Critical Intel

Critical Intel
Winners Don't Use Drugs: A People's History

Robert Rath | 8 Aug 2013 12:00
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winners dont use drugs

Ironically, Sessions' anti-drug PSAs would outlive his tenure as Director. Five years into his ten-year term, reports surfaced accusing Director Sessions with multiple ethical violations, mostly having to do with the misallocation of government resources. According to the Justice Department's report, Sessions claimed a tax exemption for his transportation to and from work that was meant only for armed law enforcement officers - through he kept an unloaded gun in his car to meet the definition, he never finished the training needed to carry the weapon legally. Then there were the rides he gave to non-DOJ personnel in his private limousine. Then there were the "business trips" he took in the Director's private jet, nominally to attend meetings but in actuality to visit his relatives. A slew of accusations involved his wife - Mrs. Sessions was said to have carried an ID badge that gave her improper access to FBI HQ. She was known to kick security personnel out of their first-class airline seats so she could sit by her husband while the agent took her place in coach. One particularly bizarre accusation claimed that Mrs. Sessions took exception to the unattractive wrought iron security fence the Bureau wanted to build to protect her home, and nagged everyone involved in the project until they installed a more aesthetically pleasing wooden fence - one that worsened the building's security and was built on the taxpayer's dime.

Both Sessions and his wife claimed that the accusations were politically motivated, however, it's more likely that the Sessions' tendency to misuse security staff and government transportation simply came from them being new to national government and not fully understanding the scrutiny they were under. When Sessions refused to resign, stating that the Director of the FBI is supposed to be independent of the Executive Branch, President Clinton fired him.

Strangely, Sessions would live on as FBI Director on the glowing screens of the video arcade. Even after his dismissal, manufacturers continued to release games with his famous quote. Later on, the quote stayed but was simply attributed to "FBI Director," and eventually, the splash screens just carried the seal and slogan - at least until 2000, when the program went dark.

"Winners Don't Use Drugs," isn't just a cultural artifact of the 1990s, it's a testament that government and games need not be at loggerheads. Before games-for-good debates broke the public consciousness and most people didn't consider games anything but toys, the most powerful law enforcement official in the U.S. saw the potential to use games as a way to communicate with youth. The slogan probably didn't prevent teens from experimenting with drugs, but I hope it's not the last time games experiment with public policy.

Robert Rath is a freelance writer, novelist, and researcher currently based in Hong Kong. You can follow his exploits at or on Twitter at @RobWritesPulp.

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