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Remarks Announcing the Appointment of the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and an Exchange With Reporters

April 28, 1993

The President. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Please be seated. I want to thank the members of the Cabinet who are here and the Members of the Congress who are here and express my apologies for the Attorney General who is with the Congress. And that's why some of them and why she is not here.

I want to thank the representatives of law enforcement, people who are involved in drug treatment and drug education, and other citizens who are here with us today, as well as those who have been working in the office of drug policy who are here.

It is a great pleasure and honor for me today to announce the appointment of Lee Brown, the first police officer ever to hold the job of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

A few weeks ago I elevated this office to Cabinet-level status because I believe drug abuse is as serious a problem as we have in America and because I believe that this office cannot work effectively on its own, no matter how many people it might have. The real ability of this office to make a difference in the lives of the American people is the ability to work with all the Departments of the National Government and with others who care about this issue to maximize our resources, to focus our efforts, and to make sure we're all working together. Lee Brown shares that view, and I am proud that he has agreed to join us in this administration.

As Americans who care about our fixture, we can't let drugs and drug-related crimes continue to ruin communities, threaten our children even in schools, and fill up our prisons with wrecked and wasted lives. We have to do a better job of preventing drug use and treating those who seek treatment, and we must do more to protect law-abiding citizens from those who victimize them in the pursuit of drugs or profits from drugs. I'm committed to winning this struggle, as all Americans are, and I'm convinced that there is no better American to lead this effort than Lee Brown. He's been the chief law enforcement officer in Atlanta, in Houston, and New York. He's a policeman with a Ph.D. in criminology who brings to this tough job a truly extraordinary record of innovation in crime reduction and a sensitivity to the problems of real people who want to walk home safe at night and who want to be free of the problems that we're trying to combat.

To reduce drug use and drug-related crimes we have to do many things at the same time. It has to start with community policing, with more police at the local level working with our neighbors and the children and the friends to prevent crime and to quickly punish criminals. There must be better education and prevention efforts starting at the earliest ages. These work; I know that. And there must be treatment for those who want to get better.

Dr. Brown knows a little something about community policing. It's nearly his invention. He turned the Houston police force into a model of community policing. And for many serious crimes, the crime rate there dropped. In New York he added thousands of officers to foot patrols; men and women whom he empowered to solve problems, not with the Federal program but with a commitment to a better life in a particular neighborhood. And reports of serious crime fell where that was done in New York. He's had the vision to seek conditions clearly and the courage to change what doesn't work. Most importantly, he gets results. And this is exactly what we need in the war against drugs.

I pledge to him and to the American people an exceptionally focused and carefully executed antidrug effort from the National Government. At the heart of our efforts will be more funds for local police officers, more for treatment and more for prevention. We will continue to work with other nations who have shown the political will to fight illegal drugs. They will continue to get our full support and our cooperation.

But it's time we turned our attention home and built a strategy to make the neighborhoods of America safer and more drug-free. We want to close the gap between those who want treatment and available treatment. Treating addiction is good urban policy and good anticrime policy and good health policy. We ask for a 10-percent increase in treatment funds for 1994. And we'll make drug treatment an important part of the national health care plan that will be presented to the Congress and the American people. Our goal is to work toward treatment on demand.

I believe the parents of America want and deserve more help in educating their children about drugs. We can prevent drug abuse. School programs work. Public service programs work. But they aren't miracles. They require a commitment and a consistency year in and year out. We've asked for a 16-percent increase in drug prevention funding.

Finally, we're determined to put more police officers on the street and to expand community policing. It's a local program, old-fashioned law enforcement, but it works. It means less crime. I think it's time to go back to the basics. I asked the Congress to approve $200 million in the jobs stimulus package for community policing. And I proposed almost $600 million in policing and other initiatives similar to that in 1994.

The most basic responsibility of the Government is to protect the American people. It's our sacred duty to do our best. I believe we have a good program. It can be a great program if it can come alive in America in every community in this country. It's basic: more officers, more education, more treatment. And with the leadership of Lee Brown it promises to be effective.

I look forward to working with him and with the other members of our Cabinet, administration to meet and to master the challenges ahead.

[At this point, Dr. Brown expressed his appreciation to the President and his commitment to develop a national drug control strategy.]

Drug Control Policy Director

Q. Mr. President, you talked about the need to give resources to education and treatment from some of the law enforcement efforts. Why then did you pick someone with a background in law enforcement?

The President. Because I don't think it's an either-or thing. I think having the right kind of community-based education and treatment programs, if they work, also requires having the right kind of community law enforcement strategy. One of the things that I have learned in the many years I served as attorney general and Governor, and talking to other people who have been involved in that, is that if you do it right, all these things go hand in hand.

I wish the Attorney General were here today to talk about the drug courts she started in Miami, and what the relationship of law enforcement there is to integrating a treatment and education program.

That's why I wanted someone who had a background in law enforcement and credibility on that issue, but who believed in innovation and education and treatment to do this job. I wanted someone who could put together a policy that makes sense. If you try to pick one or the other, you're never going to get the job done.

Wolf [Wolf Blitzer, CNN News]?


Q. Mr. President, you met last night with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders on the situation in Bosnia. And by all accounts, they seem to have given you some conflicting advice. Many of them appear to be more moved by the lessons of Vietnam than they are by the Holocaust. Did you emerge from that session more confused about what the United States should do as far as the situation in Bosnia is concerned?

The President. No, I didn't. I still believe the United States has to strengthen its response. But the meeting was helpful because of the practical issues which were raised and the specific suggestions I got from people, many of whom have different views. But some who were there last night are here today; they can make their own comments. But I think it was a very helpful meeting and there were a lot of very specific things that came out of that, and that I think will come out of our consultations over the next couple of days.

Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News]?

Q. Do you feel that you can continue, though, to consider military options now that so many Members of Congress have strongly expressed their objections? Would you proceed if you felt it was still the fight thing to do and if you had allied support?

The President. Well, I will decide what I think the right thing to do is, and then see if I can persuade the Congress and the allies to go along. Right now, what I want to do is to hear what they think the right thing to do is, and the people with whom I consulted last night were good enough to tell me. And we agreed that they would set in motion a process to go back to their committees and try to solicit some more views.

Q. Mr. President, is it accurate—

Drug Control Policy

Q. [Inaudible]—plan to continue with the policy of hot pursuit like in the Machain case, or how are you going to deal with cases like that? Are you going to come to other countries and kidnap or bring to justice in this country a person suspected of a crime in a drug situation, like in the Machain case? How are you going to deal with that situation?

The President. I'm not sure I heard you-the plane flew over. But you asked about the abduction out of Mexico? Is that what you asked about?

Q. That's right—if you are going to continue with that type of policy.

The President. I think I've made my position clear on that. I think the present ruling of law is too broad there. I don't believe that the United States should be involved in that unless there is a clear and deliberate attempt by a government in another country to undermine extradition or undermine the enforcement of its own laws and our laws on that. So that's been my position for months and months; I haven't changed that.

Q. Mr. President, do you expect to get bipartisan support from Congress for the money you're going to need? The two predecessors of Mr. Brown accomplished certain things, but not much. How will you make sure that Mr. Brown has the money to accomplish—

The President. Well, I think there will be bipartisan support. Keep in mind this is partly a money problem and partly a resource problem. We're going to try to do some different things and attract people who have thought about this issue. I don't think this is a Republican or a Democratic issue. There's hardly a family in America that hasn't been touched directly or indirectly by this problem. So I feel very hopeful about it.

Q. [Inaudible]—in the budget, sir?

The President. Well, we recommended more funds in the budget, and it's very critical to the whole health reform area. I mean, a big part of our strategy in this is embodied in the proposals we'll make on health care to deal with the whole treatment issue.

Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International]?


Q. When do you think you will have a decision? Do you have Yeltsin on board now to do more? And do you think the American people will support a military—[inaudible]—use of military force?

The President. Well, you asked me three questions. I think there will be a decision soon. We are working very hard on it. There are a lot of very practical questions that have to be asked and answered. As you know, it is a very difficult matter.

I believe that when we do make a decision, we will be, as we have been all, along, consulting with our, allies in the United Nations. And I think there is a fair chance that we'll be able to get the U.N. to go along with what we decide to do if we have some consultations as we go along; as we have.

I think President Yeltsin—I don't know what he will say. It depends in part, obviously, on what we recommend. But I'll tell you this: I've been very pleased by the positions that he has taken both publicly and privately recently. And even in the midst of his own election, when it might have hurt him politically, Russia did not veto our attempts to get much tougher sanctions. And I think he's been pretty clear since the election that he's not at all happy about the continuation of Serbian aggression and the refusal to negotiate in good faith and try to settle this war and stop the ethnic cleansing. So I feel pretty good about that.

Q. Mr. President, how are you going to tell the American people—

Drug Control Policy

Q. Mr. President, a former drug czar, Bill Bennett, said today that you have gutted the Office by cutting it down, cutting the personnel. How do you answer that?

The President. Well, my answer to that-maybe I should refer you to Congressman Rangel. I spoke with him when we were trying to figure out what to do about this budget. And what I perceived happened in that office before is that it was a large office that operated basically separate from the rest of the Government. It has no legal authority to compel the behavior of any law enforcement officials, and it obviously has no legal authority over, all the State and local people and the nonprofit people who are involved in drug education and treatment. So the real issue is whether it has the mechanisms necessary to pull, all the levers in the Federal Government and pull people together.

And I think by putting the Office in the Cabinet, by coordinating all of our national policies throughout the Federal Government, and by having a staff that can support that function, it's much more likely that we're going to be effective.

And I also would tell you that I believe in rhetoric in the war against drugs. I know that works. I think the education programs work, the prevention programs work, but it needs to be more than rhetoric. And I think it will also be perceived that I have appointed the most experienced person with the best record and the least political person who ever held this job. And I think that will count for something, too, with the Republicans and the Democrats.

Take Our Daughters to Work Day—

Q. Where's Chelsea?

The President. Well, we discussed it this morning and she said, "You know, it's easier for me; you work where you live. I know what it's like." She said, "I missed a lot of school last month, so I'm going to school."

Q. Would she have gone to work with you or Hillary?

The President. Actually, she thought it was just for mothers to take their daughters. I said, "No, no, fathers can, too." She said, "Well, you both work where you live. I'm going to school." But she's spent some time with us over here.

Health Care Reform

Q. Have you firmly decided not to delay health care because it might risk your budget proposal, sir?

The President. I think what we're talking about is not a risk.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. A biography of the nominee was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary. A portion of the exchange could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Announcing the Appointment of the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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