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Head Of DEA Expected To Resign After Sex Scandal Hearing


michele leonhart dea marijuanaA senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, is expected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration.

“Leonhart’s DEA reflects an outdated, disastrous approach that President Obama claims he wants to leave behind,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “If she leaves he has an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the DEA and support drug policy reform.”

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other drug war problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA Administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues. That changed, however, in part because of all the scandals and corruption that have occurred under DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.

To provide context for Leonhart’s resignation, DPA is releasing a new issue brief today, The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know, which includes recommendations for fundamental reforms of the DEA.

According to a recently released Justice Department report, several DEA agents (some with top secret clearances) allegedly participated in multiple orgies with hired sex workers “funded by the local drug cartels” in Colombia. Some also received money, gifts and weapons from these traffickers. The parties occurred at the agents’ “government-leased quarters”, where laptops and other equipment were accessible – raising “the possibility that DEA equipment and information also may have been compromised as a result of the agents’ conduct.” The report also found that the DEA obstructed the investigations into this and other scandals.

After Leonhart’s horrible performance in Congress during a hearing focused on the sex scandal the House Oversight Committee issued a bipartisan statement of “no confidence” in her leadership. Leonhart was widely panned and her answers deemed inadequate during testimony on her agency’s handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations. When asked by reporters the White Housedeclined to offer a vote of confidence in Leonhart. In fact, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that President Obama is concerned by “troubling details” about the Colombia scandal and the DEA’s response to it.

The call to dismiss Leonhart came against a backdrop of scandals and incompetence at the DEA, which have dominated Leonhart’s tenure. A Drug Policy Alliance petition to President Obama calling for Leonhart to be fired garnered almost 11,000 signatures in a week.

Some of the more egregious incidents during Leonhart’s tenure include:

  • The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General currently has six open investigations into numerous DEA scandals, including the massacre of civilians in Honduras, the use of NSA data to both spy on virtually all Americans and to systematically fabricate evidence, and controversial uses of confidential informants.
  • A series of recent investigations by USA Today found that the DEA has been tracking billions of U.S. phone calls without warrants or even suspicion of wrong-doing, an operation copied by the NSA and other agencies after 9/11. The DEA built the modern surveillance state.
  • DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart herself has been at the center of several scandals, including the House of Death scandal in which the DEA may have turned a blind eye to torture and murder, and the Andrew Chambers scandal, in which the DEA rehired a confidential informant with a history of lying.
  • DEA conflicts with Obama administration policy. Last year, Leonhart publicly rebuked President Obama for admitting that marijuana is as safe as alcohol, told members of Congress that the DEA will continue to go after marijuana even in states where it is legal despite DOJ guidance stating otherwise, and spoke out against bipartisan drug sentencing reform in Congress that the Obama administration is supporting.
  • Last May, The DEA created a political firestorm this week when it seized seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. Then Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the incident “an outrage” and the Kentucky Agriculture Department sued the DEA.  
  • The DEA’s refusal to acknowledge science. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has on several occasions ignored science and overruled the DEA’s own administrative law judges on medical issues relating to marijuana. In abizarre 2012 debate with members of Congress Leonhart refused repeatedly to acknowledge that marijuana is safer than cocaine and heroin.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) have previously called on Leonhart to resign, with Polis commenting that he “found her to be completely incompetent and unknowledgeable.” The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said last week, “It’s time for her to go…I don’t have confidence in her, nor does the majority of the committee.” He went on to say that if Leonhart does not step down, then President Obama should fire her.

“The DEA is a large, expensive, scandal-prone bureaucracy that has failed to reduce drug-related problems,” said Piper. “Drug use should be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue; with states legalizing marijuana and adopting other drug policy reforms it is time to ask if the agency is even needed anymore.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. Totally agree this resigning will make little difference and the scandals will continue.i really don’t care if they’re getting laid with cartel money thats not the problem.the problem is that this agency is corrupt and these drug laws are unjust.its bad enough they aren’t stopping most of these drugs, but then the people they do catch get the book thrown at them. It’s time to admit failure and make all drugs legal already.Unfortunately; until you get rid of this old guard who think marijuana is dangerous you’ll get nowhere.

  2. Her resignation could signal the country turning a corner in the drug war, but I suspect her resignation is just a meaningless act from the powers that be to placate both drug policy reform advocates and civil rights groups that have been voicing outrage. We’d know we turned a corner if she was fired, the DEA’s budget was slashed, and the personnel responsible for scandal after scandal were also fired. We’d be turning a corner as a country if something was done that indicated this string of scandals won’t continue. Simply letting the current figurehead resign, I’m sorry to say, is a purely symbolic gesture. Expect more raids, more scandals, more college students traumatized, more dogs shot, and more boots in grandma’s back. Until we get rid of the good-old-boys, the good-old-boy mentality will remain pervasive throughout the DEA.

    I hate to say it so plainly, but until we see law enforcement officers getting the jail time they’ve earned for themselves by terrorizing American citizens, we have not yet turned a corner. Their actions are criminal, and criminals belong in jail, not walking free on paid vacation called “suspension.”

    To *seriously* turn a corner as a country, the current federal legislation (the CARERS Act) needs to have a serious chance at a floor vote in both chambers and a signature from the President. Better yet, the President could do what advocates have been calling on him to do since he got into office and reschedule cannabis. That would be a huge and severe blow to the drug war. Too bad the President would like to pretend as if his appearance on “Weed 3” is the first he’s heard of this issue.

  3. They don’t need that to trap you. Remember what the NSA does all of the time. We just need to be acutely aware of a powerful tool called “Jury Nullification”

  4. Don’t worry, it’s just a DEA email trap. They just want to invite you to join their mailing list. They’ll be monitoring your internet traffic from now on.

  5. What’s the deal with the post that Johnny made today about this? I clicked on it and there was some kind of security page that wanted my email. Anyone know what’s going on?

  6. Whoever it’s going to be just has to be more intelligent than Leonhart even if they suffer from Down’s Syndrome…

  7. Oh, let the munchkins celebrate for a few days.
    Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Which old witch? The Wicked witch! Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead.

  8. stellarvoyager on

    She once said that the day congress flew a hemp flag over the capitol building was the worst day in her career. Wonder if she still thinks that’s her worst day, lol. Good riddance.

  9. She should have been FIRED!
    She should be indicted and forced from her office in shackles.
    Treat her the way the DEA treats those that have committed far less serious crimes. In other words, tase her, beat her ass, and make her do the “perp walk” in front of her coworkers. Set her bond way beyond her financial means, and give her a court appointed lawyer that doesn’t give a shit about her.

  10. Lawrence Goodwin on

    It’s just been reported by Lester Holt on NBC that Michele Leonhart will be “retiring” as DEA Administrator, which means we, the taxpayers, will continue providing for her a very comfortable life with a fat pension. Besides, the U.S. Congress should’ve voted “no confidence” in the DEA Administrator in September 1988, more than 26 years ago, when the DEA’s own administrative judge, Francis Young, literally called medical marijuana “…one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man” (and woman). Young also said it would be “arbitrary and capricious” for the DEA NOT to move “marihuana” in the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule II. This agency is the Right Arm of the Anti-Marihuana Tyranny. Shut it down!

  11. Not much good news comes out of D.C. This is one of the exceptions. Good riddance DEA “lady.”

  12. Lynch does need congressional approval to be elected, and she’ll get it.to me this means more of the same,shes not even for any legalization of marijuana. Most of these douchebags in Congress feel the same way, so this will be the same bullshit. Even if more states legalize this douchebag can use federal law to override it. Unfortunately it’s more of the same unless we get a pro-legalization president in office.it sucks, but it’ll be the same old dea bullshit.

  13. taternuggets on

    Obama replaced Holder with Lynch who is against legalization…. why should we expect him to do any better here? I hope I’m wrong. Does the DEA Chief require congressional approval?

  14. I really don’t care about this sex scandal much, I want the dea to be over period.the fact that these scandals are coming to light just proves they are nothing but a corrupt joke.they aren’t stopping drugs from coming to the u.s.and they never have.all they are is thugs with a badge enforcing these ludicrous drug laws.fire them all and make drugs legal.

  15. I hope they throw her jail but then again, if we jailed all morons, there would be a lot of unfilled jobs.

  16. Awesome…this troll needed to be fired years ago. She’s a total embarrassment and is beyond dishonest…the only part I’ll hate is not seeing her squirm while spewing lies in the face of scientific facts. Ding Dong…the witch is dead!! Good F’ing riddance!

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