Former President Bill Clinton appeared in a new documentary “Breaking the Taboo” and declared the U.S. war on drugs “hasn’t worked.”
Clinton joined former President Jimmy Carter and actor Morgan Freeman in the film, which was released Friday. The movie discussed the many failings of the U.S. drug war during the past several decades. In particular, Clinton laid blame at his own administration’s doorstep over its failure to limit cocaine trafficking between Colombia and the U.S.
“What I tried to do was to focus on every aspect of the problem. I tried to empower the Colombians for example to do more militarily and policewise because I thought that they had to. Thirty percent of their country was in the hands of the narcotraffickers,” Clinton said in the documentary, which can be streamed for free via the “Breaking the Taboo” online site.
In the film, Clinton admitted flat out, “Obviously, if the expected results [were] that we would eliminate serious drug use in America and eliminate the narcotrafficking networks -- it hasn’t worked.”
“Breaking the Taboo,” directed by Fernando Grostein Andrade, is designed as an in-depth look at the policies and effects of the drug war. Ultimately, the movie's message is that the war on drugs has not solved but worsened the world’s drug problem.
The documentary features interviews with former high-ranking members of the U.S. government, including former presidents and White House drug czar Robert DuPont, as well as first-hand accounts of those who have dealt with drug trafficking and historical information. It premiered at the New York headquarters of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) on Thursday.
Politico noted that while the film was produced before the electorates in the states of Colorado and Washington voted last month to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, which may represent a popular shift away from the war on drugs, many U.S, officials remain in favor of the war on drugs. In fact, Politico quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying she is “not convinced” about legalization.
During the hourlong movie, former President Carter described his experience with the nation’s war on drugs.
“When I was president, we had the same problems with drug production and distribution and consumption that we presently face,” Carter said. “We tried as best as we could to minimize the emphasis on our criminal punishment, and I made a major statement to the Congress asking for changes in the law.”
Carter then went on to blame President Ronald Reagan’s administration for the U.S. expansion of the war on drugs.
“President Reagan and his wife [Nancy] adopted the drug program as the No. 1 issue for her to proclaim,” Carter said. “She had a phrase: Just say, ‘No.’ She made it clear that her prohibition against drugs included marijuana and everything else. So I don’t think that there’s any doubt that President Reagan made a profound impact then on the consciousness of our country, and I think that he also shaped the opinion of many members of our Congress.”
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.