FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, JUNE 15,
Weiner/Sasha Varghese/Taylor Jubanowsky 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700
MEETING TODAY HAD ENORMOUS HOLE:
NO CONCRETE PLAN AGAINST AFGHANISTAN HEROIN
SURGE TO WORLD’S #1 AND TERROR FUNDING,
SAYS FORMER WHITE HOUSE DRUG SPOKESMAN
DC) – "President Bush and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai failed to take the
opportunity to agree at their meeting Tuesday to stop Afghanistan’s surge to
the world’s number one opium and heroin supplier, and thereby failed to stop
the funding base for the terror of Al Qaeda," former White House Drug Policy
spokesman, Robert Weiner, said today.
because President Bush and President Karzai did not make an announcement of an
enhanced specific plan against opium and heroin, their meeting had an enormous
hole, because it did not truly stop terror and the source of terror’s funding –
the whole reason we went into Afghanistan in the first place," Weiner, the Office of National Drug Policy’s
spokesman 1995-2001 and earlier the U.S. House Narcotics Committee’s spokesman,
ripped the Administration for "allowing Afghanistan on our watch to return to
being the world’s number one heroin producer after several years of decline."
He asserts, "Fighting
drugs in Afghanistan is not a priority -- we're giving it a pass with
acquiescence and a token program meant not to offend."
Afghanistan, after a two-year lapse, is once
again "the world's largest cultivator and producer" of opium and heroin,
according to the 2004 White House National Drug Control Strategy. Afghani crops
in 2003 were more than double the 2002 crop, Weiner pointed out.
"We need a Plan Afghanistan, like Plan
Colombia, to rid the heroin and make the world safer," Weiner proposed.
"Colombia has surprised critics by succeeding in its plan to reduce coca
cultivation by half."
today's Bush-Karzai White House Rose Garden press conference, President Bush
said nothing, and President Karzai made one brief mention, of the heroin
problem. Despite five other
concrete initiatives, they announced none to fight drugs despite the obvious
importance against terror," Weiner pointed out.
drug money pays for terrorism. Despite thousands of U.S. troops on the ground,
the liaison of the current
Afghani government to the opium warlords and our fear of offending the Afghani
government’s economic and political base is apparently stopping both President
Karzai and us from real, aggressive, comprehensive action to eradicate and
block opium and heroin including using our troops, planes, and
enforcement. Karzai decries the
problem without taking action, and so do we. We have effectively become silent partners of the Afghani
opium warlords, " Weiner contended.
"The future looks even worse: A U.N.
report says that two out of every three Afghan farmers plan to increase their
poppy crop in 2004," Weiner stated.
asserted, "The White House’s proposed economic assistance for alternatives is
not enough. That only encourages other farmers not growing opium to do so to
get our money. We need a real plan
– eradication and
enforcement with the help of our thousands of troops there, with planes
spraying and troops burning and chopping – to get the job done.
an op-ed column in the Miami Herald June 11, entitled "Afghanistan: Eradicate
Poppy Fields, Terror Funding", Weiner and Jeffrey Buchanan of the Johns Hopkins
University wrote, "Just as the administration's Iraqi
mission has been damaged by the scandal of prisoner abuse and other failures,"
our anti-terror policy in Afghanistan "has been undercut by the rebirth of the
Afghani poppy, the main ingredient in heroin."
The White House has offered $2.3 billion a
year in development grants and loans for Afghani economic alternatives.
However, Weiner contends, "With warlords and farmers making six to 100 times
more on poppy than any other cash crop, the administration's policy will not
affect poppy farmers' habits without massive eradication and enforcement.
Similar economic programs had only minuscule effect in Colombia until Plan
Colombia aggressively eradicated the drugs. And a tiny program of eradication
by a few men with sickles, led by the British, does not achieve the end
either." Weiner points out that
drug money laundering is $200-400 billion worldwide annually – "a different
magnitude than simple economic alternatives and a photo op small eradication
Weiner asks, "Where are the planes
spraying and destroying the drug fields in Afghanistan as we spray in Colombia?
Where is the massive training to involve our thousands of troops in eradication
-- not just by the six to 10 anti-drug experts returning from one-week Drug
Enforcement Administration courses in Turkey and Uzbekistan as is now done?"
Source: Robert Weiner Associates, Tel. 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700