WHO LOST THE WAR?
SEPTEMBER 25, 1996
Today more fuel was added to this year's political firestorm over drug policy. The Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education, a non-partisan drug prevention organization, released a new study saying it found the use of illicit drugs by 6th through 12th graders has reached the highest level in nine years. It's a trend also found in other surveys in recent months. Elizabeth Farnsworth talks to spokesmen for the Clinton and Dole campaigns, following a report from Kwame Holman.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now the perspectives of the two campaigns. John Walters was deputy director for supply reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Bush administration. He's now the President of the New Citizenship Project, a non-profit conservative policy group. Rahm Emanuel is a senior adviser to President Clinton. His portfolio includes crime and drugs. Thank you both for being with us. Mr. Walters, in your view, to what extent is the Clinton administration responsible for the rise in teen drug use?
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
Kwame Holman background segment on the politics of the drug war.
Bob Dole emphasizes the twin evils of drugs and crime in a speech at the University of Virginia.
President Clinton's speech on crime and drugs was delivered in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he received the endorsement of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
The worrisome report on rising drug use makes waves on Capitol Hill.
Two new and deeply troubling reports have just been released showing that drug abuse among 12 to 17 year olds doubled in the US between 1992 and 1995.
Because one of the appropriations bills tied up in Congress calls for sharp reduction in funds to fight drug abuse, Jeffrey Kaye of KCET-Los Angeles examines some local treatment programs, to better understand the issues.
March 20, 1996
Three weeks ago the United States said officially that it was not satisfied with Colombia's fight against drug traffickers. In a Newsmaker interview, Colombia's embattled President, Ernesto Samper, talks to correspondent Charles Krause about his relationship with the drug cartels.
June 24, 1996
The Supreme Court ruled today in two cases involving double jeopardy and the way this country has fought the drug problem.
April 2, 1996
Kwame Holman looks at the political furor that surrounds Judge Howard Baer's decision to deem 80 pounds of drugs inadmissible evidence, a decision he has since reversed.
JOHN WALTERS, Dole Adviser: Well, I think by leaving comments that mock doing the right thing by young people, you certainly discourage young people from doing the right thing, but more equally to the point, policies that have been--have been promulgated that de-emphasize cutting the supply through cutting interdiction, the failure to follow through on improving a treatment system, the failure to follow through on resources in law enforcement, and I think even prevention, the President's request for the Department of Education is $83 million below the last year of the Bush administration in terms of money. But it prevails--the failure to provide leadership and direction to these things means that the supply of drugs are up, the number of people that are addicts showing up in emergency rooms are up, and, of course, as we've seen repeated over and over again in the last month, shocking increases, unprecedented increases is in drug use among youth. So it's not just leadership, although moral leadership is important in this because it's an issue of right and wrong for young people. It's also policies and the current drug strategy of the Clinton administration still has. I don't believe anyone can demonstrate. I've been testifying on the Hill, and even Democrats won't defend it as offering to turn this situation around.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Defend the President's drug strategy. What is it, and why isn't what Mr. Walters says true?
RAHM EMANUEL, Clinton Senior Adviser: Let's put a couple of facts on the table. One is that drug use is actually overall going down, 30 percent down in cocaine use among adults. Second is the start in drug use among teens going down occurred under the last year of the Bush administration, and the Washington Post reported at that time that the Michigan study that was done in 1991 noted that, in fact, that drug use was going up among teens then. As the President has always said, the best drug interdiction, the best drug prevention, and the best drug enforcement strategy are parents teaching children right from wrong. And no government program will ever replace that. And parents should have the confidence that their children are getting the same message at school that they get at home. And that's why the President fought any attempt--which is what Congress did--to try to cut the safe and drug free school initiative which teaches kids in school, like at home, that drugs are dangerous, drugs are wrong, and drugs are illegal. And I think that's the most important thing because this battle is a battle that's going to be won at the kitchen table, in the family room, and in the classroom. That's the front line and the last line of defense.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So are you saying that, uh, the fact that the administration cut the number of people in the Office of Drug Control Policy from what was it, a hundred and sixty-seven or something to twenty-five, and cut back some of the other policies, that is not responsible for the rise in teen drug use?
MR. EMANUEL: What I am saying is first of all those weren't exactly the right numbers, but more important is that the cuts have been restored. But I'll tell you one cut we won't let happen, and that's the cut in the safe and drug free school initiative. The Dole-Gingrich Congress tried to cut it by 50 percent. It was the first cut, and that was President Clinton's first veto. I'll tell you another thing--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So you think that's the area that really affects the teens.
MR. EMANUEL: It does. I'll tell you--I do think--let me say why I think all areas--because John made one point I actually want to draw a contrast with--and that is this either/or choice that continues to paralyze Washington's debate between interdiction versus demand, prevention versus supply. It's not an either/or choice. You've got to bring down the Cali Cartel like we did, and you got to make sure you have full funding for safe and drug free school. You got to make sure you have laser strike, which is what General McCaffrey did down in Latin American, and you got to wage this war against tobacco, which President Clinton did. It's not an either/or choice. It's a false choice that way.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But you're denying that the cutbacks made a difference. You're saying these were not important cuts.
MR. EMANUEL: We have the largest drug budget ever in the history of this country, 15.3 billion dollars, and every year we've set a record with the largest budget.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Mr. Walters.
MR. WALTERS: Well, I think first there isn't an either/or choice but the fact is interdiction resources have been cut by more than 50 percent, studies the Clinton administration commission said that if they restored less than the cuts, they would be able to interrupt over 130 metric tons of cocaine alone. It's not either/or, and I do think that people in their homes around the kitchen table need the support of the federal government and their national leaders. It has been off the radar screen. What's happened in the last two weeks is Bob Dole has made this one of the top three issues in the country. The surveys and the evidence help provide that, but that evidence has been growing over the last several years; well, people didn't about it while there wasn't leadership. No matter who gets elected president, what's happened by the--making--putting the Clinton administration in a reactive mode is whoever is president after this, they're going to take drugs more seriously. The actions you've seen from the administration trying to move ahead are the product--you know, people think politics is somehow--muddles all this. Politics is the vehicle by which we're getting better policies today, we're getting scrutiny, we're getting attention, and I think we're going to have more leadership. But the fact is the legacy of more drugs on our streets, diminishment in foreign policy, diminishment in managing the federal treatment system which is not performing and there's nothing in the Clinton administration policy to handle the federal responsibility, and diminishment in talking about the direction of the drug free schools program, over $2 billion in the last four years as youthful drug use has skyrocketed; that program needs some support or buttressing, and not just more money dumped down a system that isn't working right now. And the issue is not simply how much money can you spend; it's where's the leadership, where's the policy, where's the accountability in the system.
MR. EMANUEL: Well, I think we'll agree on one thing, drugs is at the center, as it has always been at the center for this President, as has--let me make note--the fight against tobacco, the fight against guns in school, the fight against violence on TV, the fight against teen pregnancy. This is all of a pattern, and to tell you the truth, we welcome the contributions on the fight against tobacco. We're not the only voice here because the silence sometimes in this town is deafening. The fight to keep guns out of school, which Sen. Dole opposed, President Clinton made the law of the land, we'd also welcome that continual effort to fight teen violence. The fight against drugs in our school, when it came to expanding safe and drug free school programs, Sen. Dole opposed it, when it came to cutting it, he--the President fought him and won on that. And I'll tell you, on all those host issues that interrelate for teenagers, that's a fight that the President has had, Sen. Dole's been on the other side, and we're more than willing to make that a discussion now and for the future.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Specifically, Mr. Emanuel, the teenage drug use is more about marijuana than, than interdicting cocaine from Peru. 50 percent of marijuana is grown in this country.
MR. EMANUEL: That's probably a question for John.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I'm going to ask both of you. What does the Clinton administration say about that? What's your plan?
MR. EMANUEL: On the marijuana?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yeah.
MR. EMANUEL: Well, I think, you know, say it as the President said at his acceptance speech in Chicago, as he has said in his State of the Union, as he has said throughout his administration, that the first fight in this battle will be with parents who talk to their kids. As you saw in this report, a lot of children--and Joe Califano will report from the other--they're not hearing from their parents, and no government program--there's a role for government--but no government program will ever replace what a parent can do in teaching a child right from wrong. And that's the first line of defense, and that's the last line of defense. And I want to add one thought, it goes to John's comment about Sen. Dole raising this issue. I watched Sen. Dole's farewell speech to the Senate. I was touched. I thought that was a great speech. He talked about bipartisanship and his accomplishments. What I found ironic was in his 35 years he didn't find one time he can recognize in that speech once mentioned the word crime or drugs because it's not part of his record. And in those 35 years until this election, it's actually been--his fingerprints are more in the tax code than they've ever been in fighting crime and drugs.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Isn't it true that it wasn't exactly on the top of his agenda?
MR. WALTERS: Well, look, I think that we're not giving credit where credit's due. Sen. Dole sent a letter to President Clinton saying, uh, he was now focusing on Mexico and the Mexico transit problem on the issue of certification. Don't certify Mexico as cooperating--the President did.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You're talking about Mexico serving as a transit--
JOHN WALTERS: That's right.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: For drugs coming up in the Senate--
JOHN WALTERS: The Senate is the place that started pressure on Colombia when the administration was looking the other way and not providing it. Uh--let me finish. I let you finish. Thirdly, it was Sen. Dole that started an alternative strategy finally, after giving the administration, as I think Republicans thought the President deserves a chance to set his own strategy, it was Sen. Dole who got together with Speaker Gingrich to create an alternative strategy to begin, uh, stopping the abandonment of leadership and this policy that's happened at the Executive Branch. And on marijuana--and I agree, that's a serious issue--it's important to remember that marijuana prices have dropped dramatically from the end of the Bush administration, and during the Clinton administration--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Why is that?
MR. WALTERS: Domestic marijuana eradication has been cut and not restored. Interdiction, because 50 percent of the marijuana comes from abroad, has been cut, over 64 percent decline in the effectiveness of this. We are--yes, Americans--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sen. Dole--just specifically, what would Sen. Dole do about that?
MR. WALTERS: He's talked about a systematic plan to provide additional manpower using the National Guard immediately, not waiting to hire Border Patrol agents, but use them immediately because of the alarming increase in here to stop the flow and to use National Guard for eradication. Americans--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Even eradication--
MR. WALTERS: --need to talk to their kids around the table, but the parents need the support. If we say don't use drugs but they're cheap and they're widely available, institutions of government are teaching, we don't care, we're not following through.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Emanuel.
MR. EMANUEL: John brings up some good points, and I think actually where we agree is there's a role for the government like there's a role for the government to add more police on the street. Sen. Dole fought that, but that's where the battle is going to be. There's a role for DARE officers in the schools teaching kids right from wrong when it comes to drugs. Sen. Dole opposed the President. The President was for that. And when it comes to the issue of marijuana use, very specifically it was a homegrown issue here, if the drug is grown here, it's really not one that's imported. The fact is what you've got to do to beat that is galvanize and motivate parents on this issue, motivate peer pressure. You know, there's close to about 90 percent of the kids in this country do right when it comes to drugs, do right when it comes to study, meaning they don't do it. And we've got to motivate those kids to talk to their friends, and we got to motivate parents to take the time to talk openly and firmly to their children.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Gentlemen, stay with us now. We're going to hear from some of the kids, some of these kids that we've been indirectly talking about. Correspondent Betty Ann Bowser recently discussed the rise in drug use with a group of young people in Denver.