NEW YORK--President Bush has picked John P. Walters, a top anti-drug
official during his father's administration, to be the nation's next
drug czar, The New York Times reported Thursday.

A public announcement of Walters' nomination is imminent, the Times
reported, citing Bush administration officials. If confirmed by the
Senate, Walters would succeed Barry McCaffrey.

Walters declined to comment on his pending nomination, the Times said.

Walters, 49, was the top deputy to William J. Bennett, the elder
Bush's drug czar. He was the acting drug czar briefly in 1993, but he
quit in protest when President Clinton cut his staff to 25 from 146
and announced he would reorient anti-narcotics policy, de-emphasizing
law enforcement and interdiction.

Walters favors severe prison sentences for violent felons, marijuana
smugglers and repeat offenders, but he views first-time drug users
more leniently. He criticized a recommendation by the U.S. Sentencing
Commission in 1995 to reduce sentences for dealers of crack cocaine

A Michigan native, Walters is president of the Philanthropy
Roundtable, a conservative association that advises more than 600
donors to charity. Before that, he was president of the New
Citizenship Project, which promoted increasing the role of religion
in public life.

As the new chief at the White House Office of National Drug Control
Policy, Walters would oversee a staff of more than 150. The Times
reported that Bush has not decided whether to make the drug czar a
cabinet-level appointment, a status McCaffrey was given.

Newshawk: Terry Liittschwager
Pubdate: Thu, 26 Apr 2001
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Los Angeles Times