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    Kerlikowske Confirmed as Drug Czar

    Former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as President Barack Obama’s ’drug czar,’ the Associated Press reported May 8.

    The Senate voted 91-1 to approve Kerlikowske’s nomination as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. During his confirmation hearing, Kerlikowske promised a balanced, science-based approach to fighting illicit-drug use and faced few difficult questions from lawmakers.

    Unlike his recent predecessors, Kerlikowske won’t serve as a member of the presidential Cabinet but will have a strong ally in Vice President Joseph Biden, who played a key role in shaping federal drug policy during his long tenure in the Senate.

    “I am very pleased by the Senate’s overwhelming support for Gil Kerlikowske today,” said Biden in a statement released after the Senate vote. “Chief Kerlikowske is the right man for the job. With over 36 years of law enforcement experience at all levels, he has long been on the front-lines in the battle against drugs. And, while the challenge before him is great, the President and I believe that he will lead our nation¹s efforts against illegal drugs with unshakable resolve.”

    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised Kerlikowske’s qualifications and the fact that the former police chief “supports combating drug use and crime with all the tools at our disposal, including enforcement, prevention and treatment.”