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[- Windows for Power Mac: Insignia Solutions -] Muckraker changes every other Wednesday (seven days left). [Muckraker] Drug Czar Here's the dope on the newly nominated drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey: He's wired. McCaffrey, nominated for the position by President Clinton during his State of the Union speech, is well-versed in the use of electronic mail and computer conferencing. He built up his cyberspace chops during the late '80s while participating in a tony executive management program run by the now defunct Western Behavioral Sciences Institute of La Jolla, California. WBSI ran a two-year program that drew an international cast of characters, including influential business executives, millionaires and billionaires, high-level government employees from the US and abroad, celebs (Marlon Brando and Michael Crichton are alums), and a sprinkling of military officers, McCaffrey among them. The price was not for the squeamish: a cool US$25,000. McCaffrey was an active participant. I know this firsthand because he absolutely torched me during a weeklong series of electronic exchanges in an open electronic forum. (I was participating by virtue of providing a customized news service for the group.) During a conference on risk management, I did a core dump of information I'd gathered while researching an article on government spending on biotechnology research. I'd discovered that the Pentagon was quietly buying up university biotech researchers, through hefty government grants, to work on such projects as a genetically rigged version of the anthrax virus that would have no known antidote. McCaffrey went ballistic at the findings. He denounced me as a communist and asked, "Did your mother wear red combat boots?" Not exactly behavior becoming an officer and a gentleman. Though toasted by the flame, I held my ground. "Prove me wrong," I answered. He put two majors to work researching my claims. A week later, McCaffrey was back with an olive branch in place of the flamethrower. He admitted that the Pentagon was indeed pouring huge sums of money into university-sponsored biotech research. He apologized for everything, including the remarks about Mom. His public mea culpa cemented a friendship that has endured. Now he has been thrust into an impossible job: drug czar. His charge is to win the unwinnable war. He is no stranger to war, having served in Vietnam and most recently in the Gulf War. And he's not a bureaucrat in the same vein as Colin Powell, though he did serve as Powell's right-hand man when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. McCaffrey's current job is heading up the US Southern Command, which operates in Latin America, providing military cover for US interests, including drug-interdiction efforts. McCaffrey, as shown above, is outspoken. He never shies from confrontation. And in the constellation of egos that swirl in the rarified air of four-stars, his ability to cut through political bullshit is equally rare. In nominating McCaffrey, Clinton said, "He has spent his military career engaged in coordinated campaigns that are directed toward solutions and winning. He will not tolerate bureaucratic turf wars or grandstanding on this critical issue." In other words: This time it really is a war on drugs. But as much as I admire McCaffrey's candor and honesty, his elevation to drug czar (he has yet to be confirmed, but trust me, this nomination is a slam-dunk) is troubling. In assuming the drug-czar duties, McCaffrey will be forced to end abruptly a stellar military career. Federal law bars military officers from civilian law enforcement. And while this White House has held to the letter of that law, it has increasingly blurred it. McCaffrey's nomination does nothing to buff what is supposed to be a bright shining line. McCaffrey may divorce himself from the military, but he will not divorce himself from his own internal compass nor his closest advisors, and both are military-based. He believes that the military should be more involved in drug policy and has said so publicly. Beneath that thinking is a darker framework. Last year, McCaffrey drafted a blueprint for winning the war on drugs. Under his classified plan, which was revealed by The Dallas Morning News, the military would coordinate and honcho the US effort in Latin America. Apparently, McCaffrey drafted the plan on his own and then began to circulate it for comments. Other agencies with a stake in this bogus drug war waded in. The Morning News reported that the plan "drew the wrath of civilian agencies from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the CIA.... The proposal quietly died." As drug czar, McCaffrey deals from a position of strength, or at least perceived strength. However, this high-profile position isn't likely to carry much weight. It's more likely that he'll find himself castrated, too busy fighting insider turf battles with the DEA and the CIA as he pushes for more military participation. And important policy issues, such as the need for a real dialog about the decriminalization of drugs, will get lost in all that noise. So don't bogart the job, Barry. I'd like to wish you well, but this is one war you're destined to lose.... Meeks out.... [Brock N. Meeks] [signal] [Login] T H R E A D S : 30 topics, 15 links. The permanent location of this page is http://www.hotwired.com/muckraker/96/06/index3a.html Copyright 1995 HotWired Ventures LLC. All rights reserved.


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