Karen P. Tandy DEA Confirmation Hearing 6/27/03

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Mark Pearson for DRCNet, [email protected]

In a hearing marked most by uneventfulness and lack of passion or strong interest, the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned DEA administrator nominee Karen P. Tandy. The hearing lasted no more than 30 minutes, and was attended only sparsely attended by the committee's members. There were never more than five members present, and for much of the hearing only senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were present. No difficult questions were asked, and at no time was Tandy pinned down on a particular issue. Sessions, a friend of Tandy, said she "has consistently shown great capabilities [in getting the job done]."

Responding to a question from Sessions on what Tandy considered her biggest challenges and goals, she stated that "after 9-11 the redirection of resources placed the responsibility of drug enforcement more squarely on the shoulders of the DEA than ever before," and outlined four goals:

  1. To ensure the protection of America and America's kids from drugs;
  2. To ensure widespread sharing of information from the federal level to the state and private sector level, which she claimed would ensure "maximum impact" as "the most effective means of reducing the 63 billion dollar illicit drug industry in the US";
  3. To dismantle the drug trade industry, which she called key for the DEA; and
  4. To streamline the DEA: "My pledge is if I am confirmed, I will ensure that those who succeed [in the DEA]... are those who are promoted."
Hatch then said that "there is a direct correlation between drug trafficking and terrorism," and asked how Tandy would respond, to which Tandy answered, "DEA has constructed a priority targeting system" to address threats within our borders and without, adding that she was particularly concerned about targeting the money, because "it is the money that funds this horrific preying on our children."

Hatch, the committee's chairman then gave a spiel about how Tandy and assistant attorney general nominee Christopher Wray (also present at the hearing) both are qualified candidates, and said "I'm sure that your confirmation will pass in short order."

According to a bulletin distributed by the Marijuana Policy Project, between three and five senators, including Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), will be submitting written questions to Tandy, thereby forcing her to put her views on medical marijuana on record. Medical marijuana patient Suzanne Pfeil, who suffers from post-polio syndrome, attended the hearing and waited to hand-deliver a letter. Tandy attempted to sneak away through a back door instead of approaching and speaking with Pfeil, but Pfeil chased Tandy down the halls in her wheelchair and delivered her letter. (Visit http://www.dontconfirm.org for pictures.)

Editorial Comment: Tandy may succeed in accomplishing her bureaucratic objectives, sharing more information with other agencies and streamlining the DEA -- though it isn't likely -- but it won't make difference. She won't succeed in, nor even make progress toward, her performance goals of dismantling the drug trade industry and protecting America's children from drugs, because she has already rejected the only strategy -- legalization -- that could accomplish them.

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Issue #293, 6/27/03
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