Vice President Biden formally announced the nomination of Gil Kerlikowske to be director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or drug czar, and cited his own years of experience working with Kerlikowske on crime and drug issues.
The vice president pointed out that this position was something he fought to create in order to develop better coordination between the dozens of agencies dealing with the nation’s drug problem.
While Biden did not say that the position had been downgraded to non-Cabinet level status , he did say that the Obama Administration needed a drug czar “who could lead at a White House level, coordinating all our nation’s drug policy.”
Biden indicated that drug czar will have a hand in the development and implementation of a border strategy in the southwest United States in order to tackle the problem of drugs coming in from Mexico and money and weapons going south of the border.
“It's a strategy that we need to bring in order to bring the situation under control, to protect our people, and to bring about the demise of the Mexican drug cartels,” Biden said.
Kerlikowske referenced his son’s drug problem but was not specific. “Our nation's drug problem is one of human suffering, and as a police officer but also in my own family, I have experienced the effects that drugs can have on our youth, our families and our communities.”
Some notables in the audience: William Bratton, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department; Ray Kelly, Commissioner of the New York Police Department; Cathy Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan DC Police Department; and Timothy Quinn, Acting Director of the COPS office at the Department of Justice.
-- Karen Travers