March, 23 2016 - The “War on Drugs” was actually a political tool to crush leftist protesters and black people, a former Nixon White House adviser admitted in a decades-old interview published Tuesday. John Ehrlichman, who served as President Richard Nixon’s domestic policy chief, laid bare the sinister use of his boss’ controversial policy in a 1994 interview with journalist Dan Baum that the writer revisited in a new article for Harper’s magazine.
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying,” Ehrlichman continued. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,“ Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Ehrlichman served 18 months in prison after being convicted of conspiracy and perjury for his role in the Watergate scandal that toppled his boss.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Ehrlichman’s comments proved what black people had believed for decades.
“This is a frightening confirmation of what many of us have been saying for years. That this was a real attempt by government to demonize and criminalize a race of people,” Sharpton told the Daily News. “And when we would raise the questions over that targeting, we were accused of all kind of things, from harboring criminality to being un-American and trying to politicize a legitimate concern.”
In 1971, Nixon labeled drug abuse “Public Enemy No. 1” and signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, putting into place several new laws that cracked down on drug users. He also created the Drug Enforcement Administration. By 1973, about 300,000 people were being arrested every year under the law — the majority of whom were African-American.The drug war was continued in various forms by every President since, including President Ronald Reagan, whose wife Nancy called for people to “Just say no.”Ehrlichman’s 22-year-old comments resurfaced Tuesday after Baum wrote about them in a cover story for the April issue of Harper’s, titled “Legalize It All,” in which he argues in favor of legalizing hard drugs.The original 1994 interview with Ehrlichman was part of Baum’s research for his 1997 book, “Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure,” in which Baum laid bare decades of unsuccessful drug policy.
“Think of all the lives and families that were ruined and absolutely devastated only because they were caught in a racial net from the highest end reaches of government.”