Pubdate: Fri, 25 Feb 2005
Source: Fort Pierce Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2005 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Dave Nichoson


I think that President Bush is pulling a fast one on the American people in 
his 2005 proposed budget. Although at initial glance, it looks like he is 
increasing the number of DEA agents, don't be fooled. These new agents for 
the DEA are only to offset those FBI agents who had been engaged in drug 
investigations and have been pulled away and diverted to "terrorism" 
assignments after 9/11. 	His plan will cut federal grants that will 
directly impact state and local efforts to fight drug dealers, claiming 
that these programs lack verifiable performance goals or measures.

Specifically, Bush's plan will eliminate Byrne formula grants, which is a 
Justice Department program that was set up over 15 years ago to promote 
multi-agency cooperation in war on drugs. Also, President Bush's proposed 
budget would dramatically cut the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas 
(HIDTA) program, which provides agencies with coordination, equipment, 
technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking.

According to the Office of Drug Control Policy website, there are major 
drug trafficking operations concentrated heavily in the South Florida area 
and lists as one of South Florida HIDTA's significant achievements the 2003 
indictment of the leaders of the notorious Cali Cartel -- 11 defendants, 
including the two founding members.

Also the president's budget forecasts that the FBI will begin charging 
local law enforcement for the use of its national laboratory, with the goal 
of collecting $35 million per year.

Clearly anyone who thinks that the president's proposed budget helps law 
enforcement doesn't have all the facts. I hope that the local police 
departments and sheriff's offices (as well as the average citizen who does 
not want drug deals to proliferate) send letters, e- mails and call 
Washington to voice their displeasure.

Dave Nichoson, Fort Pierce
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