Victims' Rights Caucus



 Mr. Chairman, I was a prosecutor and a judge in Texas for 30 years total, and I can tell you that I saw the results of poppy and opium fields in my courtroom. Opiates make victims out of capable, independent citizens, and they turn decent people into monsters, and I have seen it with my own eyes. Case after case after case.

   Illicit drugs take complete control of people's lives, and they are now strangling the democracy in Afghanistan. Opiates not only poison Americans, the poppy trade funds our enemies. The Taliban, or more appropriately, those demons in the desert, are getting rich off of the poppy fields, and they are using that money against American troops and NATO troops.

   They are using their wealth to become more numerous, more organized, and more deadly to the military of NATO and the United States. They are promoting intolerance and propping up evil and propelling Afghanistan really back toward the dark ages to a fundamentalist rule.

   In the 2005 and 2006 growing season, poppy production in Afghanistan actually grew to almost 60 percent. That resulted in a net growth of almost 50 percent in the production of illicit opium, and all the profit from this drug trade lined the pockets of our enemies, the Taliban. Those poppy fields are growing like weeds, and they are choking Afghanistan's freedom. Also, those narcotics are eventually choking the lives out of many Americans addicted to opiates.

   The administration, I know, recognized the importance of counternarcotics operations. However, judging from the rapid spread of the poppy production in Afghanistan, it's evident that whatever we are doing is not working. The time has come for a clear and comprehensive and truly wide-reaching counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan.

   That is why I rise in support of this bill, the Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act. This bill does numerous things, but it specifically provides a comprehensive strategy and a priority to deal with the narcotics. It allows the military to give greater logistics support to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and, more importantly, though, this bill creates a coordinator role that will reach across government departments to develop a comprehensive strategy in how to deal with this problem.

   Our military is unmatched in its ability to get the job done. Any time, anywhere. But including enhanced civilian interdiction teams, the fight against the drug trade will help our troops get the bad guys, the kingpins in Afghanistan, these people that are making money off of the drug trade.

   Also, the team will receive support from our military, international resources and Afghanistan law enforcement officers. I believe that allowing law enforcement to participate in taking down these desert kingpins will give the Afghanistan police a sense of ownership over their own security and help further train them in counternarcotics operation. That could only be a good thing for the citizens of Afghanistan.

   Again, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the administration's commitment to taking care of the poppy fields in Afghanistan that fund our enemies, but I think we're missing a link somewhere in our strategy. Provisions in this bill focus on funding that link, and that's a good start. All of our sacrifice and that of our NATO allies and the future of Afghanistan depend on establishing a stable and viable democracy in that region of the world. That democracy can only thrive amidst a legitimate economy. Our troops, our allies, and, most importantly, the Afghanistan people deserve a chance to live unfettered and free of the rule