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Houston A Major Player in County’s Success

Retired Army general and former Clinton administration drug czar Barry McCaffrey was in Houston to speak about the state of national security and the role Houston plays in the economy. Pat Hernandez had a chance to speak with the man who is excited about the new administration.


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McCaffrey toured the Port of Houston and called it a tremendous experience. He is now involved in security and infrastructure that affects seaports here and abroad.

“It’s been one of my responsibilities to make sure we’re listening careful to what the requirements are. These men and women who are our economic future lies in the hands of people like the Port of Houston. For God’s sake, this is the biggest port in America. It drives a giant economic engine that benefits not just this region and the state of Texas, but the entire country.”

With 40-billion dollars spent each year on homeland security, McCaffrey says the Port of Houston is an example of the benefit.

“There is a security plan. The Coast has gotten new resources and assets in Port of Houston. Just look at their behavior during Hurricane Ike. That was a remarkable, massive blow to the Port system and yet, not did people survive, thank God, but damage was de minimis. But a lot has to be done.”

There are still enormous vulnerabilities and McCaffrey says we must have a system that screens out threats to the rest of the country. To President Bush’s credit, a lot of good has been done to protect the country…from establishing the Department of Homeland Security, eliminating criminal regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and putting in better people in government.

“Thank God Mr. Rumsfeld has moved on. His bad judgment was a huge problem to the country, I would suggest. Now we got this Secretary of State Bob Gates who’s a remarkable man, balanced, listens to people, clearly in charge, so the team now managing foreign policy and national security policy is immensely better than it was for the first several years of the administration. But we clearly, we’re in a mess and we’ve got to sort it out.”

McCaffrey spent five years as drug czar trying to compare the drug war to a cancer affecting the American people. It’s then that you start talking about prevention.

“It’s creating an environment in which kids between the 6th grade and the 12th grade consistently hear a message that says ‘we don’t smoke pot, binge drink beer, or use ecstasy.’ The more we give them that message, the less likely they are to get involved in adolescent drug taking behavior.”

McCaffrey says President-elect Obama a fresh new approach to old problems that must be fixed.

“Regardless of our political affiliations, the success of this new team is important to all of us.”

Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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