October 19, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
In the publicity sheet that St. Martin’s Press has been sending out to spur interest in General Hugh Shelton’s new memoir, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, the last highlight is a doozy: “A high-ranking cabinet member suggests intentionally flying an American airplane on a low pass over Baghdad so as to guarantee it will be shot down, thus creating a natural excuse to reltaliate and go to war.”
Turns out the incident took place during the Clinton administration, and Shelton’s response to the suggestion…well, let’s just say it more than lives up to the title of the memoir.
At one of my very first breakfasts, while Berger and Cohen were engaged in a sidebar discussion down at one end of the table and Tenet and Richardson were preoccupied in another, one of the Cabinet members present leaned over to me and said, “Hugh, I know I shouldn’t even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event — something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough — and slow enough — so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?”
The hair on the back of my neck bristled, my teeth clenched, and my fists tightened. I was so mad I was about to explode. I looked across the table, thinking about the pilot in the U-2 and responded, “Of course we can …” which prompted a big smile on the official’s face.
“You can?” was the excited reply.
“Why, of course we can,” I countered. “Just as soon as we get your ass qualified to fly it, I will have it flown just as low and slow as you want to go.”
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