Lars-Erik Nelson's Nov. 12 op-ed column, "Skirting Due Process in the War on Drugs," is yet another effort in a small but vocal campaign of misinformation against legislation that would provide a powerful new tool in the war on drugs. The drug kingpin legislation targets major drug kingpins by blocking their assets in the United States and by preventing their access to U.S. markets.
This legislation codifies and expands an existing presidential executive order that has had remarkable success in financially isolating and weakening Colombian drug cartels. In 1995, President Clinton signed Executive Order 12978, exercising the International Emergency Economic Powers Act against four major drug kingpins affiliated with Colombia's Cali cartel. The order blocks any financial, commercial and business dealings with any entity associated with the four named drug traffickers, recognizing that drug traffickers who pump cocaine and heroin into our communities pose a threat to our national security.
This legislation expands the president's executive order to include all foreign narcotics traffickers deemed threats to our national security and strengthens congressional oversight of the program. As under the executive order, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control would develop a list of specially designated foreign narcotics traffickers in consultation with the Department of Justice, the Department of State and other executive branch agencies. Any foreign entity that appears on the list would be prohibited from conducting any economic activity with the United States. American firms or individuals who violate this prohibition would be subject to significant financial penalties and, potentially, prison terms.
Contrary to what Nelson would have us believe, this bill does not target U.S. entities and does not "skirt due process." If a U.S. company is knowingly or unknowingly conducting business with drug traffickers or their associates, it is warned by the Treasury Department before any further steps are taken.
This is a tough but fair measure. It punishes some of the worst criminals alive today, while at the same time protecting the rights of innocent U.S. citizens.
--Paul Coverdell and Porter Goss
The writers are, respectively, a Republican senator from Georgia and a Republican representative from Florida.