Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, noting that 60 percent of the murders in the nation's capital last year were linked to drugs, said Saturday that to achieve a "kinder, gentler America will require a rougher, tougher attitude" toward violent drug traffickers.
In remarks prepared for delivery to a luncheon of the American Judicare Society and the National Conference of Bar Presidents, Thornburgh said it will be necessary to apply the newly enacted federal death penalty "to end the free-fire zones" in the nation's cities.The law provides for capital punishment when drug traffickers kill law enforcement officers or when members of a narcotics-dealing enterprise murder citizens.
Thornburgh also called for more cooperation among law enforcement agencies at every level - local, state, federal and international.
"The first civil right of every American citizen is to be free from fear in our homes, on our streets and in our communities," he said. "The escalation in drug-connected violence and urban terrorism in many of our major cities - particularly in the most disadvantaged areas - is a violation of that right."
Thornburgh noted that in Washington last year, 60 percent of the 369 murders were believed to be drug related and "the first month of this year saw 49 people killed, all as a result of drugs."
"Achieving President Bush's `kinder, gentler America' will require a rougher, tougher attitude toward some Americans - those who engage in crimes of violence associated with the drug trade and with urban terrorism," he said.
"Firm and effective action against drug-related criminal activities, including application of the newly enacted federal death penalty, will be necessary to end the `free-fire' zones that have taken the lives of innocent people, including an increasing number of young children," he said.
To combat the enormous illicit drug trade, he said, will require improved partnerships among law enforcement agencies, with the federal government continuing its lead role in efforts to interrupt the international drug flow and the flow of massive illegal profits from the United States "to the money-laundering marts of the world."
The speech was Thornburgh's second of the weekend focusing on the complex narcotics problem. On Friday night, addressing the West Virginia Bar Association in Charleston, he expressed deep concern about the horrors of the international drug trade and the terror tactics used to intimidate or destroy foreign government officials who challenge major cartels.