6. "WE ARE WINNING THE WAR ON DRUGS" WAS
Sources: In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Fl. Chicago,
IL 60647-4002, Date: 5/20/92, Title: "Drug Deaths Rise as the War
Continues," Author: Mike Males; EXTRA!, 130 W. 25th Street New
York, NY 10001, Date: September 1992, Title: "Don't Forget the
Hype: Media, Drugs and Public Opinion," Author: Micah Fink
SYNOPSIS: When President George Bush went before the nation
on September 6, 1989, to give a special address about the seriousness
of the drug problem in the United States, the media and the public responded
with alarm. By the end of that month, 64 percent of the public believed
that drugs posed a greater threat than nuclear war, environmental degradation,
toxic waste, AIDS, poverty or the national debt. The New York Times
alone published 238 articles on drugs -- more than seven articles a
Fast-forward to 1992: The federal anti-drug budget has mushroomed to
over $10 billion dollars; and the president proclaims, "We are
winning the war on drugs." The problem with this proclamation is
that it is a lie.
The sobering fact is that Americans are in greater danger from drugs
today than ever before. In fact, despite "winning the war on drugs,"
drug deaths in the U.S. are skyrocketing at a much higher rate than
Before the Reagan/Bush administrations began their war on drugs, deaths
from drug abuse and drug-related murders had declined from a peak of
8,500 per year in the early 1970s to 7,700 in 1982. Since 1982 the numbers
have steadily climbed. Drug abuse deaths have risen by 50 percent and
drug-related murders have tripled -- to more than 13,000 in 1990. This
is the steepest increase and highest level in history.
Today's drug statistics are startling:
o During a single week of the present day drug war (as opposed to
the "pre-drug-war era"), there are 15,000 more arrests,
5,000 more pounds of cocaine seized, 10,000 more people sent to drug
treatment and 100 more drug-related deaths.
o Street drugs (marijuana, LSD, cocaine, heroin) are not the main
killers, as they are portrayed. Rather, prescription drugs (barbiturates,
stimulants) are most lethal, accounting for more than 8,000 deaths
annually, while street drugs account for 3,000 deaths. (Also overlooked
is the "legal-drug" death toll: 400,000 annually from tobacco,
100,000 from alcohol.)
o Teenagers are often portrayed as the most at-risk group for drug
abuse. However, of the 13,000-plus drug-abuse deaths in 1990, adults
aged 20 to 59 accounted for 11,000 of those fatalities.
o Marijuana, LSD and other hallucinogens account for fewer than five
deaths a year but make up more than half of all drug arrests.
o Prescription drugs cause more than half of all drug deaths but
comprise only 10 percent of all drug arrests.
o White adults over the age of 25 account for two-thirds of all drug
deaths but account for only one-third of all drug arrests.
It is more than ironic that the mainstream media that helped Reagan/Bush
create a drug war hysteria remain silent or ignorant of the real problems
that exist today.
SSU Censored Researcher: Nicole Novak
COMMENTS: The sincerity of the Reagan/Bush administrations'
war on drugs was first questioned by Project Censored in the #4 Censored
Story of 1989, which asked, "Does the administration really want
to win the war on drugs?" The answer, based on the experiences
of one of the nation's top federal narcotics prosecutors, Richard Gregorie,
Gregorie's aggressive and successful eight-year assault on big-time
cocaine bosses and drug-corrupted officials from Miami to Medellin was
stopped by the State Department, and in January 1989 Gregorie quit in
disgust to go into law practice in Miami.
The same issue resurfaced as the #5 Censored Story of 1990. Titled,
"Continued Media Blackout of Drug War Fraud," the nomination
revealed the experiences of Michael Levine, a retired undercover agent
from the Drug Enforcement Agency. His critical expose of the DEA closely
parallels the experiences of Gregorie.
And now the American public is learning about the tragic results of
the war that never was. Mike Males's article about rising drug deaths
clearly contradicts President George Bush's optimistic "We are
winning the war on drugs" statement.
At the same time, the mainstream media -- once so eager to herald the
War on Drugs are less eager to confess its failure and the toll it has
taken in human lives.
Investigative author Males says his article in In These Times sparked
additional coverage only in the alternative press and not in the mainstream
media. He notes that while there has now been some sporadic coverage
of various experts who feel we're "losing" the war, there
has been "nothing on the spectacular rise in drug deaths."
Males feels the public "needs to be informed that despite rosy
claims of officials, the single biggest tragedy -- drug death increases
-- is provable by a solid outcome measure that shows the drug war is