Reports: Drug war spending not justified

June 9, 2011 at 10:27 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- The United States can't produce results to justify the billions of dollars spent fighting its war on drugs, two government reports indicate.

The reports criticize the federal government's increased use of U.S. contractors, who were paid more than $3 billion to train local law enforcement authorities help eliminate coca fields and operate surveillance equipment during the last five years, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

"We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate subcommittee that wrote a report released Wednesday.

Obama administration officials deny that U.S. efforts were unsuccessful in reducing drug production or smuggling in Latin America. White House officials say the expanding U.S. anti-drug effort occupies more and more of the national security team's time, even though it doesn't get many headlines or congressional hearings, the Times said.

Counter-narcotics contract spending rose 32 percent during the five-year period, from $482 million in 2005 to $635 million in 2009, the Senate report indicated.

A separate report last month by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, determined the State Department "does not have a centralized inventory of counter-narcotics contracts" and the department does not evaluate the overall success of its anti-drug program, the Times said.

"It's become increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America, especially as it relates to the government's use of contractors, have largely failed," McCaskill said.

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