Congress ought to reconsider its recent decision to enlist the armed services in the war on drugs.
If the need for such a reappraisal was not apparent before, it certainly should be now from the report that Congress received the other day from its own investigative agency, the General Accounting Office.The GAO looked into the limited experience the military already has had on this score and came to an unavoidable conclusion: The Defense Department has a dismal record for nabbing drug smugglers. Just how dismal can be seen from a few key facts:
- The Air Force spent $2.6 million last year and came up with only six drug seizures and 10 arrests using its sophisticated Airborne Warning and Control System (WACS) surveillance planes. That comes to about $443,000 for each drug bust.
- The Navy and Coast Guard spent $40 million last year to make 110 arrests and capture 20 boats harboring 225,000 pounds of marijuana and 550 pounds of cocaine. That comes to about $2 million per seizure.
It doesn't take a computer wizard to figure out that Congress likely won't get much for the $475 million it wants to spend on the military in an effort to push it into the drug war against the Pentagon's better judgment.
By all means, the drug problem is serious enough to warrant stepped up efforts to combat it. But surely there are more effective ways to use that much money.