House Hearing tomorrow: Are We Still Funding A War on Drugs?

On Wednesday, April 14, 2010, the Domestic Policy Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled: “ONDCP’s Fiscal year 2011 National Drug Control Budget: Are We Still Funding a War on Drugs?” The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

You’ll be able to watch a Live Webcast

This is Dennis Kucinich’s committee, and the hearing is going to include Ethan Nadelmann. According to the Drug Policy Alliance’s press release:

The Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (also known as the drug czar), Gil Kerlikowske, and the executive director of the anti-drug-war Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, will both be testifying.

Mr. Nadelmann testimony will focus on:

  • The drug war’s flawed performance measures;
  • The lop-sided ratio between supply and demand spending in the national drug budget;
  • The lack of innovation in the drug czar’s proposed strategies;
  • The Administration’s failure to adequately evaluate drug policies.
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44 Responses to House Hearing tomorrow: Are We Still Funding A War on Drugs?

  1. Just me says:

    Wow! Butterflys in the stomache! Didnt see this comming…and we get a power house debater on the subject too! Ethan Baby!

  2. Guy#1 says:

    Yeah I’ll be watching that. Loves me some Kucinich

  3. claygooding says:

    Will be glued to the pooter tomorrow,until this is over,,
    thanks Pete for the heads up.
    Posted it at to spread the word:

  4. Just Legalize It says:

    YES!!! so glad its Ethan!

  5. kaptinemo says:

    So, this is why we’ve not heard anything about Mr. Kucinich’s appointment to that committee. Outstanding. This is going to shale things up good and proper.

    The ONDCP has never really had to face serious grilling about its’ failures; all it ever had to do was ‘wave the bloody shirt’ and screech about “The children! THE CHIL-DREH-ENNNNNN!” and the legislators waved off, as if they were primitive tribesmen afraid of a fetish being waved about by some witch-doctor.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be expectant, but this feels like the karmic-come-uppance of the ONDCP. Especially in these days with tens of millions being out of work and desperate for the money it gets, the ONDCP’s gross waste of taxpayer dollars is not going to be swept under the rug this time. And that title alone is enough to set sparks flying with foaming prohibs like Mad Markie Souder. Workload permitting, I’m definitely going to watch.

    I wonder if you can enter YouTube video clips as evidence? The venerable Asylum Street Spankers’ “Winning the War on Drugs” would be perfect background music for the proceedings.

  6. claygooding says:

    And while Nadelman is speaking,”Stuck in the middle with you”. Clowns to the left of me,jokers to the right!

  7. ezrydn says:

    I’ve always loved a resupply just before a firefight. More “grenades” for my smartphone. It’s my little “M-79.”

    With more and more regularity, we’re seeing changes we wouldn’t have imagined a year and a half ago. Judges are beginning to see the light. Congressmen are asking the hard questions, finally. The People are standing their ground.

    It’s becoming so exciting that I’m now waking up before “first light” to see what the day holds. And my excitement isn’t directed toward the win, but toward the battle.

    Is that more Hueys I hear in the distance?

  8. Furball says:

    I love the smell of napalm in the morning… or is that cannabis and coffee? I’ve had crappy sinuses since Iraq, but hopefully, Ethan and Kucinich rip Kerlikowske a “new one”.

  9. kaptinemo says:

    Kucinich in his opening remarks have pretty much set the stage for a prohib swan song, by sketching DrugWar failures and the spending imbalance with regards to enforcement vs. treatment. This is gonna be bloody…

  10. ezrydn says:

    Only one thing to say to Ethan:


  11. kaptinemo says:

    My stream is breaking up, even with a T3. Have to look at this in the archives.

  12. sixtyfps says:

    I’m trying to record it, although it’s my first experience with this software (GetASFStream). I missed the intro and the first ~4 minutes, I think. Hopefully it’ll be available in its entirety on their YouTube page:

  13. kaptinemo says:

    Been going back and forth to the testimony between jobs, and it looks like the voices of reason are finally being heard.

    It’s stunning to know what we’ve been saying all along is being entered in sworn testimony, in a place where just a decade ago prohib legislators were sneering at reformers and lumping them in with murderers and pederasts .

    Persistence. It pays off…but not soon enough for all the victims of the DrugWar. We shouldn’t even have had a need for this…

  14. Swooper420 says:

    Well, I think that Ethan & the rest of the second panel tore the Drug Czar a new anal orifice. Loved the discussion of ‘if you can’t keep drugs out of prisons, how do you expect to stop drugs at the border’. Ethan hit a lot of the talking points that seem to resonate with the committee.

    Too bad that by the end of the session only Kusinich was left to listen to the testimony.

  15. Cannabis says:

    If you missed the live video of the hearing the archived video has been posted. You can go to the hearing page and look for the “To watch a webcast of the hearing, click here” link or just click here.

  16. permanentilt says:

    Kucinich to Kerlikowski after his testimony:
    “this is the first of MANY hearings that we will be having”
    (his emphasis) awesome!

    Kerlikowski keeps talking about a “science based” approach that his office takes towards policy, but it is clear he has absolutely no idea what that means. He is constantly asked to provide stats and statistics and studies, and then just glosses over the question and provides none. He clearly just throws in the language because he has been told to, and really not necessarily has no intention of implementing a science based approach but really has no conception of what that means. I guess it is because he is a cop and not a scientist.

    And all that non sense on harm-reduction, what a joke.

    His testimony was just a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense that said absolutely nothing. I mean after watching his testimony it is absolutely clear that he has no intention of deviating from the past failures, and would have no idea how to do that even if he wanted to.

    He said NOT ONE THING of substance. Except maybe that suppressing poppy fields in Afghanistan only leads to more production in other parts of the world, thus having no effect.

    Not that I was expecting anything, but I was surprised at just how incompetent he seemed.

  17. DEXtronaut says:

    Kucinich is a real man, fuck Kerlikowski, he’s required to lie by law.

  18. kaptinemo says:

    “Not that I was expecting anything, but I was surprised at just how incompetent he seemed.”

    I said he was a caretaker, didn’t I?

    This is exactly what the DrugWarriors have moved Heaven and Earth to ever have happen. Namely, actually be held accountable for the failure of drug prohibition. And make no mistake, that’s just what this was hearing was about. And the prohib side has proven itself to have gotten soft, fat, dumb and happy by having its’ own way for so long and thinking that that had somehow translated into becoming a natural law.

    Every Administration since Nixon has played a game of Russian Roulette with drug policy, hoping that the inevitable reckoning will not take place on their watch. As a result, it has never received the degree of scrutiny it has always required, and a myriad of DrugWarrior offenses to life, limb and property have occurred since Reagan’s days. An enormous amount of damage has been done in the name of ‘protecting’ us from ourselves.

    But things have changed, most notably the economy. It is the one force the prohibs couldn’t browbeat, cajole, wheedle, slander, libel, etc. and get away with it. That force is causing the changes all the entreaties to common sense, compassion, logic, etc. could not.

    And that means the cylinder on the DrugWar’s Russian Roulette revolver has spun around to the last chamber, the hammer’s up and the trigger is being pulled with exquisite slowness. And the muzzle is right up against poor ol’ Gil’s head.

    I’d pity him if he hadn’t taken the job knowing what it entailed, that is, required him to lie. As it is, he may enjoy the salary, but he’ll have to use some of it for Nomex undies, as I think it’s about to get real hot for him, real soon.

  19. claygooding says:

    Nadelmans transcript of opening statement is out:
    or here:

    Kerli was the best witness for the ending of the WOD.
    He never answered 1 question to any of the committee’s
    members and finally the chairman dismissed him with:
    You will be receiving written questions and we expect detailed answers,with statistics and facts.

    I think the chairman realized that Kerli was not going to answer any questions in the public setting.
    We need to track those questions and answers.

    And Kerli’s song and dance act in the committee may have shot putted him out of a job. I think he threw too much bullshit for even professional politicians to accept.

  20. kant says:

    So i always respected kucinich but holy cow does he tear gil a new one.

    Even though gil came off as completely incompetent. As we all are very aware of his strict job requirements. I curious as to what he actually believes. I’m unconvinced that he really want to say what he’s saying.

  21. ezrydn says:

    Running steadily right now. Sounds like it’s just now starting. Kucinich is already cutting into Gil.

  22. ezrydn says:

    You knew Gil was in trouble from the get-go. He was told he had to swear to tell the truth. I was waiting for him to say “It’s not in my vocabulary.”

    He still hasn’t clicked to the fact that the “drugged driving” pony show won’t play any longer. Yet, he has to parade his favorite pony out for all to see.

    After watching and listening, Gil could truly be the “END The WOD” poster boy. He said nothing positive that he could back up with facts.

    Short but, oh, so sweet.

  23. Hope says:

    What happens if they don’t “reauthorize” the ONDCP’s budget?

  24. Chris says:

    Just finished watching the whole thing. The committee members asked the right questions to Gil, and he gave pathetic answers. The people asking the questions could clearly see this, and followed up with other questions to allow him to further dig himself into a hole. The panel members responded well and were all in favor of changes to the ONDCP. Ethan’s first speech was kind of rushed and full of rhetoric, but the rest was spot on. The chairman also seemed very objective and interested in actually finding out what was really going on. His suggestion at the end that they will be in touch (the committee with the panel members) and agreement with the suggestion for an independent review of the efficacy of the ONDCP’s tired strategies is a good indication of the direction they will take.

  25. Chris says:

    You knew Gil was in trouble from the get-go. He was told he had to swear to tell the truth. I was waiting for him to say “It’s not in my vocabulary.”

    I thought about that too. He made sure not to go to far and lie about the drugged driving statistic he has used in the past, and actually told the truth about interdiction efforts in Afghanistan having zero impact here. It’s comparable to the little kid who didn’t do his chores and now has to tell the truth about it instead of making excuses. The rest of the hearing was the adults talking amongst themselves. I’d love to see Ethan Nadelmann not just in the same room as Gil, but debating face to face. Hopefully someone will suggest an under oath debate or something in a future hearing.

  26. claygooding says:

    “What happens if they don’t “reauthorize” the ONDCP’s budget?”

    Most of the law enforcement personnel will go to other federal agencies,FBI,Border Patrol.ATF,etc. Some of the supervisors will be moved to other agencies,but some are going to get too brush up on their resume writing skills.
    I so look forward to the day when having been connected with the ONDCP,DEA and NIDA will be a black mark on their record,instead of a feather in their cap.

  27. kant says:

    As much as the animosity towards the DEA is justified it would be kind of disastrous to just cut their funding completely. The simple reason is that they are the gatekeepers of the CSA. So cutting them off would throw our entire medial system into chaos. I’m actually not sure what would happen but it wouldn’t be good.

  28. Just me says:

    Wow did you see that sad puppy dog look on gils face? Did you see him picking at his note pad in deparation for answers? He couldnt lie so he had to just dodge the direct answers. Nope…no answers. He was a good little witness.

  29. Just me says:

    We could be seeing the the end of the ONDCP as we know it. The second panel was full of answers and common sense. Ethan rocks.

  30. allan420 says:

    thanks for all the commentary folks! makes this almost old man’s heart glad… *grin*

    ffffffffffft! ‘ere…

  31. Just me says:


  32. Nick z says:

    I dunno, but it may be possible that this will only result in a budget cut for the ONDCP, not necessarily the end to the WoD that we all are hoping for.

    If it does result in an end for the ONDCP, will that also mean an end for the DEA?

    Hmm… how long before everything is shut down? Will they play the same card as they do with the war in Iraq, by making promises that they don’t actually keep and prolonging the war while insisting that they are ending it?

    If so, it could be another decade before it actually ends. The economy needs that tax-payer money yesterday, not a decade from now.

  33. Ethan says:

    Thanks for all the good words. This morning felt special. What a joy to listen to chairman Kucinich grilling drug czar Kerlikowske on the failures of supply side policies and his refusal to speak the language of “harm reduction.”

    Funny too listening to Repub. Cong. Issa comparing the problems in mexico today to alcohol Prohibition — and asking, if we can’t keep drugs out of our prisons, why does the drug czar think we can keep them out of our country. Sometimes I think these Repubs with strong libertarian streaks just can’t figure out how to reconcile their intellectual and philosophical instincts with the rhetoric that they think is still required of them politically.

    peter Reuter did good too, esp when he said what i might have said — do we really need a drug czar’s office any more if they can’t do any better than they’ve been doing??!!

  34. Ed Dunkle says:

    Issa is republican party platform all the way EXCEPT when it comes to prohibition. Damned if I know why. Anybody out there an expert in Orange County politics?

  35. divadab says:

    Hey, Kant, can you (or someone else who knows) explain what “gatekeeper to the CSA” that if removed would “throw our medial system into chaos” means?

    SOme possibilities:
    1) CSA is some official agency responsible for the medial system;
    2) the medial system is an essential component of homeland security
    3) essential in the sense of being an absurd entity involved in an absurd task

    I fear the feds are getting worse rather
    it’s the mercury, demented mad hatter.

  36. strayan says:

    That was beautiful to watch.

  37. Bryan says:


    Excellent job in the Hearing – actually to all those involved…
    I do have one question – why didn’t someone mention – or better yet, directly question Gil about “Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998” –
    (b) Responsibilities.–The Director–

    (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance
    (in any form) that–
    (A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
    (B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

    Aka the “Drug Czar Required To Lie” policy of the ONDCP – although I did note someone mentioned that the Deputy Director -had possibly questioned a policy in a manner that was (possibly) in broach of this “Rule of Lie” and having since ‘been repudiated’ (or something to that effect).

    I don’t think I would have been able to sit and listen to Kerlikowski dodge questions and not call him on this (or at least Bring it to the attention of the People at the hearing – assuming they don’t realize there is such an unbelievable policy).
    I suppose not doing so to start – would be tactful and possibly a means to start with an initially “civil setting”, (and possibly to keep Gil from refusing to show up next time) I can understand that…
    But, I hope that you’ll bring up this rather obvious ‘conflict of interest’ (for lack of a better term) – and note it’s “(perceived) effect” on this whole discussion in the past 20 or so years – and more specifically in the last year or two.

  38. Hope says:

    Ethan, Thank you so much.

  39. permanentilt says:

    I guess it is a good thing Obama appointed such a weak minded shill to Drug Czar. I think if it were someone like Barry McCaffrey he would make his BS digestible, serious, stern, and full of moral realist ideological rhetoric. Maybe this was his plan all along.

    I once read a republican manifesto that said they should appoint incompetent people into government positions, so when they fail the government would be blamed, and the people would then further take power away from government. Maybe this was what Obama had in mind. I doubt it tho.

  40. kaptinemo says:

    Ethan, many, many thanks for the hard work all these years.

    Granted, Mr. Kucinich has been a long-time foe of the DrugWar, but it’s no mean feat, speaking truth to power. For too long, that truth had been accepted in the halls of academia but not in the halls of Congress where it needed to be heard. Thanks in no small part to you, it’s being heard now.

    And it’s also becoming loud and clear that the prohibs are not up to the task of justifying their predations, not when they haven’t had to do so for so long.

    They may, as Santayana said regarding fanatics, redouble their efforts after they have lost sight of their aims, but that will only expose even further the lack of rationality inherent in drug prohibition. And your further testimony will serve to uncover that irrationality. When they start attacking you personally for revealing that they haven’t a logical leg to stand on, you’ll know they’ve lost. And I would expect that very soon.

  41. kaptinemo says:

    Permanentilt, I think it’s more along the lines of an opportunist (Kerlikowske) taking a position that’s known to be a dead-end (if only because the economy is making it clear that it is) when he doesn’t really have any real belief in the effectiveness of drug prohibition. In short, a smarter, more cynical, less fanatical version of Johnny Pee.

    I often wonder what it must have been like for the members of the agencies involved in alcohol Prohibition as the momentum for repeal began to pick up steam. Today’s DrugWarriors must also be feeling the same way, after investing so much of their lives in a lie, to have that lie (and that investment, and thus, their own sense of self-worth) being repudiated at every turn has gotta sting

    But ol’ Gil will continue to laugh all the way to the bank, whatever public embarrassments he will endure, until this is over…and more decent people (who foot the bill for his salary) will be ground up in the DrugWar Juggernaut’s treads while he’s making his deposits. Sickening.

  42. Bryan says:

    I found the part of Ethan’s testimony that I couldn’t completely recall above:
    (“Deputy ONDCP director Tom McLellan appeared to break new ground in 2009 when he stated that “we support all harm reduction efforts that also reduce drug use.” But that acknowledgement of the important role of harm reduction in drug policy was repudiated last month when Director Kerlikowske declared that “we do not use the phrase ‘harm reduction’ to describe our policies because we believe it creates unnecessary confusion and is too often misused to further policies and ideologies which promote drug use.””)

    My comment on that should have read: (in breach of this “Rule of Lie”…)

    And, PLEASE = feel free to use the phrase “Rule of Lie” (or maybe Policy of Lies) to refer to this section of the ‘ONDCP Reauthorization of 1998’.

    It seems obvious to me that if you’re going to question the funding of, and possibly whether or not the government will indeed Re-Authorize the ONDCP – if the money is just being spent for the sake of ‘keeping up appearances’ and political correctness.

    That would be a great starting point to question their authenticity, and bring into question their claims of neutrality of any sort.
    What could be better than using Mr. Kerlikowski’s refusal to consider harm reduction (presumably) as a consequence of his mandated “limited vocabulary” ie. ‘legalization’ & ‘harm reduction’.

    Then, it would follow – that even giving these concepts a second thought is considered completely “off-the table”. We have it in writing that Gil’s position appears to require a 100% closed minded approach when it comes to these two subjects – regardless of what his personal opinion might actually be.

    Ethan stated this point very well – in saying, “Their opposition provides a powerful reminder that President Obama’s mandate that politics no longer trump science does not extend to federal drug policy.”

    Note: I also have a new-found respect for Congressmen Kucinich, I never would’ve expected the no-nonsense manner in which he directed the hearing.

  43. BluOx says:

    So when is that vote to defund these criminals going to take place? And what about reparations for drug war crimes?

  44. kaptinemo says:

    BlueOx, I expect that there will be no resolutions, just a rider attached to a bill that will get passed, in the usual fashion, very quietly. Few pols will want to have anything but a voice vote entered, as they won’t want any record made of it. That’s probably how it will go down, and the prohib parrot-cage screechers will find out around the same time as the rest of us do.

    As to reparations, well, that probably won’t happen for many years. Given the economy, the pols will beg off.

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