In a visit to law enforcement agencies in El Paso last Wednesday, drug czar John P. Walters announced that he plans to go after drug kingpins. He cited earlier successes in breaking up Colombian cartels, noting that the leaders "are dead or in jail," according to an article in the El Paso Times. (Walters did not comment on the continuing flood of cocaine being directed at this country by the successors of those dead or jailed cartel heads.)
But drug kingpins were not the only threat Walters saw on the horizon. Walters added that he also planned "to vigorously attack the non-addicted, casual user," whom he held accountable for encouraging others to use drugs. Walters advocated a broad-based effort to identify and confront drug users, the Times reported. Currently, 58% of inmates in federal prison are there for drug offenses.
If Walters' boilerplate speech-making wowed the narc set, it didn't sit so well with at least one observer, San Antonio News-Express columnist Jan Jarboe Russell. In a June 29 column, Russell ripped into Walters as deluded and in denial.
"After an hour-long conversation with John P. Walters, President Bush's drug czar, I haven't got a clue how to win the war on drugs," wrote Jarboe. "But I do have a much clearer understanding of why we haven't got a hope of winning it. We are doomed, because Walters is not so much a drug czar as he is a moralist and propagandist."
Jarboe criticized Walters for "earnest idealism" and quoted him as telling her that "smoking a joint is harming democracy."
"Oh, please," she wrote in response.
Jarboe also raked Walters over the coals for continuing the expensive yet ineffective youth anti-drug media campaign. "Perhaps the correct conclusion of the market research should be that all anti-drug TV advertisements are a waste of money," she wrote. "Drug use is simply too vast and complex a problem --driven by biochemical factors as well as psychological and social ones -- to be approached with a 30-second slogan. If that's the correct conclusion, Walters is suffering from denial, which is deadly for the nation's drug czar," she told her Central Texas readers.