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Rep. Hutchinson to Head DEA

Aired May 8, 2001 - 11:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: This just in to us here at CNN, news out of Washington about Congressman Asa Hutchinson leaving Congress for another job. For more on that, let's go to our Kelli Arena, who is in the nation's capital -- Kelli, good morning.

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Daryn.

Well, administration sources tell us that the Arkansas Congressman, former federal prosecutor Asa Hutchinson, will be named to head the Drug Enforcement Administration. Hutchinson currently serves on the speaker's Task Force for a Drug-Free America. He is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.

We're told that the official announcement won't come until Thursday, made by the White House. And it will happen to coincide with an announcement that John Walters will be named to head the Office of National Drug Policy. Walters was the top deputy for William Bennett, who held that job under the former Bush administration.

You are seeing pictures of Mr. Hutchinson right now. The announcement came as a surprise. His name had been circulated for several jobs throughout the naming of various posts.

Also, people at the Drug Enforcement Administration tell us that this came as a surprise because the current head was told that he would be on the job for a while. These announcements are very important, come at a very pivotal time because the nation is really grappling with exactly how to move forward with its drug enforcement policy, whether more prosecutions, stricter enforcement, more prison time is the way to go, or treatment, whether more treatment is the way to go.

Critics charge that these appointments point in the direction of more prosecution and more prison time, less treatment, although we have at least heard from John Walters on that front saying that he believes that a balanced approach is necessary, Daryn.

KAGAN: Kelli Arena, thank you very much with the news that Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas headed up to head up the DEA. Thank you. And we'll get more on that a little bit later in terms what the implications will be in Congress and the Republican majority.

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