Former Nixon Aide: Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’

Invented to Suppress Black People

                Former President Richard Nixon, also known as “Tricky Dick.”

                Former President Richard Nixon, also known as “Tricky Dick.”

Former President Richard Nixon’s chief domestic adviser during the 1971 launch of the “war on drugs” said that he invented the president’s drug policies so that the administration could neutralize its enemies, specifically “the anti-war left and Black people,” according to an article in Harper’s Magazine.  

John Ehrlichman, who served 18 months in prison for his role in the Nixon White House’s Watergate scandal, reportedly bared his (dark) soul to journalist Dan Baum in 1994, and those words made it into Baum’s April Harper’s cover story, “Legalize It All.”

Ehrlichman, an integral part of the Nixon White House, an administration notorious for its abuse of power (again, Watergate), reportedly referred to the anti-war left and blacks as enemies of the Nixon regime, and outlined a method by which it “could disrupt those communities.”

“You want to know what this was really all about?” Ehrlichman asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

The journalist then writes, “I must have looked shocked. Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel, The Company, and led me to the door.”

Baum said that Ehrlichman seemed ready to “unburden” himself when they spoke. Ehrlichman died in 1999.

Fast forward to 2016. Today we see the kid-gloves disparity in the government’s response to the current, “whiter” heroin epidemic, compared to the systematic racial targeting that heavily criminalized and severely disrupted theBlack community via the drug war.