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Editorials
Monday, January 8, 2001

Drug czar emphasizes
prevention treatment

Bullet The issue: Barry McCaffrey, departing director of the Office of National Drug Contol Policy, emphasizes prevention and treatment in dealing with the drug problem.
Bullet Our view: The state should do more to fund drug treatment programs.


RETIRED Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who is leaving his post as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, had a reputation as a hard-liner in the war on drugs. But his farewell message suggests that was misleading.

Rather than law enforcement, McCaffrey emphasizes prevention and treatment. He boasts of having increased federal spending on prevention by 55 percent over the past four years. His office, he said, funded anti-drug coalitions in 307 communities and launched a five-year, $2 billion anti-drug media campaign.

"America has learned that we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem," McCaffrey declares. "We've gone to extremes in limiting judicial discretion and over-relying on mandatory sentences."

He calls for greater efforts at rehabilitation of those convicted on drug charges, abandoning what he called "a predominantly punitive approach" in favor of a system that provides convicts "with a realistic chance of reintegration into society."

He acknowledges that the United States is not doing enough to provide treatment to the drug addicted, estimating that 5 million drug users would benefit from immediate treatment but only 2 million receive it.

Still, spending on substance-abuse prevention and treatment rose to an annual level of $12.6 billion over the past decade, with public spending accounting for $7.6 billion of that total. His office's five-year planning budget calls for an additional $25 billion for treatment.

However, McCaffrey insists that "much more must be done by state and local governments as well as the private sector. Communities across the country must develop the public-health infrastructure to deal with addicted sub-populations. This problem cannot be resolved by the federal government alone. Heavy lifting must be done at the local level."

In Hawaii, Governor Cayetano has demonstrated his awareness of the need for more emphasis on treatment of the addicted and sought increased funding for treatment programs. But the problem seems to have drawn little attention at the Legislature.

The coming session will provide an opportunity to deal with the drug issue in the most intelligent way -- through education and treatment. There is also room to reform the drug laws by restricting prison sentences to the drug traffickers.


Army needs
Makua for
live-fire training

Bullet The issue: Four ancient Hawaiian archaeological sites have been found at the Makua Valley firing range.
Bullet Our view: The Army should resume live-fire training at Makua with appropriate safeguards.


FOUR ancient Hawaiian archeological sites were uncovered during a survey of the Army's live-fire training range in Makua Valley, but it does not appear that the discovery would justify discontinuance of the Army's use of the range. The Army maintains that none of the sites is historically significant. However, it has requested additional funding for more field work.

Over the years, 17 archaeological sites have been documented along the perimeter of the range, and a total of 45 sites are scattered throughout the valley.

All targets in the training area were repositioned eight years ago so the soldiers are never shooting at an archaeological site, the Army says. Community members were taken to the training area to view the sites in October 1999. They were told about the measures the Army was taking to ensure that no firing would affect them.

Training in Makua Valley was suspended in 1998 while the Army conducted an environmental assessment. That study has been completed. It recommends that training be allowed to be resumed, with restrictions to protect the valley's endangered plant and animal species and to prevent fires, which have been the major problem in the past.

However, environmental critics have filed a lawsuit contending that the Army must complete a more comprehensive environmental impact statement before resuming training, which it hopes to do this spring.

Makua Valley is the only place on Oahu where the Army can conduct live-fire training for large units. This training is essential to maintain combat readiness.

Hawaii's value as a base of military operations in the Pacific would be reduced if Makua Valley was lost to use permanently. The Army says that even the two years it has not used the range has affected readiness.

In recent years the military has been forced to take account of environmental and cultural issues related to its operations, which is healthy. However, opponents will be satisfied with nothing less than total denial of Makua Valley's use for military purposes.

That position ignores the need for realistic training for the armed forces and the importance of the Makua range for that training. In the interest of national security -- and of maintaining the military presence in Hawaii -- a balance must be struck between environmental and cultural preservation and military requirements.






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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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