MEXICO CITY (AP) — After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.
Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked.
"In the grand scheme, it has not been successful," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. "Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."
Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.
So now the drug czar is annoyed at AP for, I guess, quoting him and accurately reporting on his anti-drug budget:
The budget piece is fair to focus on, but we told AP that we objected to the article's mischaracterization of current policy. A fairer and more nuanced observation would have been: This does look/sound a lot different, but the budget scenario hasn't changed overnight (it never does, in any realm of government) and it will take some time to test the Administration's commitment to the new approach. [ofsubstance.gov]
Really? Because the drug czar did kinda admit that the strategy sucks. It's not a "mischaracterization" when someone prints the words coming out of your mouth. It's not like Ethan Nadelmann said that and they falsely attributed it to you. Guess what guys: until you stop spending more than half your budget on the exact activities that even you agree have failed, you're going to get called out early and often.
If the drug czar wants us to understand why his budget can't change overnight, then he'll need to explain what the hell that means. Is he talking about the massive drug war industry that depends on our tax dollars to buy fancy technology that's useless without prohibition? Is he wondering what the dog-slaughtering SWAT soldiers in Missouri are supposed to wear without federal subsidies for their bullet-proof bodysuits? If that's the problem, then let's talk about it.
In the meantime, Kerlikowske shouldn't be complaining that AP's coverage isn't "nuanced" enough for him. He's the one who talked to them and said things that didn’t make sense.