Pubdate: Wed, 21 Mar 2001
Source: Fox News Network (US)
Show: The O'Reilly Factor
Section: News; Domestic
Copyright: 2001 Fox News Network, Inc
Host: Bill O'Reilly
Guest: Robert Housman
Note: Transcript # 032105cb.256


O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us.  I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In the second "Unresolved Problem" Segment tonight, the truth about illegal 
drugs.  A new study just out by the Pew Research Center says that a 
whopping 74 percent of the American public feels we are losing the drug 
war.  That is certainly the impression you get when you see the hit movie 
"Traffic," which should win the best picture award on Sunday but probably 
will not.

Joining us now from Washington is Robert Housman who was the assistant 
director of strategic planning in the White House Office of Drug Control 
Policy from '97 to last January.

Mr. Housman, now you believe that America is winning the drug war, correct?

better than most people are left with the impression that we're doing. I 
don't think it's a war.  I don't think it's something you win or lose in a 
finite period of time.

But if you look at what we've actually done over the last several years, 
you'd see that there's a 21-percent drop in youth drug use. You'd see that 
drug-related murders have fallen to their lowest point in over a decade. 
Workplace drug use is down to its lowest point in over a decade. We've 
tripled the number of people in treatment.

If you look at all of the numbers as a whole, you'd see that by and large 
the ones that we want to be -- have going up are going up, and the ones 
that we want to see going down, like youth drug use, are dropping.

O'REILLY: All right.  Now let me read you some stats that we've just got 
today from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Between '92 and '99, Clinton's terms, 16-percent increase in the percentage 
of Americans reporting the use of any illegal drug within the past 30 
days.  So that's not real encouraging.  Youth drug is down -- drug use is 
down about a percentage point in that period of time. So it's a mix.  Let's 
give it a mixed report card.

But here's what concerns me and, I think, a lot of other Americans. Every 
policeman that I've talked to -- and I've talked to them from Seattle to 
Key West, from Bangor, Maine, to San Diego.  Every one of them says purity 
of drugs on the street as high as it's ever been, price as low as it's ever 
been, availability -- you can get anything you want.

Now I think education has cut into this a little bit.  Kids are a little 
more scared than they used to be.  But if you want to get high and buy 
heroin or cocaine or ecstasy or meth, you can do that without much 
problem.  Am I wrong?

HOUSMAN: No, I think you're right.  But I also think that that -- if you -- 
if you followed basic economics analysis, one of the reason why purity is 
up and price is low and its availability is high is because we've cut the 
number of people who are using, and these drugs are desperately looking for 

One of the reasons why you increase purity is to get somebody hooked very 
quickly.  You drop the price because you want to encourage buyers.

O'REILLY: All right.  Interesting point.

HOUSMAN: So you bring...

O'REILLY: Interesting and valid point because my thesis -- and you guys did 
not embrace this, and I wish you had -- was coerced drug rehab is the way 
to gut the market, I mean, simply force addicts into rehabilitation when 
they break the law and take them off the street, and -- I think your point 
is very valid and a good one.

However, I'll -- I'll cede this, under the Clinton administration, drug 
czar McCaffrey, yourself, that you did get to enough people to get the Am I 
being unfair?

HOUSMAN: Well, let me first say, Bill, I think, actually, we did embrace 
your notion of coerced treatment.  During the prior administration, we went 
from roughly 12 drug courts to about 700 in place or coming on line 
because, like you, we see the value -- we saw the value, and when you have 
somebody who's addicted, and they've entered the criminal-justice system, 
using the leverage of the criminal-justice system to say, "Hey, you either 
get clean, or you go to jail" -- and that, I agree with you, is a very 
powerful leverage point.

In terms of interdiction, look, what we've done is we've basically isolated 
much of the problem in Colombia.  If you look at the -- the rates of coca 
production in Peru and Bolivia, we were able to bring those down 
substantially. We have a terrible problem in Colombia.

We also were able to substantially increase the resources along our 
southwest border.  If you look at the number of DEA agents controlling the 
border, customs agents patrolling the border...

O'REILLY: Yeah, but they -- the problem with Mexico is so overwhelming, and 
I think this is where the movie "Traffic" really kicked in, that the 
corruption there, no matter what Vicente Fox says or President Bush says, 
it's a bunch of nonsense.

They got the guns.  They got the money.  The Mexican cops don't make any 
money.  Everybody's bribed.  It's coming in.  You guys can't stop it, 
unless you put the military on the border, which you don't want to do.  So 
that's the reality of the situation, I think.

HOUSMAN: Corruption, and -- and that's one of the problems with drugs.  I 
mean, if you look at the amount of money and their ability to buy off 
judges and buy off agents...

O'REILLY: Sure, especially in a poor country like Mexico.  They -- they're 
going to overwhelm you with money, and if you don't take the money, they'll 
shoot you in the head, and whatever Vicente Fox says...

HOUSMAN: Well, Bill, we also...

O'REILLY: ... ain't going to matter because those guys don't care. this, 
and the federal government will hear of it, and I never could figure out why.

HOUSMAN: Well, we don't want to see this whole situation militarized...


HOUSMAN: ... to be honest, Bill.  I think this is a -- this is a health and 
law-enforcement problem, and when you pull in -- the military is not well 
suited to policing...

O'REILLY: It's a national-security problem, and the military's mandate is 
to protect our borders.  You know, in the Constitution, that's what it 
says.  So protect our borders, OK?

HOUSMAN: Well, I think we can do a lot on our borders.  We've put up fencing.

O'REILLY: Then why not put the military down if that's their mandate?

HOUSMAN: Well, the military's mandate really is to fight wars, and this 
truly isn't a war.

O'REILLY: It's to protect the borders, Mr. Housman.  It's to protect the 
borders.  This is a national-security problem.  People out there have their 
children using drugs.  It destroys families.  It's a national-security problem.

Use the military.  I'm not getting why you guys -- you can train people to 
do this.  They patrol the DMZ.  For years in Berlin, they patrolled that 
border.  They can do it in Mexico, and they should.

HOUSMAN: Well, we actually do use a fair amount of military assets in a 
number of different ways.  The National Guard has a counterdrug bureau that 
assists us in terms of our ports of entry.  We use sophisticated 
over-the-horizon radar in terms of our interdiction capacity.

O'REILLY: Not working.  Not working.

HOUSMAN: Well, I think -- I think if...

O'REILLY: You can get anything you want in Peoria or Napa, Idaho or Mr. 

HOUSMAN: Well, I think the main thing we need to do is focus on educating 
our young people.  What we focused on in the last administration was 
getting out to kid and talking to them directly about the dangers of drugs 
and, Bill, what we've done is we've dropped youth drug use 21 percent in a 
two-year period.

If you look at any other social problem, you say, "We are going to cut this 
in 21 percent in two years," people would be heralding you, and that's what 
we've done.  I think education works.  That's our primary thing, but we 
need, as you said, a balanced strategy -- treating addicts and also 
policing our borders.

O'REILLY: OK.  Mr. Housman, thanks very much.  We appreciate your public 
service.  Thank you.

HOUSMAN: My pleasure.  Thanks.

O'REILLY: Next on the rundown, do gay celebrities have a responsibility to 
come out and help other gays?  Very controversial issue. Big article in 
"The L.A. Times" about it.  We'll have a report as THE FACTOR continues.

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