by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), June 21, 2000
McCONNELL. Mr. President, this is a two front war--we need to advance on
both fronts. Clearly, we can't continue the administration's pattern of
ignoring this crisis.
I agree that we should increase
education, prevention, and treatment efforts, as well as local law enforcement
efforts. But, will that effort pay off, if we do so at the expense of
attacking the source country problem?
It is pretty clear that after
seven years of doing nothing, the administration is trying to play catch
up in this crisis.
If we look at trends and commitments,
during the Reagan Just-Say-No years, drug production and use plummeted.
This trend sharply reversed
in 1992 which was exactly when Clinton was asked, `If you had to do it
over again, would you have inhaled?' He answered, `Sure, if I could have.'
Since 1992, and this unfortunate
remark, drug use has soared and production has tripled.
We need to attack both fronts
in this war--here, at home, and abroad.
I think we have recommended
a good balance for the battle abroad.
Let me remind everyone it
is a very different package than the request made by the administration--I
have much more confidence in the bill before the Senate than I did in
The most important difference
is our emphasis on a regional strategy. Just as we saw production spike
in Colombia when pressure was applied to traffickers in Peru and Bolivia,
I believe we would see the problem shift back to Peru, Bolivia, and to
Ecuador if we don't increase our regional support.
Without compromising vital
support for Colombia, we provided $205 million in support to Ecuador,
Peru, Bolivia, and other nations in the region. This more than doubles
the administration's request of $76 million.
A second key difference between
the bill and the request is the support we offer for human rights programs.
As the tempo of operations against the traffickers pick up, I am concerned
that abuses will also increase.
Colombia's judicial system
is weak and court officials are regularly threatened making investigations
and prosecutions extremely difficult. Moreover, the military has undermined
attempts by civilian courts to prosecute officers accused of human rights
abuses even though Colombian law requires the transfer of these cases
to civilian courts.
To address these concerns
we have required certification that the military is complying with their
own laws and are cooperating in the pursuit of these cases in civilian
court. We also substantially increase aid to government and non-government
organizations involved in the protection of human rights.
We paid for these increases
by changing the helicopter package.
Again, let me say, striking
the right balance is the key to our success.
This bill strikes the right
balance between domestic and international law enforcement--the right
balance between Colombia and the other countries in the region--and the
right balance between our support for Colombian law enforcement and Colombian
human rights advocate.
As of June 25, 2000, this document
was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:S21JN0-228: