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- Hudson Institute: Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President
- New Citizen Project: Former president
- Philanthropy Roundtable: President, 1996-2001
- National Endowment for the Humanities: Acting Assistant Director and Program Officer in the Division of Education Programs, 1982-1985
- Michigan State University's James Madison College: Former Instructor
- Boston College: Former Instructor
- Office of National Drug Control Policy: Director, 2001-2009; Chief of Staff to Director, 1989-1991; Deputy Director for Supply Reduction, 1991-1993
- U.S. Department of Education: Assistant to the Secretary; Representative to National Drug Policy Board; Representative to Domestic Policy Council's Health Policy Working Group, 1985-1988
- Michigan State University: B.A.
- University of Toronto: M.A.
John P. Walters is the chief operating officer and executive vice president of the Hudson Institute, a neoconservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1961 by several Cold Warriors, including Herman Kahn—a one-time RAND nuclear war theorist notorious for his efforts to develop "winnable" nuclear war strategies—Hudson describes itself as “a nonpartisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom.
From December 2001 to January 2009, Walters directed the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). He replaced Barry McCaffery, who served at the post during 1996-2001. According to his biography on the Hudson website, “As the nation's ‘Drug Czar,’ Mr. Walters guided all aspects of federal drug policy and programs—supporting efforts that drove down teen drug use 25 percent, increased substance abuse treatment and screening in the healthcare system, and dramatically dropped the availability of cocaine and methamphetamine in the U.S. He also helped build critical programs to counter narcoterrorism in Colombia, Mexico, and Afghanistan.”
Walters continues fighting the “war on drugs” from his perch at Hudson, where he monitors Obama administration policies. In a March 2010 article in the Weekly Standard, Walters applauded the administration for not “listening to George Soros on drugs” and increasing funding to combat illegal drug control. “But it is not enough,”wrote Walters. “Today, leadership is needed on curbing use of marijuana, helping Mexico defeat the traffickers, and working to integrate the battle against terror and drugs in Afghanistan. On these issues the new boss is failing.”
From 1989 to 1991, Mr. Walters was chief of staff for William Bennett, the first “drug czar” under the administration of President George H.W. Bush. He was later deputy director for supply reduction from 1991 to 1993. During the Reagan Administration, Mr. Walters led the development of anti-drug programs as assistant to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Education under Reagan, and represented the secretary on the National Drug Policy Board and the Domestic Policy Council’s Health Policy Working Group.
From 1996 until 2001, Mr. Walters served as president of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a conservative research and advocacy group at the forefront of efforts to challenge the “liberal establishment” by strategically channeling charitable giving.
Journalist Tom Barry writes that “Walter’s association with rightwing organizations involved in foreign and domestic policy extends beyond the Philanthropy Roundtable. He served as president of the New Citizen Project, an initiative of the right-wing Bradley Foundation. Other principals of the New Citizen Project in the mid-1990s included William Kristol, Gary Schmitt, and Thomas Donnelly, who later also played leading roles in the Project for the New American Century.”
Barry quotes Dan Baum, author of Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure (1996), who wrote: "The health people say 'no stigma,' and I'm for stigma." According to Baum, Walters "took the position that marijuana, cocaine and heroin 'enslave people' and 'prevent them from being free citizens' in a way that tobacco and alcohol do not."
According to Barry: “Along with William Bennett and John Dilulio, Walters coauthored Body County: Moral Poverty and How to Win America’s War Against Crime and Drugs.” The book argues that the “moral poverty” of today's youth is the root of crime and drug abuse. “They call for a moral awakening brought about through religion and education to ward off the coming wave of youthful 'super-predators,' members of 'the youngest, biggest and baddest generation any society has ever known.’”
Walters’biography on the Hudson website says that “he also served in the Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1982-1985. Mr. Walters has taught political science at Michigan State University's James Madison College and at Boston College. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and a MA from the University of Toronto.”