Pubdate: Fri, 05 Jan 2001
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2001 News World Communications, Inc.
Contact:  202-832-8285
Author: Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington Times


Teen drug use is down and funding for drug treatment and research is up, 
but "a lot remains to be done," drug czar Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey said 
yesterday during his farewell press briefing at the White House.

Chronic abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol are "the heart and soul" of 
almost any social, medical, legal or international problem, said Gen. 
McCaffrey, whom President Clinton appointed director of the White House 
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in 1996.

"There is no question that we're still looking at a U.S. society in which 6 
percent of us, last month, used an illegal drug - 14 million Americans, 
52,000 dead a year, $110 billion in damages," he said.

Still, after concerted efforts by his office and other top Clinton 
administration officials, "I think the numbers are starting to respond," 
said Gen. McCaffrey, citing decreases in U.S. cocaine use and improvements 
in local and international law-enforcement strategies.

Gen. McCaffrey leaves the ONDCP today for a job at West Point teaching 
national security studies. He plans to remain active in the fight against 
illegal drug use - "I have to," he told The Washington Times - as well as 
write a book about the issue.

Mr. Clinton praised Gen. McCaffrey's efforts, saying the latest reports 
show that the nation is "making real progress" on drug control.

"We must never give up on making our children's futures safe and 
drug-free," the president said. Rep. John L. Mica, Florida Republican, also 
commended Gen. McCaffrey, for his "valiant attempt" to try to "repair the 
damage of the first four years" of Clinton administration drug policies.

"McCaffrey, given what he inherited, did the best he could, but now whoever 
takes over has almost an insurmountable task," said Mr. Mica, chairman of 
the House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy 
and human resources.

The congressman said Mr. Clinton's first drug czar, Lee Brown, made unwise 
changes that brought "a flood of drugs" into the United States.

The drug situation in Colombia is now "so out of control" that it is 
destabilizing "the entire Central American and South American continents," 
said Mr. Mica. Domestically, he said, the lower use of marijuana has been 
"eclipsed" by increases in use of methamphetamines and "club drugs."

Gen. McCaffrey yesterday released several reports, including a new one on 
drug use in sports.

He cited as achievements:

- - Creation of a comprehensive drug-control strategy and a new 
intelligence-gathering program.

- - Creation of 28 "high-intensity drug trafficking area programs," which 
coordinate local, state and federal law-enforcement efforts.

- - Anti-drug budget increases from $13.5 billion in fiscal 1996 to $19.2 
billion in fiscal 2000, with more money going to prevention, treatment and 

- - Creation of some 700 drug courts.

- - Creation of cooperative strategies with "key drug transit and source 
countries" such as Colombia, Mexico and Thailand.

Among the retired general's disappointments were the "widespread, explosive 
increase" in Americans' use of "club drugs" such as "ecstasy" and low 
recognition for the value of drug treatment.

Regarding his successor, Gen. McCaffrey said he was "very upbeat about the 
new team," based on his experiences with people associated with 
President-elect George W. Bush.

"I can't imagine that there isn't widespread unanimity of view that we need 
to continue working on prevention, education and treatment issues as well 
as multinational cooperation," he said.

Mr. Mica, however, said he was "very concerned" about the fate of the drug 
czar post, which he has heard may be downgraded to "less than Cabinet" status.

The new drug czar has to have access to the president and should be someone 
with a high profile, said Mr. Mica. Otherwise, "we're headed for an 
incredible disaster."
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