October 15, 2001

Alert!: Say No to John Walters as Next Drug Czar
[From the Lindesmith Center- Drug Policy Foundation]

President Bush has nominated John Walters, to be
our nation's next drug czar. Unfortunately, John
Walters is too divisive, too insensitive, and too
extreme to be an effective drug czar. Walters is an
ardent drug warrior who supports harsh sentences
for non-violent drug offenders, opposes meaningful
drug treatment programs, supports escalation of the
Latin American drug war, and denies that racial
disparities exist in the criminal justice system.
At a time that public sentiment is rapidly shifting
from a criminal justice approach to drug abuse
towards a cheaper and more effective public health
approach, Walters still believes we can arrest and
spend our way out of the drug problem.

We need your help! Many members of the Senate
Judiciary Committee are considering voting against
John Walters as drug czar. If we can get ten
Senators on the Committee to vote against him, we
can prevent Walters from becoming our nation's next
drug czar. We have as little as two weeks to
convince Judiciary Members to vote against Walters.

What can you do to help?

First, are you a voter in one of the following
states:  Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware,
Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts,
New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington, or Wisconsin?

If you are, please go to
http://www.stopjohnwalters.org and send a fax to
your Senator(s) on the Judiciary Committee,
telling them to vote against Walters.

PLEASE SEND A FAX NOW, Senators need to hear from
you right away. Go to
http://www.stopjohnwalters.org .

Second, please forward this e-mail to as many
friends, family members, and co-workers as
possible. Ask them to read it and take action.

Third, and very important: Please consider giving
us a contribution to help us wage our campaign
against John Walters. Go to
to find out how to give a donation. Even a small
contribution of $25, $50, or $100 helps. We need
money for our grassroots efforts to influence

On October 10th the Senate Judiciary Committee
held a confirmation hearing on John Walters. Many
Senators were very critical of Walters and his
views, especially on drug treatment, mandatory
minimums, and racial disparities in the drug war.
While Walters handled most of the questions posed
to him quite well, he could not adequately defend
his record. Indeed, he often backtracked from
long-held positions - a tactic referred to as a
"confirmation conversion" in Washington.

Written testimony can be read at:

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), who chaired the hearing,
gave the hearing's opening remarks. Much of what he
said was critical of Walters. While he emphasized
that he had the utmost respect for John Walters, he
noted that there are a number of issues on which he
and Walters disagree.

"I am particularly troubled by Mr. Walters many
writings regarding drug treatment," he said. "He
has written that the 'view that therapy by a team
of counselors, physicians and specialists is the
only effective way to reduce drug use' is a 'myth.'
In contrast, the top doctors and scientists in the
field of addiction believe that addiction is a
chronic, relapsing brain disease and that addiction
treatment is as successful as treatment for other
chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, was equally critical of

"I do not doubt that John Walters has thought
seriously about our nation's drug problems," Leahy
said, "but I do doubt the conclusions that he has
reached and forcefully expressed on issues ranging
from drug treatment to interdiction to sentencing
issues." "In short, I'm not yet convinced that he
is the right person to head the Office of National
Drug Control Policy."

Leahy criticized Walters heavily in four areas:

Walters' lack of commitment to treatment: "Although
Mr. Walters has not developed a lengthy record on
treatment questions, some of his statements have
caused great concern among those who care about
treating drug addiction."

Walters' punitive criminal justice views: "Many of
us - Democrats and Republicans - have come to
question our reliance on mandatory minimum sentences
for a wide variety of drug offenses, as well as the
100 to 1 disparity under current law between
sentences for crack and powder cocaine. In his
writings and statements, Mr. Walters has been
hostile to reconsideration of these issues."

Walters' opposition to state medical marijuana laws:
"Mr. Walters has responded to this trend by
advocating that the federal Government use the
Controlled Substances Act to take away the federal
licenses from any physician who prescribes
marijuana to a patient in states that permit the
practice...In addition to running roughshod over any
federalism concerns whatsoever, Mr. Walters'
draconian response raises questions about his
sense of proportion."

Walters' support for escalation of the Latin
American drug war: "I am concerned that Mr.
Walters will seek to have the United States
overextend its anti-drug role in Latin America...
The costs - both financial and political - of our
involvement in the internal affairs of Latin
American nations require close scrutiny."

Other Senators that criticized Walters on various
grounds included Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senator
Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Senator Herbert Kohl (D-WI).
Senators that praised Walters included Senator Orrin
Hatch (R-UT), Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senator Jeff
Sessions (R-AL) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).

Senator Hatch, the Ranking Member of the Committee,
testified extensively in favor of Walters. He said
that, "John Walters' career in public service has
prepared him well for this office." He went on to
add that Walters "has unparalleled knowledge and
experience in all facets of drug control policy."

Senator Kyl also testified extensively in favor of
Walters, but used half of his allotted question-
asking time to attack the Lindesmith Center - Drug
Policy Foundation, which has been leading the
charge to defeat Walters, and the Coalition for
Compassionate Leadership on Drug Policy, which
issued a non-partisan analysis of Walters' views in
September. (The report can be read in its entirety
at: http://www.ccldp.org/white_paper.html )

While Walters spent several hours answering
questions from Senators, he spent most of the time
detailing his job experience, and little time
discussing the controversial statements he has made.
Despite a record of consistently favoring
incarceration over drug treatment, Walters told
Senators that he favored a balanced approach to the
problem of drug abuse.

"I have always believed that the fundamental
elements of effective drug control policy are
consistent with common sense," he told Senators.
"We need to prevent young people from experimenting
with drugs. We need to help those who have become
addicted get off and stay off drugs. We need to use
the coercive power of the criminal justice system
and other supply reduction programs to support the
domestic prevention and treatment efforts, as well
as pressuring and disrupting drug trafficking

The Senate Judiciary Committee could vote on
Walters as early as two weeks from now.

President Bush has nominated John Walters, to be
our nation's next drug czar. Unfortunately, John
Walters is too divisive, too insensitive, and too
extreme to be an effective drug czar. Walters is an
ardent drug warrior who supports harsh sentences
for non-violent drug offenders, opposes meaningful
drug treatment programs, supports escalation of the
Latin American drug war, and denies that racial
disparities exist in the criminal justice system.
At a time that public sentiment is rapidly shifting
from a criminal justice approach to drug abuse
towards a cheaper and more effective public health
approach, Walters still believes we can arrest and
spend our way out of the drug problem.

Who Opposes John Walters?

-- A majority of Members of the Congressional Black
    Caucus oppose John Walters. They have recently
    issued a one and a half page statement to the
    Senate Judiciary Committee. The statement reads,
    in part:

    "At a time when policymakers at all levels of
     government are seeking to address racial
     disparities in the criminal justice system,
     John Walters denies that such disparities even
     exist. His extensive record is one of extreme
     insensitivity to the problems facing African
     Americans. We believe his views on race and
     crime make him unfit for a position that
     requires sensitivity to racial fairness...We
     find that John Walters is both woefully ill
     informed on the facts of the day and
     insensitive to the needs of the African
     American community. We strongly urge you to
     vote against John Walters as Director of the
     Office of National Drug Control Policy."

    Signers of the statement include Representative
    John Conyers - Congress's most senior African
    American Member and the Ranking Member of the
    House Judiciary Committee.

-- Organizations opposing John Walters, include:
    AIDS Action, AIDS Foundation of Chicago,
    American College of Nurse-Midwives, California
    Legislative Council for Older Americans, 
    Chicago Recovery Alliance, Colombia Action/CT,
    Colombia Human Rights Committee, Latino Voters
    League, Justice Policy Institute, National
    Association for Public Health Policy, National
    Black Police Association, National Center on
    Institutions and Alternatives, National Women's
    Health Network, Pesticide Action Network,
    Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, School of Americas
    Watch, and Witness for Peace.

-- Over 20 newspapers have raised concerns about
    John Walters, including: New York Times, Los
    Angeles Times, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-
    Dispatch, Austin American-Statesman, Chicago
    Sun-Times, Albany Times Union, Tulsa World,
    and the Houston Chronicle.

-- The Betty Ford Center has issued a letter to
    the Senate Judiciary Committee stating, in part:

    "Mr. Walters may not have the confidence in the
     treatment and prevention strategies that we
     believe are necessary for the creation and
     implementation of a balanced and thoughtful
     approach to U.S. drug policy.  Now, more than
     ever, with increased public criticism of U.S.
     drug policies that rely heavily on interdiction
     and criminal justice solutions to the drug
     problem, we need a director with an unshakable
     conviction in strategies to reduce the demand
     for drugs in this country."

John Walters on the Issues

-- Racial Disparities, Sentencing, Mandatory

    Just six months ago, in The Weekly Standard,
    Walters stated:  "Neither is it true that the
    prison population is disproportionately made
    up of young black men.  Crime, after all, is
    not evenly distributed throughout society.  It
    is common knowledge that the suburbs are safer
    than the inner city, though we are not
    supposed to mention it."

    In the same article, he stunned academics and
    researchers by stating that, "What really
    drives the battle against law enforcement and
    punishment, however, is not a commitment to
    treatment, but the widely held view that (1) we
    are imprisoning too many people for merely
    possessing illegal drugs, (2) drug and other
    criminal sentences are too long and harsh, and
    (3) the criminal justice system is unjustly
    punishing young black men.  These are among the
    great urban myths of our time."

    Even a cursory glance at the facts, however,
    proves that Walters is at odds with the truth:

    Of the 1,559,100 arrests for drug law
      violations in 1998, 78.8% were for possession
      of a controlled substance. In 1997, over
      100,000 people were in state or federal prison
      for possession of an illegal drug. This does
      not even count those among the roughly two
      hundred thousand non-violent drug offenders in
      local jails.
    The average federal sentence for a drug offense
      in 1997 was 78 months, over twice the average
      sentence for manslaughter and almost four times
      the average sentence for auto theft.  Possession
      of crack weighing the equivalent of two pennies
      requires five years in federal prison with no
      possibility of parole.
    Although whites and African Americans use drugs
      at equal rates, African American men are
      admitted to state prison for drug offenses at
      a rate that is 13.4 times greater than that of
      white men. In 15 states, African American men
      are admitted to state prison for drug charges
      at a rate that is 20 to 57 times the white
      male rate.

    While both President Bush and DEA Administrator
    Asa Hutchinson have said they are willing to
    look at reforming mandatory minimums and
    concentrating more resources on a demand-side
    approach to drug abuse, John Walters has opposed
    these positions in the past. He has even
    actively opposed eliminating the crack/powder
    cocaine sentencing disparity.

    The immediate past drug czar, General Barry
    McCaffrey, recognized that both sentence length
    and sentence time served present a problem
    for the U.S. criminal justice system, going so
    far as to remark, "We must have law
    enforcement authorities address the issue...but
    having said that, I also believe that we have
    created an American Gulag." In response, Walters
    has said, "I am a strong supporter of
    enforcement.  It is prevention.  A moral lesson.
    And I am against the part of the discussion
    earlier that suggests that there are too many
    people in jail... And for the Director (McCaffrey)
    to say, 'I am troubled by the number of people
    in jail,' sends the wrong message, I think."

    Walters' also holds radical 'super-predator'
    theories on juvenile crime that have been
    thoroughly discredited; yet he still supports
    them. Just six months ago he wrote, "Instead of
    retreating from punishment, we should be
    contemplating the limited demographic window
    before us: By 2010, the population between the
    ages of 15 and 17, just entering the most crime-
    prone years, will be 31 percent larger than it
    was in 1990." In his book with Bill Bennett,
    "Body Count," the authors suggest that
    Americans should be prepared to lock up as many
    as 150,000 children.

-- Latin America:

    Walters believes that interdiction and
    eradication are the most important, if not the
    only, anti-drug strategy for the federal
    government to follow. His record suggests that
    he is willing to escalate our entanglement in
    the Latin American drug war at the expense of
    funding for drug treatment at home. In 1996 he
    stated, "that we need to do more in Latin
    America. Fighting drugs at the source makes
    sense. Federal authorities ought to be going
    after the beehive, not just the bees. Foreign
    programs are also cheap and effective." He has
    even praised the very shoot-down policy that
    led to the tragic deaths of two missionaries
    in Peru earlier this year.

    Walters was an early champion for the U.S.
    shootdown policy in Peru.  In 1996, he told the
    Senate Judiciary Committee: "America's
    chronically under funded program in Peru cost
    just $16 million to run in FY 1996...The
    Peruvians have managed to shoot down or disable
    20 trafficker airplanes since March 1, 1995.
    Unfortunately Peruvian President Fujimori's
    aggressive line on drugs actually caused
    President Clinton to bar Peru from receiving
    radar-tracking data. That decision has badly
    damaged Peruvian-American relations...this is
    an opportunity to save American lives by
    helping the Peruvians press their attack on
    traffickers." Under pressure from Walters and
    others, President Clinton resumed the shootdown
    program with new procedures established in a
    1994 agreement between the two countries.

    In April 2001, a Peruvian Air Force jet guided
    by a CIA surveillance plane killed an American
    missionary and her daughter.  A U.S. report on
    the incident stated that, "Peru and the United
    States were undisciplined and 'sloppy' in the
    way they conducted a joint program to interdict
    airborne drug smugglers."  This incident
    occurred even after the protocols were
    established.  Mr. Walters' statement implying
    that the shootdown policy should have been
    implemented even without protocols is
    particularly troubling.

-- Treatment:

    Walters has made some recent public statements
    that seem to indicate he has doubts about the
    disease theory of addiction. In the Weekly
    Standard article he wrote, "If it weren't for
    the ideology associated with treatment --
    addiction is a disease, not a pattern of
    behavior for which people can be held
    responsible -- law enforcement and punishment
    would be natural partners of the treatment

    Walters has referred to drug treatment as "this
    ineffectual policy - the latest manifestation
    of liberals' commitment to a 'therapeutic state'
    in which government serves as the agent of
    personal rehabilitation."

    Even former drug czar Barry McCaffrey has
    expressed concern about Walters' priorities
    being heavily skewed against treatment and
    prevention, saying that Walters is "focused too
    much on interdiction" and "needs to educate
    himself on prevention and treatment." In
    McCaffrey's words, Walters' feels "that there
    is too much treatment capacity in the United
    States" -- a view the former drug czar found

John Walters' Weekly Standard article:

A non-partisan analysis of Walters' record by the
Coalition for Compassionate Leadership on Drug
Policy, whose members include the ACLU and NAACP:

Lindesmith-DPF press releases on John Walters:

-- Betty Ford Center, Majority of Congressional
    Black Caucus, Civil Rights and Public Health
    Groups All Urge Senate to Re-Think John Walters
    as Drug Czar
-- Majority of Congressional Black Caucus Members
    Urges Senate to Reject John Walters
-- Critics Call Bush Drug Czar Pick -- John Walters -
    "More Extreme Than Ashcroft"


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