This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Last Updated:6/25/00
Speech by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), June 21, 2000
Mr. 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 request.

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.

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