White House Anti-Drug Ads 'Super Bowloney' Say Critics

By Matt Pyeatt | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Along with Britney Spears and Pepsi, Budweiser and its Clydesdales, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) joined the advertising business with two thirty-second spots during Sunday's Super Bowl, spending nearly $3.4 million in the government's largest single ad purchase in U.S. history.

The ads, which are a part of the "National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign," were targeted at American drug users. One of the ads asked: "Where do terrorists get their money? If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you."

The ads were meant to imply that money spent on illicit drugs in the United States were funding terrorist organizations all over the world.

"Drug users hurt our families and communities. It also finances our enemies," ONDCP Director John Walters said. "To fight the terror inflicted by killers, thugs and terrorists around the world who depend on American drug purchases to fund their violence, we must stop paying for our own destruction and the destruction of others.

"As the president has said, 'When you quit using drugs, you join the fight against terror in America,'" Walters said.

U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) echoed Walters' statements. "In addition to hurting themselves, Americans who buy and sell illegal narcotics are lending a helping hand to people like those who attacked America on September 11," he said.

It isn't just Republicans making the anti-drug pitch. "I think this campaign exposes another facet of the evil that drugs perpetrate in our lives," U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Treasury-Postal Appropriations Committee, said.

"I hope this message, coupled with the ONDCP's other efforts, will convince young people to stay away from drugs for their own good and that of their community," he added.

However, groups such as the Libertarian Party and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) disapprove of the ads.

"These Super Bowl ads were Super Bowloney," Steve Dasbach, executive director of the Libertarian Party, said.

"The fact is, it is the War on Drugs that causes the very problem these ads complain about. The War on Drugs enriches terrorists, finances violence and makes America less safe. And no amount of advertising spin can change that," Dasbach said.

"The War on Drugs is a price support system for terrorists and drug pushers. It turns ordinary, cheap plants like marijuana and poppies into fantastically lucrative black market products. Without the War on Drugs, the financial engine that fuels terrorist organizations would sputter to a halt," he said.

NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup said American drug users aren't even funding terrorists operations with their purchases.

"It is patently absurd to suggest that marijuana smokers are in any way supporting terrorism. The overwhelming majority of marijuana consumed in this country is domestically grown or imported from Mexico, Jamaica or Canada. It does not come from or finance terrorist regimes in Afghanistan or other potentially hostile nations," he said.

Stroup said a majority of America's illicit drug users are marijuana smokers who do not use other drugs such as heroin or illegal opiates.

"Does anyone really believe that Americans' illegal drug use patterns will be affected in the slightest by this sort of government propaganda?" Stroup asked.

"Marijuana smokers are average Americans who work hard, pay taxes, raise families and want safe communities in which to live," Stroup said. "They are just as patriotic and supportive of the war on terrorism as other Americans.

"It's not a very sophisticated attack by the government. It seems to me kind of silly and I didn't think the ads were very effective," Stroup said.

The germ of truth in this whole matter is that Osama bin Laden did raise some money from those farmers who grew opium in Afghanistan. Almost none of it comes to the United States, so that is really irrelevant to our population," he said.

"It's nonsense as it applies to heroin and it is particularly stupid when you apply it to most illicit drug users who are simply marijuana smokers," Stroup said.

Dasbach said the government is only looking for someone to blame. "If you are looking for someone to blame for the drugs and terrorism connection, you need look no further than the politicians who voted for the War on Drugs, the federal bureaucrats who administer it, and the ONDCP's spin-meisters who try to pawn off the blame to the 95 million Americans who have used illegal drugs," he said.

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