Remarks at the
The President. Thank you, Admiral Cueroni, and thank you, Secretary Burnley, Admiral Yost, Senator Weicker, Senator Dodd. I thank you all. And it's an honor to be able to participate in the commencement exercises of the United States Coast Guard Academy. I'm especially delighted to be here with the class of 1988. You see, in certain ways I envy you. For one thing, all of you know what you'll be doing next year. [Laughter]
The fact is many young people have trouble choosing their life's work. I was an exception. After college, I knew exactly where my future lay. I became a radio sports announcer. It was just a lucky guess. But I know what I would say to any young people who told me that they were torn between different careers. If they said they wanted to help people in distress, guard our borders, conserve fisheries, battle drug smugglers, enforce maritime law, test their courage against stormy seas, and defend America in times of war, and wear proudly each day the uniform of this great country, then I would tell them just one thing -- I'd tell them: Join the Coast Guard.
know a lot has happened since you started here as swabs, were presented with a
copy of ``Running Light,'' and first rode the wind on
You know, as President, I have a military aide from each of the five services. My Coast Guard aides have been excellent. One of them taught me that ``The Coast Guard is that hard nucleus about which the Navy forms in time of war.'' But there's one thing I haven't been able to get a straight answer on. What I want to know is, how's the awning?
Cadets. Aye, aye, sir!
The President. Well -- [laughter] -- I
hope that means it's all right. [Laughter] Well, graduation day belongs to the
graduates, but I want to take just a moment to speak to some special people
here today: your mothers and fathers. You know, I've often said that there's
nothing that makes me prouder than
since your service was founded by the first Congress nearly 200 years ago, it
has served with courage and honor in every war our nation has fought. The first
Coast Guard casualty of World War II came the day after
March of last year, some 200 miles off our
one of the Coast Guard's most important missions is to fight the importation of
illegal drugs. In the last 10 years you have arrested more than 8,500 drug
smugglers, and for that,
that is one thing, it's not the only thing that all of us as a nation must do.
But before I talk about what remains to be done, let's take stock of what has
already occurred. Yes, it's true that across the breadth of the Federal
Government we have assembled a strong antidrug team
and enacted tough antidrug policies. In 1982 we set
up the South Florida Task Force, which was headed by Vice President Bush.
Hundreds of additional drug agents were sent to
Because of that success, the next year we formed the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System, also led by the Vice President, to coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement efforts against drug smuggling nationwide. Since the formation of the Border Interdiction System in 1983, annual cocaine seizures involving the Coast Guard are up more than 20 times what they had been. In 1987 I established the National Drug Policy Board in order to coordinate all of the administration's efforts in this crusade. This board, chaired by Attorney General Meese, has developed a series of comprehensive strategies to reduce both the supply and demand for illicit drugs.
And let me stress, the Coast Guard and the other armed services have played a major role in this unprecedented campaign. In addition to the Coast Guard's tremendous efforts, last year the Pentagon provided over 2,500 ship days of maritime support and more than 16,000 hours of air surveillance. The Coast Guard and the Department of Defense gained important new resources for their drug-fighting efforts from the Antidrug Abuse Act of 1986. And last year the Coast Guard and agencies with which it works seized nearly 26,000 pounds of cocaine -- 26,000 pounds of a drug that has a street value of $1,000 an ounce. Don't try to figure that out in your head; it's $416 million. And by keeping deadly drugs from reaching our communities, I think the Coast Guard earned yet another good reason to be known as the Life Saving Service.
Another key part of the war on drugs has been the appointment of no-nonsense Federal judges. Not only have drug convictions doubled since 1979 but prison sentences are 40 percent longer. And last year, new, tougher sentencing guidelines were issued. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act, passed in 1984, helps put drug dealers out of business. Last year alone over $500 million in drug-related assets were seized. Drug eradication programs are now underway in 23 countries, up from just 2 in 1981. More funds than ever before are being spent on drug education and public awareness, and more funds still have been requested. Since 1981 we've tripled the antidrug law enforcement budget, and I'm asking for another 13-percent increase. That would give the Federal Government a total of $3.9 billion next fiscal year to fight this menace.
told, it's an extraordinary demonstration of our commitment and a remarkable
record of achievement. And that having been said, you know what else --
extraordinary as it is, remarkable as it is, as much a testimony as it is to
those in law enforcement and the Coast Guard -- more has to be done. There's an
additional step we must take, and without it, I don't know if we can succeed. I
want to use this opportunity today to call for a special initiative. One of
drug use is the foremost concern in our country. And frankly, as I finish my
final year in office and look ahead, I worry that excessive drug politics might
undermine effective drug policy. If
Our task force should agree on solutions for every area of the drug problem, from blocking supplies to curtailing demand, from treatment to education to prosecution, from interdiction and confiscation to eradication -- nothing should be overlooked or left out. Our policy is one of zero tolerance for illegal drugs, and we're looking for solutions, not just a restatement of the problem. And no later than 45 days from now there should be a report to me and to the bipartisan leadership of Congress laying out our proposals.
Let me take a minute to spell out some specific items that need to be considered. First, to deter violent crime and narcotics trafficking, we have to deal with the drug syndicates on our terms. That means when a death results from narcotics trafficking or when a law enforcement officer is killed in the battle the law must provide for swift, certain, and just punishment -- including capital punishment. We've got to send a loud, clear message to drug kingpins and cop-killers. We also need to appoint more tough Federal judges who take drug crime seriously and to pass mandatory penalties for those who sell drugs to children.
Our military assets can be used for greater command and control functions in surveillance and drug detection. And we should consider allowing our Governors greater use of the National Guard in this effort. But one thing must be clear: When it comes to the military, let's give them a clear mission for specific situations. To assist in this effort I have also today directed Secretary of Defense Carlucci to tap the best minds both inside and outside of government to come up with creative solutions on how we can better use military resources and technologies to detect drugs and support civil law enforcement agencies in interdiction.
We need stepped-up international eradication programs to reduce the supply of drugs, and additional education and prevention programs to reduce demand, including the use of civil sanctions, such as fines and loss of Federal privileges. Our encouragement, our goal, should be for those who have never tried drugs to remain drug free.
especially proud of the antidrug work that
concern with values goes beyond just the issue of drugs, of course. We worked
hard in the early eighties on our national recovery so that we might be able to
recognize, indeed, deal with social problems that had been too long ignored and
sometimes obscured in the past. Well, today
one week I will depart for the
the other day I met with 70-some students, 38 Americans and 38 Soviet students,
who've held a conference in
I should also mention that part of our meetings will focus on the U.S.-Soviet
Maritime Search and Rescue Agreement that has just been concluded. Other
maritime issues we're currently discussing include the issue of fisheries and
plans for dealing with emergency pollution spills. So, yes, the Coast Guard's
concerns are the
been a great honor to be here with all of you. And you can be sure that when
Note: The President
spoke at at Nitchem Field. In his opening
remarks, he referred to Rear Adm. Richard Cueroni,
Superintendent; James H. Burnley IV, Secretary of
Transportation; Adm. Paul A. Yost, Commandant; and Senators Christopher J. Dodd
and Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., of Connecticut. Prior to
his remarks, the President visited the USCG ``Vigorous'' for briefings and
demonstrations of procedures used for the interdiction of vessels. Following
his remarks, the President returned to