Wrong man for the job

Wrong man for the job

By Allen Penticoff

Wrong man for the job

As many of you know, I am actively working to reform our nation’s drug policy laws. Just as many citizens, including myself, opposed the appointment of John Ashcroft to U.S. Attorney General, we reformers oppose the W. Bush-nominated drug czar. Your voice will help. Even if his nomination/appointment slides through, our continuous objection to ultra conservatives to govern our people is important to maintain.

Thanks for helping.

DRCNet opposes the nomination of John Walters for the office of director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (the “drug czar”), and asks you to contact your senators and ask them to vote NO on this nomination.

Please visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/walters/ to send e-mail or faxes to the Senate. When you are done, please call your two senators on the phone as well, and use the tell-a-friend form on our web site or forward this alert to spread the word. John Walters holds views on drug policy that verge on the fanatical. Perhaps most disturbingly, Walters has enthusiastically praised the Peruvian military’s practice of shooting down aircraft suspected of being used by drug traffickers. Last month, two American missionaries were killed in such a shoot-down, inevitable casualties of an extraordinarily reckless and immoral practice that violates international law.

In 1996, Walters testified before Congress in opposition to the Sentencing Commission’s recommendation to lower federal crack cocaine penalties to the same level as powder cocaine. Walters has dismissed the problem of racial bias in drug enforcement as an “urban myth,” despite overwhelming evidence that such bias is rampant; for example, African Americans make up only 13% of the nation’s drug users, yet account for more than 70% of drug incarcerations. His recommendation on cocaine penalties was made despite a consensus among serious observers of criminal justice that powder cocaine enforcement is also carried out in a racially discriminatory fashion.

As deputy director of ONDCP during the previous Bush administration, Walters favored incarceration over drug treatment and education. He has lobbied Congress for stiffer penalties for nonviolent drug offenders, and opposed state laws exempting medical marijuana users from criminal penalties.

In 1996, Walters co-authored a paper entitled “The Clinton Administration’s Continuing Retreat in the War on Drugs.” In truth, however, the Clinton administration escalated the drug war, imprisoning more people for drug offenses than during the preceding Reagan and Bush administrations combined. To characterize the harsh Clinton drug war record as a “retreat” is to elevate partisan politics over truthful discussion and to show a deep disrespect to the American people on an issue of the greatest importance.

In short, the Walters’ drug record is one of propaganda, extremism and disregard for issues of racial equality. John Walters is unfit to lead the nation on drug policy, and should be rejected by the U.S. Congress. Whether we can defeat his nomination or not, raising our voices in protest now will put pressure on the administration to moderate its drug policies.

The Walters nomination has been criticized by mainstream news outlets such as The New York Times and The Economist, even by the conservative flagship magazine National Review. Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/walters/ to access this and other information and to send a message to the Senate against this retrograde nomination — and please call or fax your two U.S. Senators and urge them to vote against the confirmation of John Walters as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Visit http://www.senate.gov to find out how to reach them, or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Time is of the essence!

For your convenience: Senator Dick Durbin 202-224-2152, dick@durbin.senate.gov; Senator Peter Fitzgerald 202-224-2854, senator_fitzgerald@fitzgerald.senate.gov.

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