Drug Czar Joins Terror War With Ad Campaign Blaming Drug Users For Terrorism
Public, Press Skeptical; Reformers Point Out "It's The Prohibition, Mr. President"
ONDCP Unveils Ad Campaign On SuperBowl XXXVI; $3.2 Million Per Minute Is Largest Federal Ad Buy Ever
John Walters and the Office of National Drug Control Policy stepped into the terror war officially on Feb. 3, 2002, with a pair of advertisements on SuperBowl XXXVI. The ads appeared before and during the second half of the game, kicked off ONDCP's terror war campaign. (The ads can be viewed at one of the ONDCP's websites, The Anti-Drug.com.)
According to the Washington Post on Feb. 3, 2002 ( "New Pitch In Anti-Drug Ads: Anti-Terrorism"), "The two Super Bowl ads, which cost nearly $3.5 million to place during the widely watched Fox television broadcast, claim that money to purchase drugs likely ends up in the hands of terrorists and narco-criminals." The Post reported that "Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the drug office contacted Ogilvy, an agency it ha worked with before, asking for ideas on how to link the war on drugs to terrorism in an ad campaign. The drug office knew that the Taliban was partially funded by sales of opium, which can be refined into heroin. What followed, said British film and commercial director Tony Kaye, who produced the ads, was 'unprecedented' fact-checking between the drug office and government agencies, including the FBI, DEA, CIA, and the departments of Defense and State. Details down to the price of AK-47 assault rifles, featured in one of the ads, were debated."
A number of commentators have raised objections to the ads. For example, this column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Feb. 5, 2002, by Tony Norman, "New Anti-Drug Ads Take US On A Bad Trip," makes the point that "We don't need more bogeymen. What we need is a frank discussion about the place of drugs -- all drugs -- in American life. Alcohol, cigarettes and legally prescribed drugs kill more people than illicit narcotics every year, but we've become fixated on street drugs as the source of all evil. Yes, they're evil, but they're a symptom of a much greater sickness."
The Weekly Standard has also taken on ONDCP's new campaign. In their Feb. 7, 2002 issue, senior editor Christopher Caldwell "Drugs and Terrorism" writes that "The ONDCP is both degrading the public discourse and playing with fire. This may be Chomskyism in the service of right-wing ends, but it's still Chomskyism. Once you start making assertions that are 'in a sense' true, anyone can start playing that game: Freely available weaponry supports terror--if you oppose gun control, you do, too. Or, more to the point, Drug prohibition creates a business opportunity for terrorists--if you oppose legalizing drugs, you support terror, too." Caldwell continues: "The fact is, we are in a war on terrorism. There will be occasions when the government will, for national security reasons, have to tell us less than the whole truth. That is all the more reason not to engage, unless it's absolutely necessary, in taxpayer-sponsored lying to the American public."
This is a public service advertisement from Common Sense in Fall of 2001 dealing with the question of prohibition's funding of terrorism, "Is The Funding Of Terrorism Another Unintended Consequence Of Drug Prohibition?" .
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Frontiers) has a great deal of information on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and Central AsiaBack to top