THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY; DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY, DR. DONALD VEREEN; AND CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE OFFICE OF DRUG CONTROL POLICY JANET CRIST
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
11:15 A.M. EST
MR. DIRINGER: Good morning. As you know, today we are releasing the 2001 Annual Report on the National Drug Control Strategy. This is the final annual report on the administration's antidrug efforts. We'll have a statement from the President on the report out a little later.
And here right now to brief you and answer your questions, we have Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Joining Director McCaffrey, Dr. Donald Vereen, Deputy Director; Janet Crist, Chief of Staff; and Bob Weiner, Chief of Press Relations for the office.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, let me make a few brief opening remarks, and begin by thanking Dr. Don Vereen, my Deputy, and Janet Crist for joining me. The three of us have been the corporate leadership of ONDCP for the last several years, and I want to publicly thank them for their contribution, their leadership.
Don Vereen, many of you are aware, is one of our nationally ranked experts on drug abuse. He came over from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to join me. He is a Harvard trained public health professional, a physician, a psychiatrist, and his principal contribution is to raise the aggregate IQ in ONDCP. And I thank him for his help.
Janet Crist came to join me five years ago as Chief of Staff. She's really been the chief operating officer; was a career foreign service officer, and has been enormously helpful in the last seven years.
Let me, if I may, just articulate what we're doing today. We're releasing several documents that may be of help in better understanding the drug issue. And clearly the most important of these is to release the second, in accordance with the new 1998 legislation, annual report on the National Drug Strategy.
We did have an annual drug strategy each year. We've changed the law; it's now a 5-to-10-year operative conceptual framework. We're required by law now to inform Congress what results we have achieved with the resources they've given us. And so we put this report in front of the American people today; it's available on our website. And there are associated documents that you will also see released in the coming days, one of which is the Annual Report on the Counter-drug Research and Development Blueprint Plan.
We had to have some coherent way of bringing together the many facets of scientific investigation, not just in the obviously areas of drug treatment and prevention research, but also support for law enforcement, interdiction, et cetera.
We're also putting out today the National Drug Control Strategy Update on the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program. We are today designating two new so-called HIDTAs, one in Nevada and the other in Florida. There are now 28 of these designated areas. The program is almost $200 million a year. It's an attempt to bring coherent support that brings together local, state and federal law enforcement with modest amounts of federal dollars to particularly provide better intelligence and coordination.
We're also putting out today I think a very useful paper -- it's going to be part of the presidential library -- January '93 to December 2000 -- we've tried to chronicle and document what the Office of National Drug Control Policy has accomplished in the last eight years, both during my tenure and Lee Brown prior to me.
And then, finally, I think you'll find this helpful -- we're all looking forward to Salt Lake City and the Winter Olympics -- we're putting out today the report on the first White House Task Force on Drug Use in Sports. We had a superb event in Salt Lake City December 7th; we brought together all the principal players, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, the Worldwide Anti-doping Agency, the new Frank Shorter-chaired U.S. anti-doping agency. And we talked about the whole notion of how do we reduce the enormous damage done to young athletes, elite athletes, in national and international competition through the use of performance-enhancing drugs. And I offer that document for your consideration.
Let me make seven quick comments that I think you can glean out of the second annual report on where we are on drugs. A lot remains to be done. There is no question that we're still looking at a U.S. society in which 6 percent of us last month used an illegal drug; 14 million Americans, 52,000 dead a year, $110 billion in damages.
And many of us would argue that if you examine almost any social, medical, legal or international problem that faces us, the 270 million of us in this country that at the heart and soul of it will be the chronic abuse of illegal drugs, as well as alcohol. And, oh, by the way, this situation is dynamic, it changes, it's not static. When we talk about our children today we're worried about new drugs that they've been inadequately educated on.
We're seeing the widespread abuse of MDMA, a drug called Ecstacy, that's now across the country. It started in the Netherlands, in Belgium. It was an East Coast drug and now it's widespread, explosive increase in exposure among our children. And they think it's harmless. They think it's a "hug drug." It's a dance all night, feel good drug. And yet, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Dr. Leshner, is assuring us that science-based examination suggests that this drug may have permanent impairment of neurochemical function of the brain, never mind the possibility of dropping dead the first time you use it.
We're also seeing widespread use now of these performance-enhancing drugs. In particular, steroid use among young people went up sharply last year. This is a drug with devastating implications and potential in its impact on young Americans, who may be using it to get that slightly ripped look, who think it's going to improve their chance of being selected for Little League baseball or high school diving or track. So it's not just NCAA or professional athletes. We're talking about widespread exposure of our young people to performance-enhancing drugs.
Seven comments: Where do we think we are after putting enormous new resources into this effort? And I say new resources -- the FY'96 budget was $13.5 billion; the FY2000 budget is $19.2 billion. So bipartisan support out of Congress has put significant new resources into this effort.
Disproportionately, we've put that in prevention and education and treatment. Secretary Donna Shalala has a 55-percent increase in prevention funding. There's now $2.78 billion in drug treatment. There's been an enormous explosion in the kind of programs that Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary Shalala have jointly worked -- for example, the drug court system, which has gone from a dozen to more than 700.
We think one of the most important things we've done, though, in the last several years, with the administration support, is to establish a consensus that we needed a comprehensive response. There had to be a strategy. There could not be a single focus on either interdiction or treatment or prevention. You had to do it all, and you had to have feedback that told you what was working and what wasn't.
Secondly, we think we have reversed the increasing adolescent drug use which began -- attitudes began shifting around 1990; drug use started up in 1992. It went up dramatically for several years. That has now leveled out, and we've seen in the last couple years significant, statistically valid declines in drug use.
And more importantly, it's not just the household survey suggesting a 21-percent reduction in two years. It's the associated studies -- for example, Jim Burke, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and their excellent work on youth attitudes, which are responding, we believe, over time to this science-based drug prevention program.
Third, and I think something that is inadequate, but we have made major efforts to change the stigma associated with drug treatment. Look, there's 5 million of us as Americans who are chronically addicted to illegal drugs. You know, we do huge damage to our communities, our families, our employees -- many chronic drug users are employed -- they do incalculable economic damage. And we think we're changing that around.
We're trying to get at the whole notion that beginning drug use is a choice, but once you're chronically addicted, you're dealing with something that is a neurochemical change to brain behavior. An effective drug treatment based on science-based protocols can turn this around. But we've got to deal with the social stigma attached to drug treatment.
We have done point number four, an enormous number of alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug law offenders. There's been some nonsense floating around on this issue; I would argue that the facts generally don't substantiate the notion that people, by the millions, are arrested and incarcerated for simple possession of drugs. But what does happen, without question, is that if you're a chronic drug abuser, you end up committing multiple felonies a year; you end up behind bars for a variety of crimes. And yet, the real driving force is chronic addiction. We do think we have significant new alternatives to incarceration.
Point number five, we have broadened cooperation with key drug transit and source countries like Colombia, Mexico and Thailand. I would be the last person to suggest that there aren't significant remaining problems. But it is without question that if you look back where we were with Mexico five, six, seven years ago, and where we are today, both with the outgoing Zedillo administration and the new Vicente Fox team that's now taken office, we see a renewed commitment on their part to protecting Mexican democracy to understanding that their own society is at risk from the terrible impact of drugs being pulled through Mexico by U.S. demand. So we think this cooperation has broadened.
Point number six, we have developed multilateral and regional antidrug strategies in cooperation with other international organizations. At the second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile, two years ago, we received our instructions from the 34 democratically-elected heads of government; we have built on to the auspices of the Organization of American States, the new Memorandum of Evaluation, the MEM document. A couple of weeks ago we had a terrific session over in the OAS in which the nations now, for the first time, reported on their own national strategies, their own programs.
The United States also subjected itself to the common evaluation of the OAS. And then, finally, I have to underscore the enormous leadership and cooperation of the United Nations, not just Secretary General Kofi Annan, but more directly, Mr. Pino Arlacchi in the United Nations Drug Control Program in Vienna, and his extremely effective work in trying to marshal multinational cooperation under U.N. auspices.
Finally -- and I think something that's a work in progress -- but point number seven, I would just offer you the notion that in accordance with the requirements of federal law, we now have a system called the Performance Measures of Effectiveness. We have to achieve results that can be measured and report to Congress each year what we accomplish with their resources. And I think we've got a long way to go on pulling the system together adequately, but I do believe we're in a position, and my successors in coming years, to go back to Congress and say, look, here's what worked and here's what didn't, and here's how we intend to use future resources.
So that performance measure of effectiveness we believe is an important contribution to this whole effort.
With your permission, I would ask Dr. Don Vereen to make his own comments, and then followed by Janet Crist, our Chief of Staff. Thank you.
DR. VEREEN: Thanks. Very briefly, I just wanted to underscore the science base of the report and the strategy. It's important to understand that facts, rather than ideology and anecdote determine the basis of the strategy and the report. It's data, not dogma; and it's our dependence on data that keeps us ahead of the curve.
General McCaffrey just talked about new drug scourges that are hitting the United States right now. We're able to respond to them much more quickly than we did, for example, to crack when it hit the country, when it invaded Miami and Florida and headed up the East Coast and across the United States.
It's important that those data sets be available to you and to us in order to develop the best policies. I want to run through very briefly what some of those data sets are. They're summarized very nicely in the report in a way that makes them accessible. But you should also know that we're not just staying there on those data sets, we're continuing to evolve and improve those data sets.
In particular, the National Household Survey, which we report on every year, gives us a national picture of the drug issue. Those numbers, that tell us whether or not drug use is going up or down in the nation, we argue may have no relevance to what's going on in a community in Florida or a community in California or a community right here in Washington, because the drug problem is actually a collection of different drug problems. So we've invested some funds with the help of Congress to get state-level data on that national survey. So now states are armed with the same kinds of data that we'll be using to make policy.
We have emergency room based data through our DAWN, our drug abuse warning network system. We drug-test adolescents, as well as adults in certain parts of the country to gauge the drug problem as it relates to crime and violence through the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program -- the ADAM program, run out of the Department of Justice -- CDC, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and we have our own studies to help monitor what is going on in the drug area. Ultimately, our strategy and the report every year, the effectiveness of what we do over time, can only be gauged by what the data tell us.
In addition, we're applying science to our performance measures, as just mentioned by Director McCaffrey. It's very important to reflect back to the American people that we are actually doing what we say we're doing in policy. And we're using objective standards to answer those questions.
We have a gem in the form of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which does more than 80 percent of the world's research on drug abuse and addiction. We need to use it. It needs to be applied. In the area of treatment, the stigma, as was mentioned earlier, related to drug abuse and addiction can only be dissolved by data coming out of our National Institutes of Health, and NIH has been very important.
I also want to draw your attention to our Counter-Drug Technology Assessment Center, which uses its resources to find gaps in research, or to figure out what areas need a boost to help us out in our policy development. We've been able to support, for example, dollars going to some of the best research institutions in the country -- Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Los Angeles -- to buy equipment so that we can better understand what actually happens to the brain when you use drugs for the first time, and what happens over time when you continually use drugs over and over again, following the changes that occur in the brain with continued drugs use. It's very, very important information to get out and digest for you.
Our technology assessments are slowly but steadily enhancing our ability to interdict illicit drugs, and our continuing success in the technology transfer program is providing advanced technology to those in the law enforcement area.
Now, you'll hear from Janet Crist about a number of programs that we're involved with.
MS. CRIST: Hi. It falls to me to talk to you about a couple of programs that we've had in operation since 1997, 1998 and give you a little update.
First would be the National Youth Antidrug Media Campaign. That's a program designed to prevent drug use before it starts. Research indicates that young people who refrain from using psychoactive substances until age 21 rarely become users later in life. The earlier drug use is initiated, the more likely users are to consume progressively more dangerous drugs --substances. Reducing demand is key to primary prevention. Consequently, the campaign's primary target audience is youth from 11 to 13 years of age, with messages also designed for older adolescents, parents and adult influencers.
This is a five-year, $1-billion initiative, and it's designed to change attitudes. We want to use the media to change attitudes to educate the youth of our nation and their parents. The campaign, as Don referred to, is based on medical and behavioral research. It's developed in consultation with experts on behavior, on drug prevention, on teen marketing, on advertising, on communication. It's a prime example of public-private cooperation.
We have a partnership with the Partnership For A Drug-Free America and the Ad Council to develop ads. We have partnerships in increasing numbers with civic and service and youth-serving organizations, like the Boys and Girls Clubs, like the American Medical Association, like the American Bar Association, Youth Service of America.
It is also the strongest multicultural communications effort in the United States and the federally funded multicultural effort we have today. We are communicating in eight languages to youth and adult of various ethnic groups. We reach out to African Americans, to Hispanics, to Asian Americans. And the list goes on and on.
This campaign is working. We are currently reaching 95 percent of our audience with messages 7.5 times per week. Teen disapproval of marijuana is up, and more parents are talking to their kids about drugs. Since 1997, we have seen a significant reversal of skyrocketing adolescent drug use. Youth drug use has declined 21 percent in two years. The media campaign is a key component of our success.
Secondly, I'd like to talk to you about a program, the Drug-Free Communities Act, which was put into -- was passed by Congress in 1997, strong bipartisan support. It is a grant program, by which the federal government reaches directly into our communities. Its underlying premise is that this is a national problem that must be dealt with, with local solutions. So we reach out to local organizations to address the epidemics.
We now have 307 coalitions receiving money through federal grants in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Twenty-five of the coalitions server Native American communities, and one-third of the coalitions serve our rural communities.
Success in the drug effort could not be possible without local involvement. And that's what this program does. Coalitions and their leaders are taking responsibility for leadership on drug prevention in their communities. This is another program that is making a difference in our communities.
Finally, I'd like to just touch briefly on an initiative, also begun in 1997 when a White House task force was set up. The Director of ONDCP, the Attorney General, the Director of CIA, the Secretary of Treasury were commissioned to review the global U.S. counter-drug intelligence system. The work of that task force was concluded earlier this year, and since that time, since February, we have functioning a full-time counter-drug intelligence executive secretariat, fully staffed, now operational. They're charged with drawing up an action agenda that promotes versatility in our counter-drug intelligence system.
It is our objective to find better ways to support our federal, state and local law enforcement. The new counter-drug intelligence architecture is the mechanism for coordination for accomplishing that, and it works through four already existing intelligence centers: the National Drug Intelligence Center, the El Paso Intelligence Center, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Crimes in Narcotics Center at CIA. Information-sharing is key to our ability to better support law enforcement, and that is what we have begun to accomplish with this initiative.
I'll now turn it back over to Director McCaffrey for questions.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: And I'll throw it open for questions.
Q Well, I have two questions, actually. First of all, are you concerned at all that the Bush administration could shift the focus away from prevention and treatment, given then-Governor Bush's actions in Florida, where he actually cut back in terms of the prisons, of treatment programs? And secondly, have you seen -- and this is a rather silly question -- but have you seen the movie "Traffic," and what did you think of it? Is it an accurate portrayal of the debate that goes on, et al.?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes -- well, the movie, "Traffic," I haven't seen yet. I'm aware of it, it's gotten rave reviews. I look forward to seeing it. Apparently it's terrific acting, and probably a pretty realistic depiction of some of the incredible violence, corruption and misery that comes out of drug abuse. So, as I understand it, it's a very favorable portrayal of the Customs Service, which deserves it. But I look forward to seeing it. I haven't seen it yet.
The other one is the incoming Bush administration -- you know, a year and a half ago, with the approval of President Clinton, I went down and briefed Governor Bush and his senior team on the drug strategy. Throughout the campaign we fed both campaign headquarters issue papers. I think these are first-rate people. This has been a bipartisan, congressionally supported effort, with significant enhancement in resources.
I think it's due for a re-look, and I'm sure they'll give it careful consideration. But I can't imagine that there isn't widespread unanimity of view that we need to continue working prevention, education, and treatment issues, as well as multinational cooperation. So I'm very upbeat about the new team.
Q Yes, sir. Thank you, and thank you for your service, General. What about Mr. Fox and his administration's approach? What have you seen so far as far as his approach to stemming narcotic flow through Mexico? And I'd also like to ask you about cracking the Tijuana or Arellano Felix cartel -- is there anything you can report about that?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, details of these various international criminal organizations -- Mr. Donnie Marshall and DEA are better postured to respond to those questions. I would tell you that we're obviously very impressed by President Fox. We dealt with him prior to the election; we dealt with his transition team between those two events. I was part of Secretary Madeleine Albright's delegation at his inauguration and I met at some length with his new Attorney General, his new Minister of the Interior, his new Health Secretary who plays a very critical role in Mexico and in cooperation with the United States. I met with Mr. Reyes, his Los Pinos advisor on drug and security issues. These are bright, pragmatic people and they are determined that the 100 million Mexican citizens aren't going to get rolled by these incredibly corrupt, dangerous organizations that operate on both sides of the border.
This is a common problem. We're very proud of what the Zedillo team accomplished, but this is going to require another decade of hard work. So we're confident that these are serious people who share our view of the dangers of drug abuse.
Q General, have you received any contact by the Fox administration that the high-level contact group will continue with the Bush administration?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I don't know how these two governments will organize themselves. The high-level contact group had eight meetings while I was privileged to be the co-chair. On the Mexican side, it was chaired by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. I don't know how the new government will pull this together.
But we are convinced that the drug issue is not one that belongs only to law enforcement or only to foreign affairs or only to the health ministry. It has to be a coherent, long-term approach. We've had three U.S.-Mexico binational demand reduction conference in the last three years. We're very hopeful that those continue with the new Health Minister. So I think there will be some mechanism so the two governments work this in a respectful, cooperative manner.
Q On teen drug use, several times today we've heard from the podium and in the literature that's been distributed, that teen drug use has dropped 21 percent in the past two years. But according to a report in this morning's Boston Globe, a paper which claimed to have obtained an advance copy of the survey you're releasing today, drug use among those age 12 to 17 was the same in 1999 as in '96; in both years, 9 percent of those youths surveyed acknowledged using illegal drugs in the previous month. And in fact, it says in 1993, only 5.7 percent of youth said they used illegal drugs. So can you clarify the status of teen drug use here?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: You know, to be honest, it's a rare instance of bad reporting. I don't encounter that very often. I think that first of all, the facts ought to speak for themselves. What we believe has happened, if you look at it over a 20-year period, the worst year of American drug abuse was about 1979. It was 14 percent of the population. It dropped steadily for a variety of reasons, some of which involve community antidrug coalitions.
I believe we took our eye off the problem. When we achieved such dramatic successes in the '80s and youth attitudes, a new generation of kids came along and rug use started to skyrocket. The situation we encountered in 1996 was drug use among 8th graders had tripled, among the young population had doubled. We went to Congress, we formed a team approach, we consulted widely with experts, we got lots of resources involved in it. It is paying off. That acceleration of drug abuse among kids leveled off and now is going down dramatically.
So the point of the article seems to imply that it was bad when you got here and it got a lot worse, and so the resources and the energy was wasted, on the face of it is bad logic. We believe exactly what you would have expected is happening. These programs are shifting youth attitudes, drug courts are working. We've got a couple of hundred thousand people now in recovery, a combination of treatment and coercion. We think community drug coalitions do pay off, and we see the result of it, in our view, in almost every one of these statistical indicators tends to indicate we're shifting in the right direction.
Q So you just use their numbers, then?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think the numbers -- again, what he did was, he took two numbers and used them out of context and implied that the programs, therefore, couldn't have an effect. It's sort of silly. There is a cause and effect, in our judgment, between the media campaign, coalitions, parent involvement. We think effective drug treatment does reduce crime.
So, again, I rarely encounter this. I think the drug issue requires dispassionate analytical analysis by the media, and that's a rare instance when I don't think it was very good reporting.
Q In one of the press releases you have out here today, you talk about adding treatment to the national strategy's five goals, you talk about reducing the treatment gap. Well, is that just some words there, because treatment has always been part of your strategy, hasn't it?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes. I don't know how we got into this -- that sort of spin on it. What we did was -- now, to be blunt, every year we take that strategy back out to some 4,000 people, and we ask them to get their language, their logic, their science into it. And I think what did happen was, the treatment community said, you've got to be more explicit, directly explicit on goal number three. You don't say in the goal itself -- the way you reduce the enormous harm that the 5 million chronic addicts are causing is by effective drug treatment; so we made it explicit.
But you're quite correct. We've increased by some 35 percent federal support of drug treatment. That goal, though, is inadequately fulfilled. I would argue one of the great unfinished business that the next administration has to face up to is how do we create a health insurance industry where substance abuse treatment for both illegal drugs and alcohol, as well as mental health care, is part of your health insurance package. If we don't do that, we're never going to break out of this cycle of crime, violence, illness, legal difficulties, family agony, et cetera.
So I think it's inadequate, but the federal government put huge, new resources into it; you're quite correct.
Q General, when it comes to Colombia, President Pastrana has mentioned the fact that he might stop the peace talks with the FARC forces. In addition to that, the United States has supported several billion dollars to Colombia. What would be your assessment of the situation in Colombia today and advice for the new administration?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, Colombia has been a huge focus on the part of a lot of us -- and I say a lot of us meaning in Congress -- Speaker Denny Hastert, Senator Joe Biden and others; in the interagency group Under Secretary Tom Pickering, NSC Advisor Sandy Berger -- a lot of us were involved in trying to pull together long-term support for the Andean Ridge. We did get a $1.3-billion, two-year package through Congress, and when President Clinton flew into Cartagena to meet with President Pastrana and release that, we had a sizeable bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation along with us.
We wanted to underscore, we got the point, these are 40 million people, three hours' flight from Miami, who have huge importance, politically, culturally, economically, to the United States. And we intend to stand with them.
But we think that Colombian program is well-founded. It's a Colombian strategy of $7.5-billion, three-year total dimensions. It's going to have an enormous amount of support out of their own internal resources, some $4 billion. It involves huge resources out of the international financial institutions and growing support, we hope, out of Europe, Japan and others who need to understand that they are also at risk from both heroin and cocaine produced in the Andean Ridge.
We think President Pastrana, though, has got a huge challenge. The level of violence is almost unimaginable to the American population -- 26,000 or more heavily armed FARC, ELN and AUC narcoterrorists, and they've been devastating in their impact on Colombian democratic institutions.
But we're going to stand behind the Colombian leadership and hope to build a regional consensus that Colombia must not be isolated. This problem affects all of us.
Q Have you any evidence of FARC traffic in drugs?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Let me, if I can, get this gentleman. Yes, please?
Q General, on the new HIDTAS, and specifically the one in Las Vegas, what are the problems that got it designated, and what results should the locals expect based on other HIDTA experiences?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes, we have a handout and I would ask you to go to that, but there was a lot of competition for those additional resources, and I really thank Congress for allowing me some discretion in the new budget to designate even more. We've got more flexible funding.
But that one was probably, in many ways -- I think it received the most votes out of the Inter-agency Committee for trying to confront a significant number of drug trafficking organizations, a huge threat both coming out of Mexico, and the manufacture of methamphetamines, which is endemic throughout that part of the country.
So we think there's going to be a big payoff, not just to Nevada and Clark County, but to the rest of the United States. And that's really been the heart and soul of the HIDTA program: get modest amounts of federal dollars -- we're talking, you know, between $1 and $14 million -- to a designated area so that the local, state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement and intelligence can come together. Nevada, along with other places in the United States, has a significant drug threat.
Q Are these going to be the final HIDTAs named in this administration?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes. I think the next team needs to look -- they're going to have a considerable amount of money and discretionary authority, and they'll have to go back -- Mr. Joe Peters, who runs this program for me, a very professional group -- he's a former assistant U.S. attorney, police officer, and has been very heavily involved in the HIDTA program from the start -- he'll try and advise the new drug policy team.
Q A follow-up on Colombia. What is the future of the drug strategy on Colombia, with the FARC and -- to the United States, as you report today?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, I think the question is essentially what's the future in terms of FARC/ELN/AUC action. They are fighting over 520 metric tons of cocaine and eight metric tons of heroin. And to their viewpoint, that's worth fighting over. Maybe it's a half billion dollars in cash. It means when you see on TV FARC battalions, they're wearing shiny new uniforms. They've got helicopters, aircraft, money to corrupt politicians, the media, the armed forces, the police. These are dangerous people.
And you know, 200 metric tons of cocaine went to Europe last year, primarily through Spain and the Netherlands. So now you've got a situation in Europe where they're paying double per kilogram of cocaine what's being spent in the United States. This is a global problem we're trying to deal with. And I think without question, it's incumbent upon all of us in the Americas, under the OAS auspices, to stand with the Colombians.
I'm very upbeat, though. These are serious people. Minister Ramirez, General Tapias, President Pastrana, they will focus on the problem.
Q General, now what are your plans and what are your greatest disappointments as you move into the future?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, my plans, I'm going to go teach national security studies at West Point. First class on the 25th, 19 hand-selected students. So I've got my work cut out for me to get ready for that responsibility. And I hope to be able to do a book on the drug issue. I want to talk about who shaped my understanding of the drug issue in America, and it won't be the policy process so much as the humans and their experiences -- Dr. Ephram Goldstein at Stanford University; Jessica Winsley, a 26-year-old Princeton grad who is on our Community Drug-Free Advisory Board -- I want those names and their experiences to be in front of the American people.
Q What are your greatest disappointments as you leave office, General?
Q You mentioned a number of figures concerning the amounts of money going into that. But do you have at this point any indication that there has been a success, either in terms of territory that has been demilitarized or the amount of drugs that have been stopped?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, there's always been sort of a notion you can't do anything about drug production, it's hopeless, why don't we just give up and legalize it, when, in fact, there's an enormously successful experience in Pakistan, dramatically reducing heroin production; in Thailand, now less than 1 percent of the region's total; huge successes in Peru; down by some 60 some odd percent in Bolivia.
The Colombians were very successful in operating against drug production in Guaviare Province. Now they're going to have to go down in the "empty zone," Caqueta and Putumayo Provinces, and eliminate this giant amount of coca that's growing down there. They've moved significant security forces in; they put human rights monitors in there - agents of the Fiscalia that the rule of law is reestablished in the south. There's a very serious alternative economic program going now under the auspices of an agency called PLANTE in Colombia.
So it seems to us that they've put together a decent concept; they're determined to protect their own future. And gosh knows, all of us in the region better pray for their success.
Q -- interdiction to prevention --
Q Can you just talk about your biggest disappointment as you leave office?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I leave this job with enormous pride, a sense of satisfaction. I've been very proud to be associated with the President's leadership on the issue. He's given us the resources we need and the support. I have a great sense of trust and respect and affection for people like Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, Dick Riley, Donnie Marshall in the DEA, Admiral Jim Malloy in the Coast Guard. You know, Ray Kelly in the Customs Service. These are good people. And I think the numbers are starting to respond.
I think what all of us as Americans need to understand is, part of our problem has been this metaphor, "the war on drugs." We need to understand that this is a decade-long struggle for our children, for our employees, for the kind of youth attitudes we want to shape. I think there's a lot of work that remains to be done. Drug use in America is still abysmally high, but fortunately, cocaine use is down by 70 percent, drug-related murders are down by a half. Adolescent drug use is in decline.
The work, I think, that is most serious that remains to be done is forming coherent ways to deal with 5 million chronically-addicted Americans. Until we have what Dr. Wesley Clark over in Health and Human Services calls "the no wrong door system." If you're chronically addicted, we need you to be admitted to a program that deals not just with drug addiction, but mental health care, and also confronts the legal problems and social problems you've generated.
We've got to put together this package. That takes hard work and organization. But I do see that happening.
Q Should you be succeeded by a general?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Golly, I don't know. I would leave it up to the new administration how they want to approach this. There are lots of good people out there right now that are being looked at for the job.
Thanks very much for the chance to talk to you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:55 A.M. EST