Interesting Q&A in this morning’s AJC with retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré. He gained fame during the Hurricane Katrina fiasco when he took the reins of the military response to the catastrophe. Honoré, you may recall, coined the phrase toward reporters — “you are stuck on stupid.”
The reporter asked him about the torture issue. His response reflects how I, and many Americans, feel about the use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques:
Q: OK, since we’re talking responsibility: this whole question of the torture memos from the last Bush administration. Do you think President Obama should have released them, and do you think anyone should be prosecuted?
A: First of all, I think torture is wrong. I do think that the deliberate things people did after 9/11 to try to protect the country — that one technique, that waterboard technique — I think people made some judgments and everybody’s looking back now saying, ‘Well, we probably shouldn’t have done that.’ But we live in a country where everybody knows about it, which means we can get things back in balance. But I don’t think we ought to go back and prosecute people over it. We’ve got to look to the future. The economy is in the tubes, we’re fighting a pandemic, people are losing their houses. We don’t need the White House and the Congress to be going back fooling around with what happened with a guy who tried to destroy the country. And oh, by the way, we didn’t kill him.
And you’ve got to love this exchange as well:
Q: Do you ever mitigate your bluntness?
A: I do, depending on what the issue is … but I don’t back away. I went through the Atlanta airport a week ago and here were some people running security, supposed to be looking at the bags, and some lady walks through and these security guys said, ‘Man, that’s bringing sexy back.’ (Shakes his head.) I lit them up, then went and found their supervisor. They’re supposed to be working for me and you. Is that something a government employee should be saying? Hell no!
Q: What’d they say to you?
A: They shut up. They knew they were wrong. You can hear that on the street from somebody you don’t know, but when a person of responsibility says that, and the community doesn’t say a thing about it? That’s the problem.
Not sure if he’ll be running for office in the future, but I think I’d vote for him. Would feel like voting for a cross between George Patton and Bill Cosby.