Walter Cronkite Urges People to Oppose Failed Drug War; Calls for New Policies Based on Science, Compassion, Health and Human Rights

Press Release February 23, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5385

Walter Cronkite, the man dubbed “the most trusted man in America,” sent out a passionate letter to over 100,000 people on February 23rd asking them to help end the war at home– the drug war– by supporting the non-profit organization, the Drug Policy Alliance.

In his appeal, Cronkite recounted his experiences covering the Vietnam War. “I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost–and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along.”

Mr. Cronkite also pointed out that in addition to the current war in Iraq, there is a devastating war right here in the United States, the US Drug War.

“Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home,” Cronkite wrote. “While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its causalities are the wasted lives of our own citizens. I am speaking of the war on drugs.”

Mr. Cronkite explained his reasons for opposing the current drug war policies. “And what is the impact of this policy? It surely hasn’t made our streets safer. Instead, we have locked up literally millions of people…;disproportionately people of color…;who have caused little or no harm to others-wasting resources that could be used for counter-terrorism, reducing violent crime, or catching white-collar criminals.

“With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition,” he added. “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort-with no one held accountable for its failure.

Cronkite’s concluded his message by urging readers to support the Drug Policy Alliance. “Just as they did in Vietnam three decades ago, politicians know the War on Drugs is a failure that is ruining lives. Please help the Drug Policy Alliance tell the truth about the war on drugs, and get our nation on the path toward a sensible drug policy.”

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs, was honored to have Mr. Cronkite’s endorsement.

“Walter Cronkite opened America’s eyes to the quagmire in Vietnam many years ago. Decades later, he is lending his powerful voice to point out another failure — the War on Drugs,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This letter is yet another example of Mr. Cronkite speaking truth to power. There is a reason Mr. Cronkite is considered ‘the most trusted man in America.'”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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