Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Just-Cut Team Offers Clinton Some Advice on Drug Policy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Just-Cut Team Offers Clinton Some Advice on Drug Policy

Article excerpt

AS one of his early official acts, President Clinton last week reduced the staff of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy by 84 percent.

The unit disappeared so fast that the president never had a chance to hear about the X's and O's of drug policy from the unit's special assistant to the director, Richard (Digger) Phelps, the former University of Notre Dame basketball coach.

So, Mr. President, get out your chalkboard, because this is the coach's advice on White House drug policy:

* It helps if the president is a part of the team. This was recognized by the Democrats, who enacted the legislation empowering the office in the first place.

"Clinton may be trying to streamline it, but I think he needs to have it run from the White House," says Mr. Phelps, interviewed at the North Carolina State University Emerging Issues Forum.

The reason, Phelps says, is the power of the office. "When I used to say I was Digger Phelps from the White House drug control, people would say, `Wow, OK.'" If the Justice Department runs the operation, he says people are suspicious. And if one of the health services runs the operation, people want money. Mr. Clinton's decision on Feb. …

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