If the Drug Czar Does Not Supervise the Money It Doles Out, Who Does?

At the Daily Press Briefing today, Jay Carney was asked whether the White House approves of the NYPD spying on New York and New Jersey’s Muslim communities.

He responded by claiming that the Office of National Drug Control Policy–the Drug Czar!–has no authority over the money.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy is a policy office that has no authority–no authority to and does not conduct, direct, manage, or supervise any law enforcement operations. The funding is provided to the H-I-D-T-A, HIDTA program, of New York and New Jersey, which then provides it to law enforcement agencies to assist in the procurement of resources like computers and other items.


This is not an Administration program or a White House program. This is a program of the NY Police Department.

Now, there’s reason to believe the response was bullshit. As the Drug Czar org chart above shows–and Deputy Drug Czar Benjamin Tucker’s biography makes clear–HIDTA is solidly in the chain of command in the Drug Czar’s office.

In his position, Mr. Tucker oversees ONDCP’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program , Drug-Free Communities (DFC), National Youth-Anti-Drug Media Campaign, and Counter-Drug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC).

With 40 years of experience in the fields of law enforcement and criminal justice, Mr. Tucker is a recognized expert in community policing.

Furthermore, the Director of HIDTA, Dr. Ellen Scrivner, has her office in the Executive Office of the President.

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske “coordinates all aspects of Federal drug control programs” and one of those programs is HIDTA, which apparently funds spying on Muslims. And the Drug Czar’s Policy Coordination Circular–which was updated on August 3, 2011–requires that the Drug Czar review any chances to “drug policy.”

Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §1704(b), agencies are required, except under exigent circumstances, to notify ONCDP of any proposed change in policies relating to their activities under the National Drug Control Program prior to implementation of such change.


The Director of ONCDP reviews such proposed changes and certifies in writing whetehr such change is consistent with the National Drug Control Strategy.

In other words, Obama’s Deputy Drug Czar oversees this program, its Director works in EOP, and any changes on anything pertaining to drug policy must be approved by the Drug Czar.

That kind of micro-management inside the White House is the whole point of having a Czar rather than a congressionally-supervised agency head.

But let’s take Jay Carney’s response in good faith for the moment. After all, the website does say that there’s some local (and some Federal) oversight at the local level.

At the local level, the HIDTAs are directed and guided by Executive Boards composed of an equal number of regional Federal and non-Federal (state, local, and tribal) law enforcement leaders.

In FY2010, $16 million was doled out under HIDTA. Yet according to Carney, the people doling out that money do not “conduct, direct, manage, or supervise” the grants. Poof! The Drug Czar is helpless to do anything about that money once it moves out of EOP.

One more point. Where Carney says this money goes to computers (which is what the AP said, in part)? The Drug Czar website says that HIDTA does the following:

  • Facilitating cooperation among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities;
  • Enhancing law enforcement intelligence sharing among Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies;
  • Providing reliable law enforcement intelligence to law enforcement agencies to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies and operations; and
  • Supporting coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas of the United States and in the Nation as a whole. [my emphasis]

That is, there sure appears to be a significant intelligence component to this purportedly oversight-free doling of funds.

Frankly, there’s no right answer here. Jay Carney would like us to believe the White House Drug Czar, a position enacted precisely to concentrate oversight and control in the White House, operates programs over which it exercises no oversight.

The alternative is that the White House (though perhaps the Bush White House) approved and funded some of the CIA-on-the-Hudson.

5 replies
  1. rugger9 says:

    Plausible Deniability, or in this case the spidey-sense was spot on. Now why all of this collaboration, and who is the WH really spying on here?

  2. MadDog says:

    Looking at the politics of the CIA-on-the-Hudson/NYPD domestic spying on Muslims program, there doesn’t seem to be any federal or state entity with both the incentive and the authority to investigate whether laws have been and are being broken.

    The players here all have their own vested interests in continuing the spying operations:

    1) The White House – No political will to challenge the CIA-on-the-Hudson/NYPD domestic spying on Muslims program, and a distinct political disincentive against reining in GWOT programs, particularly in an election year.

    2) Democratic members of Congress – Ditto! Just like the White House.

    3) Repug members of Congress – Fully supportive of the CIA-on-the-Hudson/NYPD domestic spying on Muslims program. Would be even happier if it was done across the country.

    4) New York City politicos – Bloomberg & Co. are fully supportive of the CIA-on-the-Hudson/NYPD domestic spying on Muslims program.

    5) New York State politicos – Dems emulate their federal counterparts. Repugs do the same.

    6) National and local NGOs – The ACLU and NYCLU wring their hands and send out a press release, but they have little leverage and even less traction.

    7) MSM – As EW has succinctly pointed out, with the exception of the AP, and a few dribs and drabs from a few of the other MSM outlets, the MSM in general seems to mirror the Repug cheerleaders.

  3. lysias says:

    Since this spying on Muslims pretty clearly has nothing to do with fighting drug crimes, could a private person bring a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act to get this money returned to the federal government (minus a pretty hefty percentage that goes to qui tam plaintiffs who win their suit)?

  4. Govt Mule says:

    Unfortunately it seems that the WH, the Drug Czar, and possibly DHS, NSA, FBI knew about the arrangement w/ New York City otherwise the appropriate thing to do would be to make Mayor Bloomberg write a big fat check to the US Treasury for restitution.

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