The No. 2 House Republican denounced the Clinton administration Wednesday for a dramatic jump in drug use among teens.
But House Majority Leader Dick Armey refused to consider any suggestion the GOP might bear some responsibility for increasing crack use because the CIA allegedly helped smuggle large quantities of cocaine into the country during the Reagan and Bush administrations.
“I think it’s worthwhile checking your facts,” Armey bristled when asked about the prospect the CIA helped Nicaraguan rebels sell cocaine to Los Angeles gangs in the 1980s. “I would take the trouble to know who was making (those allegations).”
The allegations, based on research that includes court documents, are being reported this week by The San Jose Mercury News and published in The Spokesman-Review.
“Not all newspapers are created the same,” Armey said, adding he didn’t know about the reports.
The Texas Republican was in town to campaign for House colleague George Nethercutt. He spoke to some 120 people at a $50-per-plate luncheon that was closed to the news media. He then attended a “press availability.”
He appeared annoyed the CIA question came up during his planned attack on President Clinton for the rise in teen drug use in the last 4 years. The facts he wanted to talk about were from a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That annual survey of teens shows a 10 percent increase among teens who say they used drugs on a monthly basis, a 183 percent jump in the use of hallucinogenic drugs and a 166 percent increase in cocaine use.
“The facts are, drug use went down during those (Reagan and Bush) years,” Armey said. “Children responded to Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign.”
He criticized Clinton for cutting drug programs from the Reagan and Bush years and leaving the post of “drug czar” vacant.
“It being an election year, the president might take a more serious view of it,” he said.
Armey said he disagrees with proposals to legalize drugs, but did not believe alcohol and tobacco should be put in the same category.
“Nicotine is legal, so the auxiliary effects are not the same,” he said. “We tried prohibition of alcohol earlier, and it didn’t work so well.”
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