WEINER ON ABC’S “POLITICALLY
INCORRECT” APRIL 25,
ASSERTS BUSH CEDES DRUG WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WORLD LEADING HEROIN SOURCE,
FOR POLITICAL REASONS;
TALIBAN ACTUALLY “DID BETTER”
FORMER WHITE HOUSE
DRUG SPOKESMAN BOB WEINER
DEBATES U.S. DRUG POLICY ON POPULAR BILL MAHER LATE NIGHT SHOW;
(Washington, DC) – Robert Weiner, former spokesman for the White House Drug Policy Office and now an issue strategist, appeared on Bill Maher’s ABC-TV “Politically Incorrect” (aired 12:05 AM, Thursday morning, April 25). On a show on U.S. drug policy, Weiner asserted, “President Bush has given a pass to growing opium in Afghanistan. The Taliban did a better job in Afghanistan (last year) on drugs. President Bush is soft on drugs in Afghanistan.”
Weiner stated that world opium production was 5082 metric tons in 2000, and potential production dropped to 1264 in 2001 largely due to Taliban mandates to arrest production in Afghanistan, the world’s leading supplier of opium, the raw material of heroin. “Opium is on the rise again in Afghanistan under the Interim Government, led by the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance has always had as bad a record as the Taliban in supporting opium and heroin,” Weiner asserted today in amplifying his TV comments, “but now the Bush Administration has chosen to ignore this for political reasons. Despite having been warned of the possibility, the Administration waited so long to recognize the obvious problem that now it says the timing of the crop is impossible to control this year. Bush Drug Czar John Walters and the Administration essentially say ‘Maybe next year’.”
Weiner contended, “That’s just not good enough. It’s as though the Bush team is saying that the high profile tragic killing of 3000 Americans by the Afghanistan-led al-Qaeda network will not be tolerated, but 50,000 drug related deaths in America (and thousands more in Europe) by drugs which have helped fund that very network are not as important. Doesn’t the Bush team realize that the drug network they are now tolerating and the dirty money involved helped to create the very kind of terrorist danger we are fighting?” On the show, Weiner drew the link between drugs and terrorism: “Afghanistan has been the number one opium/heroin country and Colombia number one for cocaine – the two most terrorist and violent nations on earth.”
Also on Maher’s “Politically Incorrect,” Weiner took issue with the host’s assertion that the drug war is a “failure”, pointing out that in the last two decades, “Overall drug use is down by half, cocaine by 70%, and crime is at record lows in part because the crack wars have waned.
If any other social problem – poverty, hunger, illiteracy -- were reduced by half or 70%, would you say we are losing or call it a failure?” Weiner asked Maher. On other issues, Weiner called high school drug testing “a good deterrent” which “parents should have as a tool” and said “it’s no big deal to go in a bottle for twenty seconds compared to what we have to go through now for airport security.”
He said that it is untrue that marijuana is not dangerous -- it is the second or first leading cause of car crashes in shock trauma unit and emergency room figures in various locations (Bill Maher said he “does not accept” this fact). And Weiner disputed the assertion that millions of Americans are jailed for possession of marijuana: “That’s the biggest myth out there. Even Marion Barry wasn’t arrested for the little bit of marijuana he had. There is de facto decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana all across the country. "What those people are in jail for is often through plea bargaining down from doing something more serious.”
Also on Maher’s show were actress Rachel Lee Cook, comedian Steve Marmel, and drug policy researcher Sanho Tree.
After over six years as the White House Drug Policy Public Affairs Director-Chief of Press Relations under President Clinton, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, and the Bush Administration, Weiner now is President of Robert Weiner Associates, a public affairs and issue strategies company.
Following the taping, Maher told Weiner, “You gave me a good debate.”
Weiner told him, “It was fun” and expressed appreciation to him and his producers for the opportunity to appear.
Weiner brought with him to the show, and introduced to Maher, long-time friend-political activist Sylvia Levin of Santa Monica, who this year won the California Secretary of State’s annual Hall of Fame Award for registering, as a volunteer, 41,360 persons to vote in her thirty-year still ongoing career, more than anyone else in the history of California.
Sylvia Levin is the mother of political consultant Chuck Levin, founder of California’s “First Vote”, a highly recognized voter registration program.
Source: Robert Weiner Associates 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700