STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Drugs, Sex and Law Enforcement
By Philippe Gastonne - April 27, 2015

The Obama administration's top drug enforcement official will step down next month, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Tuesday, after her agency was tarnished by a scandal over sex parties with prostitutes and she broke with President Obama on drug policy.

Michele M. Leonhart, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told Mr. Holder that she intended to retire, ending a 35-year tenure at the agency…

Jon Adler, the national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents D.E.A. special agents and officers from 65 other agencies, said Ms. Leonhart had been "ambushed" in a hearing last week, which he compared to a circus, that was part of "a disturbing pattern of unprofessional rants directed by Oversight Committee members against female law enforcement directors."

"The agency produced commendable investigative and enforcement outcomes under her leadership," Mr. Adler said, "and replacing Administrator Leonhart with Dudley Do-Right will be a disservice to our country." – New York Times, April 21, 2015

We have to agree with Mr. Adler on one point. Replacing Administrator Leonhart with an animated Canadian Mountie would be a disservice to our country. If we must tolerate agencies like the DEA, they should at least have three dimensional, American management.

In all other respects, having Dudley Do-Right lead the DEA would almost certainly be an improvement. As we see in the cartoons, he pursues only genuine criminals and does not attend sex parties (his odd affection for Horse notwithstanding).

The alleged DEA sex parties reportedly included prostitutes financed by drug cartels. The seven agents involved received suspensions of 10 days or less. Ms. Leonhart told angry members of Congress this was the maximum penalty she could assess. The DEA union leaders apparently think even ten days was too harsh.

The NYT article ignores the most pressing question. Did the sex parties accomplish what the drug cartels wanted? Moreover, are they a long tradition or something new?

Opponents of the War on Drugs often rail at the government's obvious inability to stop illegal drugs from entering the United States. From the DEA perspective, however, winning the war is the last thing they want. Victory would remove much of the agency's raison d'etre and make working there much less entertaining.

Just as academic journal articles must always end with a call for more research, DEA progress must always end with a call for more resources. The way to get them is to show a careful balance of successful interdiction along with scary statistics about the drugs that still get through.

That DEA agents would consort with cartel-funded prostitutes makes perfect sense in this context. They obviously worked out a deal. DEA pretends to interdict drug shipments, and the cartel pretends to be scared of them. Then everyone goes to a big fiesta.

Some DEA agents probably see the War on Drugs as a noble endeavor. Former Administrator Leonhart is probably one of them, from all appearances. For others, however, the futility of the mission combined with potential rewards for "looking the other way" breeds cynicism and corruptions. These are clues it is a war not worth fighting.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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