Congress: US Wasting Billions in War on Drugs

Pair of reports blast counter-narcotics spending in Latin America
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2011 7:35 AM CDT
Updated Jun 9, 2011 7:57 AM CDT
Congress: US Wasting Billions in War on Drugs
Counter narcotics police officers inspect packages containing cocaine seized in Necocli, in northwestern Colombia, Saturday, May 30, 2009.   (AP Photo/William Fernando Martinez)

The Obama administration has essentially no evidence that the billions spent combating the drug trade in Latin America have done anything to stem the flow of narcotics into the US, according to a pair of scathing new congressional reports. “We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return,” said Claire McCaskill, chair of the Senate Homeland Security committee, which produced one of the reports; the other came from the Government Accountability Office.

The reports are especially critical of the $3 billion spent on defense contractors over the past five years, the LA Times reports. The State Department has no centralized inventory of these contracts, and the Defense Department calls its own system for tracking them “error prone.” Moreover, the State Department doesn’t even attempt to measure the overall success of its counter-narcotics programs. But the Obama administration strongly objected to the reports, citing sharp increases in drug, cash, and weapon seizures along the Mexican border during Obama’s tenure. (Read more Homeland Security Committee stories.)

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