T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E

Vice President Gore Announces National Drug Control Strategy

Help Site Map Text Only

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 8, 1999


Presidential Hall
The Old Executive Office Building

11:10 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Let's give Jessica Hulsey another round of applause. You did a great job. I'm very proud of you. (Applause.)

God bless you, Jessica, and thank you from all of us for your courage and your eloquence this morning. To General Barry McCaffrey and his deputy Don Vereen, to Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary Donna Shalala, and to the other members of the Administration's team fighting against drugs, and to all of you ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience, especially these young people here. I'm very impressed. And incidentally, they're from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the DARE program and Chicago's Temple Jeremiah.

I also want to acknowledge specifically some of the other individuals who have played key roles, Rand Beers, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement matters; Brian Sheridan, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict; Anna Maria Salazar, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Ray Kelly, Commissioner of the US Customs Service; Sandy Thurman, of the National AIDS office; Jeffrey Tauber, who has been mentioned before; Dick Bonnette, president of the Partnership for Drug Free America, and I want to mention Jim Burke who heads up the partnership. He is not here, but I want to acknowledge their tremendous role in these efforts, Gil Gallegos, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police and all of the law enforcement officials and representatives of law enforcement organizations who are here. Major General Arthur Dean, President and CEO of the Community Anti-drug Coalitions of America, Jerry Komesar from the Narcotics Center -- the Counternarcotics Center at the CIA, Donnie Marshall Deputy Administrator of the DEA and others.

And let me again acknowledge my colleague Senator Joe Biden in the United States Senate, and Congressman John Mica in the House of Representatives. And what was said by Barry McCaffrey and others about the bipartisan support for our country's efforts in this field bears repeating because we really have been able to drain away some of the partisan poison and put together a national consensus. And we are very grateful for the partnership that we have had with our colleagues in the Congress on both sides of the aisle.

I was listening to Jessica sharing her story and trying to imagine, as I am sure some of you were, what it must have been like for her and her sister to go through those days and how much courage it took for her to make of her life what she has now made of it, and to speak and to reach out and try to save others.

Jessica, your commitment is really an inspiration to all of us and you also give us a target to shoot for because we know that young people can grow up free of drugs and feel a sense of mission and feel connected to our society and be an inspiration to others. Sadly, we know that the story that we heard from Jessica is not unique. She actually speaks for many thousands of families who suffer through the same nightmare of powerlessness and frustration that she and her sister suffered through.

But one of the most important things that Jessica's story and these ads that Barry showed from our national media campaign, teach us is that we do have the power to fight drugs. We can win this struggle.

As Joe mentioned, it was won once before and then we let down our guard. We can win it again if each of us is willing to take action. If we take action at every level of government in every community, in every house of faith, in every family and every home, if we reach out to our young people as parents, mentors and peers before drug dealers reach them. If we join forces, united and relentless in our determination to win this war, we can make our nation stronger than ever in the twenty-first century.

You know, for years, I remember back, not too many years ago when it seemed that the struggle against crime was insurmountable. The numbers kept getting worse. But we came up with an approach that we applied steadily and relentlessly and the problem has yielded, not fully but with a smart, tough anti-crime plan that combines more punishment with more community police and with better prevention, we see six years later that the strategy is working even beyond our expectations. Around the country in cities large and small, crime is now down to its lowest rates in 25 years.

That should give us hope, because as we are beginning to win the war against crime, we can win this struggle against drugs. By marshalling the forces and the resources of our nation, monetary, mental, physical, spiritual. We have to call on the best in ourselves in order to win this struggle.

Year after year, our Administration has worked with our friends and allies in the Congress to secure the largest anti-drug budgets in history with more money for drug enforcement agents for border and customs control, for education and outreach, for treatment and prevention. Under the leadership of General Barry McCaffrey at the Office of National Drug Control Policy our efforts have finally begun to pay off.

Overall drug use by adults has dropped to more than half of its highest levels in 1979. Even drug use by our young people, which seemed to be getting worse every year, has finally begun to decline. But when drug dealers still roam our streets and rob our children of their dreams, when drug-related crime still ravages so many of our neighborhoods we know that we've barely begun. We must do so much more.

With our economy the strongest in a generation, and our national self confidence rising we have a rare opportunity, and an obligation, to redouble our efforts in the war against drugs. We must start by recognizing that our nation's drug problem was not born in isolation and does not exist in a vacuum. It is an interconnected problem. And so our solutions must also be interconnected. We must mount an all out effort to banish crime, drugs, disorder and hopelessness from our streets once and for all.

You know, to revisit briefly the analogy to the crime problem, some of the leading experts on crime taught all of us about what they called the broken windows theory. If a potential criminal comes into a neighborhood and sees broken windows and litter on the sidewalk and graffiti on the walls and a general sense of disorder and lack of self respect then the powerful unspoken message is: If you're looking for a place to commit a crime this might be just the place to do it.

If, on the other hand, there is a neighborhood where the windows are fixed and there is no litter and the graffiti has been cleaned up and the shopkeepers and grandparents and community leaders are all helping to exude an atmosphere of order and self-confidence in a neighborhood that takes pride in itself, then the powerful but unspoken message is, don't even think about committing a crime here.

I think something like that theory applies to the challenge we face with drugs. I have always believed that along with all the other dimensions of this problem, this is a spiritual problem and if young people have emptiness in their lives, if they have a lack of respect for the larger community of which they are a part, if they don't find ways to feel connected to the adults who are in the community, if they feel there is phoniness and hypocrisy and corruption and immorality, then they are much more vulnerable to the drug dealers, to the peers who tempt them with messages that are part of a larger entity of evil.

If, on the other hand, they feel they live in a country that makes sense, that is proud of itself, that is moving toward the future that we are destined to enjoy in America, if they feel like they are part of something larger than themselves, that makes them feel that their lives do have purpose and will have even larger purpose, then they're less vulnerable, less likely to succumb to the temptations that are always present.

And so to deal with the drug problem, we have to do more to expand opportunity, to create jobs for our young people, especially in communities that have too often been passed by in good times; that higher rate of drug abuse in minority communities and impoverished communities. I think -- personally I think comes about partly because you have a higher vulnerability to feeling that sense of being disconnected and alienated and not a part of what can be possible in our future.

We've worked on empowerment zones, we've worked on all manner of initiatives to try to deal with those problems. And incidentally, last Friday the unemployment rate in the African-American community, in the Hispanic Community reached the lowest levels in the history of the United States of America. So, we're making some progress in that dimension of the problem as well.

To deal with the drug problem we need to do much more to improve our schools and help all of our students achieve high standards and empower themselves with the trained minds that make them stronger in their ability to understand what's going on around them. Therefore, we need more after-school programs so that vulnerable period between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. is filled with opportunity instead of remaining a time when idle hands become the devil's workshop. We need summer school programs to keep young people learning in the classroom in the hours after the school bell rings, the hours when young people are likely to fall prey to the drug problem.

We also of course, need to put all of these pieces together in this National Drug Control Strategy which is, of course, being formally released today. And I want to compliment General McCaffrey's staff and those staffs of the other departments that have worked on this as well. He was kind to mention my role in this, it was very small. But one thing that I noticed when we started this and when President Clinton prevailed upon General McCaffrey to take this position was that one difficulty in implementing this law which I supported so strongly in the Congress was that Barry's office is new and relatively small and, as a pivot point or lever dealing with the Defense Department and the Justice Department and Health and Human Services and all of -- and Education and all of the others, very difficult. And just because of human nature and the various laws of bureaucratics, it wasn't working that well.

But I want to give the credit where it's due and that is to the members of President Clinton's Cabinet. Attorney General Reno and Secretary Shalala, chief among them, Secretary Riley, Secretary Cohen, the others, who have brought a spirit of collegiality to focus on the task at hand and not on the process and move closer together by moving jointly closer to our common goal, which is outlined in this document and which is going to be -- and our progress toward it is going to be measured. They have really been remarkable in their commitment and I am so pleased that this strategy results from such teamwork.

So I am pleased to formally release our drug control strategy. It is not a short-term plan designed to produce short-lived results; it is a comprehensive long-term strategy. It has more money for drug testing and treatment, it has better drug law enforcement in our communities and better drug control on our borders. It has better anti-drug education for young people, including this outstanding media campaign. And I want to compliment all who have been involved in that -- and that is born of a bipartisan movement in the Congress with the Administration to support this as well.

And our plan is backed by the largest anti-drug budget ever presented to the Congress. Our Administration's balanced budget for 2000 includes nearly $18 billion to keep drugs away from our borders, off of our streets and out of our children's reach. And this anti-drug media campaign aimed at youth is beginning to create lots of conversations around the country.

I know that all of you have seen these ads. They are terrific and the young people are getting the message. We have reached literally millions of them with the powerful message that drugs are illegal, drugs are wrong, drugs can kill you. Although it is too early to fully measure our success, we really are seeing evidence that this anti-drug message is getting through. And the multicultural aspect of it that Barry talked about is extremely important.

One big reason for the success is the remarkable response of the private sector to our challenge to join this fight against drugs. I want to mention that in six months, our campaign has generated more than $165 million in matching contributions for paid anti-drug ads. Virtually every major network has produced high-profile, anti-drug public service announcements with their best-known celebrities -- and you saw just a few of them, and donated air time to scores of nonprofit organizations for their own anti-drug PSAs.

I am so proud of all our efforts, especially at the ONDCP to fight drugs. But making this strategy work really does require a continuation of the teamwork that I complimented a moment ago.

We have asked Education Secretary Riley to build on our efforts to keep our schools safe by strengthening the Save and Drug-Free Schools initiative and encouraging more school districts to start after-school programs. We've asked Health and Human Services Secretary Shalala here on stage here to help our young people stay off drugs by increasing our efforts to promote drug treatment and prevention programs around the country. And she has already begun doing so. We've asked Attorney General Reno to push forward with more drug testing of prisoners and parolees and more police on the streets of our communities to break the deadly cycle between crime and drugs. We've also asked her to redouble our efforts against drug traffickers by organized crime groups. And she is already doing all of those things.

We've asked Transportation Secretary Slater to maintain the vigorous maritime interdiction operations against drug traffickers that are such an important part of our supply side anti-drug strategy. We have asked Secretary of the Treasury Rubin to step up anti-money laundering efforts and work harder than ever, along with the Justice Department, to keep drugs from crossing our borders. We've asked Defense Secretary Cohen to intensify his ongoing efforts to use the unique capabilities of our military to support our drug law enforcement efforts, especially along our southwest border. And we have asked Secretary of State Albright to continue our partnership with other nations, particularly in the western hemisphere drug alliance to fight the global drug problem.

President Clinton, as all of you know, is at the funeral of King Hussein and would have been here to present this and release this personally. He has been so deeply involved in leading our nation's efforts. And next week President Clinton will travel to Mexico, a critical partner in the fight against drugs. A major portion of the drugs that come into our country come through Mexico across the 2,000 mile border we share. This illegal drug trade endangers Mexicans as well as Americans and it is in our nations' mutual interests to work together to shut it down.

The alliance against drugs that President Zedillo and President Clinton adopted in 1997 is making progress. And we are committed to building on that progress. And I bring you the personal commitment of President Clinton to implement this drug control strategy. And I'm very pleased that last Thursday, because of the President's efforts, the Mexican government announced it will be spending $400- to $500 million over three years to buy new planes, ships, radar and law enforcement equipment. By sharing resources, information and experience we can secure a safe future for both of our nations.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, in closing, our battle against drugs is a fight to the finish and it is not a job for government alone. It will take all of our efforts and energy, all of our courage and our compassion. It will take every one of us looking ahead to a day when the scourge of drugs no longer threatens our children, our communities or our collective future. I believe that we are destined to reach that day. We can reach that day.

I look forward to working with all of you to building a stronger nation for the twenty-first century.

Thank you very much.


President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement

What's New - February 1999

AmeriCorps Volunteers

National Governors' Association Meeting

Death of King Hussein

Children's Health Insurance Outreach

National Drug Control Strategy

President Rawlings of Ghana

Senate Vote

Education Agenda

Central America Relief Effort

Framework for Strengthening Medicare

Social Security and Medicare

Foreign Policy

The People of Mexico

Social Security

FY 2000 Budget Submission