McCaffrey resigns as Drug Czar

General Barry McCaffrey, the military strategist and commander who has directed the nation's war on drugs for nearly five years, announced on October 16th his plans to leave his position as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in early January. He says he is considering teaching offers, including a return to West Point.

His resignation as Director is effective January 6, 2001, two weeks before President Clinton leaves office.

McCaffrey botched his mission

(Editor's note: in response to a major newspaper's uncritical coverage of General McCaffrey's resignation, Kevin Zeese wrote the following, also published in the San Diego Tribune)

I realize that when a cabinet-level official leaves office there is a tendency to write a puff piece about him, but your story on the exit of drug czar Barry McCaffrey did not mention some important points from his tenure.

The story implied that McCaffrey had turned the drug war into a treatment war. In fact, he increased its militarization and did nothing to deal with the crises of drug-related AIDS and record overdose deaths.

Military leadership is now consistent at all levels of the drug war. There are more National Guard troops working on drug control than Drug Enforcement Administration agents; paramilitary police units trained by the military now commonly serve drug-related search warrants; and McCaffrey led the charge for U.S. military spending and intervention in the Colombian civil war.

During his tenure, the ratio of spending on the drug war continued to favor law enforcement and interdiction by a margin of 2-1. Thanks to McCaffrey's advocation of in-prison treatment and court-coerced treatment, voluntary treatment needs are still unmet. Thus, we are developing the strange situation where someone needs to be arrested in order to get treatment.

Despite increased availability of heroin and cocaine - prices lower than those in 1980 and purity reaching new records - McCaffrey claimed victory to the end. He took on a very difficult job, but the reality is that we are a less healthy society after five years of his leadership.

Kevin B. Zeese, President
Common Sense For Drug Policy

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