The Medical Marijuana Magazine


"Gonzo Drug Czar" A remarkable editorial from the Ottawa Citizen (Canada)

Source: Ottawa Citizen ( Canada)
Pubdate: Monday 29 June 1998


If the world-wide war on drugs has a commander-in-chief, it is President Bill Clinton's "Drug Czar," retired general Barry McCaffrey.

Those who still support the failed policy of drug prohibition should note the latest musings of their leader.

Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee, Gen. McCaffrey sounded as if he were auditioning for a part on the X-Files when he claimed, "There is a carefully camouflaged, exorbitantly funded, well-heeled, elitist group whose ultimate goal is to legalize drug use in the United States."

The general's comments followed the publication the previous week of a two-page newspaper ad calling for an end to the war on drugs. The letter was signed by more than 500 prominent individuals from around the world, and included subversives like George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, former UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, Nobel-laureate Milton Friedman, and journalist Walter Cronkite. The general's Senate audience knew exactly what and whom he was getting at.

Was this petition "carefully camouflaged"? It was organized -- quite openly - -- by the Lindesmith Center. That this American institute is funded by billionaire financier George Soros is well-known. And Mr. Soros is hardly a shadowy character: His philanthropic efforts, including assistance for former communist countries making the transition to freedom, have been impressive. He deserves better than the general's innuendo.

What about the claim that the legalization movement is "exorbitantly funded"? Exorbitant is a relative thing. The United States spends $30 billion a year on its drug war and accompanying propaganda. Relative to that $30 billion, its funding is insignificant.

As for the charge of elitism, that is an example of the worst sort of political rabble-rousing, a cheap shot not worth comment.

But the drug-warrior-in-chief wasn't done. He went on to tell the Senate that drug reformers had, "Through a slick misinformation campaign, E [perpetrated] a fraud on the American people, a fraud so devious that even some of the nation's most respected newspapers and sophisticated media are capable of echoing their falsehoods."

In other words, it's inconceivable that journalists could look at the facts and reasonably come to a conclusion different than the general's. Every publication that disapproves of drug prohibition -- among them National Review, The Economist, and yes, this newspaper -- has simply been duped by the conspiracy.

General McCaffrey's bitter, paranoid attacks, coming as they did hard upon the UN conference on drugs and the debate about drug prohibition that it prompted, exposed just how empty the drug warriors' case really is.

Bereft of evidence, belied by experience, drug prohibitionists have few rational arguments to make -- so they insult, vilify, and denounce.

It's an old rule in politics: When the facts are against you, throw mud in their eyes.

Copyright 1998 The Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen
To The Editor:

Thank you for your forthright editorial (Gonzo Drug Czar);it's about time Barry McCaffrey, America's misnamed 'drug czar" and his equally misnamed "Office of Drug Control Policy" received some searching media scrutiny,.

For starters, American (and world) policy is one of drug prohibition, in which control is actually ceded to a lucrative illegal market; without any regulatory agency, there can only be a futile reaction by law enforcement to the initiatives of criminals.

As for the "czar" part, McCaffrey has no real authority over enforcement, the DEA is the province of Janet Reno. He is really just chief lobbyist for a global criminal industry. Since any successful effort to legalize "drugs" would mean a quick end to that industry, one can easily understand the "czars" almost comical overreaction to an effective ploy by the Lindesmith Foundation and Common Sense for Drug Policy which converted the pro-forma UN Special Session on Drugs into a highly publicized expression of doubt in the underlying policy. Indeed, the very intensity of his overreaction helped those doubts resonate for nearly three weeks after the event.

Thomas J. O'Connell, MD
San Mateo, CA 94401

Ottawa Citizen

Dear Editor:

We find precious few large newspapers in the U.S. with the insight and wisdom to question the insane, decades-long, power and money grab we foolishly refer to as "The War on Drugs." I refer, of course, to your right on target editorial "Gonzo Drug Czar" (OC 6/29).

"Drug-Czar" McCaffrey is becoming ever more strident in his feeble attempts to silence the growing list of influential people who support drug law reform in the U.S. and worldwide.

Reform is gaining support and recognition because it insist on facts, science, and reason in the face of fabrications, half truths, and outright lies carelessly bandied about by an administration which is either dangerously uninformed or deliberately deceitful. In either case McCaffrey and his ilk are behaving shamefully.

In the long run truth beats lies. The good General had better update his resume. He's riding a losing horse.

Mark Greer

Executive Director

PO Box 651
Porterville, CA 93258

(800) 266 5759