The Bush administration's plan to erase America's drug scourge is a $32 billion failure that lacks focus and victimizes the people it is supposed to help, a Senate study concluded Thursday.
Since the current programs were put in place three years ago, drug-related murders have gone up, addiction has risen and federal law enforcement dollars to local jurisdictions have shrunk, said the report by the Senate Judiciary Committee."The failure of a $32 billion drug war cannot be blamed on its foot soldiers," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the committee's chairman. "The seeds of failure were sown by the generals, under whose direction the strategy has ground toward stalemate. They have chosen the wrong weapons and aimed at the wrong targets."
Bob Martinez, the Bush administration's drug policy director, was among those testifying at a committee hearing Thursday on the study.
The report was especially critical of Martinez, saying that under his leadership, the drug policy office "has been so tarnished by political patronage that it is now staffed by a greater portion of political appointees than any other office of the federal government."
It said Martinez "has failed to consolidate any of the 41 federal agencies with anti-drug responsibilities," despite a mandate from Congress to do so.
The study said that since the first drug strategy was released in 1989:
- Three million Americans have become addicted to cocaine or heroin.
- One million addicts have been unable to get treatment.
- Drug education programs reached only one of every two schoolchildren.
- Only one of every 10 pregnant addicts received treatment.
- About 900,000 babies were born drug-addicted.
- About 71,700 people have been murdered.
The murder rate was the highest of any three-year period in American history, the study said. The majority of killings were drug-related, Senate researchers said. They did not give a precise number of drug killings.
"Unless the violence is stopped by a re-targeted, refocused and reinvigorated anti-drug effort, nearly 250,000 Americans will be murdered in the 1990s," the study said.
It said the administration has reduced aid to state and local law enforcement programs. It cited $116 million in cuts in the administration's 1992 budget proposal and said that would be the equivalent of taking away 2,000 police officers.
Adding to the problem, researchers said, is a seeming reluctance to concentrate on choking off the drug supply. Instead, "the administration futilely chases the ever-changing routes and tactics of drug traffickers."