You Buy Illegal Drugs, You Support Terrorists

This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, February 12, 2002 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are buying illegal drugs in America, it is likely that money is going to end up in the hands of terrorist organizations.


BRIT HUME, HOST: That was President Bush today going where every president in recent memory has gone, down the road of a new strategy to fight drug use. The war on drugs was declared long ago, and it has been through a series of commanders in chief and an even greater number of drug policy chiefs. President Bush has now linked the fight against drugs, as you heard there, to the fight against terrorism, and his drug policy chief, John Walters, comes with experience from the Drug Control Policy Office of the first President Bush, and joins me now — welcome, sir.

Thank you for having me.

HUME: What is it about this drug policy that is new and different from what has been done before?

JOHN WALTERS, NAT'L. DRUG CONTROL POLICY DIR.: Well, some of it is building on what has been done before. We know there are a lot of people working effectively with young people in treatment centers and in law enforcement that are keeping the problem smaller than it would be otherwise. We are trying to reinforce that. We are revitalizing prevention.

Some of the evidence you saw was a series of ads we released in connection with the Super Bowl. But we are supporting community efforts and school-based efforts. We are also keeping the president's unprecedented commitment to increase drug treatment support by the federal government by $1.6 billion over five years.

HUME: Well, how big an increase does that represent roughly in percentage terms?

WATLERS: We are now spending about $3.8 billion this year. So that will probably increase it by...

HUME: Well, 40 percent at least.

WALTERS: Yes. Well, yes. It's a part of what we do. The federal government is a portion of the overall national effort, but it's an important portion. And then what we're doing on the supply side is we want to reorient policies to attack the drug supply as a business and look at vulnerabilities to that.

HUME: How is that different from what's been done before, attacking it as a business?

WALTERS: The tendency has been at the federal level to see this in terms of individual cases. And that's important, because of the way we enforce the law, but it doesn't create the kind of reduction in the effectiveness of that business that we think should be there. We want to make...

HUME: What are you going to do?

WALTERS: We look at money, first of all. There are some new tools that came from terrorism.

HUME: You don't get the kind of tracing of money that was — that has been done to try to trace the source of money for terrorism?

WALTERS: Absolutely. People who sell drugs are in it for the money, and at the highest level, it is big money. And we need to do a better job. We have not done that in the past. There are some new tools with the Patriot Act that passed in the fall that are going to be applied here.

We are going to go after it in a more systemic way, higher level managers. I have talked to the attorney general, and we want to reorient the federal effort away from simply duplicating the local and state effort, although we are going to support that higher level people.

HUME: When you say higher level people, you know, I think of a higher — I don't know who a higher level person would be. You think of a guy who is pushing drugs on the street. You think of a supplier working in a backroom somewhere packaging the stuff, and you think of somebody smuggling it and shipping it, and you wonder — who do you mean when you say higher level people?

WALTERS: Well, this is a business that we know took in roughly $66 billion last year.

HUME: Inside the United States?


WALTERS: Inside the — sales outside of the United States. It requires the marketing of hundreds of metric tons of drugs, and the money laundering of hundreds of metric tons of money. So there is more than a packager and a buyer. We have not been as good at identifying the key management structures, because we pursue cases, largely the easiest way to get a case is the lowest possible level. You can find those people. What we want to do is to move more directly at higher levels using both the — or OCDETF program of justice and...

HUME: What's that?

WALTERS: It's called the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force...

HUME: Right.

WALTER: ... that use multiple federal agencies and state and local cooperation to look at senior parts of the drug trafficking.

HUME: Now, are you going to be hampered in this by the amount of law enforcement resources committed to the war on terrorism?

WALTERS: No, the war on terrorism, I think, will help us. If we get better security at our borders, if we do a better job on intelligence, if we do a better job on money laundering, we know there is a connection — the president talked about it today — between terror and drugs. We also know we are not doing as good a job we should do at our borders, since a lot of the drugs that come into this country come across the borders. So — and we get better cooperation with our allies. The homeland security effort that we need to better integrate will help us on the drug side.

HUME: Now, let's talk a little bit about the treatment side. I know that there has been some grumbling that this is too much enforcement and not enough about treatment. What do you say to that criticism?

WALTERS: Well, the president asked me to prepare a balanced effort. We know that this is a market, and if we have asymmetrical reductions on supply or demand...

HUME: What does that mean?

WALTERS: Well, if you reduce demand more than you reduce supply...

HUME: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) drives the price down.

WALTER: It will drive the price down, and there will be more supply when it's more available, and vice versa. We need to drive both down and keep them down to have sustained gains. So we are trying to reduce the largest consumer, as well as prevent use, which we know is an important first step. The largest consumers are addicts, and the president is committing unprecedented resources, and we are trying to direct those resources in the ways that are most effective.


HUME: Now, looking at the goal, we have it up on the screen now. You want to lower demand by 10 percent over two years, 25 percent over five years. I know this is a very difficult undertaking as the past 20 years or so have proven. Do those strike you as modest goals or ambitious goals?

WALTERS: In this climate, they are ambitious goals, because drug use went up after 1992. That increase stopped, but they have plateaued over the last several years, both for teenagers and adults at the same level. So we need to reverse the current trend, and then drive it down.

Also, I think what is important to note here is the president set goals that his administration will be around to have to be accountable for, two year and five-year goals.

HUME: Now, the Super Bowl ads that you ran have become kind of famous, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) were mirrored by what we heard the president say earlier, have been criticized by — well, here is one of them right now. Let's take just a look at it.

HUME: All right. That's — all right. Now, there is a man named William McCall of something called the Drug Policy Alliance, and he says of you that he has barely gotten going, and he is already blaming America's teenagers for terrorism. Quickly just in a few seconds, how do you respond to that?

WALTERS: We are blaming terrorists for terrorism, and we are telling Americans young and old that if you buy drugs, the fact is a significant portion of that money goes to terror. Don't do drugs, because they are bad for you, but they are also bad for your country.

HUME: John Walters, thank you very much. That's one of the best 10-second answers I have heard. Thank you, sir.

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