Arianna Huffington and Jubilee Justice 2000

Editors note: On October 1st, 2000 Arianna Huffington appeared on CNN's "Both Sides" hosted by Jesse Jackson. Below are some of the excerpts from the show

JACKSON: The debates will come on Tuesday. What will be the decisive issues or posturing that will determine the winner in your judgment?

HUFFINGTON: Well, I kind of like to dream that something unexpected is going to happen. For example, as you know, I care very deeply about one issue that remains un-addressed in this election, and this is the failure of the drug war.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a question about that, and if one or the other candidate dared to say something bold instead of simply staying silent; staying silent on the fact that we are sending $1.3 billion to Colombia, getting involved in a civil war; staying silent on the fact that we have 400,000 non-violent drug offenders; staying silent on the fact that, as you know, 1.4 million African- American men are now disenfranchised for life because of our felony laws?
Now all these issues are very, very crucial, and yet they have not been addressed.

JACKSON: Do you think the media is a factor by never raising those issues?

HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. I think it's outrageous that no political reporter following either candidate asked them where they stood on our drug-war aid to Colombia or asked them what they thought about the drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, coming out with these phony numbers to prove that we are winning the drug war when every statistic shows that drug use is up, that the drugs you can get in the city street are more potent and more available than ever before. And yet, all these issues that are so critical to our future are being ignored, and the media are ignoring them. And is Jim Lehrer going to ask the candidates any of these really disturbing questions? I doubt it.

JACKSON: We'll come right back and see if the interrogation in the debate will deal with issues other than the convenience zone the candidates have staked out for themselves. We'll be right back with Arianna Huffington in just a moment.


HUFFINGTON: And, you know, you asked me earlier about my pressure tactics. I mean, there are some specific things that right now I believe you and those who are campaigning for Gore and on whose votes he desperately depends can ask, like, for example, whom are you going to appoint as a drug czar if you win? Is he going to appoint another clueless general like Barry McCaffrey, or is he really going to give the job to somebody who understands that addiction is a medical public-health issue and should be treated as such.

HUFFINGTON: But, you know, these are theoretical risks. And we have a lot of actual crises right now that we're not addressing. For example, Jubilee 2000 has come together and asked the President that he appoint a bipartisan commission to review every non-violent drug offender who has already served five years in jail. Now is that too much to ask? Why can't politicians on the Democratic side, at least, show that they really care about these people, that these lives are not to be wasted.

JACKSON: Do you think that quite apart from looking at Bush and Cheney and Gore and Lieberman, which I think is looking through a door and a train looking through a keyhole, look into the door. If Charlie Rangel becomes head of House Ways and Means and Maxine Waters moves up and Nydia Velasquez and Loretta Sanchez moves up, do you think that they will apply the pressure to bring about a more civilized effort to deal with drugs and drug rehabilitation?

HUFFINGTON: Actually, I really do believe - and I said that. I testified in front of John Conyers last week, and I did say that the fact that he is committed, if the Democrats win the majority and he becomes chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he has committed to make drug policy reform his highest priority is very important, the fact that he is already holding hearings, the fact that he has a bill that's been stuck in committee that would allow former felons when they've paid their duty to society to vote again, all these are very significant pieces of legislation.

JACKSON: So you're looking at the team, not just at the ticket?

HUFFINGTON: I'm looking at the team, but when you ask me at the White House choice, frankly, I'm voting for none of the above.

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