Kerlikowske Named Drug Czar; No Cabinet Rank


Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, officially will be nominated as the nation’s drug czar today. The Washington Post says the appointment ended a long search that was slowed as details of drug arrests involving Kerlikowske’s son came to light. The Obama administration will remove the job’s Cabinet designation — reversing an elevation of the office under President Bush. One senior official said that Kerlikowske would have “full access and a direct line to the president and the vice president.” The source also noted that Vice President Biden was instrumental in the creation of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and would continue to be an outspoken advocate of it.

Kerlikowske has long been reported as the front-runner to serve as the drug czar. Revelations concerning the arrests of his son, Jeffrey, on drug-related charges complicated the process. In prepared remarks accepting the nomination, Kerlkowske said that, “As a police officer, but also in my own family, I have experienced first-hand the devastating effects that drugs can have on our youth, our families and our communities.” Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said that “Gil sees every day the violence and tragedy that results from drug abuse in this country and will require no ‘on-the-job training.’ ” Historically, the White House’s drug-control strategy has revolved around prevention, helping drug users, and disrupting the market for illegal drugs. Obama has supported prevention efforts as a way to combat not only drug abuse but also unemployment and crime.

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