[Washington Babylon ]Biden, Pork, and the Drug War | Harper's Magazine

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[Washington Babylon]

Biden, Pork, and the Drug War


As word of Barack Obama’s vice presidential pick got out, the media, in lockstep, seized upon Senator Joseph Biden’s legislative experience and his knowledge of the inner workings of Washington. And it’s true that Senator Joe is a skillful legislator, especially at the earmark game: for 2008, Biden secured $108,997,205 $85,545,205 in pork (according to Taxpayers for Common Sense) for everyone from defense contractors to police departments.

One particularly curious earmark request Biden made, in tandem with now-indicted Senator Ted Stevens and Senator Chuck Grassley, was $450,000 for DARE America. The request failed, which is surprising given the pull of its sponsors. But maybe it’s because DARE, once the bread-and-butter of drug prevention programs in American schools, has been thoroughly discredited. The Surgeon General in 2001 said DARE “does not work”, and the program has also been criticized by the GAO in a 2003 report. It is listed among “potentially harmful therapies” in a 2007 article from the Association for Psychological Science’s journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Why would Biden saddle up with Stevens and Grassley to support DARE? As mentioned by Glenn Greenwald, Biden “has long been the leading advocate of the harshest and most aggressive drug criminalization laws and general “anti-crime” measures.” And there’s this: DARE’s long-time lobbyist Scott Green once worked under Biden on the Senate Judiciary committee. Green also donated $2,300 to Biden last year.

We contacted Green to ask about DARE and the earmark request. If we hear back, we’ll update this story immediately.

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