White House “drug czar” Gil Kerlikowske was nominated by President Obama to be director of the Customs and Border Protection agency in the Department of Homeland Security. The White House didn’t immediately say who would succeed Kerlikowske, whose formal title is director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Kerlikowske, 63, is a former police chief in four cities, most recently Seattle. As drug czar, Kerlikowske has advocated viewing drug addiction as a public health issue as well as a criminal justice one.
As The Crime Report reported in May, Kerlikowske contends that the new federal emphasis on drug treatment rather than enforcement finally is taking hold in the fifth year of the Obama presidency. The National Journal noted that he has said there is “no better messenger than a former police chief” to shift terms of the national debate on drug policy. The agency Kerlikowske would head if confirmed by the Senate says it has a “priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. It also has a responsibility for securing the border and facilitating lawful international trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations, including immigration and drug laws.”