Oppose John Walters as new Drug Czar

Decades of studies prove that treatment is far more effective in reducing drug abuse than jails, informants, wiretapping, racial profiling, property seizures, border interdiction, killing missionaries and fumigating South America, but President George W.  Bush has nominated John P. Walters for drug czar anyway.

Walters served as deputy director of the drug office under William Bennett in the other Bush administration, and Bush II has chosen another dinosaur from daddy who ignores facts and science. Walters says drug treatment is the "latest manifestation of the liberals' commitment to a therapeutic state." He opposes the use of marijuana for medical purposes and says that racial profiling is a "myth." He has spoken in favor of further criminal penalties for drug users and does not believe jails and prisons have too many drug war prisoners, despite a marijuana arrest in the country every 45 seconds. A man who thinks the disease of addiction should be punished with prison where drugs are used regularly is dangerously deluded.

Meanwhile, in the real world, three out of four people in the U.S. agree the drug war has failed. State governments are responding to the will of the people by enacting safer and saner policies than those of federal government. California's passage of proposition 36 in 2000 is estimated to keep 30,000 individuals out of prison each year and save $500 million in prison-construction costs; between $200 million and $250 million annually will additionally be saved in prison operating costs. Voters have approved 14 out of 15 state drug reform initiatives and referendums. Syringes are sold over the counter in pharmacies to drug users. Medical marijuana is grown and dispensed. Funds are being diverted from interdiction to treatment. Law enforcement can no longer seize property prior to a conviction in some states. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, John P. Walters would move away from policies that save lives and spare families from needless suffering. Walters' hawkish ideologies would move the country toward the failed drug war policies of his former boss and drug czar when crack cocaine was being introduced into major U.S. cities to fund the U.S.-supported contras' bloody war in Nicaragua (San Jose Mercury News August 1996 series by Gary Webb).

An official with the drug policy office said Walters' confirmation was expected before Congress recessed in August. That didn't happen. An aide to Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman who will oversee the confirmation hearings after the recess, predicted that Walters' confirmation would be "controversial," sometimes a code word for contested.

Letters to the editor are a tremendous way to influence public opinion and senators, especially letters now. Newspapers with a daily circulation of hundreds of thousands are means to exercise the right to free speech.

Prisoners who have a letter to the editor published and send clippings of published letters, along with your mailing address to the November Coalition, will receive a free Drug War Facts booklet with over 100 pages of ammunition to blow huge holes in the drug war propaganda machine.

Also, visitwww.senate.gov for information about contacting your two U.S. Senators. Urge them to oppose Walter' confirmation, or call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.


Dear Editor:

I oppose the Bush nomination of John P. Walters for drug czar. The Office of National Drug Control Policy needs someone capable in charge. Why don't they hire someone with medical experience who will address addiction as the disease that it is, or an economist who can assist development of viable employment opportunities for the poor, or an expert on education. We need better schools, not more jails for drug law violators.

Walters is more of the same kind of leadership that has made us the world's leading jailer and leading consumer of illicit drugs. We need a drug czar willing to regulate illegal drugs in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco and take the money out of the underground economy created not by drugs, but the prohibition of drugs.

Walters claims that prisons being filled with non-violent drug users is a "myth," despite the fact that one U.S. citizen is arrested every 45 seconds for simple marijuana possession. Racism in the war on drugs is another "myth," says Walters, who ignores that blacks comprise 13 percent of the nation's drug users and account for 70 percent of drug incarcerations.

Call your federal senators and representative today and urge them to oppose Walters' confirmation because treatment and education save lives, drug prohibition and prisons destroy them.


Your name, address, phone, email