- The Week Online with DRCNet (stopthedrugwar.org) has
learned that Newsweek Magazine decided late Friday to postpone publication
of an excerpt of a Gore biography featuring eyewitness accounts of Al Gore's
regular and continued drug use over a period of years. The drug use covers
a period of Gore's life from his days at Harvard up until the very week
he declared his candidacy for Congress in 1976, sources told The Week Online.
The book, by Bill Turque of Newsweek's Washington bureau, quotes both named
and unnamed sources, including John Warnecke, son of John Carl Warnecke
architect of the John F. Kennedy grave site, and a long-time friend of
the Gores. An exclusive interview with Mr. Warnecke follows this story.
- The excerpt had been scheduled to run in Newsweek's January
18th issue, just days before the start of the Democratic primaries. A previous
excerpt from the book appeared in the December 6 issue. In that excerpt,
which covered Gore's Vietnam experience, Tipper Gore was said to have spent
considerable time, distraught with worry for her husband's safety, at Warnecke's
house while Gore was overseas.
- The Gore biography, to be published by Houghton-Mifflin,
was itself originally scheduled for a January release, but that too has
been delayed until March 23. A spokesman for Houghton-Mifflin told The
Week Online that the delay was "normal."
- Al Gore has previously admitted using marijuana, but
those admissions fall well short of the type of regular, even chronic use
described by Warnecke. Warnecke also says that Gore used marijuana regularly
for at least four years after the Vice-President claims to have stopped.
- On November 7, 1987, in the wake of Douglas H. Ginsburg's
failed Supreme Court nomination, Gore told the Bergen County Record that
he had smoked marijuana in college and in the army but had not used it
in the past fifteen years. The New York Times reported on November 8, 1987:
- Mr. Gore said he last used marijuana when he was 24.
He said he first tried the drug at the end of his junior year at Harvard
and used it again at the beginning of his senior year the next fall. He
also said he used the drug "once or twice" while off-duty in
an Army tour at Bien Hoa, Vietnam; on several occasions while he was in
graduate school at Vanderbilt University and when he was an employee of
a Nashville newspaper (The Nashville Tennessean). On November 11, 1987,
Gore was quoted in UPI, saying "We have to be honest and candid and
open in dealing with the (drug) problem."
- Mr. Turque refused to comment to The Week Online. Roy
Burnett, a spokesman for Newsweek, acknowledged that the magazine was preparing
to run a new excerpt from the book "in the coming weeks." Asked
whether there in fact had been a delay, and if so, the reasons behind it,
Burnett would say only that it is Newsweek's policy not to discuss its
- Gore, as part of the Clinton Administration, has presided
over a drug war policy that has led to the arrest and incarceration of
record numbers of non-violent drug offenders. In 1998, according to the
Justice Department, there were 682,885 Americans arrested on marijuana
charges, 88% of whom were arrested for possession. A recent study by the
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (<http://www.cjcj.orgwww.cjcj.org)
reported that the incarcerated population of the U.S. will reach two million
on or around February 15, 2000. Of those, more than half are non-violent
offenders according to CJCJ.
- On February 8, 1999, Vice President Gore personally presented
the administration's Drug Control Strategy at a Washington, DC press conference.
During his remarks, Gore spoke about the "spiritual problem"
of drug abuse and about the need for more positive opportunities for young
people. Despite this, however, the strategy allocates approximately 2/3
of the federal drug budget on enforcement, with less than one third to
be spent on treatment and education combined.
- At that press conference, Gore, perhaps inadvertently,
pointed out the very problem inherent in a class of political leaders who
prosecute a failing drug war while hiding their own experiences with illicit
drugs, and the message that sends to young people.
- "And if young people feel there's phoniness and
hypocrisy and corruption and immorality," Gore said, "then they
are much more vulnerable to the drug dealers, to the peers who tempt them
with messages that are part of a larger entity of evil."
- INTERVIEW with John C. Warnecke Exclusive to The Week
Online <http://www.stopthedrugwar.org By Adam J. Smith
- John C. Warnecke worked as a reporter for the Nashville
Tennessean and was a close personal friend of the Gores. Warnecke is the
son of John Carl Warnecke, architect for the John F. Kennedy gravesite.
The Week Online spoke with Mr. Warnecke by phone this week.
- The Week Online: Mr. Warnecke, Vice President Gore has
said that he used marijuana 'on several occasions' and 'not since he was
twenty-four.' But you say that you have first-hand knowledge that his use
was more extensive than he has previously admitted?
- John C. Warnecke: Yes, I do. I have first hand knowledge
that he has not told the truth about his drug use. Al Gore and I smoked
regularly, as buddies. Marijuana, hash. I was his regular supplier. I didn't
deal dope, I just gave it to him. We smoked more than once, more than a
few times, we smoked a lot. We smoked in his car, in his house, we smoked
in his parents' house, in my house we smoked on weekends. We smoked a lot.
- Al Gore and I were smoking marijuana together right up
to the time that he ran for Congress in 1976. Right up through the week
he declared for that race, in fact.
- WOL: And after that?
- JCW: After that he began to distance himself from me.
I was bad for his political career.
- WOL: During the course of the 1988 campaign, you told
the New York Times and the Nashville Tennessean that you had smoked marijuana
with Al Gore
- JCW: A few times. And I told them that he didn't like
- WOL: Why didn't you tell the truth at that time?
- JCW: I was put under a lot of pressure to lie.
- WOL: Who was pressuring you?
- JCW: The answer to that question is in the excerpt that
Newsweek decided not to run. It's in the Turque book. Right now, I'm going
to leave it at that.
- WOL: So what made you decide to come forward now?
- JCW: It's because I've been under a lot of stress. My
conscience has been killing me ever since then. I actually came forward
months ago when Bill (Turque) interviewed me for the book. I had been told
that this story would come out, that the public would know this by now.
But then the book date was pushed back, and Newsweek pulled the story.
The only thing that I can assume is that Newsweek is covering this up,
protecting the Gore campaign by refusing to run this before the primaries.
I decided that I had to go ahead and tell it. I really feel that the public
has a right to know this at this time, and I was having trouble living
with myself being part of the hypocrisy and the lies.
- WOL: Hypocrisy?
- JCW: Yes. The drug laws in this country are ruining the
lives of hundreds of thousands of young people, mostly poor young people,
people who don't come from privileged backgrounds and wealthy families.
It just doesn't make sense that we have a war on drugs. It doesn't work,
and the politicians refuse to talk about it. That suffering and that hypocrisy
has weighed very heavily on my conscience. I have a saying that I use,
and that is: "who raised you?" In other words, were you raised
with a conscience? Mine has made my life very difficult ever since I became
part of the hypocrisy. I couldn't live with the lie anymore. Not and stay
- WOL: How long have you been sober?
- JCW: Twenty-one years.
- WOL: Congratulations. So, after twenty-one years of sobriety,
do you consider Al Gore a criminal for his drug use?
- JCW: I don't consider drug use a criminal act. Is drug
use a poor choice? Yes. Is it risky behavior? Yes. Does it make any sense
-- has it gotten us anywhere as a society to criminalize it? Absolutely
not. Unless you consider it progress that we're spending more on prisons
than on higher education, and still the drugs are everywhere. But politicians
refuse to talk about this issue honestly.
- WOL: And what would you have Al Gore say about it?
- JCW: I wish Al would come clean. I wish that all politicians
would come clean and deal with this in a rational manner. Look at all the
damage the silence is causing.
- WOL: And Newsweek?
- JCW: Newsweek cut off information that the American people
should have had in order to make an informed decision. Knowing that Al
Gore used drugs considerably more than he has admitted is important. Let
the American people draw their own conclusions about it, let them decide
how important it is.
- We need to quit lying about it. Quit hiding it. To my
mind, Newsweek censored this, they covered it up. And I think that the
perpetuation of that silence over time has allowed us to go on jailing
kids. Kids who are much younger and less equipped to deal with life than
Al Gore was when we were using drugs together.
- I want any candidate that is running for president to
be honest about their drug use. And then we can start being honest with
ourselves about how best to deal with society's drug problem.
- WOL: So you don't think that his past drug use, even
his extensive drug use, should disqualify Al Gore from the nomination?
- JCW: I'm going to vote for Al Gore.