White House drug czar John Walters is the public face of the war on drugs, but some anti-drug activists say he’s been the invisible man, reports National Public Radio in the last of a five-part series. “The drug war has really faltered. It has taken a back seat to other issues under Drug Czar John Walters,” says Ron Brooks, president of the National Narcotics Officers Association. Brooks is angry that the drug czar’s office recommended a sharp cut in funding for state narcotics task forces. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, drug czar from 1996 to 2001, says the drug war is inadequately funded and adds: “I don’t think Congress is paying attention to it. I don’t think the news media are writing about it. I think the issue has disappeared off the public consciousness.”
Walters would not be interviewed, but his chief scientist, David Murray, cites record seizures of cocaine, “major reductions” in heroin coming out of Colombia, success in cutting off precursors to methamphetamine coming from Canada, steep drops in the number of meth labs, and a 23 percent drop in youth drug use in five years. “That’s success. That’s material, palpable success,” he says.