DEA: Results Not Demonstrated -- Or Are They?
Talk about a demoralizing job review.
The spanking administered to the Drug Enforcement Administration by the White House Office of Management and Budget last February should have smarted, although it was delivered in the gray language of bureaucracy.
"DEA is unable to demonstrate its progress in reducing the availability of illegal drugs in the U.S. While DEA has developed some strategic goals and objectives, these goals lack specificity in targets and time frames," according to the White House assessment. "DEA managers are not held accountable for achieving results."
Even if you're already convinced the DEA is a scam, it's nice to have some verification from the federal government.
The assessment includes ratings on various categories. The ratings are scored on a scale of zero to 100. The DEA scored zero in the "Results/Accountability" category. Zero. Nil. Nothing. The ultimate void of non-being. Not even a token point for style or effort. The assessment also includes one overall rating. In this space, the DEA was categorized as "Results Not Demonstrated."
A performance chart from the White House report on the DEA.
The DEA was budgeted at about $1.5 billion last year. Its budget has increased consistently since its inception. Somehow this growth has been achieved without clear results or accountability. So, can we hope things will change now? The champions of small government in the Bush administration wouldn't just maintain a massive bureaucratic structure that has the power to destroy citizens' lives without accountability, would it?
A housecleaning should be in order with heads rolling and complacency challenged.
Strangely, Asa Hutchinson, the most recent head of the DEA, isn't hightailing out of Washington with his head hung in shame. No, he got a promotion -- a prestigious and powerful job with the Department of Homeland Security. Hutchinson's right hand man, John W. Brown, a career agent who has been around since the time when the DEA was called the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, is running the agency now. If this is a shake-up, it's remarkably subdued.
Perhaps the agency will be forced to make do with less? No, the budget is still set to go up by $13 million in 2004. Granted, that's a small increase compared to the glory days of the eighties. But the eighties are long gone, and so is the image of the DEA agent as swashbuckling hero. The agency's most high profile acts lately have been the persecution of medical marijuana providers and users.
By shutting down locally-sanctioned medical marijuana clubs, the DEA is not only hurting sick people and subverting the will of voters, it is pushing patients back to the black market. Such actions are not only cruel, they are counterproductive. Through this policy, the DEA feeds the market it is supposedly trying to fight.
Of course, the DEA may claim to fight black market drugs, but if the market really ever disappeared, the agency would become redundant. As long as the black market grows, the DEA can expect to grow.
And as long as the most popular illegal drug (marijuana) remains demonized, the DEA has nothing to worry about. But, if the general population ever suddenly realized that prohibiting marijuana is a waste of lives and resources, that cannabis really can help many people, the agency would be forced to downsize.
It seems as if the maintenance of absolute prohibition is the main priority, and everything else, like the Constitution and basic human decency, are inconveniences to be overcome. It's as if the agency is accountable to no one. Oh, that's right, that's what the White House said just before watching the DEA continue on its devastating path.
The DEA's results, far from being not demonstrated, are becoming more painfully clear every day.
Stephen Young is an editor with DrugSense Weekly, and the author of Maximizing Harm.