Bush May Give Nod to ‘Hard-liner’ for Drug Czar
After a "frustrating search," President Bush will likely appoint John Walters, president of the Philanthropy Roundtable, to "assume the controls" at the
Office of National Drug Control Policy (Straub, Scripps Howard News Service/Nando Times, 4/20). According to "those familiar with the nomination," Bush may name Walters, now undergoing background checks, as early as this week. Walters said that he has "had discussions" with the White House but declined to "comment further" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/22). In recent years, Walters -- a "hard-liner" who served as former drug czar William Bennett's deputy during the first Bush administration and a "self-proclaimed hawk" on drug policy issues -- has "strongly" criticized the Clinton administration's "execution of the drug war" (Forbes, Salon.com, 4/22). Walters has also opposed legalizing medical marijuana (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/22). During his tenure in the drug policy office, Walters developed enforcement policy and coordinated efforts to reduce the supply of illegal drugs. Salon.com reports that the Bennett-Walters drug office often used the "bully pulpit" to issue "harsh moral condemnations" of drug users, offering "little distinction" between marijuana and drugs such as heroin and cocaine, with an "emphasis on punishment over rehabilitation." Walters and Bennett also decided to halt the "longtime practice of representing drug use as a health matter," maintaining that "doing so made drug users too sympathetic." The drug policy office has not had a director since former drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey resigned on Jan. 6 (Salon.com, 4/20).