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White House buys Super Bowl anti-drug spots

From Major Garrett
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House has joined the Super Bowl advertising blitz, paying more than $3 million to warn during Sunday's game that buying drugs could fund terrorists.

The 30-second public service announcements cost roughly $1.6 million each -- the most the government has ever paid for a public service announcement, administration officials told CNN on Friday

The advertisements will kick off a sustained post-Super Bowl media effort headed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is supervising the campaign, and its new director, John Walters.

The public service announcements are an outgrowth of the "negative consequences" media campaign the government had been running for five years, according to one official.

The ONDCP has spent more than $180 million since its founding in 1988 on commercials, print advertisements and other media promoting an anti-drug message to pre-teens, teens, parents and youth leaders.

"In the past, the campaign has emphasized the social consequences (of drug use) like losing friends or relationships," an official said. "Then it emphasized physical consequences and the legal consequences."

Without discussing the specific content of the Super Bowl ads, officials said the message is that buying and using drugs could directly or indirectly give cash to terrorist groups bent on harming the United States or U.S. interests.

Afghanistan was widely regarded as the world's main producer of opium and its derivative, heroin, until 2000 when the Taliban officially "banned" its production. But U.S. officials contend the Taliban profited from the drug trade before and after the ban, with the proceeds paying for their military and supporting al Qaeda's terrorist training camps.

Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, has renewed the ban on opium production and pledged to destroy opium poppy fields. But U.S. officials are concerned farmers loyal to the Taliban and al Qaeda could use opium profits to fund their operations.


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