War funds include drug interdiction
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration gets $9.2 million to combat Afghan drug warlords and the Colombian navy receives $13 million to buy drug-interdiction aircraft as part of the $94.5 billion House-passed emergency spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Our defense funds in the global war on terrorism are finally reflecting the post-Cold War reality that illicit drugs are now a major means of support for nearly half the foreign terrorist organizations," said Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican and chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
"The passage of the war supplement gives our DEA and our good friends in the Colombian navy additional tools to break these ties between narcotics and terrorist organizations," Mr. Hyde said.
The emergency spending bill, which passed Tuesday on a 351-67 vote, provides $65.8 billion for the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and $19.8 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery. Avian flu preparedness efforts receive $2.3 billion, and border security receives $1.9 billion.
The Senate is expected to pass the measure today and send it to President Bush.
The additional $9.2 million for the DEA will allow the agency to continue to disrupt drug operations in Afghanistan, especially those that use the drug trade to finance terrorist organizations and attacks on coalition forces, Mr. Hyde said.
Despite the ongoing conflict in that country, Afghanistan has emerged as the world's largest producer of opium and its refined form, heroin. Last year, Afghanistan's opium output was about 5,000 tons. About 90 percent of the world's heroin comes from the war-ravaged country.
The DEA has described opium production in Afghanistan as a significant threat to that country's future and the region's stability, and a threat with worldwide implications. In response, the agency has deployed Foreign Advisory and Support Teams to the country to provide guidance and conduct bilateral investigations to identify and dismantle drug-trafficking and money-laundering organizations.
Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican and chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said the $13 million in additional funds to Colombia would be used to purchase one "fully and properly equipped" DC-3 marine patrol aircraft for the maritime interdiction of drugs headed to the United States.
"It will help better monitor and interdict drugs which are killing our kids and financially supporting internal terrorism in Colombia -- often aimed at Americans -- and violence along the Mexican border, where an estimated 90 percent of the cocaine from Colombia is entering our country," he said.
By Jerry Seper