According to a senior Nixon adviser, the Nixon administration cynically created the War on Drugs as a legal way of locking up liberals and African-Americans.
Former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman admitted as such when speaking Dan Baum, a journalist, and writer in 1994. Baum was interviewing Mr. Ehrlichman as he prepared to write his 1996 book, “Smoke and Mirrors”.
Baum believed that Ehrlichman confided in him for the purpose of atonement.
“These guys, they knew they’d done bad things and they were glad finally when it was no longer going to cost them anything to be able to talk about it, to atone for it.” Mr. Baum added “Nobody goes into public service, I don’t think, on either side of the political aisle, to be repressive, to be evil. They go in because they care about the country.”
Baum said Ehrlichman told him:
“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Mr. Ehrlichman said.
Accord to Baum, Ehrlichman continued:
“We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”
In a public statement, Erlichman's family rejected Baum's claims.
"The 1994 alleged 'quote' we saw repeated in social media for the first time today does not square with what we know of our father. And collectively, that spans over 185 years of time with him," the Ehrlichman family wrote. "We do not subscribe to the alleged racist point of view that this writer now implies 22 years following the so-called interview of John and 16 years following our father's death, when dad can no longer respond. None of us have raised our kids that way, and that's because we were not raised that way."