drug. So what's happening on this end to reduce this vacuum cleaner effect? MCCAFFREY: Well, your point's a good one. I, you know, frequently quote you -- you've probably heard me do it -- where if you want to run a war on cocaine, let the interdiction campaign begin at your own nose. JACKSON: Indeed. MCCAFFREY: So I agree. And the reduction of cocaine use in America in the last 10 years has been unbelievable: 70 percent reduction in the number of Americans using this drug. Indeed, now, we would argue we're probably consuming 25 percent of the cocaine. It's out there looking for new markets now. JACKSON: But then you consider that the urban policy is driven by drug policy... MCCAFFREY: Sure. JACKSON: ... more so than housing policy for urban America, more so than education or health policy, drug policy. MCCAFFREY: Yes. JACKSON: So now we have 6 million Americans on probation, too many Americans in prison, 80 percent of those in jail on nonviolent drug charge. Yet, there's a cutback on -- on treatment beds for those on drugs. So they leave jail sicker, slicker, return quicker: about 75 percent recidivism rate. What can we do within this country... MCCAFFREY: Yes. JACKSON: ... to reduce -- (a) to get those who are sick well and (b) to reduce the urgency -- or should I say the appetite? -- for sucking up the drugs. MCCAFFREY: Well, the good news is Janet Reno, Donna Shalala and I all have a common viewpoint on it. The -- Dick Riley, the education secretary, we have increased prevention dollars in four years by 55 percent. Drug treatment dollars are up by 26 percent in four years. So we're -- for the first time in history, we've got more than $3 billion in drug treatment on that FY 2000 budget. JACKSON: But what happens -- you challenge Colombia. Some even tell me we should attack Colombia to stop it. And then you find some U.S. personnel under investigation for drug trafficking out of Colombia. Has that damaged our credibility in the region? MCCAFFREY: Well, I think it probably underscores there are 4 million Americans who are chronically addicted to drugs, and they darn sure aren't all poor, city dwellers, minority, or emotionally ill. They come from every class of American society. Health care professionals have an enormous rate of drug abuse. And I think that deal -- the allegation against the wife of military -- of a U.S. military officer in Colombia underscores to all of us that it's destructive of human behavior. JACKSON: So there's going to be a 34-nation, multinational effort to combat drugs: 34 nations coming together. What do you expect will come out of that conference? MCCAFFREY: Well, this will follow on the Santiago, the Summit of the Americas. President Clinton and 33 other democratic heads of government signed a pact and told those of us who are the policy people to produce a cooperative mechanism for October. In Montevideo, Uruguay, we all come together and we sign a new way to move forward where we're working on 82 ways of partnering. And I think over the coming year it's going to make a huge difference to us. JACKSON: Since drugs are such a hot issue in our neighboring countries in our hemisphere, in the center of our national policy, it's been the center of our national campaign -- we'll talk more about drug use and how to find it with General McCaffrey, who heads the U.S. fight in the war against drugs. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) JACKSON: Welcome back. We're talking with U.S. drug czar General Barry McCaffrey. Just what a tremendous war in Kosovo, 77 days and nights of bombing, we didn't lose a single American life, except two, I think, by accident. But 10,000 deaths a year from drug-related causes -- 10,000 a year, and the numbers keep growing. We're spending a lot of time on interdiction, not enough on prevention and treatment, how we can expand the use of that budget? MCCAFFREY: Well, we have to focus on the real problem, you're right. And by the way, the number of dead I'm using is 52,000 a year. We did a study on exactly why... JACKSON: 52,000? MCCAFFREY: That goes through all the death certificates in America for a year. It's a huge cost and it also explains, as you've said, 80 percent of the people behind bars, a third of all the AIDs, a third of our industrial accidents. It's one of the biggest direct threats to American security. It's a $100 billion a year. Now what we've done is, we've focused on -- the centerpiece of our strategy is prevention, it's education, it's talking to children, not just over the TV, radio and the Internet, but through the Boys and Girls Clubs... JACKSON: So teen drug use is down, good news. MCCAFFREY: Thank God. JACKSON: The 18-25 group, drug use is up. What's going on? MCCAFFREY: Whatever those kids are doing in middle school years -- if they do a lot of pot smoking, alcohol abuse and cigarettes, if they're parents don't talk to them during those middle school years, the probability of having a drug abuse problem as a young adult... JACKSON: So you're for prevention and Spiderman is your ally. What role is Spiderman playing? MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, a good one. Thank God Spiderman is a hero to 45 percent of our young people. So he's one of about seven initiatives we just announced this week -- MediaOne. We're going to be in every schoolroom in America, on the classroom TV with educational material -- the Civic Association, the YMCA, the Dare program. JACKSON: Critics of this program say it has failed to reach black and Hispanic youth. It's up among black youth, up among Hispanic youth. Does that suggest the education, the prevention training, the treatment training has not been focused enough in the poorest areas of the country? MCCAFFREY: Yes, probably. I think we have to take that very seriously. I might remind your viewers that drug abuse among African- Americans under the age of 30 is extremely low compared to other part of the population. It's always a surprise to Americans when I tell them that. But it's moving in the wrong direction, and we have to focus on it and sort out why. JACKSON: What concerns me is that you look at this jail industrial complex explosion -- half of all public housing in the last ten years have been jail cells, too many Americans in jail, and 80 percent in jail are non-violent drug offense. Should we be spending that much money on non-violent drug offenders? MCCAFFREY: Well, we have to look at his whole process. You know, Attorney General Reno, Donna Shalala and I are working on a notion of tying the drug-treatment system to the criminal justice system. We have to get people who are compulsive drug users out from behind bars and into community based treatment. The drug court system, thank God -- four years ago we had 12 of them. Today, we have 600 online or coming on online. JACKSON: We've had all this tough talk from leading politicians, no first use, three strikes and you're out, mandatory sentencing, powder to crack, 100-1 ratio, I mean, has this tough talk brought about better results? MCCAFFREY: No, I think we're spending too much money. We have spent $36 billion locking people up and a lot of them have compulsive drug and alcohol abuse problems. We have to be tough on crime. I'm all for that, but we have to rethink mandatory minimum sentences. We have to get powers back in the hands of judges, not prosecutors. We have to get people into cheaper treatment systems than locking them up. JACKSON: So you think the three strikes and you're out, which takes away a judge's discretion to make judgment, and the mandatory sentencing has not served us well? MCCAFFREY: I think we need rational drug policy and rational criminal justice policy, and that means put power and authority in the hands of the judge, not necessarily triggering a mandatory minimum sentence. JACKSON: Well, you know, this issue of drug use has now become the center of the year 2000 campaign -- when you should be forgiven, should you be forgiven, is possession and use of cocaine, is that youthful discretion, is that a felony? How must we see this issue as it now illuminates the issue of drug discussion as we move toward 2000? The issue will not go away. MCCAFFREY: Well, I hope, if we're smart, we'll learn something from it. Look, a third of all adult Americans, 12 and older, have used an illegal drug, 30 million have used cocaine. What I personally have called upon the political leadership to do is don't talk to me about what you -- whether you smoked a joint in 1975, talk about whether you commit yourself to building a drug-free America in the coming decades. JACKSON: It seems as though that those who smoked the joints then, who sucked up the cocaine then, are now in charge... MCCAFFREY: Sure. JACKSON: ... in imposing laws on others that they did not want to apply to themselves, it is that inconsistency that's creating a certain kind of hypocrisy. We'll come back and we'll talk with General McCaffrey. What does it mean now that we now can maybe have a rational debate about drug policy, how should we seize this moment to begin to change the course and affect the dialogue? We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) JACKSON: Welcome back. In midst of this campaign, who will be our next president? George W. Bush shot out of the starting block with fire and light. Now there's a shadow over his campaign over the debate whether or not he should say he ever used cocaine or not. The drug policy applies to soldiers and postal workers and ballplayers; should those who would then lead the country have to answer this question? MCCAFFREY: Well, of course, you know, I've always tried to put the cabby out on the table. I'm a non political officer of government. Now having said at all that, again, what I think we owe our children, our employees, an Army company, if you're the company commander, is not to lay out a moral inventory of everything you've done wrong in your life, but to say, look, what I've learned in my life is that drug and alcohol abuse doesn't work; in this company, in our school, in our family, we're not using drugs, we're not driving drunk. JACKSON: The point is, if the soldiers have to say whether they have used drugs or not, and if they have to take the test, should not the commander in chief have to answer the same question? MCCAFFREY: Well, I think everyone ought to take drug tests who's in the Army or who works in the White House. For example, since President Reagan -- everyone takes drug tests. JACKSON: Is this a relevant question: Have you used cocaine or heroin? Is that a relevant question? MCCAFFREY: My personal view is we should not ask our political candidates to lay out a moral inventory of their private failings. JACKSON: But you know, when you say that I've been faithful to my wife, kind of shooting a elbow into the side of Bill Clinton and Hillary, then you say I was on alcohol and I have -- I had this private conversion by Billy Graham. MCCAFFREY: You're getting me far afield, Reverend. Stick to the drug issue. JACKSON: But now the question is asked about the drug issue, and you say, that's not personal discretion, that's public policy. I mean, our leaders must lead us on this... MCCAFFREY: By example. JACKSON: By example, they must enforce the law. MCCAFFREY: Sure. JACKSON: To those who would now lead us must have the moral authority to address the issue meaningfully. MCCAFFREY: Well, I don't think we're going to find people to run American or a city or an Army company who are without failings. I do believe that what's important is whether parents and home room teachers and pediatricians and ministers can talk to the people they love and say: Look, in our organization, in our family, we don't use drugs. JACKSON: The fundamental question is, I made a mistake, I have learned from it, forgive me, let me serve. Americans will respond to that. MCCAFFREY: Yes. JACKSON: So do you forgive and change the draconian laws, or do you enforce the law so it's one set of laws for everybody? MCCAFFREY: Well, back to the drug problem, if you're 16-year-old son says, "Dad, I want to drink and drive," I don't the -- and says, "Have you ever done that?" I think the answer is, look, we're talking about our future, my car, and our family policy. We don't drive drunk. JACKSON: But it seems that there's one set of rules for the rich and one for the poor. Oliver Stone, a writer, admitted drug use, and now -- it's very publicly known. He's going for rehab and to write some more. MCCAFFREY: Thank God. JACKSON: But a poor youth goes to jail on that same charge. Are there two sets of rules in enforcing the policy? MCCAFFREY: Well, there ought to be one policy, and clearly, someone who's a chronic drug abuser, drug and alcohol abuser, we've got to get them in treatment or we will see continued criminal behavior. They'll be unemployable. They'll get hepatitis C. So drug treatment -- all of us in the system have agreed is a prerequisite to getting 4 million Americans out of... JACKSON: I guess what I'm driving at, really, even to the Bush matter, is that if a rich favorite son is caught in a poor man's trap, all of the sudden what was a nonissue for poor people becomes a big issue. The American (ph) people now are not willing to sacrifice a favorite son in this basis. Well, we shouldn't sacrifice anybody's sons or daughters on this basis. MCCAFFREY: Sure, yes. JACKSON: So this really is the moment to discuss that we need rules, but the rules should apply across the board. But some of these rules seem not to make sense, that the cost is greater than the return. MCCAFFREY: We've also got to say, Mr. Taxpayer, it's a lot cheaper if we find ways to put these young people who are chronically abusing drugs in treatment. We'll save you lots of money. Instead of $25,000 a year, we'll do an $8,000 a year drug treatment intervention. JACKSON: And so what the general is telling us, that we must choose more hope on the front side and less dope on the back side. Let's use healing and hope and have a no-first-use of drugs. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) JACKSON: General, could we solve some of these problems of drugs and jails with legalization? MCCAFFREY: I think it'd be a disaster. I think the American people don't support. Right now, fortunately, only 6 percent of use are abusing drugs. It's down from 14 percent in 1979. I think if we get organized, we have a strong prevention-education message within 10 years, we'll have drug abuse in America below 3 percent. JACKSON: The biggest abused drug is liquor and it's legalized. MCCAFFREY: Mildly addictive, widely available, and cheap, and it probably kills 100,000 people a year. It's the biggest drug of abuse in America. JACKSON: And so you would not be inclined to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some of these drugs as -- that deserve a more medical remedy than legal remedy? MCCAFFREY: Well, I think if we threw methamphetamines on top of alcohol, we're going to have a real problem. I mean, we've seen some of these new chemically manufactured drugs appear that are the worst things that have ever happened in the United States: MDMA, ecstasy, which is an amphetamine being taken all over the East Coast. JACKSON: Given all that you see, from Colombia back to the U.S., are you optimistic about U.S. policy? Having been in this job now for nearly four years, are you optimistic about where we're going with this policy? MCCAFFREY: I sure am. You know, mayors have enormous common sense. They know where we've got to go. Governors are saying the right things. We're actually reducing drug abuse dramatically. Donna Shalala just announced 13 percent reduction in adolescent use. Our problem is it isn't a one-year war. It's a 10-year struggle against a cancer affecting our society. We're moving in the right direction, but we have to stay at it. JACKSON: So while we fight the drug flow from foreign countries, in the end, it's our money and our nasals that are driving the drug crisis, and destroying our bodies and destroying a whole civilization. MCCAFFREY: Yes. JACKSON: And thank you very much, General, again for your sharing with us today. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT 
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Comment #2 posted by Ally on September 06, 1999 at 19:58:13 PT
Ditto to above poster...
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Comment #1 posted by Lone Star on September 06, 1999 at 19:31:56 PT
Jackson for Drug Czar!
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