Two academics have published a book accusing the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy of consistently publishing misleading data to tout federal success in the war on drugs. The drug czar’s office strongly denies the charges. The Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute held a forum yesterday on the book: “Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics: A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.” (State University of New York Press, 2007). It was written by criminologist Matthew B. Robinson and political scientist Renee G. Scherlen, both of Appalachian State University.
Analyzing the drug czar’s national strategy plans of recent years, Robinson said the White House hails short-term gains and ignores the fact that U.S. drug abuse in some ways is worse now than it was in the early 1990s. A Clinton administration goal of cutting drug abuse 50 percent by 2007 was not met. David Murray, senior policy analyst at the drug czar’s office, ridiculed several conspiracy theory aspects of the book. He asserted that current drug czar John Walters cannot be held responsible for Clinton-era policies and that Bush White House accomplishments on drugs are depicted accurately. Robinson, concluding that “we are not winning the war on drugs,” argued that because the drug czar’s office changes basic policies from one administration to the next, much of its work is “impossible to evaluate.”