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Remarks of Director John Walters
DOJ Drug Enforcement Strategy
March 19, 2002

Thank you, John, Larry, Asa. I'm pleased to be back at DEA. Walking past the Wall of Honor just now, I was reminded of the dedication of the men and women of this Agency, and the very real risks and sacrifices you face every day.

It's my pleasure to join you today as you initiate the Department of Justice's efforts to support the President's National Drug Control Strategy. I was proud to stand with the President when he announced the ambitious goals to which the Attorney General referred in his remarks-a 10 percent reduction in current drug use over two years and a 25 percent reduction over five years.

The President has committed himself and each of us to meeting those goals. He could easily have set five- and ten-year goals, but he recognized that no one is elected to ten-year terms. He chose serious, short-term goals because he believes in accountability for himself and for the government. The Department of Justice today rises to that challenge.

The President's strategy commits us to disrupting the market for illegal drugs. By attacking the economic basis of the drug trade, we plan to create a recession, and then a depression, in the business of illegal drugs. Your aggressive plans for leadership through the OCDETF program and your commitment to target the top-levels of trafficking organizations are an important step. The outstanding work of the Mexican government in attacking the Arellano-Felix organization provides a prime example of the steps we need to take. The indictment of the FARC leaders in Colombia further demonstrates the Department's commitment to this approach.

Most importantly, the Department has committed to reducing the availability of drugs and to measuring its performance-that's the kind of accountability to which the President has committed us. Our efforts aren't about how many programs we have or the size of our budget or even the number of convictions or seizures; they're about damaging and ultimately destroying the drug market. The Attorney General has committed to managing by results. That concept is at the center of the National Drug Control Strategy.

The implications of results management are clear: we're looking for programs that work. Any agency that thinks its efforts aren't making a difference should plan on not making a difference with a smaller appropriation. The President plans to make his budget decisions based on outcomes-putting money behind effective initiatives.

Anyone who thinks we're just here to cope with the drug problem feeds the fatalism that I join the Attorney General in rejecting today. The attitude that nothing we do can make a difference is a greater enemy than the trafficking organizations we face. To accept that attitude is to surrender. The Attorney General is correct; surrender is not an option. We know that we can make a difference, and that we can make dramatic progress against drug use in this country. We know that when we push back against drugs, the problem gets smaller. We could not have a more dedicated and energetic team than Attorney General Ashcroft, Deputy Attorney General Thompson, Administrator Hutchinson, and the men and women they lead.

Last Updated: March 21, 2002

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