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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 25, 1997
                             PRESS BRIEFING
                       BY GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY

The Briefing Room

12:31 P.M. EST

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Let me, if I may, at the beginning introduce Dr. Hoover Adger. Hoover, if you will step forward here and let everybody see your face. Dr. Adger just joined us from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he's been a professor of pediatrics. He's a noted national authority with a subspecialty in pediatric adolescent addictions. We're enormously grateful that we've got a man of his scientific medical background now to act as my right hand. So, Hoover, welcome, thanks for being here with us.

We've also got present Deputy Secretary of Education Marshall Smith, thanks for being here. And Jonathan Schwartz out of DOJ.

I will, with your permission, make a few general comments and then perhaps respond to your own interests. Two documents that you should be aware of and view as our stated guide to action in the year to come -- this document, "The National Drug Control Strategy '97," is what we'll talk about. It's a conceptual framework. We think -- we crashed on it last year, took seven weeks to come out with what we thought was a reasonably coherent balanced long-term approach. We've worked on it for the better part of nine months. We've consulted, we say, more than 4,000 separate authorities. We have made it smaller. We think it's a first-rate piece of work as a guide to action.

What goes along with that guide to action is a thicker document called "The Budget Summary." You know, Colin Powell's guidance to me in my younger years -- don't tell me about your policies, tell me about your budget. This is the budget. And what we're trying to do is not only talk in terms of budget execution year -- we sent down a pretty decent effort to Congress in the '98 budget. It's last year's largest drug budget in history, last year's 9.3 percent increase, last year's budget that passed a bipartisan support of Congress and indeed gave us more money than we asked for. We took that budget -- I went out to the senior officers of this government, and the '98 budget was supported in a decreased, constrained budget environment by an increase of over $800 million. Frank Raines and the Secretaries of these Departments put their money where their mouth is.

Now finally on the budget, we're going to attempt to get a five-year intellectual construct for budget priorities on the table. We're going to tell the government every year you have to move the budget forward and give us your five-year budget priorities. If we do that, in a couple or three years it's our judgment that we'll be in a better position to make actual choices in a strategic manner to understand that if you invest up front in education, prevention and treatment, that you can get back these funds and reduce incarceration and violence and property damage and AIDS hospital costs down the line. But you can't do that, in our judgment, if you're turning in a budget that only looks out one year.

What's new in the budget? The budget's a 10-year document. By law, I have to turn it in every 1 February. I'm going to ask Congress to consider that I think it healthy that we update it every year, but that we ought to understand that we're committed to a generational struggle, that a new generation of children has come along. They have forgotten the lessons of the past, and we've got to have our perspective out farther.

There are some declarations in there that are startling because they put a marker on the table that's unmistakable. We are committed, without question, to the prevention of drug abuse by young people as our top priority. We put our money where our mouth is because there was a 21 percent increase in funding for goal number one activities. We're only in our second year of doing it. We're trying to get the departments of government to explain not their programs but how their programs relate to supporting the five major goals of the national drug strategy and the 33 objectives that we have articulated under those goals.

We're now writing, I might add, measures of effectiveness so that you can talk, not process, but output function. But we've got the government to increase funding for goal number one by 21 percent. There is also a significant increase in support for law enforcement, prisons, interdiction and other activities. But our focus clearly was on drug abuse by young people. We understand that we have a major problem in talking to young people and their parents. We've got a society now where there are a lot of dual income families, where there are single parent families, where there are dysfunctional families. And so we're aware that our big challenge is the safest place our 68 million children are in a day is at school. And they get of school and from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. and on weekends and in summers, if we don't do more than give them anti-drug lectures, if we don't give them a positive alternative in life, if we don't communicate with them in their off-school time effectively, we can't make any progress.

One hundred seventy five million dollars is in this budget and in this strategy, which will seek an equal amount of private matching fund support to use television, film and other mass media to communicate anti-drug messages to our young people and their families. We're going to have to develop this idea. I mean, we've got between now and 1 October next year to consult with people who know what they're talking about and, more importantly, to seek bipartisan support. Americans spend $49 billion on illegal drugs. We are proposing a significant $175 million funded expenditure every year for the next five years to supplement this dramatically decreasing support by public media to talk to our kids about drugs. It's come down 30 percent in the last few years.

We're going to focus on including among our children, gateway behavior as indicative, statistically correlated, to later on addictive problems in life. The only reason we're really concerned about drugs is 12 million Americans are using them, down by 50 percent and 3.6 million are addicted. We're persuaded if you can keep young kids from smoking cigarettes, abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs through age 21, they will never, statistically, join the ranks of those who are addicted. So in goal number one, you will see specifically outlined what was always there since the '92 strategy but wasn't so clearly stated. We are opposed to gateway behavior for American adolescents, meaning smoking cigarettes and abusing alcohol by those under 21 and 18.

We have stated we've got to do something better on the Southwest border. There has been an enormous increase in the last five years for the manpower devoted to the border for fencing. We're now up to, as I remember, 140 miles of fencing. We've put a lot of technology down there. The border patrol has gone up to 5,700 people. They have a five-phase strategy between now and the turn of the century. But it isn't enough.

This '98 budget, this strategy talks about U.S. unilateral law enforcement efforts. We cannot defend America's air, land and sea frontiers in the next century unless we spend the next 10 years building the Customs Service, INS, Border Patrol, DEA and Coast Guard that we require -- civilian law enforcement institutions with the right size, training, equipment and doctrine.

We owe the President, we've told him, by this coming summer, a better conceptual model to do that. Our intelligence support, supporting this drug effort, is also inadequate. A lot of good things have happened in the last five years. The Department of Defense has turned the focus, the agency had turned the focus, DIA has turned the focus on this problem, but it's inadequate, and so we're going to try and do better on defending our air, land and sea borders.

Finally, we made a rather bold statement in here. Right now the number one drug facing America is cocaine. It's dropped 75 percent in the last 15 years. It's still plummeting. It's come down 30 percent in the last three or four years. But we say -- who knows if this number is correct -- 1.4 million Americans are chronically addicted to cocaine. We say they're using about the same tonnage as in the past, so they're sicker, they're more desperate, they're in our hospital emergency rooms, they're committing crimes. It's a nightmare. It's come down from 6 million. But we've got to go after the supply of cocaine.

Now, Peru, the first time in seven years that I personally see dramatic, marked improvement is in Peru. Their crops came down 18 percent this year. I am persuaded that they believe coca cultivation is a threat to Peru's long-term economic progress. There's 200,000 Peruvians living off this crop. We've got to do something to try and eliminate coca production in the next 10 years, and we're going to give it a shot. But you can't do it for nothing. Right now, essentially, we spend $25 million in Peru, $25 million in Columbia, $50 million in Bolivia. It won't work that way. You can't get coca production to come down unless you do serious support of alternative economic development in our judgment.

I think, with your permission, I'll end the formal remarks there, and just tell you that I think we're on the right track. I think we've got several years of hard work in front of us, and I believe this is not a war on drugs. I understand that that language mobilizes people. It's sometimes appropriate. If you want to talk Andean air interdiction campaigns, then the language of warfare is great. But if you want to talk 12 million Americans regularly using drugs, they aren't the enemy, there won't be a surprise attack. I'm not in charge; I'm not the czar. The people are in charge. There's 4,000 community coalitions. They're at the heart and soul of what we're trying to do.

And on that note, sir, if I may.

Q General McCaffrey, the President said that they would consider decertifying or certifying this afternoon when the Secretary of State gets back. Can you tell us whether you would favor decertifying Mexico, and why?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: We are giving the whole subject enormous discussion for the last several months. We owe the President our candid viewpoints; we'll give them to them this week. I personally share the Mexicans' enormous disappointment at this serious blow to our partnership by -- when they pulled up this army general from field command that he turned out apparently to be a complete crook for seven years. It's a blow. And it's a comment on our own intelligence assessment as well as the Mexicans'. We think President Zedillo and Minister Cervantes and Gurria have stepped in, apparently are doing the right thing to roll up this guy's criminal organization. So it's a terrible blow.

There's 150 million Mexicans on our southwest border trying to create multiparty democracy, modern economics, modern police institutions. There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the last year, I would assert, on new laws, on extradition, on crop eradication, on confrontation with the issue, but this is a very difficult issue to talk about, and the Secretary of State, by law, must make up her own mind before we can intelligently --

Q Let me follow up on that. When you say "doing the right thing," is doing the right thing by the government enough to allow you to go ahead and recert?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I think that's the decision at hand, isn't it? And we really owe the Secretary of State a chance to formally arrive at a conclusion, and this is not a cooked deal. There's going to be an intense analysis of the law. This isn't a policy discussion, this is a federal law, and then we've got to give the President of the United States the best advice we can.

Q Is there anything you can do in the future to prevent being -- the word may be "taken in" the way you were in terms of your support for the Mexican Attorney General? And should -- if the President hadn't already committed to visiting down there, would you recommend that he not make such a trip at this point?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Look, we are dealing with $49 billion of U.S. money spent on illegal drugs. It has fueled -- helped fuel -- we don't have all the drug addicts in the world, we've got too much money. So that process has produced two tools -- violence and corruption -- being used by international criminals. They also affect our society -- corruption and violence -- the violence in Nogales, San Diego, the nine kids who died in Orlando, the corruption -- we've prosecuted 18,000 people last year in the federal court system. So this is not just a Mexican problem. But in Mexico, in Colombia -- in Colombia we're dealing with apparently a president who was elected with drug money, with a former minister of defense who is now in prison for admitting and saying that the president was elected with drug money.

I've spent 32 years in uniform -- a lot of time focused on Latin America. I'm well aware of the situations. We're going to get the best intelligence we can and do the best we can to protect U.S. interests.

Q General, you just mentioned that you're going to get the best intelligence you can, yet the situation that you just indicated indicates that there was an intelligence failure.


Q So just how trustworthy do you think is the U.S. intelligence as it relates not just to Mexico but other countries in this drug fight?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, a bunch of brilliant men and women doing the best they can. I've worked with them for years. What I would suggest to you is that I know a lot more about probably criminal actions in Latin America than I do about who is using heroin in Baltimore and what methodologies are effective to get them to stop. So generally speaking, it's pretty good, and frequently it depends upon close cooperation with our democratic partners. I mean, we're not in charge of the government of Mexico or Colombia or anything else. We're going to work in cooperation with them as best we can.

Q Has there been any disciplinary action taken against anyone or any agency because of this particular breakdown?


Q Sir, do you plan any change in the way you publicly assess our drug partners after calling this general -- saying he had -- you said he had impeccable integrity.

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: There's a chilling effect on my ability to act out of all of this. It's something I've got to guard against. What I'm going to do in the future is what I've done in the past. I will try and deal with our democratic partners like the French and the Israelis. We will publicly praise what we think is ethically sound. We will recognize the courageous leadership of those officials who we believe are supporting the 1988 U.N. Convention. And then privately we will, in a hard-core manner, protect the interests of the American people and work with them.

Q Sir, do you specifically blame lousy intelligence for your assessment that this guy had impeccable integrity?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It's a tremendous disappointment to the Mexican government that they pulled up a fellow who is apparently a long-time criminal into a senior leadership position. We share their disappointment.

Let me, if I can, move along. Right back here, this gentleman ought to get a shot.

Q Two quick questions, if I could, sir. First, you appear to be asking for less money this year for interdiction?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: About a minus one percent.

Q It says minus 3.5 percent.

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: We'll find out. Scoring these budgets is tough. Okay, right.

Q Why is that?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, the answer is that there was some major one-time acquisition costs in DOD that having been put on the table -- you know, the one that I'm most proud of is ROTHR, we've bought the stuff, we're trying to get the one in Puerto Rico on-line. We've invested in some new P-3 aircraft. We've got a tremendous program going in the Coast Guard now. Last year we had a, we say a 25 percent increase in funding for the southwest border. We had a 43 percent increase in funding for source country strategies. So the answer is one-time acquisition costs.

Q Last year. And one other question --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: And in preceding years. The big dollar expenditures, though, were in the early '90s, when we very effectively tried to close down the Caribbean.

Q How about the advertising campaign? Is it possible that the President and the Vice President will appear in the ads?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I wouldn't think so. No, I think what we'll do is we'll go to -- Partnership for Drug Free America, we'll go to the Advertising Council of America, we'll go to the professionals who do this for a living and we'll say, here's our purpose: reduce drug abuse among children, it's tripled among 8th graders in five years. And we'll do something prudent to try and reduce drug abuse.

I'll bet this is a couple of years of hard work, and if we keep it up for five years we'll make a major impact on kids in America and their parents. Ma'am, let me get you.

Q There was a New York Times article on two governors in Mexico, and they have denied it repeatedly -- what does this mean to you? I mean, is there any basis of that or --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: The number we use is $30 billion worth of drug money, which is attempting to corrupt democratic institutions of government. Last year in Mexico -- last year or more may have had as many as 200 police murders, as many as 25 major assassinations. They are fighting for their lives. This is a major challenge to both the United States and Mexico. And, you know, I expect corruption and violence to be the twin tools of a deadly criminal group fueled by U.S. money.

How about back here. I don't think you, sir, have had a chance.

Q I'm a little confused on the advertising issues and some of the numbers and exactly what's going to go on in the campaign. Your budget book here says that you spent $62 million last year and you're going to spend $175 million --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, $62 million, we have never spent one dime on federal paid advertising. And this will be a big, new initiative to do this.

Q So, but you're getting rid of something to do the $175 --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: No. This $175 million we're going to ask civilian advertisers to match it with $175 million. We're going to consult people like PDFA, who last year claimed they had over $200 million free advertising.

So we've got some discussions to do. A disaster would be $30 million for one year. We might dry up the pro bono market and you don't get anywhere in one year. So we're concerned that we seek the best advice on the hill and in --

Q And, indeed, that is my question, that's part of my question, which is when we're talking about new money and we're talking about the 350 matching, et cetera, the Partnership said that they got $235 million roughly last year in pro bono advertising. Are we talking about more -- $175 million from the private industry in and above the $235?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Look, here's the problem. You know, I have an advantage over many of you having taught economics for three years, I'm sure I don't understand how the American economy works. But I will suggest to you that when Jim Burke, this absolutely brilliant man who's been doing this for a long time now -- the amount of pro bono advertising is dramatically dropping. It also probably isn't worth what we're saying it is. Children's use of drugs has gone up for the last five years. The value system started changing in '89. So it's not only the quantity that's dropping, it's the quality.

If I was buying that advertising, I'd say my advertising campaign is failing. So we want to go solicit the input of the professionals and do smart access to the right hours, the right programs, the right publications and we want results. And then we want civilian industry to match us.

Let me -- I tell you what, we're on our last question, I think, but we need to let -- a couple more minutes. Ma'am.

Q General, the administration seems to floating the possibility that we could decertify Mexico but waive the sanctions and still make them eligible for aid. What kind of anti-drug message does that send? Is that really just a slap on the wrist?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think we've got a few days left until all of us give our explicit advice to the President of the United States, that ought to remain between us and the President. What I would say in a larger context, it is our belief that the United States and Mexico are trapped -- economically, culturally, politically and because of drug crime, in the same continent -- and we'd better figure out a way to work on it together for the next 10 to 20 years. That's a strongly felt belief -- and notwithstanding the occasional lack of sensitivity we have for what's going on inside Mexico. We believe we ought to work with honest men and women in public life in Mexico where they serve the interests of Mexican people. That's sort of my viewpoint.

Q A lot of critics say there's a disparity in the foreign policy of the United States -- you decertify Colombia, you certify Mexico. And I would like to ask you a rationale. I know that it's new game and you will announce this week what's what. But last year, you did decertify Colombia, you did certify Mexico. Can you give us a rationale why this happened last year?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It was the viewpoint last year of those who advised the President -- and I think a sound one that I concurred in -- that we've got these wonderful, brave policemen, prosecutors and soldiers and airmen in Colombia fighting for Colombian democracy, literally hundreds of them have been killed. Valdivieso, Serrano, Bedoya -- the last Minister of Defense, the current Foreign Minister -- these are public servants of high integrity and leadership, we believe.

Having said that, we ended up with a President, Samper, with his Minister of Defense Botero, with others, who we believe, based on the evidence that was put in front of the Colombian people and their legislator, had been elected with criminal drug money. We also know we've got two problems with Colombia right now that are pretty darn significant. Coca production is up by one-third in the last year, period. That's not a policy statement, that's a fact. We also are aware that Colombia has gone up to 63 metric tons of opium production, and five years ago it was zero. They are now capable of satisfying 60 percent of the total U.S. demand.

Now, in addition, we think, there has been no extradition out of Colombia, there have been 16 extradited out of Mexico last year and six this year already; there has been no success on eradication in Colombia, Mexico has eradicated more illegal drugs than any other nation on the face of the Earth. So there are differences. But that doesn't mean we don't have a requirement to be absolutely dedicated to cooperative partnership with Colombia also. They're important to us culturally, economically, there are millions of them, they visit the United States, go to school here. They fought with us in the Korean War. These are not enemies, these are our hemispheric partners. We've got a problem with them, though.

MR. TOIV: Last question.

Q Can you address -- there was a proposal earlier this year made by the President to have, again, drug testing of driver's license applicants. Does this strategy address that, and I think it had asked you to come back with a plan in 90 days to --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes, it does. And the Department of Transportation and ONDCP are trying to get this into the President, get it approved, figure out how to pay for it. We're still going to let the President consider options, but I think all of us -- his speech included this statement and it's in the strategy -- we believe goal number one -- a focus on adolescent Americans to reduce drug abuse among that age cohort is absolutely at the heart and soul of what we're trying to do.

Let me thank you. I've got to give them back the room and I'll respond to your questions over the next several days.

END 1:00 P.M. EST