A DRCNet Exclusive, by Adam J. Smith, [email protected]
The Week Online with DRCNet (stopthedrugwar.org) has learned that Newsweek Magazine decided late Friday to postpone publication of an excerpt of a Gore biography featuring eyewitness accounts of Al Gore's regular and continued drug use over a period of years. The drug use covers a period of Gore's life from his days at Harvard up until the very week he declared his candidacy for Congress in 1976, sources told The Week Online. The book, by Bill Turque of Newsweek's Washington bureau, quotes both named and unnamed sources, including John Warnecke, son of John Carl Warnecke –-architect of the John F. Kennedy grave site, and a long-time friend of the Gores. An exclusive interview with Mr. Warnecke follows this story.
The excerpt had been scheduled to run in Newsweek's January 18th issue, just days before the start of the Democratic primaries. A previous excerpt from the book appeared in the December 6 issue. In that excerpt, which covered Gore's Vietnam experience, Tipper Gore was said to have spent considerable time, distraught with worry for her husband's safety, at Warnecke's house while Gore was overseas.
The Gore biography, to be published by Houghton-Mifflin, was itself originally scheduled for a January release, but that too has been delayed until March 23. A spokesman for Houghton-Mifflin told The Week Online that the delay was "normal."
Al Gore has previously admitted using marijuana, but those admissions fall well short of the type of regular, even chronic use described by Warnecke. Warnecke also says that Gore used marijuana regularly for at least four years after the Vice-President claims to have stopped.
On November 7, 1987, in the wake of Douglas H. Ginsburg's failed Supreme Court nomination, Gore told the Bergen County Record that he had smoked marijuana in college and in the army but had not used it in the past fifteen years. The New York Times reported on November 8, 1987:
"Mr. Gore said he last used marijuana when he was 24. He said he first tried the drug at the end of his junior year at Harvard and used it again at the beginning of his senior year the next fall. He also said he used the drug 'once or twice' while off-duty in an Army tour at Bien Hoa, Vietnam, on several occasions while he was in graduate school at Vanderbilt University and when he was an employee of a Nashville newspaper (The Nashville Tennessean). On November 11, 1987, Gore was quoted in UPI, saying 'We have to be honest and candid and open in dealing with the (drug) problem.'"
Mr. Turque refused to comment to The Week Online. Roy Burnett, a spokesman for Newsweek, acknowledged that the magazine was preparing to run a new excerpt from the book "in the coming weeks." Asked whether there in fact had been a delay, and if so, the reasons behind it, Burnett would say only that it is Newsweek's policy not to discuss its editorial practices.
Gore, as part of the Clinton Administration, has presided over a drug war policy that has led to the arrest and incarceration of record numbers of non-violent drug offenders. In 1998, according to the Justice Department, there were 682,885 Americans arrested on marijuana charges, 88% of whom were arrested for possession. A recent study by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (http://www.cjcj.org) reported that the incarcerated population of the U.S. will reach two million on or around February 15, 2000. Of those, more than half are non-violent offenders, according to CJCJ.
On February 8, 1999, Vice President Gore personally presented the administration's Drug Control Strategy at a Washington, DC press conference. During his remarks, Gore spoke about the "spiritual problem" of drug abuse and about the need for more positive opportunities for young people. Despite this, however, the strategy allocates approximately 2/3 of the federal drug budget on enforcement, with less than one third to be spent on treatment and education combined.
At that press conference, Gore, perhaps inadvertently, pointed out the very problem inherent in a class of political leaders who prosecute a failing drug war while hiding their own experiences with illicit drugs, and the message that sends to young people.
"And if young people... feel there's phoniness and hypocrisy and corruption and immorality," Gore said, "then they are much more vulnerable to the drug dealers, to the peers who tempt them with messages that are part of a larger entity of evil."
An exclusive interview with John Warnecke appears immediately below. An editorial discussing DRCNet's views regarding political candidates and drug use appears below, at the end of this issue. This article and interview can be found online at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/gore.html.)