Drug War Propagandist Barry McCaffrey Calls Washington State Officials "Intimidated, Irresponsible, Uneducated"

Four-Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey's tenure as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy was marred by the kind of scandal that would have shamed a more decent person into spending the rest of his life in disguise. And yet, McCaffrey is still out in the world, telling lies for money. 

As Pres. Bill Clinton's second-term drug czar from 1996-2001, McCaffrey denied that AIDs and cancer patients could receive any relief whatsoever from marijuana, and tried to ruin the lives of doctors who so much as spoke about the drug with their dying patients. He treated ONDCP staffers so poorly that two-thirds of them quit. He lied frequently and obviously. He ended his tenure by secretly paying TV networks to insert anti-drug messages in their shows. What he did after leaving the ONDCP was also pretty nasty: took money from military contractors in exchange for promoting their interests in Iraq on network television (without disclosure, of course). 

McCaffrey's latest exploit is second guessing the motivations and intelligence of Washington state officials, who are now working to implement regulations for recreational marijuana, during a speech before the Downtown Yakima Rotary Club in Washington state:

The state’s marijuana legalization law is “a huge mistake” that will lead to increased drug and alcohol abuse, the nation’s former drug czar and retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey said in an interview Thursday.

“I don’t have a clue” how the federal government will respond, said McCaffrey. “I think local political leadership in the state of Washington was intimidated and irresponsible, or uneducated.”

To get a sense of just how ridiculous McCaffrey is on this issue, see this interaction with a Rotarian:

Prior to McCaffrey’s speech, a Rotary member joked in opening remarks that he wouldn’t ask who was taking advantage of legalized marijuana, but instead offered up boxes of Ding Dongs, Twinkies and other snacks that can appeal to marijuana users who have the munchies.

McCaffrey said a relaxed attitude toward marijuana doesn’t help the problem.

“Even the nice gentleman who thought it was funny and clever to use Twinkies,” McCaffrey said after the meeting. “If you’re an employer and you think it’s OK for family members and employees to use drugs, you’ve got a screw loose.”

If anybody has a screw loose, it's probably not the guy joking about the munchies. Previously, McCaffrey was seen at a different (paid) speaking gig, scolding efforts to reduce HIV and addiction: 

Fix co-founder and treatment specialist Joe Schrank asked the general during a Q&A, "Could Portugal's example of drug decriminalization work here?" Portugal decriminalized all drugs more than 10 years ago, a move that reportedly brought lower rates of drug use, drug-related deaths and HIV infections, and made people with addiction problems more likely to seek treatment.

But that wouldn't happen here, according to McCaffrey. He argued at length that "legalizing drugs would be an utter disaster," claiming that "low-level users" don't do time in the US, and concluding: "Portugal? Bullshit!" The remark drew some applause from the conference crowd at the Hotel Del Coronado, many of them treatment providers.

A militant drug warrior cheered by people who make a living off government-mandated substance abuse counseling. There's a dystopian vision for you. 

For a nearly complete recounting of McCaffrey's drug-war legacy, see Jacob Sullum.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Drake||

    I wish Norman Schwarzkopf was still around to chew out Barry's stupid slow ass.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    "Portugal? Bullshit!"

    Well, hell, why didn't they say this before? That's some convincing stuff right there.

  • tarran||

    So Mcaffrey is, willfully misleading, irresponsible, and tries to intimidate people?

    And they say projection is a myth.

  • ||

    fuck him! legalization is working great so far in WA state. people like it, and i haven't seen roving hordes of hopheads forcefully deflowering our fair virgins in fits of mj fueled excess.

    it's been what we knew it would be - no big deal.

    is he willing to say mea culpa when all his stupid predictions fail to come true? i doubt it. like most drug warriors (and many drug advocates), the truth takes a backseat to ideology.

    "Second guessing the motivations and intelligence of Washington state officials " and again, it wasn't OFFICiALS, it was THE PEOPLE who legalized marijuana in WA state. it took an initiative, a vote of the people to cut through all the candy-ass legislators who wouldn't do it.

    WA should be a model for the rest of the country, a model for how a state constitution can recognize far more expansive civil rights than our inadequate federal constitution (and inadequate 4th amendment), and how by citizen initiative, we can at least partially overturn this crazy war on drugs and inject some sanity into our states.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Please commit suicide now.

  • tarran||

    Being a man utterly without honor or conscience, dunphy will never do that.

    Of course, there is no harm in trying to convince him to do the right thing.

  • ||

    and here come the personal attacks from the trolls.

    i have more honor than you could imagine, in your petty meaningless existence. i wear a ribbon my chest, given for valor, a recognition of this and the lives i have saved.

    go back to your sad, small little world and let the adults make a difference.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Don't sweat it Dunphy. Tarran was my internet stalker for a while too. All things pass including the McCaffrey fool.

  • fish_remote||

    fuck him! legalization is working great so far in WA state. people like it, and i haven't seen roving hordes of hopheads forcefully deflowering our fair virgins in fits of mj fueled excess.

    it's been what we knew it would be - no big deal.

    is he willing to say mea culpa when all his stupid predictions fail to come true? i doubt it. like most drug warriors (and many drug advocates), the truth takes a backseat to ideology.

    While I'm reluctant to defend a guy who has probably put people in jail for participating in the consumption of recreational drugs I'm hard pressed to find anything wrong the the sentiment offerred here!

  • tarran||

    Oh, I'm sure once in a while that worthless piece of shit says something good. After all he gets few chances to act as an apologist for murderers.

    But, in the end, if dunphy were to paint his study wall with his brains, we'd all be better off. Well, except poor Morgan Fairchild would probably have to put in new drywall in the weeks it took to land a new husband.

    He has shown himself to be a conscienceless piece of shit in numerous comments, so many, in fact, that I think we have a good measure of his character, or lack thereof.

    I suspect will always be a worthless drain on society.

  • Frank_Carbonni||

    I'm not a fan of Dunphy, but at least give credit where credit is due.

  • crashland||

    "...inject some sanity into our states..."

    And some fine smack in our veins...

  • RyanXXX||

    +1

    Ignore the haters, Dunphy

  • Cytotoxic||

    This. Dunphy haters must be just badly adjusted people.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I've never had the displeasure of hearing the man talk, but he looks like he talks like a Vogon. Gonna have to watch a video of him later. If for no other reason than humor.

  • crashland||

    People like this wanker aren't simply wrong, they are perverse. They claim to care about drug addiction and yet ignore evidence that contrary to their repressive views, decriminalization works. You must be retarded to not understand, or most likely just be a liar, that somebody with an abuse problem will more often seek treatment when doing so doesn't require admitting to be a "criminal."

    The actions they advocate hurt the people they are so concerned about. They are manipulative liars.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I don't get it. If you have to resort to bullshit to "win" an argument, shouldn't that tell you something about the position you're fighting for?

  • ||

    He's just a shill. He doesn't "believe" in his position at all. He just profits from it.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Eh, it could be both. I post libertarian comments here, but I wouldn't be pissed off if the Koch Bros started mailing checks for doing so.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    ^This. None of these people speak from the heart, just the leather money-holder in the right back pocket.

    Remember: A politician (which McCaffrey undoubtedly is) is an individual who stands around waiting to feel a tickle on their butt. When they feel the tickle, they reach into their back pocket, and if there is a note and some money in there, they put the money in the bank and do what it says to do on the note.

    Period.

  • R C Dean||

    Opening question on the new Sunday morning show "Meet the Dean"

    "Mr. McCaffrey, would you characterize yourself as the stupid and easily manipulated tool of authoritarian goons, or as a mendacious and dishonest propagandist for authoritarian goons?"

  • dantheserene||

    I'd watch that episode, for sure.

  • John C. Randolph||

    "Portugal? Bullshit!"

    ..Upon hearing this, all the former addicts in Portugal reverted to their previous habits.

    -jcr

  • ||

    people like this are the same no matter the topic. when confronted with actual real world evidence, we get such brilliant retorts as "portugal? bullshit!"

    portugal is just another piece of proof that the path is not draconian laws against drugs, but decriminalization, harm reduction, and a recognition that putting a substance into your body shouldn't make you a criminal, and in a sane criminal justice system, it doesn't

  • NeonCat||

    Suggested alt-text:"Get yer grass off my lawn!"

  • Cytotoxic||

    He treated ONDCP staffers so poorly that two-thirds of them quit.

    Well at least he's not all bad.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    . “If you’re an employer and you think it’s OK for family members and employees to use drugs, you’ve got a screw loose.”

    If they can do the job I pay them to do, I don't care if they spend the other 16 hours they aren't on the job smoking bowls and eating cold waffles.

    Employees =/= slaves.

  • Dallas H.||

    But the childrenz!

    How could they ever grow up to be something important like president if they got on the devil weed?!

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    I'm not wishing for McCaffrey to die of fetid flaming eye cancer, but if it happens, meh, I'm cool with it.

  • croaker||

    I would much rather see this four-star four-flusher picked up for DUI.

  • R C Dean||

    I bet there were lots of officers and enlisted glad to see this blowhard hit the road when he retired. Jeebus, what a nightmare he must have been when he had real authority.

  • DaveAnthony||

    "In the end, experts they consider themselves to be, people are a tangle of unexamined emotional impulses and illogical responses."

    Which is why you'll never convince guys like this they were wrong, they wasted their life fighting for the wrong side, that they themselves did more harm than good.

    McCaffrey should crawl into a dark hole away from public life where we don't have to hear his ignorant rantings ever again. BULLSHIT! Indeed.

  • entropy||

    McCaffrey should crawl into a dark hole away from public life where we don't have to hear his ignorant rantings ever again.

    Well it looks like he'll be dead in 5-10 years.

    I'm not sure how much stock to put into Reason-Rupe polls, especially since they keep reaffirming my bias and hinting that everyone under 35 is a libertarian (or at least, libertine).

    On a lot of these issues though, it will be interesting to see the 180 degree change that seems to be baked into the next decade or two.

    We're at 50% now, and the majority of the people opposing legalization are over 65. Which means they won't still be opposing it in 20 years.

  • Sailfree||

    If it really is a war, then perhaps we should consider some war crimes trials. I can think of a good candidate for the first defendant.

  • croaker||

    There are a few people ahead of General Turd.

    The pigs in Ventura County CA who pretended to see a pot plant so they could kill the owner of 50 acres and steal the land for a state park.

    The pilots who shot down a missionary family in Central America.

    The prosecutors who let a pot activist on chemotherapy die choking on his own vomit.

    The pig murderers of Kathryn Johnson, who should be taking it up the ass every night instead of the protective custody they enjoy.

    Yeah, quite a few people ahead of General Turd.

  • Mongo||

    Me and my palz used to laff hard when the old fool was interviewed on NPR during his tenure.

  • ||

    My palz and I.

  • Sam Grove||

    Mccaffrey needs a death note.

  • LifeStrategies||

    McCaffrey seems to think he's right, and so is willing to lie whenever it will support his corrupt thinking. Yet he still wants people to believe him!

    He's obviously an avid follower of Adolf Hitler who believed the same thing - the end justifies the means... See http://www.lifestrategies.net/hitler

  • joebanana||

    Do people pay money to hear this guy blow bull s*it all over them? I guess free speech means you can spew whatever lies you want to, but that's why god gave some of us a brain. This guy still thinks the world is flat, luckily he looks old, maybe if we're lucky he'll die soon.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement