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Senate questions administration's drug war strategy.

Democratic and Republican senators alike came down hard on the administration's 1992 drug control policy. According to the National Justice Association, senators complained that the plan overemphasizes spending on law enforcement to the detriment of drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. The $12.7 billion policy was unveiled at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in February.

"The national drug control strategy is an unambitious effort that does not do enough," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said. "We must emphasize treatment and education more."

Nearly all committee members called for more emphasis on treatment, prevention, and education. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) called for increased funding for drug abuse treatment programs targeted at inner city addicts while Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) suggested a 50/50 split between funding for law enforcement and international interdiction efforts and funding for prevention and treatment programs.

According to the 1992 National Drug Control Strategy, under the administration's proposed budget, 68 percent of the funds would be devoted to domestic law enforcement or international operations and border control and 32 percent would be targeted for prevention and treatment.

"This is not the picture of a nation winning the drug war," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), committee chairman. "Indeed, it is not even the picture of a nation waging a good fight."

Biden took the opportunity to release his own $14.8 billion drug control strategy. His plan calls for diverting $3 billion in defense spending to treating hard-core addicts and increasing law enforcement initiatives.

Biden said that drug control efforts must focus on hardcore addicts. His report, based on the same justice and health department surveys used by the administration, cites several trends suggesting an escalation in the drug problem.

The senator said he intends to introduce his drug strategy as legislation. Among its major proposals are:

* a new antiheroin strategy that includes doubling the number of Drug Enforcement Administration agents assigned to heroin trafficking investigations in Pacific Rim countries;

* a Pacific Rim drug summit to address the growing heroin trade;

* an end to China's Most Favored Nation status unless it cooperates with US antidrug efforts;

* a plan to use the savings from nuclear arms reductions to fund drug control efforts; and

* a 50 percent shift from military aid to economic aid for Andean nations.

In addition, Biden's strategy would add 9,000 state and local police officers to crime-ridden neighborhoods, expand drug treatment programs to serve more than 600,000 hard-core addicts, and provide comprehensive drug education for every student in kindergarten through 12th grade.
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Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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