General John Kelly Has Long History of Advocating for Destructive and Ineffective Drug War Policies
DPA’s Ethan Nadelmann: “It Looks Like Donald Trump
Is Revving Up to Re-Launch the Failed Drug War”
Is it obvious enough for you, yet?“This is looking really bad,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
President-elect Donald Trump will nominate General John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, media reported on Wednesday. Kelly served as head of Southcom, overseeing Drug War efforts in Latin America under the Obama Administration. Homeland Security oversees drug interdiction operations of Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration.
“First Sessions for Attorney General, then Price at HHS, and now yet another old-style drug war character for Homeland Security,” Nadelmann said. “It looks like Donald Trump is revving up to re-launch the failed drug war.”
In 2014, Kelly told a Congressional hearing that marijuana legalization in the U.S. was undermining U.S relations with countries in Latin America. Kelly claimed that governments were “confused by the signals that our legalization sends, and when they’re investing so much in resources and blood they have to question that.”“Kelly is a big-time drug war zealot,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of DPA’s office of national affairs, of Trump’s Homeland Security nominee. “As head of Southern Command he demonstrated that he is a true believer in the drug war, and it’s incredibly worrying that he could now head up Homeland Security.”
Kelly also claimed that Latin American leaders were in “disbelief” that states were legalizing marijuana – despite the fact that many Latin America countries have already legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, or explored doing so.
Despite the Defense Department’s billion-dollar counter-narcotics annual budget, Kelly also claimed in a separate hearing in 2014 that he needed more funding to fight the Drug War. Kelly claimed that a “lack of resources” meant he had to “simply sit and watch” drug traffickers as they moved their supplies, and was therefore unable to interdict “74 percent of smuggling.”Two weeks later, this time at a press conference in Latin America, Kelly was talking about how successful interdiction efforts were in the region. His Guatemalan counterpart boasted about a 62 percent reduction in drug flow, seemingly contradicting Kelly’s earlier comments to Congress.
In April 2016, Kelly testified before a Senate Committee that in the mid-1960s, ”the use of drugs became literally cool as projected by Hollywood, social progressives, and even Harvard professors.” When discussing people who use drugs, he also said that “most of these abusers started with the gateway drug that marijuana most certainly is.”
While Trump pledged to respect state-level marijuana reforms during the presidential campaign, he named a dedicated opponent of marijuana reform and longtime drug war extremist, Senator Jeff Sessions, as attorney general. Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Price, who Trump selected as secretary of Health and Human Services, has voted against key medical marijuana measures in Congress.
In yet more bad news, also on December 7, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who sued the state of Colorado to block marijuana legalization, was selected to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a “close ally of the fossil fuel industry,” according to The New York Times, “signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change.”