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Bush nominates new 'drug czar'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying "we must do, and we will do" a better job at stemming illegal drug use, President Bush Thursday nominated a veteran of the government's drug war to lead the battle.

Bush and Walters
John P. Walters makes comments Thursday morning after being nominated by President Bush to head the Office of Drug Control Policy.  

At a White House ceremony, Bush announced his nomination of John P. Walters to lead the Office of Drug Control Policy.

"John will bring tremendous skill, knowledge and good judgment to this job," he said.

Walters is a veteran of the Office of Drug Control Policy, serving as chief of staff under William Bennett -- who served in the administration of Bush's father -- and later as deputy director and acting director.

Walters briefly outlined where he will focus his attention.

"We will especially protect our children from drug use. We will help the addicted find effective treatment and remain in recovery," he said. "We will shield our communities from the terrible human toll taken by illegal drugs. We'll stop illegal drug use and the drug trade from funding threats to democratic institutions throughout our hemisphere."

Walters is thought to favor severe prison sentences for violent felons, marijuana smugglers and repeat offenders, but to view first-time drug users more leniently. He has been a supporter of the drug certification program under which the United States evaluates the anti-drug efforts in other countries.

Bush noted that in the United States there are about 5 million "hard-core users" of illegal drugs.

"While they represent one-third of the drug users, they consume two-thirds of all drugs," he said.

About half of those drug users are not getting any treatment, Bush said. He has ordered a study of treatment needs in every state and has promised to provide $1.6 billion over the next five years to fight what he called the "treatment gap." He also pledged to increase funding for the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Walters' nomination now goes before the Senate for approval.

McCaffrey will resign from drug czar post in January (October 16, 2000)

Office of National Drug Control Policy
The White House

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