Drug Policy

Tandy Steps Down

|

DEA Administrator Karen Tandy is retiring. She'll be taking an executive position with Motorola, also the chief corporate sponsor of the DEA's traveling exhibit that attempts to link drug use to September 11 (also a company I won't be patronizing anytime soon).

Tandy's tenure got off to an awkward start when medical marijuana activist and post-polio patient Suzanne Pfeil attempted to give her a letter at her confirmation hearings in 2003. Pfeil became an activist after she was awoken in 2002 by DEA agents raiding the treatment facility where she was staying. She opened her eyes to see assault weapons pointed at her head. When the agents ordered her to stand, Pfeil, a paraplegic, replied that she couldn't. So they cuffed her hands behind her back and left her on the bed for hours.

When Pfeil tried to give Tandy a letter detailing her ordeal, Tandy rather ungracefully ducked out a back door, then fled down a Capitol Hill hallway as Pfeil followed in her motorized wheelchair.

Tandy also presided over much of the DEA's painkiller witch-hunt. Her tenure included the debacle where the DEA graciously agreed to post a set of guidelines doctors could follow when prescribing opiods to ensure they were complying with the law, but then pulled the guidelines down when lawyers for pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz attempted to use them in his defense against drug trafficking charges. Under Tandy, pain patients and their doctors would get no quarter. The law would be whatever the DEA said it was, and the agency reserved the right to change what the law would be on a case-by-case basis.

Tandy once sent a letter to the editor in reply to an op-ed I wrote on the painkiller issue. I took apart her reply line-by-line here.

But if I had to name just one "highlight" of Tandy's reign at the DEA, I'd have to go with her spirited defense of alcohol prohibition, which in itself says a lot about how she approached the drug war.

Given the nature of the job, I doubt the next DEA administrator will be any better than Tandy. But you really couldn't do much worse.

One other notable item from the Washington Post article linked above—we now have DEA agents in 85 countries around the world.

NEXT: But What About the Troops, Ron Paul?

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.

  1. I always wondered what kind of horrible person would want to be the head of the DEA. This post has answered that question.

  2. I’m hoping she has a very long, painful life ahead of her.

  3. *fails to think of a Jessica Tandy/ Ridin’ Miss Daisy joke hier*

    hrumph. kicks pebble. tromps off.

  4. “Given the nature of the job, I doubt the next DEA administrator will be any better than Tandy. But you really couldn’t do much worse.”

    Stop saying that, Radley. Don’t give the Bush administration a goal to work towards. This is one benchmark they’d probably actually try to meet.

  5. What in god’s name qualifies someone who heads the DEA to take any sort of executive position at any company? In the business world you usually need to do things like examine facts, live in the real world, and take into account the consequences your actions might have. Anyone who works at the DEA is obviously devoid of all these skills.

  6. A story about a witch on Halloween.
    Very appropriate.

  7. I’m hoping she has a very long, painful life ahead of her.

    Unlike proles, party members will not be prosecuted for seeking and obtaining medicine for chronic pain.

  8. Oops- forgot to stop being SATAN.

  9. I don’t suppose anybody knows where to find a working link to Tandy’s alcohol prohibition video clip, do then? We’re having an interesting discussion about alcohol prohibition at the beeradvocate.com forum and I’d love to link to it.

  10. Damn! I work for Motorola.

    Maybe supporting this crappy DEA program is why the company has been going downhill since I was hired in 1998.

    Given the lack luster executives we have had this is probably not the case though.

    Why can’t we hire or promote good people? What was Zander thinking?

  11. Ben,

    Motorola stopped existing in the real world years ago. The philosophy now seems to be we can make money if we just fire enough people. Given that she comes from a job where they think that if they just jail enough people drugs will go away I think she will probably fit right in.

  12. May the woman live long, and then die a painful, excruciating death from leukemia without the benefit of modern opiate painkillers.

  13. Write to: Edward J. Zander, Chm and CEO
    Motorola Inc., 1303 E. Algonquin Rd., Schaumburg, IL. Tell him you likely won’t be buying or recommending any Motorola products now that they’ve seen fit to hire a woman who disregards the provisions some states have made for treatment of their citizens suffering from horrible diseases.

  14. I always wondered what kind of horrible person would want to be the head of the DEA.

    I’d like to head of the DEA. I’d proclaim cheese\ to be the biggest drug problem in the US, and make every DEA agent surveil dairy farms. This might cause a drop in arrests for other drugs, but the scourge of cheese would be stopped!

  15. I remember Tandy for giving a press release on the occasion of Canadian MJ seed seller Marc Emery’s arrest. She stated the DEA’s request for extradition was politically motivated.

    Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a signficant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.

    His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today.

    Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada.

    Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.

  16. BakedPenguin,

    What the hell is wrong with you boy! I love cheese. All red blooded Americans love cheese. If you’re going to divert the drug war, go after something we won’t miss, like tofu.

  17. The question is: are people like this harpy true believers, or just political hacks who serve their master well?

  18. It’s simple, you people hate freedom, because drugs = terrorism.

  19. Im trying to picture her (Tandy) running away from the wheelchair person.

  20. I wouldn’t want to run the DEA, but Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives sounds like a fun job.

    Yeah, I know, they go around seizing stuff, but that evidence locker must be a fun place to chill out, you know?

  21. I wanted to look at the video that was at the “spirited defense of prohibition” link, but… “removed due to terms of use violation.”

    🙁

  22. What in god’s name qualifies someone who heads the DEA to take any sort of executive position at any company?

    She has government contacts that will assist Motorola in landing contracts. Happens with the Pentagon all the time, why not the DEA?

  23. I wouldn’t want to run the DEA, but Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives sounds like a fun job.

    As Beavis and Butthead said, “We can be like, agents in like, the department of beer, cigarettes, and fire? huhuh cool!”

  24. also the chief corporate sponsor of the DEA’s traveling exhibit that attempts to link drug use to September 11

    Holy crap, I had no idea. I totally need a new phone now. Plus I’ve been looking for an excuse to dump AT&T and go back to Sprint and it looks like I just found one.

    How does one find this stuff out?? It’s not like my phone has “Proud sponsor of the DEA’s anti-drug propaganda circus” on it.

  25. Holy crap, I had no idea. I totally need a new phone now. Plus I’ve been looking for an excuse to dump AT&T and go back to Sprint and it looks like I just found one.

    Thank God I have an LG.

  26. Warren – They would be staking out the dairy farms because it would be easy for dairy farms to disguise cheese (the heroin / ephedra combo – check the link in my first post) as cheese (the food). So long as the farms were only making cheese (the food), no one would be arrested.

    Of course, it would be so easy for the farms to hide the drug, we’d need to keep all the agents watching this potential source of horrible, horrible, pestilence that will poison our children.

  27. Cheese!!!!!!

  28. …the chief corporate sponsor of the DEA’s traveling exhibit that attempts to link drug use to September 11…

    Traveling exhibit? Like PT Barnum? How appropriate.

  29. also a company I won’t be patronizing anytime soon

    Man, if I boycotted everybody and every company that deserved it, I’d have no life. 🙂

    The problem is this: your life is permeated with evil in ever so many incarnations and really, you can’t control very much of that. As Rhywun pointed out, who knew of a connection between Motorola, AT&T, and the DEA? Certainly not I. And, since PacBell owns the monopoly on my phone lines I can’t really switch anyway.

    I do pick a few though. American Express, Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, most anything connected to Jane Fonda, Amnesty International…….some is politically motivated, some is personal.

    And if you’re boycotting Wells Fargo what do you do when MaMu sells your mortgage to Wells Fargo? Refinance your 5% note at 7.5% to teach them a lesson?

  30. She has the dead eyes of the seasoned corporate zombie. She’ll do well.

    See, as this powerpoint shows, if we downsize the entire organization to 0 people, profits approach infinity.

    Any footage of the wheelchair race? Because that’s funny.

  31. …DEA’s traveling exhibit that attempts to link drug use to September 11…

    I must have been living under a rock. I had no idea the feds managed to connect the two. What utter nonsense. But then, I haven’t been to college like Ms. Tandy, so I’m probably talking out my ass.

    What in god’s name qualifies someone who heads the DEA to take any sort of executive position at any company?

    It’s a deferred bribe. They’re all too common in gov’t circles these days.

  32. Cesar, I’ve been pretty happy with my LG phone as well. Then it broke. Mrs TWC took it to the Verizon store and they gave me a new one. For Free. The Kicker? I didn’t have phone insurance.

    Now THAT is customer service.

    Please don’t tell me that Verizon is a corporate sponsor of terror or is working behind the scenes to destroy the republic in some unthinkable way.

  33. I wonder if DEA is as corrupt as it was back in the hey day of drug consumption in the US. I repeat myself here but in my yoot everybody knew that the DEA guys had the best dope. Maybe it was all urban myth, but in my little microcosm of the universe it was a widely held belief among the lame and the straight. There’s some terms that don’t mean what they once did. Hey, maybe there is such a thing as evolution.

  34. Karen Tandy is the kind of person that makes genuinely sorry I don’t believe in Hell.

  35. Jsub –

    the feds, anyone (everyone) in politics, have connected all of their evils with 9/11!!! 🙂

  36. I don’t know if AT&T’s involved–I just mentioned them ‘cuz I liked Sprint a lot better and if I’m gonna get a new phone I might as well get a new phone company while I’m at it.

    I must have been living under a rock.

    It was hard to miss here in NYC, being located in the heart of Times Square, in a building normally occupied by military recruiters. Synergy, that.

  37. Boo | October 31, 2007, 10:50am | #

    A story about a witch on Halloween.
    Very appropriate.

    Good one.

    I was looking for a witch reference but all I could think of was that they used to burn them. Now apparently some get appointed to high office.

    And my cell provider just gave me a brand new Motorola phone to replace my old Nokia which soon will no longer be compatable with there upgraded network.

  38. Can someone tell us what AT&T has to do with all this (besides offering Motorola phones like all the carriers do) ? That would be handy info because my cell contract is up in a few months and I do not want to do business with anyone who is in with the fuckin’ DEA. Also, I’ve had 2 Motorola phones and neither of them was worth a shit. There is also a rumor that Anheiser Busch (sp?) is in bed with those shitsuckers, too.

  39. creech | October 31, 2007, 11:00am | #

    Write to: Edward J. Zander, Chm and CEO
    Motorola Inc., 1303 E. Algonquin Rd., Schaumburg, IL. Tell him you likely won’t be buying or recommending any Motorola products now that they’ve seen fit to hire a woman who disregards the provisions some states have made for treatment of their citizens suffering from horrible diseases.

    Of course, some of us don’t like Motorola products to begin with…

  40. Motorola has always made top quality toys. And always some inferior rival becomes the standard. I don’t know what they’re trying to do hiring this bitch. I don’t much care. It just disgusts me she’s employable at all. After her performance at the DEA she should be pushing a shopping cart.

  41. ..off the edge of a cliff

  42. Episiarch | October 31, 2007, 11:14am | #

    The question is: are people like this harpy true believers, or just political hacks who serve their master well?

    ya that’s always what I find myself wandering too…Would love to see a smart person interview her.Of course she’d never agree to a interview with Balko, but maybe if someone posed as a local school board official who wanted to hire a “expert consultant on drug issues” and then got her to set up a meeting and secretly record it. Tell her your authorized for a 20k fee, but you’d like to discuss the project before you can finalize it. Start off talking about some BS problems withthe school then say something like, well we know the drug laws are just set up to raise prices for the real smugglers right? lots of establishment politicians get money from the drug trade that is common knowledge, how did ya’ll deal with people when they brought this up? keep going till she threatens to leave and then just start calling her a nazi who has helped ruin the country and she’ll be hung when it all comes out.

  43. Cesar, I’ve been pretty happy with my LG phone as well. Then it broke. Mrs TWC took it to the Verizon store and they gave me a new one. For Free. The Kicker? I didn’t have phone insurance.

    Almost the exact same thing happened to me a year ago. Verizon gives really good service.

    I’ve had LG phones since 2000, and their quality has dramatically improved. I’d say its on level if not getting better than the big-name Japanese cell phones that are more expensive. “Korean” is no longer synonymous with “junk”.

  44. “Motorola, also the chief corporate sponsor of the DEA’s traveling exhibit that attempts to link drug use to September 11 (also a company I won’t be patronizing anytime soon).”

    Motorola is owned by the binLaden family. I wonder why would the binLaden family want to blame terrorism on drugs…

  45. Making a case to support prohibition is equal to a case that is pro communism.Both go against human nature and need almost total government control to show modest progress.Believer’s in both are looking for the ‘right’ people to implement their ideas.Freedom to do as one wishes,if causing no harm to others,is a idea in direct conflict to their goals.Oh,and don’t forget the ‘children’.

  46. Tandy rather ungracefully ducked out a back door, then fled down a Capitol Hill hallway as Pfeil followed in her motorized wheelchair.

    Comedy gold. I’d kill for video.

  47. the feds, anyone (everyone) in politics, have connected all of their evils with 9/11!!!

    You’re right. I should just get with the program.
    9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, …

  48. Can someone tell us what AT&T has to do with all this

    AT&T has NOTHING to do with this. I only brought them up as an aside to my real beef with Motorola.

  49. What in god’s name qualifies someone who heads the DEA to take any sort of executive position at any company?
    She has government contacts that will assist Motorola in landing contracts. Happens with the Pentagon all the time, why not the DEA?

    And you just know that the people involved give a bunch of patriotic lip service to the free market and American Capitalism and all that good stuff. More like Bush’s and Cheney’s crony capitalism. They give the word business a bad name. Bunch of fucking fascists – the whole lot of ’em!

  50. The connection is obvious.

    The Tandy (Radio Shack) Color Computer was built using Motorola processors.

  51. I’d love to see Tandy get Da Ali G treatment.

  52. That bitch looks so uptight I’d bet she couldn’t take a split toothpick!

  53. Now I feel bad for not picking the LG phone over the Motorola one that I ended up with.

  54. She opened her eyes to see assault weapons pointed at her head.

    Thank god she wasn’t smoking cigarettes. I shudder to think how that would have turned out.

  55. So, if [when] Ron Paul takes over as president, who should he name as DEA director? I’m thinking Carrot Top, but he might be too intelligent.

  56. So, if [when] Ron Paul takes over as president, who should he name as DEA director? I’m thinking Carrot Top, but he might be too intelligent.

    Maybe Sullum would take the job. And Balko could take BATFE.

  57. As someone who works in the medical field, I can attest to what you already know – many doctors are afraid to prescribe opioids even when we feel it is appropriate. I’ve known rheumatologists who will not prescibe opioids to any of their patients, no matter what the cause, and these are people in serious, often crippling pain. They will refer them to pain specialists if they feel it is appropriate, but one wonders how much longer there will BE pain specialists to refer to. The risk of prosecution by the DEA zealots is becoming too great for many doctors.

  58. As someone who works in the medical field, I can attest to what you already know – many doctors are afraid to prescribe opioids even when we feel it is appropriate. I’ve known rheumatologists who will not prescibe opioids to any of their patients, no matter what the cause, and these are people in serious, often crippling pain. They will refer them to pain specialists if they feel it is appropriate, but one wonders how much longer there will BE pain specialists to refer to. The risk of prosecution by the DEA zealots is becoming too great for many doctors.

    I have a friend who takes Ritalin for ADHD. IIRC Ritalin has been around since the 1930’s and its safety is pretty well-established. He used to be able to get a six months supply of prescriptions and only have to see his shrink twice a year. Now, because of some stupid new FDA regulation, he has to see him every month (and this means more co-pays and additional expense). Talk about bull shit.

  59. So, if [when] Ron Paul takes over as president, who should he name as DEA director? I’m thinking Carrot Top, but he might be too intelligent.

    You’re right. Pauly Shore for drug czar!

  60. Two words can describe Tandy’s cruelty” Richard Paey. Good riddance.

  61. DIAF has never seemed more appropriate.

  62. Radley,

    As a consultant for Pain Relief Network (www.PainReliefNetwork.com), the main nonprofit raising awareness about the Government’s War on Pain Doctors and Pain Patients, and as a former Cato employee who worked with you when you were at Cato, I’ve just got to publicly say how incredible it’s been to watch you gain national appreciation for your incisive and effective exposure of government malevolence in, especially, the criminal justice area.

    Specifically, in the short time I’ve worked with the Pain Movement, your writings have played the role of the nuclear ammo during visits with congressional staff – the hard-hitting, nonrefutable daggers in the heart. Especially your obliteration of the Rottschaefer case in Pennsylvania – what journalism!

    Congrats Radley, and keep up the work. Libertarians have “miles to go before we sleep” on the Drug War, or any other Constitutional restoration effort.

    Peace,
    Charlie Frohman
    http://www.cfrohman.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.