Bob Barr Insists He's Seen the Light
Libertarian candidate for President Bob Barr has written his first post at Huffington Post. He says he was wrong about the war on drugs. He now realizes it has been a failure.
I'll admit it, just five years ago I was "Public Enemy Number 1" in the eyes of the Libertarian Party. In my 2002 congressional race for Georgia's Seventh District, the Libertarian Party ran scathing attack ads against my stand on Medical Marijuana.
....For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.
Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I'll even argue that America's drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, "War on Drugs," in 1972.
The result of spending all of those taxpayer's dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.
We need to look for solutions that deal with the drug problem without costly and intrusive government agencies, and instead allow for private industry and organizations to put forward solutions that address the real problems.
Taking a page from the WWF, he says wellness programs are the answer:
...rehabilitation, testing and even anonymous help lines
Barr also endorses employee drug testing.
While there may be some employees of the organization who may not like random drug tests or being thrown on a treadmill for an EKG, they have the choice of finding a new employer.
Still the same strident Bob Barr. And, while he sounds like he's reformed as to the punishment for drug users, what about those that sell drugs? He used to support the death penalty for drug traffickers. Is he now opposed to the mandatory minimums and double-digit to life sentences he used to support for them?
Here's Barr in 2000 on the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity:
The substances are, in fact, very different, and my experience both as a former U.S. attorney working very closely with federal, state and local law enforcement officers and staying in very close contact with them as a member of the Judiciary Committee is that these officers have no racial ax to grind. They go where the drugs are and they prosecute them without regard to race, and you cannot show anything other than these bald statistics to support your proposition.
Then he denies there is a racial disparity in sentencing in America:
KING: You're not saying -- Bob Barr, you're not saying the playing field is level, are you, in this country?
BARR: I'm saying the playing field is level. What we're getting...
KING: It is?
BARR: Yes, it is. What we are getting off on here is a bogus distinction or a bogus impression that we are talking about the same substance. These substances are very different, Larry.
KING: So it is -- but, no, the essence of crime though, Bob, is you're saying that if a black man and a white man walk into a courtroom they are treated identically in America?
BARR: In my experience as a U.S. attorney and a member of the Judiciary Committee -- and we hear from all sorts of people, including mothers in the inner city of all different races.
KING: And the treatment is identical? In other words, you see one and the other, you're colorblind?
KING: And the law is colorblind? BARR: Absolutely, it is, Larry, and in particular with federal law, where you have sentencing guidelines that ensure that it is colorblind.
Here's Barr exactly one year ago still pushing more U.S. funds to fight the drug war in Colombia:
Recognizing Colombia's essential role in our country's campaign against illicit trafficking in cocaine, the Bush administration and prior Congresses have responded to Mr. Uribe's efforts by funding "Plan Colombia" to the tune over its seven-year lifespan of more than $5.0 billion. While critics interpret the fact that Colombian-processed cocaine stills arrives in our country as evidence Plan Colombia should be defunded or dramatically reduced, in reality this support for Colombia's efforts will continue as an essential component of our anti-drug program. If Congress truly wants the plan work better, the solution would be not to dry up funding but to provide more flexibility for its implementation.
- Voted NO on funding for alternative sentencing instead of more prisons. (Jun 2000)
- Voted YES on more prosecution and sentencing for juvenile crime. (Jun 1999)
- Voted NO on maintaining right of habeas corpus in Death Penalty Appeals. (Mar 1996)
- Voted YES on making federal death penalty appeals harder. (Feb 1995)
- More prisons, more enforcement, effective death penalty. (Sep 1994)
Question for Mr. Barr: What should the penalty be for someone involved with a meth lab? What about a second or third time offender? What if he's from Mexico? Would you support life in prison or the death penalty in any of these instances, and if not, why not?
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