This— this is crack cocaine seized a few days ago by Drug Enforcement agents in a park just across the street from the White House. It could easily have been heroin or PCP.
—President George Bush
The non-addicted casual or regrular user is likely to have a still-intact family, social and work life. These are the users who should have their names published in local papers. They should be subject to drivers' license suspension, employer notification, overnight or weekend detention, eviction from public housing, or forfeiture of the cars they drive while purchasing drugs.
—Drug Czar William Bennett
The lyrics extolling the drug war have become so embedded in the national psyche that they are almost as familiar as the national anthem. Yet, those lyrics are often rewritten to explain past failures and to reinforce the drug prohibition ethic.
Passed in the regular biennial wave of drug emotion, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 came up with a few allegedly new lyrics. One person would be given the job of coordinating all of the anti-drug abuse activity of the federal government and he would be required to submit periodic written strategy reports aimed at making the nation drug free. The official would be called the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (informally, the Drug Czar) and would be responsible for coordinating all drug-control activities. The law required the first plan to be released on September 5, 1989, the second in January 1990, and annual reports thereafter every September.
As we shall see, very little of all of this was actually new — and very few new strategies have emerged.
In this chapter we look at how President Bush explained the first strategy report in his speech involving the infamous bag of crack; how William Bennett, the first Drug Czar, justified the targeting of casual users and how he lambasted the intellectuals who opposed him; and the declaration of partial victory by Mr. Bennett one year after the first plan was released.