Contact: Bob Weiner/Sasha Varghese/Taylor Jubanowsky 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700


    (Washington, 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.

    "Unfortunately, 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, contended.

    Weiner 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."

    "At 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.

    "Dirty 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.

   Weiner 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.

    In 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 can solve."

    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