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The United States has its first fallen war heroine. On Aug. 3, the
plane carrying the body of Army Capt. Jennifer Odom arrived home in the
dead of night. You would have thought that President Clinton, who has
opened up many front line positions for female solders, would have been
there — chewing on his well-worn lower lip, tear in eye — to pay his
respects. It would have been the perfect photo op, but no. It’s as if
she never existed.
That’s because Capt. Odom died in an undeclared war the United States
isn’t permitted to win. It’s much like the situation our troops faced
in Vietnam that a younger Bill Clinton protested. Jennifer Odom died
with four other soldiers when the reconnaissance plane she was piloting
went down in the line of duty in Colombia. Now her blood and the blood
of her four crewmembers are on his hands.
This war is not against the government of Colombia. It’s against the
narco-guerillas and their army of thugs, known as the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC. The outcome of this war not only will
determine the fate of Latin America’s oldest democracy; it will
determine the fate of our inner cities as well.
Sixty percent of the cocaine and 80 percent of the heroin flowing
into this country is produced in Colombia. While this administration
has staged a few high profile drug busts at Miami International Airport,
it is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of dollars of drugs
Colombia is sending into our country.
We know where these drugs are coming from. We know how to destroy
the fields of poppies and coca. We also have the personnel and
equipment to destroy the drug lords and their army as well and an open
invitation from Colombia’s government to do so. It is unconscionable
that we have ignored the pleas of Andres Pastrana, who was elected
president in 1998 with a campaign focused on ending the threat of the
Nearly 40,000 Colombians have been killed over the past decade by
these thugs. In fact, far more deaths occurred in Colombia last year
from the drug war than were killed in Kosovo. Mr. Clinton showed such
compassion for the Albanian victims in that bloody civil war, although
they were far from squeaky-clean. However, he has turned a blind eye to
our neighbors to the south who are victims of these narco-terrorists.
Furthermore, 10 U.S. citizens, including three missionaries, are
missing in Colombia and believed to be either dead or captives of the
narco-army. Mr. Clinton went into spasms when three of our solders
were captured in Yugoslavia, but apparently will spare no time or
resources for these 10 Americans.
One of the first things Bill Clinton did when he moved into the White
House was to take the Office of National Drug Control Policy from a
staff of 154 down to 25. In fact, he de-emphasized every agency in the
government that was fighting the drug war and cut a billion dollars out
of the effort to prevent drugs from getting into this country. That
sent a message south that the U.S. market was re-open for business.
On Aug. 17, Clinton’s drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, was touting a new
study that shows that drug use among teenagers 12 to 17 was down
slightly last year. In 1998, 9.9 percent of teens in that age group had
used drugs within the past month, compared to 11.4 percent in a 1997
study. The Drug Policy Foundation cautioned about reading too much into
those numbers because drug use trends tend to fluctuate over time. Rob
Stewart, a senior policy analyst, pointed out that since Clinton took
office, the teen rate has bounced from a low of 5.7 percent to a high of
11.4 percent. According to Stewart, “The 1998 number is actually higher
than the 1996 number.”
However, the news is even gloomier among those listed as young adults
between the ages of 18 and 25. The 1998 survey found 16.1 percent in
that age group were “current users.” Drug use among this group has been
gradually rising, up from 13.3 percent in 1994. Also, heroin and cocaine
use was up dramatically. We were winning the drug war when Clinton
moved into the White House. Now 14,000 kids die annually from drug use,
and this figure does not include those who die from drug related crimes.
The Clinton administration now is calling for a $1 billion package to
enhance counterdrug programs in the Western Hemisphere, but in his
FY-2000 budget, President Clinton didn’t include a single dollar of the
$280 million already authorized by Congress for Colombia under the
Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act.
Furthermore, Mr. Clinton has resisted congressional efforts to ensure
that the needed drug fighting equipment makes it to Colombia in a timely
manner. He sent our Blackhawk helicopters half way around the world to
Kosovo to an area where they were ill suited, and he won’t send the
Blackhawks to Colombia to fight the drug war. As a result, President
Pastrana has been put into a position of having to negotiate with the
narco-terrorists who now control about half of his country. Where drugs
are concerned, it appears the policy of this administration is all show
and no go.
The latest Clinton drug initiative involves a comic book character.
Last week McCaffrey announced that the government is printing a special
drug edition of a Spiderman comic book to distribute to schools.
McCaffrey said the lesson in this comic book is, “From great power comes
Tell that to President Pastrana and his drug chief Jose Serrano, good
men we have left in the lurch. Tell that to the families of those 10
missing Americans. Tell that to the fathers and mothers of inner city
kids who are victimized by the drug pushers in their neighborhoods. Tell
that to the loved ones of the seven U.S. citizens who have been murdered
by the Colombian terrorists since 1995. Tell that to the family of
Capt. Jennifer Odom.