Source: Dallas Morning News
Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 1998
Author: Catalina Camia - The Dallas Morning News


WASHINGTON - House Speaker Newt Gingrich appointed his own anti-drug task
force Tuesday, saying the Clinton administration's plans for combating the
flow of illegal drugs and their use are inadequate.

Texas Republicans Pete Sessions of Dallas, Kay Granger of Fort Worth and
Henry Bonilla of San Antonio will serve on the 30-member task force.

"In the end, drugs is an American problem," Mr. Gingrich, R-Ga., said. "If
Americans weren't buying it, if our children weren't getting addicted, if
we weren't providing the cash flow, we wouldn't have much drugs being
developed in Colombia, Bolivia or Peru."

A spokesman for White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey said the Clinton
administration has a "realistic" plan aimed at reducing illegal drug use
and availability by 50 percent.

"He considers that a realistic and doable approach which is not designed to
fit into an election cycle," said Bob Weiner, spokesman for the Office of
National Drug Control Policy.

Mr. Gingrich's proposal calls for a multidisciplinary approach over the
next three years, including more money for interdiction and community-based
education programs aimed at teenagers. He did not give specifics.

This year, the Clinton administration plans to spend about $17.1 billion
fighting drugs, which will go toward more Border Patrol agents, drug
treatment programs for criminals, interdiction and efforts aimed at
preventing drug use among young people.

But Mr. Gingrich and other Republicans said the Clinton administration
plans would result in too many people still using drugs at the end of 10

"We're not trying to pick a fight with the drug czar," said Rep. Dennis
Hastert, R-Ill., chairman of the task force. "We want results. We think we
can lick this problem in three years."

The GOP task force has set two goals: to cut the flow of illegal drugs into
the United States by 80 percent and their use by 40 percent.

Mr. Gingrich said the panel will rewrite existing laws or craft new
legislation as necessary and explore ideas such as training people in
countries such as Colombia on the use of anti-drug strategies.

Mr. Gingrich said the task force will also step up its oversight of the
Clinton administration's anti-drug efforts.

Next week, the House International Relations Committee will hold a hearing
on Colombia's drug-fighting efforts. A congressional delegation will also
visit Colombia, Peru, Chile and Bolivia in April to learn about their
anti-drug programs.