The Aldrich Alert
Gary Aldrich

A Publication of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty

The State of the War on Drugs

by Gary Aldrich - Volume 1 Issue 5

Last week’s revelations about Al Gore’s abuse of drugs fall well short of the vice president’s 1987 claims. The allegations of regular, even chronic use, by the vice president, as described by a credible journalist and long-time friend of Gore, has brought the issue of the war on drugs back into the spotlight.

An evaluation of the current battles in the war on drugs reveals some disturbing trends. Thanks in large part to Nancy Reagan’s much maligned but successful “Just Say No” campaign, America was winning the war on drugs. Usage across the board was in steady decline. What changed? America got a new commander in chief for its wars, Bill Clinton. The facts don’t lie. Since 1993, drug use, especially among our nation’s teens, has sky rocketed. Drugs are back. Young people are using them once again, and they’re happily inhaling.

Last week, Representative John Mica accused the Clinton administration of gutting the war on drugs by cutting Pentagon assets needed to interdict U.S.-bound shipments. Mica based his allegation on a report by congressional investigators that said the number of flight hours devoted to counter-drug missions declined 68 percent from 1992 though 1999. “This report confirms that the war on drugs did not fail, but rather was dismantled by the Clinton administration,” Mica told a hearing of his House Government Reform Committee’s panel on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources.

Former U.S. Customs agent John Carman can confirm that assessment. “These days, they’re inspecting fewer than two percent of the planes and ships that come into this country from certain commercial carriers,” Carman said. “Even if it was less than 15 percent, that’s still not enough.” The result? Heroin seizures, for instance, fell 35 percent from 1998 to 1999. That decline was a drop of 42 percent in Miami, 45 percent in Chicago and an alarming 75 percent in Houston.

So where is all the money in the war on drugs going? One source may be Hollywood. There has been a hue and a cry about the Drug Czar taking an active role in reviewing network scripts. That resulted in the White House announcing it will stop scrutinizing scripts of television shows in advance, but will continue to pay off networks after the fact. Recently I was shocked while watching prime TV to see two teens smoking pot. I know that is a real problem. The surprising thing is that our government feels it needs to bribe networks to do what decency should already demand.

The hard truth is that the Clinton Administration has neither the willingness nor the moral authority needed to lead the war on drugs. Clinton and Gore continue to propagate one of the left’s favorite myths: “Everyone did it.” Yet, even the Clinton Administration’s own Drug Czar presented statistics showing that nearly 70% of baby boomers never experimented with drugs. If America ever hopes to win the war on drugs, it will need leaders with the know-how, willingness, seriousness, and moral authority needed for victory.