REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN ANNOUNCEMENT OF
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF DRUG CONTROL POLICY
The Rose Garden
Listen to the President's Remarks
9:57 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all so very much for being here. It's
honor to see so many members of the United States Congress who are here.
Thank you so very much for coming -- and members from both political parties,
members who are dedicated to joining with an administration which is dedicated
to reducing drug abuse around America. Thank you for being
I'm pleased that members of my Cabinet have joined us -- the Attorney
General of the United States, John Ashcroft; the Secretary of Health and
Human Services, Tommy Thompson. Thank you all for being
here. (Applause.) Mr. Surgeon General, thank you for being here, as well,
sir. We're honored to have you here. (Applause.)
Also with us is John J. DiIulio, who is the Director of the Office of
Faith-based and Community Initiatives. John is on the leading edge of
encouraging faith-based programs to become energized to help people who
need help. And, John, thank you so much for being here, as well. (Applause.)
I'm honored to be joined on stage by five Americans -- well, six Americans
-- five Americans who won't speak. (Laughter.) Which is saying something for
the first American I'm going to introduce, William J. Bennett. (Laughter and
applause.) He was our nation's first Drug Czar, former Secretary of Education,
a fearless -- fearless -- fighter against drug abuse. As well, as Joe A. Califano,
who has a Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University,
former Secretary of Health and Education and Welfare under President Jimmy
Carter, as well, like Mr. Bennett, a fearless advocate for those of us who are
dedicated to reducing drug abuse. Thank you both for being here. (Applause.)
And we have three members from the community -- antidrug community --
who have joined us. Arthur R. Dean is the Chairman and CEO of the
Community Antidrug Coalitions of America. Thank you so much for coming. I
appreciate you being here. (Applause.) Jessica Hulsey is a member of the
Drug-Free Community's Advisory Commission. Thank you, Jessica.
(Applause.) And Henry Lozano, Californians for Drug-free Youth, a member
of the DFCAC, a graduate from Teen Challenge. (Applause.)
I'm pleased to announce that as of today, the federal government is waging
an all-out effort to reduce illegal drug use in America. (Applause.) And I'm
proud to nominate John P. Walters as my Director of National Drug Control
Policy, where he will serve as a valuable member of my Cabinet. (Applause.)
Mr. Walters has had a distinguished career in government. He served
chief of staff to Bill Bennett, and later served as Deputy Director and Acting
Director of the Office of National Control Policy. John will bring tremendous
skill, knowledge and good judgment to this job. He's an articulate advocate, an
able administrator, and a man of deep and reasoned convictions. He has
repeatedly been called on to provide guidance to the United States
Congress. John cares passionately about this issue and he is the right person to
lead America's antidrug efforts.
Our effort rests on the firm belief that by focusing more of our nation's
attention, energy and resources, real progress will be made. From the early
1980s until the early 1990s, drug use amongst high school seniors was reduced
every year. We had made tremendous strides in cutting drug use. This cannot
be said today. We must do, and we will do, a better job. (Applause.)
Fortunately, today we know more about what works in prevention and
education, treatment and law enforcement. We will put this knowledge to
use. But above all, our efforts rest on an unwavering commitment to stop drug
use. Acceptance of drug use is simply not an option for this administration.
Illegal drugs impose a staggering cost of more than $100 billion every
principally from lost productivity. Yet this dollar figure does not capture the
human tragedy of drug use -- lost lives, educational and job opportunities
unmet, families torn apart, health care costs, school dropout rates, and
more. Drug use harms people of every economic class. But drug use is doing
the most damage to the poor.
John Jacob, former President of the National Urban League, has said that
drugs are destroying more children and more families than poverty ever
did. John Walters and I believe the only humane and compassionate response
to drug use is a moral refusal to accept it.
We emphatically disagree with those who favor drug legalization.
(Applause.) Drug legalization would be a social catastrophe. Drug use and
addiction would soar. Hospitals would be filled with many more drug
emergency cases. Child abuse would increase. The cost of treatment and
social welfare would rise. There would be more drug-related accidents at work
and on the road. And legalizing drugs would completely undermine the
message that drug use is wrong.
A successful antidrug effort depends on a thoughtful and integrated
approach. Mr. Walters understands this as well as anybody in America. During
his career, he's worked to improve the effectiveness of drug education and
prevention programs. He played a key role in ensuring a record commitment of
resources to drug treatment and research in a previous administration. He
helped ensure that the federal government did its part in source countries, on
our borders and on our streets.
My administration will continue to work with nations to eradicate drugs
their source, and enforce our borders to stop the flow of drugs into
America. This will make working in close cooperation with Mexico a
priority. It will make having strong relations in our hemisphere a priority, a
priority which I will keep. (Applause.)
However, the most effective way to reduce the supply of drugs in America
to reduce the demand for drugs in America. (Applause.) Therefore, this
administration will focus unprecedented attention on the demand side of this
problem. We recognize that the most important work to reduce drug use is
done in America's living rooms and classrooms, in churches and synagogues
and mosques, in the workplace, and in our neighborhoods. (Applause.)
Families, schools, communities, and faith-based organizations shape the
character of young people. They teach children right from wrong, respect for
law, respect for others, and respect for themselves. They're
indispensable. And my administration stands ready to assist them in every
possible way. Joe Califano is the President of the National Center on
Addiction and Substance Abuse, and a man whose research has helped shape
my thinking. Joe has said that teens of parents who eat, talk, pray and play
together are not likely to be lured into the world of drugs. A child who reaches
age 21 without using illegal drugs is virtually certain never to do so. And
children cite parents as the number one reason they don't use drugs.
And so we'll energize the parents movement by creating a parent drug
corps, which will provide needed support to educate and train parents in
effective drug prevention. (Applause.) We must increase funding for drug-free
communities programs, and for the drug-free workplace program.
(Applause.) And within 30 days, Professor John DiIulio will compile a
complete inventory of existing federal antidrug partnerships with local
faith-based and community groups, and work with John Walters to strengthen
Despite every effort, however, some individuals will become addicted to
drugs. There are around 5 million hardcore users of illegal drugs in America
today. And while they represent one-third of the drug users, they consume
two-thirds of all drugs. It is estimated that more than half of them are not
receiving any treatment.
I am, therefore, asking Secretary Tommy Thompson to conduct a
state-by-state inventory of treatment needs and capacity, and report back
within 120 days on how to most effectively close the treatment gap in this
country. (Applause.) In order to close that treatment gap, we will provide
$1.6 billion over the next five years.
We want to advance our understanding of drug abuse and addiction, so
we're planning to significantly increase funding for the National Institute on Drug
Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
(Applause.) We also recognize the benefits of coerced abstinence, and so we
will support drug courts and drug testing for prisoners, probationers and
We know that inmates receiving drug treatment are 73 percent less likely
be re-arrested, and 44 percent less likely to use drugs than those who receive
no treatment at all. I'm, therefore, asking the Attorney General, John Ashcroft,
to come up with a comprehensive plan within 120 days to ensure our federal
prisons are drug-free, to expand drug testing for probationers and parolees, and
to strengthen our system of drug courts around the nation. (Applause.)
We must reduce drug use for one great moral reason -- over time drugs rob
men, women and children of their dignity and of their character. Illegal drugs are
the enemies of innocence and ambition and hope. They undermine people's
commitment to their family and to their fellow citizens. My administration will
send a clear and consistent message that drug use is dangerous and drug use is
John Walters will lead that effort with firm resolve and a caring heart.
will do an exceptional job. I am proud to submit his name to the United States
Senate, and I look forward to working with members of the House and the
Senate from both political parties to reduce drug use in America. (Applause.)
I'm honored to welcome so many people who devote their lives to the
well-being of others to the Rose Garden here in the White House. I want to
God bless -- thank you for your work, and ask God's blessings on your work
and this great nation of ours.
It's my honor to welcome John Walters. (Applause.)
MR. WALTERS: Thank you, Mr. President, for honoring me with this
nomination. I look forward to the confirmation process in the Senate, and the
opportunity to work with Congress again in reducing the problem of illegal drug
As the President has mentioned, our country has made great progress in
past in reducing drug use, and we will do it again. We will especially protect
our children from drug use. We will help the addicted find effective treatment
and remain in recovery. We will shield our communities from the terrible human
toll taken by illegal drugs. We will stop illegal drug use and the drug trade from
funding threats to democratic institutions throughout our hemisphere.
Most of all, Mr. President, as you have stated so clearly, and as symbolized
by those us here today who represent -- with us here today who represent
millions of Americans working effectively every day to reduce drug use,
addiction and crime, our efforts rest on the knowledge that when we push back,
the drug problem gets smaller. This fact is beyond question today, even if it is
not always beyond denial.
Mr. President, thank you for nominating me to be Director of the Office
National Drug Control Policy, at this important time. If the Senate permits, it
will be my privilege to support the outstanding individuals represented here,
who work every day to combat the drug problem throughout our nation.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming.
END 10:12 A.M. EDT