John P. Walters

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John P. Walters was nominated by President George W. Bush as Director of National Drug Control Policy (referred to as the "Drug Czar"). Walters had previously served as deputy drug director under President George Herbert Walker Bush.[1]

Walters served as the chief of staff to William J. Bennett, and later served as Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Office of National Control Policy.[2] He "served as acting drug policy director briefly in 1993. He quit in protest when President Bill Clinton sharply reduced the office's staff and announced that he was redirecting antinarcotics policy to focus on hard-core users, while de- emphasizing enforcement and interdiction. ... Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1996, Mr. Walters was scathingly critical of what he called 'this ineffectual policy -- the latest manifestation of the liberals' commitment to a therapeutic state in which government serves as the agent of personal rehabilitation.'"[3]

Walters "previously worked at the Department of Education, where he headed the Schools Without Drugs prevention program and then served under William J. Bennett, who was drug czar in the administration of Mr. Bush's father. More recently Mr. Walters has been president of the Philanthropy Roundtable, an association that advises more than 600 donors to charities. He has also served as president of the New Citizenship Project, which promoted the role of religion in public life."[4]

"The position of drug czar is a crucial one, directing the federal government's $19 billion in anti-drug programs and serving as a moral leader in the just-say-no campaign focused on America's youth. But the need to rally around the flag [following the events of September 11, 2001] and fill an important job do not compensate for Walters' many failings:

"He wants to escalate U.S. military involvement in the Latin American drug war at the expense of funding for domestic drug treatment and education (which have repeatedly proved to be the most cost-effective way of reducing drug use).

"He opposes reform of racially imbalanced sentencing guidelines, such as those that are 100 times stiffer for crack than for powder cocaine.

"He says he will use federal authority to punish doctors in states such as California who prescribe medical marijuana.

"In a Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, Walters underwent a typical 'confirmation conversion,' trying to curry favor with his critics by recanting or downplaying some of his extreme views. His track record is too long and too distasteful to be cleaned up that easily, however.

"Confirmation of Walters would reverse the nation's trend toward giving priority to drug treatment and education programs. These new policies, which California boosted last year with approval of Proposition 36, are the most effective, economical and humane ways of fighting the scourge of drug abuse."

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 2001.


"What really drives the battle against law enforcement and punishment is not a commitment to treatment, but the widely held view that, first, we are imprisoning too many people for merely possessing illegal drugs; second, drug and other criminal sentences are too long and harsh, and third, the criminal justice system is unjustly punishing young black men. These are among the great urban myths of our time." -- Source: May 2001.

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