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An Open Letter to the Drug Czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey

From Nora Callahan, Director of The November Coalition

Dear General McCaffrey,

We find it encouraging that you are, to outward appearances at least, moderating your former zero-tolerance stance. We hope that your recent comments concerning the drug situation are heartfelt and not legerdemain, camouflaging yet another thirty more years of bellicose action. Thirty more years of the drug war will see 15 million Americans behind bars.

You will pardon my skepticism over your statements that we are all on the same team, however. This cannot be so as long as you subscribe to current drug policy strategies that take away our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons; policies that lock away our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters for decades of unjust punishment. It is fact that drug law violators in the United States receive sentences which are unduly punitive and destructive and every study says so-whether it is government sponsored or private study-the truth is the truth.

Until such time as your office urges mitigation of this destructive status quo by reduced sentences or outright amnesty, we categorically reject your statement that we are all on the same side. We most emphatically are not.

These hopeless policies have seen the arrest of over ten million Americans. Over a half million drug law violators languish in prisons and countless others have lost marriages, families, professions and possessions. You cannot slowly kill by imprisonment these multitudes and think even for a moment that we are on the same "team." It is one thing to punish a person for what is, in the final analysis, consensual activity, but it is quite another to destroy him entirely and prison does precisely that. As long as you search and destroy, we will resist you.

Leaders in this country are beginning to stand up to be counted for truth, exposing the drug war for what it is; a fraud that has been inflicted on the American people and one we can no longer afford. Hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted, and the toll on human life has become immeasurable.

We do indeed look for the one who is "on our side," and those numbers are rising. Voices for drug policy reform are louder than a year ago. We have over thirty years of government propaganda to battle-but battle we will. Millions of Americans have had their lives laid to waste by this futile war.

Recently you wrote Newt Gingrich in response to Congress setting tough standards on the drug war front. To him you said, "unrealistic targets" could "hurt our efforts against drug use when the public, seeing the inevitable failure to meet these goals, becomes convinced the effort is lost."

General McCaffrey, long ago we saw the "inevitable failure" of this war and we are convinced already "the effort is lost." Your words to Representative Gingrich are not prophetic, nor are they a warning as you intended- they are simply past due.

No Happy New Year will exist for us until our people return from the gulags and concentration camps.

Working to end drug war injustice

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