GAO

  • April 26, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Despite the rhetoric to move beyond a perpetual “war on drugs” the Obama administration remains mired in the tough-on-drugs mindset and its Justice Department seems befuddled by the states that have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report revealing that the administration’s goals set out in 2010 have largely not been met. The report noted that the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other federal agencies established “seven Strategy goals related to reducing illicit drug use and its consequences by 2015.” GAO continued, “As of March 2013,” its “analysis showed that of the five goals for which primary data on results were available, one shows progress and four show no progress.”

    But, as The Huffington Post’s Matt Sledge reports drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy has just released another drug control plan that builds on the policies the GAO has said are not working. More troubling, Sledge notes that the drug office’s budget “still devotes less than half of it funds to treatment and prevention. The GAO found that prevention and treatment programs are ‘fragmented’ across 15 federal agencies.”

    In an April 24 post on its web site, the Office of National Drug Control Policy bemoans “illicit drug use,” claiming “drug-induced overdose deaths now surpass homicides and car crashes as the leading cause of injury or death in America.” It also declares “we cannot arrest or incarcerate our way out of the drug problem.”

    The language from the administration’s drug control office is softer than rhetoric about the “war on drugs,” which the Nixon administration launched with the enactment of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) several decades ago. But the administration’s drug control office is not embracing drug legalization or even any changes to the CSA, such as removing marijuana from the list of drugs deemed as dangerous as say heroin.

    The muddled message from the Obama administration -- not helped by its Justice Department’s silence on how it will respond to Colorado and Washington, where officials are crafting measures to implement and regulate the recreational use of marijuana -- is preserving tough-on-drugs policies.

  • December 3, 2009

    Congress is poised to release a report on the sharp drop in civil rights enforcement during George W. Bush's presidency. The 180-page General Accountability Office report is being made public today as the House of Representatives kicks off its first oversight hearings on the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama.

    "Despite, or perhaps because of, its importance and effectiveness, the Division has always been controversial," Sen. Edward Kennedy wrote last year in the Harvard Law and Policy Review, the official journal of ACS. "Under the Bush Administration, however, the vital cooperation between political appointees and career civil servants in the Division has broken down, with troubling consequences."

    Sen. Kennedy's insights were prescient.

    "When the Bush administration ran the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, career lawyers wanted to look into accusations that officials in one state had illegally intimidated blacks during a voter-fraud investigation," reports The Times' Charlie Savage today. "But division supervisors refused to 'approve further contact with state authorities on this matter,' according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office auditing the activities of the division from 2001 to 2007."