With narcotics use by public officials heating up as an election-year issue, President Clinton’s drug czar is suggesting an amnesty of sorts for Americans who have used drugs in the past.
“No Americans should be precluded from serving their country in any position as long as they now reject all illicit drug use,” Barry McCaffrey said in a position paper released Wednesday. “We call upon the 50 million Americans who have tried and now do not condone drug abuse to join in the nation’s anti-drug effort.”
William Bennett, who held the same job as head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under president Bush, described McCaffrey’s statement as “damn disappointing.”
Focus on the drug issue has been intense in recent weeks. Earlier this month the White House revealed that some current Clinton aides are regularly tested for drugs because FBI security checks revealed “extensive and-or recent drug use found in their backgrounds.”
McCaffrey insisted the position paper wasn’t motivated by politics. But it was issued at a time when the White House and Republican lawmakers are trading barbs over the drug histories of politicians.
Instead, he said, the policy statement is aimed at providing guidance to millions of beyond-the-Beltway Baby Boomers - many of whom used or experimented with drugs - as they struggle over how to discuss that touchy issue with their kids.
“This new generation that is now running America - the school principals, the police chiefs, the business leadership, many of them were exposed to illegal drugs in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and rejected it, because it scared them,” McCaffrey said. “What we’re saying to that age group is, ‘Look - you’re running the country now. Let’s tell our children that the drug revolution didn’t work.”’