SAN FRANCISCO — Americans have not made the commitment necessary for the nation to win its war against drugs--"the bane of our existence"--the new director of the FBI said Monday.
In spite of highly publicized anti-drug campaigns, the continuing use of drugs is evidence enough that America has not yet taken that step, William S. Sessions said.
"I am stunned that the American people have apparently decided to collectively sit back and let the drug menace overtake us," Sessions said.
"We have not, as families or a society, made the determination that we will not use drugs," the former federal judge said.
Sessions, who took over the FBI last month, said the bureau earlier this year made the fight against drug trafficking a top priority.
In response to questions at the Commonwealth Club, Sessions said drug use was one of the most serious moral and ethical problems facing the United States.
"I think we ought to have absolute outrage and do what it takes to wipe this scourge off the face of the earth."
In his talk to the club, Sessions also outlined what he saw as the FBI's mission: to be the nation's leader in fighting crime while remaining within the law.
In past years, the FBI has come under criticism for surveillance during the 1960s and early '70s on individuals and groups that allegedly was motivated by politics rather than prevention of crime.
"The perception in the country now is that law enforcement agencies (must) conduct themselves within the confines of the law," Sessions said. "To do that when you're tempted to do otherwise is the height of professional conduct."