Mexican drug cartels have stepped up their assaults on law enforcement during recent months. But President Barack Obama's administration is taking its time in picking U.S. leaders to counter the offensive.
In fact, three federal agencies with roles in the war against illegal drugs remain without leaders. No one has been nominated by Obama to head the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Customs and Border Protection agency or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Meanwhile, the White House claims to have crafted a strategy against the drug trade, with heavy emphasis on technology that, according to one report, has not even been developed.
Career professionals are running the three agencies named above, in the absence of directors picked by Obama and approved by the Senate. We agree with Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, who told a reporter last week that she has confidence in the temporary agency heads.
Clearly, however, they will not be able to provide the decisive leadership needed in the war against drugs. They are caretakers, fully aware of the limitations of that role.
We understand that the Obama administration has had to deal with other priorities during its first few months in office. The economy and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq obviously have required some emphasis. Still, naming leaders for the three law enforcement agencies is important. The White House should nominate people for the posts as soon as possible.