POLITICS
12/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Holder As Attorney General Seen Likely To Escalate War On Drugs

There's been plenty of right-wing hand-wringing recently over fears that Barack Obama's election will bring about a new era of 1960s liberalism. Obama's selection of Eric Holder for attorney general, however, should calm at least one of those fears, the one regarding the war on drugs. Reason magazine recently called Holder's "rhetoric on the seriousness of marijuana offenses was indistinguishable from that of the most zealous Republican drug warrior" and offered the following quotes from Holder:

The truth of the matter is that marijuana is a significant problem for the city....Crack cocaine still drives most of the violence in this city, but marijuana violence is increasing. We need to nip it in the bud.

Four years later, when he was the deputy attorney general, Holder talked up the Clinton administration's alleged drug war victories during a weekly briefing (also quoted by TalkLeft):


We've made some major inroads in the drug problem but we don't have--I mean, if you think back there was a Time magazine article I remember on--a cover story on cocaine and--this was sometime back in the late '80s--and at that point, I remember reading the article and the article seemed to indicate that, you know, it was [a] drug being used by the middle class and that there were not many consequences for that use. We obviously know that that is not true now....

Certainly, I think, as opposed to the late '80s and the early '90s, I think consumption is down.

The Washington City Paper listed Holder's past actions in the war on drugs:

In 1996, Holder proposed cracking down on marijuana users and sellers, a policy perspective which was and--assuming he still holds it--is completely antithetical to President-Elect Barack Obama's promise to end federal crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries.

What kind of legacy did Holder leave? Evidence abounds that the drug war has done nothing to help D.C.'s crime problem. The MPD are still investigating recent violence in Petworth, but it's likely that the crimes have a drug component, just as they do in Trinidad, Anacostia, on Kennedy Street, and in other parts of the District. Turf wars have become part and parcel of the drug trade, and are a direct result of law enforcement artificially driving up prices for drugs and limiting geographic opportunities for transactions.

The issue was also mentioned at HuffPost's roundup of reactions to the Holder selection in the media.