Or read the transcript below:
(Transcription by J. C. Hendershot)
Interview with Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson by Roger Aronoff
The “Take AIM” show on BlogTalkRadio, Thursday, October 7, 2010
Take AIM 10/7/2010: Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson
ROGER ARONOFF: Our guest today is retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, U.S. Air Force, the author of Conduct Unbecoming: How Barack Obama is Destroying the Military and Endangering Our Security. Good morning, Buzz, if I might call you that. We’re pleased to have you here on Take AIM!
LT. COL. ROBERT “BUZZ” PATTERSON: Thank you so much, Roger. Absolutely, call me “Buzz,” and thank you very much for having me. My pleasure!
ARONOFF: Great. Before we discuss your most recent book, I want to tell our listeners a bit more about your background, and then get into some other topics, as well. Lieutenant Colonel Patterson, Retired, is the author of two New York Times Bestsellers: Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America’s National Security, and Reckless Disregard: How Liberal Democrats Undercut Our Military, Endanger Our Soldiers, and Jeopardize Our Security. That was released in July of 2004. Before becoming an author and commentator, Mr. Patterson served 20 years on active duty in the military with distinction and saw tours of duty as an Air Force pilot during combat operations in Grenada, Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, and Bosnia. From 1996 to 1998, he was the Senior Military Aide to President Bill Clinton. During that time he was responsible for the President’s Emergency Satchel, otherwise known as the “Nuclear Football,” the black bag with the nation’s nuclear capability that accompanies the president at all times. In addition, Colonel Patterson was operational commander for all military units assigned to the White House, to include Air Force One, Marine One, Camp David, White House Transportation Agency and White House Mess. Among his many military commendations, Colonel Patterson received the Defense Superior Service Medal for accomplishments while at the White House, and was awarded the Air Force Air Medal for flying fifteen combat support missions into . . . Sarejevo, Bosnia-Harzegovina. He retired in 2001 to pursue a career as a writer, conservative political commentator and commercial airline pilot. Again, welcome to Take AIM, and thanks for your great service to this country!
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Thank you so much, Roger. It’s a real privilege to serve, and, hopefully, I’m still serving in some regards by writing and being a voice for our military, actually—as you know, our fine young troops can’t really voice their opinions, their concerns, while they’re still in uniform, so, hopefully, I’m doing that for them.
ARONOFF: Fortunately, I’ve got you for a while, here, so we’re going to cover a lot of ground. Looking back to your military career, you were at many hotspots in our recent history. I’d like to touch on a couple of these—Grenada, for example. Many people probably don’t even realize its role, back during the Cold War, but many suggest that this was just a tiny U.S. Caribbean island, that the U.S. went in and conquered like it was really nothing, but, in fact, it was far along to becoming a base of operations for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. What was your mission there? How significant was Grenada, as a battle in the larger Cold War?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Yeah, absolutely—people, I think, have forgotten, Roger, that the Soviets, in collusion with the Cubans, were building an airstrip in Grenada, to use that as a point of operations, a base of operations for their MiG fighters—essentially, at the time, to control the Caribbean area. President Reagan saw what was happening down there, and sent us down there to intervene, actually—to stop the construction of that airstrip, to oust the pro-Communist government down there, and to restore democracy to Grenada. So I actually was going down there, taking the 82nd Airborne. On the first day of the operations, we dropped the 82nd Airborne into Grenada, to secure that airfield and, also, at the same time, rescue a lot of American students that were being held hostage on the island by the pro-Communist government.
ARONOFF: Okay. Let’s touch on another one—Rwanda. Now, people who recall that know of the slaughter that took place, and how the U.S. and the U.N. really stood by, knowing this was happening, and even preventing the Tutsis from acquiring the cache of arms necessary to resist the slaughter by the Hutus, but what was the role of U.S. jets over there? At what point in that war were you there?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: When President Clinton finally decided to go ahead and get involved in Rwanda—actually, it was after hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in Rwanda, and we went in as part of the United Nations force to stop the chaos in Rwanda, that was happening there. So we went in, and took a lot of troops, and medicine, and humanitarian aid into the area, to settle things down after the slaughter. Unfortunately, a lot of people had already been killed by that time. But we went in as part of the United Nations force. U.S. Air Force jets went in and took a lot of humanitarian aid, doctors, nurse, medical technicians, in to try to restore calm to the area after that devastation.
ARONOFF: So you had no fighting role in that?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: That was largely—we did take in troops, Roger, as a matter of fact, but we took in troops to basically restore order to the area. But we also went in to try to clean things up after the slaughter. But it was largely a humanitarian mission on the part of the United Nations, to go in and calm things down. In fact, the commanding general at the time was a Canadian general, who I was working for, there on the ground. We did take in troops to restore order, but we also went in to try to help a lot of people that had been hurt.
ARONOFF: I imagine that was one of the more horrific things you’ve seen in your life, huh?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Absolutely. I’ve seen a lot of tragedy in my Air Force career, but seeing the desperation and the horror of what had happened between those two, basically, two tribal factions that were killing each other . . . the slaughter was horrific, and the poverty was amazing to me. I’d never seen anything quite like it before. When we first went in there, the death and the poverty and the conditions people were living in there, in Rwanda, was abhorrent. It was really—for an American officer to see those kind of things, coming from what we take for granted here in the U.S., to see those things up close and personal, really was horrific, and I still recall those days very, very well.
ARONOFF: So how were you picked to be one of the—I believe it was five—people to carry the nuclear football for President Clinton? What did that job entail? Were you interviewed to determine whether you would be loyal to President Clinton? How did that work?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Actually, that’s a great question. There are, at all times, five military aides, one from each of the services, since you include the Coast Guard, and I was the Air Force officer, and became the senior military aide in my time there. Really, Roger, it’s a position that they don’t want you to apply for. The Department of Defense and the White House narrowed down their choices to six, and I was one of the six officers they’d brought into the White House to interview. When I got the call from the White House, I had no idea the job even existed, and went to the interview. It was a three-day process. A very detailed background investigation had already occurred when I got there. They asked me a lot of questions about my background. I already had a Top Secret clearance, so that got my foot in the door a little bit. I remember going up through interview process, and at one point they asked me, had I voted for President Clinton? I said no. I had not voted for anybody, actually, at the time of the previous election. Then they asked me why I wanted the job. Quite frankly, Roger, I told them I wasn’t sure I really wanted the job. I was very happy being an Air Force pilot, living in northern California, and was dating my now-wife, so things were going well for me. And they offered me the job anyway. I showed up in April of 1996, right as the reelection campaign was starting for President Bill Clinton, and was with him all the way through the—just prior to the impeachment in 1998.
ARONOFF: What experience in your past do you think was the key factor that led them to come to you for that?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: I think the fact that I was a pilot, I’d been involved in combat operations, I could think on my feet a little bit, and the fact that I’d been promoted ahead of my peers—twice, actually—I had a good career going in the Air Force, I was not politically connected—actually was, very proudly, apolitical at the time. I think the fact that I’d been involved in combat operations, that I was moving along successfully in my career, and the fact that I didn’t show any political deference at all—in fact, again, when they offered me the job, asked me if I wanted the job, I told them, frankly, I didn’t know if I wanted the job or not, and I think that was what appealed to them about me, that I didn’t have any predilections, politically.
ARONOFF: Did you have any particular knowledge or experience with nuclear weapons?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: No, actually, I did not—that’s also a good question, Roger. I had no involvement with nuclear weapons prior to that, and I think—of course, the learning curve was pretty steep for me, early on—but I think they were looking more for a more broad brush experience—and, again, I interviewed along with a Thunderbird pilot, a couple of other pilots, a Special Operations person who was also there—and I think that the fact that my experience was a lot more varied, a little bit broader than the other guys brought to the table, that was what appealed to them. And, quite frankly, again, I was really surprised that they offered me the position. I did not apply for it. I did not show, actually, a lot of interest in the position. I remember when I got the phone call, that night in my hotel room, I was getting ready to prepare to go back to California to assume my responsibilities as a squadron operations officer in California. That night, the phone rang in my hotel room, and they offered me the position. I was really a little bit taken aback. But I flew back to California, accepted the position, and was there a few short months later.
ARONOFF: So what happened that you lost trust in the Clintons? Was it gradual? Was there a moment when it all clicked?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: It happened pretty quickly, actually, Roger. I remember my first experience. Again, I showed up in the White House, kind of white-eyed and bright-eyed and bushy tailed, not really knowing what to expect. I remember the first time I had an insight: We were at a professional golf tournament. The President was watching a professional golf tournament in Manassas, Virginia, and, at the time, Saddam Hussein, ironically, was revolting and trying to extinguish the Kurds in the northern part of Iraq. The U.S. had prepared an air strike to support the Kurds and repel Saddam’s Republican Guard forces in northern Iraq. At this day, at the golf tournament, I started receiving phone calls from Sandy Berger—who was, at the time, the National Security Council Advisor—asking for President Clinton to go ahead and authorize this attack to repel Saddam’s forces, as they were really massacring thousands and thousands of Kurds in the northern part of Iraq. I approached President Clinton on three occasions at this golf tournament, Roger, to ask him for the go-ahead to launch this attack. We had Air Force fighters in the air, ready to drop bombs and to repel Saddam’s forces, and on three occasions, President Clinton could not be bothered to take the phone call from Sandy Berger. So, on three occasions I approached the President, he brushed me off—he wanted to watch the golf tournament. So I saw, really, for the first time, the dereliction of duty, as it were, by President Clinton not being able—not being willing to take the phone call while thousands and thousands of Kurds were being slaughtered by Saddam Hussein. That was really my first insight. Then it became a gradual awakening for me as we went over the next couple of years, where President Clinton just would refuse to accept his responsibilities as our commander-in-chief while both our troops and, also, innocents around the globe were being killed by the evil forces of al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, Hezbollah, Hamas—it was just a continuing process, a trend I saw, that President Clinton refused to accept his responsibilities, which is why I wrote Dereliction of Duty when I retired from the Air Force in 2003.
ARONOFF: You mentioned this Sandy Berger incident. That is reminiscent of another one from that movie, Path to 9/11—I believe you were a consultant to that, as well—that involved a call from Sandy Berger, also, that they had bin Laden in their sights, and should we take him out? Were you present for that as well?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: I was. Actually, in my two years at the White House, Roger, we had at least eight times, up to ten times that I recall, that we had a chance to either capture or kill Osama bin Laden. And on every single occasion, President Clinton chose to pass. I believe, quite frankly and honestly, that 9/11 was the responsibility—I put the blame for 9/11 at the feet of President Bill Clinton. I think he had many opportunities to take out bin Laden, to either capture him or kill him, and chose, every single time, not to pull the trigger. The movie—the series—The Path to 9/11 very accurately shows that the phone calls went all the way up to President Clinton, from Sandy Berger, and Clinton chose not to pull the trigger. Again, I think that’s a very accurate representation of what happened, and I think President Bill Clinton was responsible for 9/11.
ARONOFF: In retrospect, why do you think he did not, on any of those eight or ten times, take the chance to capture or kill bin Laden?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: It was a combination of things. I think, at the time, 1996, when I first arrived there, he was more concerned about being reelected than he was about being a commander-in-chief. He didn’t want to take any action that might jeopardize his reelection. He didn’t want to rock the boat. He also was very concerned—what would typically happen, Roger, was, we would convene these conference calls. It would be President Clinton, it would be Sandy Berger, it would be Madeleine Albright, it would be Janet Reno—the Attorney General—Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and they would debate the relative merits about actually taking a shot at bin Laden or not. Ultimately, what it would come down to would be President Clinton being concerned about the repercussions—domestically, politically—should he do that kind of thing, or should he fail. Also, Janet Reno would often carry the day about not violating international law, or violating international airspace, with us firing cruise missiles over Pakistan, for example, into Afghanistan. So it was always a very politically correct approach to the war on terror, it was always more of a law enforcement issue than it was a combat operation, and I think, ultimately, President Clinton would always defer to what was the most domestically feasible political posture, not what would protect the U.S. in a time of continued terrorist attacks around the globe. I think he always chose the least risky option, which was no action at all, quite frankly.
ARONOFF: Speaking of which, I want to ask you about something that has been important to AIM through the years, and that was TWA 800. That was ’96, when you came on. I actually produced and directed a documentary that we did about it, called TWA 800: The Search for the Truth. That came right in the midst of the ’96 election season, as well. Were you there then? What did you observe? What are your thoughts on that?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Yeah, I was actually in the White House that night, when the information came down and briefed President Clinton about what had happened, and it was, actually, a little odd, because, immediately, what happened was, he asked for the information, the background, that we had about al-Qaeda at the time. We knew about Operation Bojinka. We knew about the al-Qaeda operation to hijack airliners and to fly them into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, CIA Headquarters—so it was a very real concern. We were tracking bin Laden, with his satellite phone, daily. When TWA 800 went down, the first response, the first, initial reaction was to suspect terrorism. President Clinton immediately asked for a lot of the background information we had on al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and Operation Bojinka. Then, as things unfolded over the next few days, and few weeks, Roger, the concern came about whether or not to label it as a terrorist attack, and I think it got covered up, quite frankly. I’ve had this discussion with a lot of people, and I think that we chose, as a government, President Clinton chose, and Vice President Gore chose to approach TWA 800 as an accident, an airborne accident, and not an act of terror. But I do know, initially, that the response, the reaction, was that it was a terrorist attack.
ARONOFF: We can spend a lot of time on that one, but let’s move on for now. At one point, President Clinton lost the code? Tell us about that chapter.
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Yes. The President carries a credit-card-sized document in his pants pocket, or his coat pocket, which is, in fact, the nuclear codes. The military aides call it the “Biscuit,” because you actually break it open to authenticate yourself as being the President, the commander-in-chief, to the Pentagon, should we need to retaliate with nuclear weapons, or actually initiate a nuclear strike. Ever since President John F. Kennedy, the President’s had those codes on his person, in his pocket. Well, President Bill Clinton lost those codes, and it corresponded with the revelations of the Monica Lewinsky affair. I happened to be the first person on President Bill Clinton’s schedule the morning that the Monica Lewinsky scandal hit the press and became international news. It also corresponded with the time that I asked President Clinton to produce the codes so I could swap the codes out with new codes—we did that from time to time—and President Clinton confessed that he had, in fact, lost the codes. What really alarmed me, Roger, was not so much that he had lost the codes—which was pretty troubling in and of itself—but that he couldn’t recall how long the codes had been missing. I pressed him on that issue, and he said that it could have been weeks, if not months, that he had lost the codes or misplaced them—without the ability, as our commander-in-chief, to retaliate with nuclear weapons. What struck me—again, another sign that the man was just derelict in his duties—was that he couldn’t recall, Roger, how long it had been. He was more concerned about it not reaching the press than he was that he had really violated military protocol and had lost the codes—really couldn’t care less, other than the fact that he didn’t want that information to leak to the press. Of course, it didn’t—until I retired and wrote my first book, and talked about the fact that he is the only President in our history ever to have lost nuclear codes.
ARONOFF: Incredible. I imagine the Clintons are not too fond of you. Have you ever experienced their wrath?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: You know, it’s funny, because, up until the book came out, I used to receive Christmas cards from them. Then, when the book came out, the Christmas cards stopped coming. When the book first came out, they were very vicious, and attacked me in the press. I simply responded with, “Okay, let’s have this debate. Let’s talk about this in an open forum.” They realized, when the book went right to the top of The New York Times Bestseller list, that they were just calling more attention to it. After they attacked me for several weeks, publicly, in the media, they decided they couldn’t win this discussion, because they couldn’t refute any of the points I make in the book. They became very quiet on the issue. Then, again, the Christmas cards stopped coming. So I haven’t had any conversations with the Clintons since that book came out.
ARONOFF: You’ve never been approached by any of their surrogates, or anyone—or threatened? Any of those sorts of things?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Well, when the book first came out, I was. At one point in time, Roger, Mrs. Clinton made a point of going after—she tried to go after my military retirement pension. I said, “Bring it on! Let’s have this discussion!” She and her surrogates were going to go to try to have my military pension revoked, cancelled. Of course, they can’t do that, legally.
LT. COL. PATTERSON: They had no authority to do that. They have no grounds to do that. When I went back after them, publicly, they got quiet. So that died down. I have been approached by a couple of their surrogates since then. In fact, when she was running for the Presidency—against Barack Obama, ironically—one of her aides called me and wanted to know if I would support her candidacy.
LT. COL. PATTERSON: I told them absolutely not—in no uncertain terms would I support Mrs. Clinton to be the President of the United States and our commander-in-chief. That was the last time I heard from any of her staff members, when she was actively running against Barack Obama.
ARONOFF: Just a final question on the Clintons, then. It appears that, right now, they have been—you might say “rehabilitated” in the public opinion, where she is now being talked about as Vice President and possible President, and he, in a recent survey taken, was found to have the highest approval rating of anyone in the country, I believe. What are your thoughts on that?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Several things, actually. I think he’s done a really good job rewriting his legacy and reinventing his legacy. But he’s still the same person I worked for—not a moral fiber in his body. Mrs. Clinton—I think she’s going to run against Barack Obama in 2012. I don’t see Mrs. Clinton being happy as Secretary of State, or even just being a Vice Presidential candidate. I think she’ll come out and run against Barack Obama. They have an incredibly efficient political machine, I’ll give them that. Seeing it up close and personal for two years was eye-opening. They are quintessential politicians—he much more than she. But I would not underestimate her. She’s very intelligent. I would not put anything beyond her, in terms of her ability to say and do anything to get elected, much like her husband. In my experience at the White House, knowing her, she’s very driven. I think she’ll do anything, legal or otherwise, to gain power, and I don’t think that we should short sell her. I think she’ll run for the President some day, and I’ll do everything I possibly can to make sure she doesn’t get nominated or elected.
ARONOFF: I think a lot of people might like to see that primary battle between Clinton and Obama again! It would be very interesting! So let’s move on to your current book—again, the title: Conduct Unbecoming: How Barack Obama is Destroying the Military and Endangering Our Security. So, briefly, why did you decide to write this book? How is he undermining our security?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Well, when I wrote Dereliction of Duty, about President Clinton, Roger, I thought, quite frankly, I’d worked for the worst commander-in-chief in our nation’s history—certainly in my lifetime. I wrote Dereliction as a clarion call to the nation, to not go down that path again and elect someone, like President Clinton, so ill-equipped and unqualified to be our commander-in-chief. Sadly, I was mistaken. I think we’ve elected a man, in Barack Obama, who’s more dangerous to our military, and to the national security of this nation, than even Bill Clinton—and that pains me to say, but I believe that, to be honest and sincere, that we have elected a man more ill-equipped, more unqualified, than President Clinton. We’ve elected a man to the Presidency, at a time when we’re fighting a global ideological enemy—that is, radical Islamism and jihadism—and we’ve elected a man to be our commander-in-chief at a time when we’re fighting hot wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. The damage he’s doing to our military, at a time that we’re fighting a war, to me, is egregious. It’s unbelievable that we’ve elected a man who’s totally unqualified to be our commander-in-chief—we’ve elected a community organizer—giving him the keys to 2.3 million people in the uniformed services, at a time that we’re fighting a war—whose sole approach to the war against radical Islam—he can’t even address the enemy! At a time when we’re sending young men to fight over in Afghanistan, we have a President who can’t even identify, or is unwilling to identify, the fact that we’re fighting this global ideological enemy. I think that you can’t win a war if you are unable to identify who the enemy is, and I think that he’s also trying to restructure the military, socially engineer the military, with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies right now—the timing is horribly sad, actually. So we have elected a man who’s unqualified, ill-equipped, and we’re still sending our fine young soldiers to fight and, in some cases, die for us abroad, for all the wrong reasons.
ARONOFF: How do you characterize our enemy? Who are we fighting, in your view? What is [Obama’s] view of that—who we’re fighting?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: I don’t think he understands that we’re fighting—in my estimation—an ideological enemy every bit as dangerous as we fought last century with Communism, fascism, Nazism. We’re fighting a global ideological enemy, radical Islam. It’s in over 80 countries around the globe. It’s metastasized internationally. We’ve been fighting this enemy since 1979. And President Obama refuses to acknowledge the fact that we’re fighting a very extreme element of Islam. In fact, if you look—in my new book, Roger, I have the National Security Strategy Policy of the United States of America, President Obama’s national security policy. He does not, one time, use the words jihad, Islam, Muslim, extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism—in fact, quite the opposite: He identifies the greatest national security threat to America being global warming. That’s the kind of politically correct approach he takes toward this battle. When we had the Major Hassan, who shot up Fort Hood, Texas, he shouted “Allahu akbar!”—“Allah is great”—and killed thirteen soldiers and wounded 30 soldiers, the Department of Defense’s report, after that attack, not one time mentions jihad, Muslim extremism, terrorism, Islamism—not a single time! It’s a politically correct approach to fighting this war, and it’s not going to work. Again, I think President Obama continues to coddle our enemies and show the back of his hand to our allies. It’s just the wrong recipe for how to win this war.
ARONOFF: He sometimes talks about—that our enemy is al-Qaeda, as if there’s this organization with however many people left in it, and that’s it—that’s who we need to go after. But as former CIA Director Jim Woolsey has said, al-Qaeda is both an organization and a movement—an ideology, basically. There are lots of people who, you could say, subscribe to the al-Qaeda world view, and many of them are people who are living here in this country now. They’re living all over the place. And unlike the Soviet Union—at least they had an address, where we could point nuclear weapons and threaten right back—this one is so much more complicated than that.
LT. COL. PATTERSON: That’s exactly right. I think President Obama would hope that it would just be a couple of guys hanging out in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan—but it’s not. It is a global movement. When I embedded myself over in Iraq in 2006, Roger, I received several briefings from the Central Command Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, about the enemy we’re fighting. It is a global, ideological enemy. It’s in over 80 countries around the globe. It is not just al-Qaeda. It is an ideological movement that is seeking to attack Westerners—Americans, primarily—around the globe. It is seeking to institute sharia law around the globe. It is a global, ideological threat. President George W. Bush understood that, and, I think, approached it very prudently and effectively. I think President Obama, whether or not he understands the threat—I think he probably sees it, but he refuses to acknowledge it. Therefore, we have a President, commander-in-chief, who, I think, seeks to kick the can as long as it takes, to pass this threat on to someone else—another commander-in-chief, eventually. He doesn’t have the stomach for the fight. In fact, in Conduct Unbecoming, Roger, I talk about how thin-skinned President Obama is, and how he’s very quick to lash out at Republicans or Rush Limbaugh or Fox News, but he refuses to lash out at the real enemy of America, and that is the terrorists that are fighting and killing U.S. citizens around the globe. He’s very quick to lash out at the state of Arizona for its immigration policy, but he refuses to lash out at the true enemy of America, and that is global, ideological Islam extremism. That’s the real enemy, and he doesn’t have the stomach for the fight.
ARONOFF: Another issue that they made a pretty quick decision on was that they wanted to close down Guantanamo, and then take Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and try him in criminal court in New York, and when they got so much blowback, they pulled back and they kicked that decision down at least past this November election. Amazingly, there was virtually no pressure from the media for them to make a decision already on this. It seems like their decision is, probably, they want to keep it there, but after what happened yesterday, where a judge disallowed a witness in another terrorist trial because he had been “tortured”—“torture” depends on who’s talking about what it is, it could be loud music or whatever—
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Right.
ARONOFF: —and waterboarding is another controversial one, but the point is, they come back and say, “Well, there have been hundreds of people convicted in criminal court here in this country, to put away terrorists.” What’s your view on this? Where should Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be tried? What about their claim that hundreds have been successfully tried in criminal courts?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Several things, actually. I’ve been to Guantanamo Bay, and it is the most humane incarceration facility in the history of warfare. In fact, I think it’s much more humane, actually, than a lot of our institutions here in the U.S. where we keep criminals, high target criminals, high value criminals. When President Obama was campaigning, I think, he had to play to his Left base. He had to play to the radical elements of the Democratic Party by announcing the closure. In fact, that was his first Presidential decision, to announce the closure of Guantanamo Bay, the very first day he was in office. Of course, it remains open, which I think is a good thing.
Now, the Left has seized this dialogue about “torture.” I can tell you, quite frankly, we don’t torture people in this nation, or elsewhere. We have waterboarded a total of three people, high value terrorist detainees. We’ve waterboarded three around the globe since we were attacked on 9/11. And I’ve been waterboarded, Roger. Waterboarding is something that most military pilots, Special Operations people, go through as a matter of training. Waterboarding does not physically injure you. It scares you into coughing up very important information, but it is not torture. It’s a mind game. For the Left to seize this dialogue, and to talk about “torture,” the U.S. “torturing” people, is, quite frankly, totally erroneous, and does not serve our troops well—because we do not torture in this country. We don’t torture as a matter of policy. The military does not do that. I think the fact that we’ve allowed the Left to hang this “torture”—quote, unquote, “torture”—sign around our troops is really a disservice. Secondly, these people, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are not legal combatants. They’re illegal combatants, as defined by the Geneva Conventions. They are not due the proper protocol of the Geneva Conventions, although we still offer those to them. We are, again, a very humane government and a very humane military, so we still allow people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be afforded all the same treatment we would afford a lawful combatant, a uniformed combatant, we would capture on the battlefield. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has chosen to fight this war from behind women and children, without wearing uniforms, and they are not authorized—but we still give them those allowances anyway. They should be tried in military tribunals, which go back to the founding of this country. We’ve always treated illegal combatants, and legal combatants, through military court systems, and it works just fine. To politically correctly approach this, and to Mirandize illegal combatants on the battlefield, which is what we’re doing these days, is sad. We’re letting Eric Holder, our Attorney General, fight this war. When we capture detainees, now, on the battlefield, we give them their Miranda rights, and provide them counsel. That’s not the way to defeat this evil enemy that we face.
ARONOFF: And to the claim—or the fact, I guess—that many terrorist-related crimes and people have been tried already in our criminal courts? What do you think?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: That is true, but I think what’s not being brought up in that discussion is the fact that, by trying them in our criminal courts, and giving them representation, we lose a lot of intelligence that we would otherwise gather by trying them through military courts. When you Mirandize a terrorist, and tell him he has the right to be silent, he becomes silent, and we don’t get the intelligence that we need to interrupt other attacks on Americans around the globe. I think we lose a lot of very valuable intelligence by doing that. Again, it’s treating the terrorist as a common criminal, like a jaywalker, or somebody who pickpockets or robs the bank. These are not common criminals—these are people who behead Americans around the globe. These are people who torture, and use women and children as shields. In fact, as we speak today, Roger, the Taliban in Afghanistan is using four-year-old boys to carry their weapons for them. Four-year-old boys. These are not common criminals. These are terrorists, and they’re murderers.
ARONOFF: Speaking of Afghanistan—and now we have the Woodward book as part of this, to find out—how much do you think—was this Obama’s way of getting his thought process out? What does it reveal about him, in terms of our Rules of Engagement there? What is your take on what’s happening now in Afghanistan?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Bob Woodward’s book does my book a great service, because Bob Woodward proves and substantiates a lot of what I talk about that’s happening in Afghanistan. The fact that Obama, number one, named General McChrystal to be his commanding general to fight the war in Afghanistan, and then met with General McChrystal only one time in twelve months before firing him, and General Petraeus has now taken over—and I have a very good friend working for General Petraeus—and much the same is happening with General Petraeus. He is not getting—Obama’s not engaged in Afghanistan, and the Rules of Engagement are killing our troops, Roger, quite frankly. The Rules of Engagement have come down from President Obama. We have Marines patrolling the very dangerous parts of Afghanistan without bullets in their guns for fear that they might shoot and hit innocent civilians. We have Air Force fighter jets and AC-130 gun ships patrolling at night with very sophisticated infrared technology, and even if our jets can pinpoint Taliban strongholds, or al-Qaeda strongholds, they’re not allowed to shoot at night for fear that there might be innocent casualties or collateral damage. Now, you cannot win a war if you don’t have bullets in your guns. You cannot fight combat if you’re not allowed to shoot at the enemy. That’s the kind of politically correct approach that Barack Obama has taken in Afghanistan, and it will not result in victory. In fact, Barack Obama, Roger, can’t even use the word victory, the term victory. He refuses—he prefers to use “to meet his objectives,” is the phrase he likes to use. So we have a commander-in-chief who’s sending our troops to fight in combat without bullets in their guns, who refuses to talk about victory or success in the war against terror. He talks about his personal objectives, and that is not a recipe for success. It’s a recipe for disaster and failure.
ARONOFF: So the fact that he sent an additional 30,000 people there, and at the same time, said July 2011 is the “Time of Transition,” as he calls it, when we’re going to start to pull out. What do you think his motivations are? Do you think he’s not looking for victory? What was he looking for in doing that? He certainly annoyed his base by making that call, and I’m not sure how many other people he satisfied. So what do you see behind that decision?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: When he was campaigning against and running against Hillary Clinton he had to prove his national security bona fides. He had to prove that he could be a strong commander-in-chief, and so he made the Afghanistan war the central point of his campaign, in terms of how he would approach things as commander-in-chief. Once elected, he then realized that he had made Afghanistan his war and he was not prepared to fight it. I think that he had to play to the moderate elements of the Democratic Party by being perceived as a hawkish commander-in-chief, and now that he’s been elected he realizes that he doesn’t have the stomach for the fight. He would not have been elected if he had talked about withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan in no uncertain terms, and I think, by announcing the troop surge in Afghanistan, he was placating the more moderate elements of his base, and then by announcing, simultaneously, a withdrawal date, he was playing to the Left elements of the Democratic Party. So he’s trying to have it both ways and you can’t. You cannot simply do that as a commander-in-chief. You’ve got to go either all in or all out and he wants to walk this very fine line, and you can’t do that as a commander-in-chief. You’ve got to be very, very resolute, and he’s trying to placate and play to both the Right elements and the Left elements within the Democratic Party by walking this line. I sincerely think he’s trying to kick the can in Afghanistan just long enough to say “Okay, I tried it, it didn’t work, let’s come home,” which will create a huge vacuum in Afghanistan for terrorists, for Taliban. It’ll be another hotbed to breed terrorists. Again, he doesn’t have it—he’s got to be all in or all out and not be putting our troops’ lives on the line, which is what he’s doing right now.
ARONOFF: So, when McChrystal gave his interview to Rolling Stone—I don’t want to get into a lot of detail, but he made some pretty harsh comments through his aides about President Obama. It makes me wonder, should we expect Petraeus or any other of the other top military leaders to, perhaps, step down, and say they can no longer serve this President in good conscience?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Yes, I think that McChrystal’s aides and McChrystal were trying to send a signal not only to the President, but also the rest of the country that this thing is just failing in Afghanistan. I think Petraeus took the job, and told President Obama he would take the job, as a proud soldier and loyal soldier, but I think General Petraeus also told the President he wanted to change the Rules of Engagement or it was not going to succeed, and as we speak today, Roger, the Rules of Engagement have not changed. They are the same as they were under General McChrystal. Again, that’s just a recipe for failure. So I think you’re going to see the military more and more so—and that’s why, I think, I write my books: I think I voice the military’s concerns, because they can’t really do it in an open forum. I think you’re going to see more and more the military folks being disgruntled, being more vocal, and I don’t think that’s a real good thing for the commander-in-chief. I think it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s important for Americans to understand we have a total lack of leadership in the White House right now, at a time when we need leadership. We need a President Ronald Reagan to take on the Soviet Union. We need a President that takes on this global ideological enemy, and we don’t have one right now.
ARONOFF: Let’s touch on a couple more things. Iraq: This is one that Biden famously said is one of their great accomplishments and, the thing is—look: The Status of Forces Agreement was reached in December of 2008, before Obama ever came into office, and that we were going to end our combat role and be out by this summer that we just got out, so what was left for Obama was basically the diplomatic end, to somehow help bring an effective government together in Iraq. There were the elections back in March—I guess it was—of this year, and to this date they haven’t been able to bring any government together—but yet they’re seeming to try to take great credit for having gotten us out of Iraq in this great way. What do you think of that situation?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Well, I think that it shows a lot of the arrogance, and also just how disconnected President Obama is with reality. We still have 50,000 troops in Iraq, Roger. We’re still fighting combat operations, and whether President Obama can just deliver an edict that combat operations are over, that’s not going to play to the al-Qaeda crowd and the insurgence in Iraq. In fact, I think you’re going to see a lot more attacks on Americans in Iraq. We still have 50,000 troops there. They’re still involved in combat. Combat operations are not over in Iraq. We still have 5,000 Special Operations troops in Iraq that are still fighting alongside the Iraqi military. I think combat operations will continue in Iraq for a long, long time, as they will around the rest of the region—Afghanistan and Pakistan and elsewhere. So I think President Obama wants to claim a victory as the commander-in-chief in Iraq when, in fact, we’re still fighting in Iraq, and we will be for a long time. For Vice President Biden to claim that this is one of their great accomplishments, again, is, number one, it’s laughable because they had nothing to do with what’s going on in Iraq. The success there belongs to our military and President George W. Bush and General Petraeus. It doesn’t belong to the Obama administration. But again, I think it speaks to the narcissism of President Obama and the arrogance that he thinks that he can just issue an edict that combat’s over and take credit for it when, in fact, it’s not over and it won’t be over for a long time.
ARONOFF: Now, Iran: Have we accepted that we’re going to learn to live with a nuclear Iran? Is that also partly President Bush’s fault that he didn’t do anything before he left? How do you see that situation?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Well, the reality in Iran is that they are on the cusp of deploying nuclear weapons, being able to deploy nuclear weapons, and that is simply unacceptable in today’s world. If they have nuclear weapons then Israel will cease to exist—so it’s going to come down to either we interrupt that development or Israel does, and I would prefer that we do it, because if Israel does it that’ll be World War Three, and I think that Obama—again—seems to be very comfortable placating and coddling our enemies and in being disdainful of our allies—Israel being a perfect example. Ultimately, sooner or later, somebody’s going to have to take military action in Iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons, and I would prefer it to be us and not Israel. I don’t think Obama has that capability, or desire to. I wish President Bush had done something. I think that President Bush gave it every possible diplomatic avenue, hoping the Russians were going to get involved—and the Russians have been involved to a degree, but not enough. So, again, nuclear weapons in Iran is unacceptable for us, for Israel, for Western Europe—for the rest of the world, quite frankly—and they’re right on the verge of having this.
ARONOFF: And how do you rate Obama’s handling of the Middle East peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: D-minus, I guess, if I had to give him a grade. Again, I think he’s been very disdainful of Israel, our ally, and he seems to want to engage in the discussions with Iran and Syria and the PLO, and those don’t—our enemy doesn’t understand negotiations. They see it as a sign of weakness and they see Obama as being a very, very weak President and commander-in-chief. On the cover of my book I have the picture of Obama bowing to the Japanese Prime Minister—that’s who Obama is. He wants to bow and coddle and cajole and negotiate, and you don’t negotiate with the evil that is the President in Iran and in Syria and elsewhere. You have to speak—those cultures understand one thing, Roger, and it’s strength. You have to deal from a position of strength, not from weakness and, right now, the Iranians are laughing at us. They’re laughing at our President. They think he’s very weak. They’re laughing at us as they develop nuclear weapons. President Ronald Reagan would not stand for this—but, of course, President Obama is fine with it.
ARONOFF: You talk about who Obama is—is he naive? Is he a radical? Because in your book, you talk about this sort of network with George Soros, this network of Leftist organizations that operate the “shadow government.” What is Obama’s relationship to that network and to Soros? Is he just naive, a community organizer, or does he sort of harbor this radical view?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: No. President Barack Obama is the most radical president we’ve ever elected in this country by far. In Conduct Unbecoming I go back and take a look at Obama’s childhood—how he was raised, the way he sees the world—and he is a foreigner in our midst. He sees America through the eyes of a foreigner, through a foreigner’s lens. He sees America to be quite unexceptional. Well, I think that we’re quite exceptional, quite frankly. He sees America, he feels compelled to go around the world apologizing for America, giving speeches in Cairo and Istanbul about the evils of America and our past transgressions. He’s very, very radical. He was born in Hawaii to a Communist mother and an Islamic father from Kenya. He was raised—his mom remarried another Muslim, moved Barack Obama to Indonesia where he went to Muslim schools for four years, was sent back to Hawaii to be raised by her parents, his white grandparents. The most influential figure in Barack Obama’s young life, Roger, was a guy named Frank Marshall Davis, who was a poet and a Communist writer who wrote for the Communist newspaper in Honolulu. Frank Marshall Davis raised Barack Obama, and taught the young Obama to be very, very suspicious of America—and to be very vocal about his approach towards American politics, imperialism. That’s who Barack Obama is. George Soros was the man responsible for getting Barack Obama elected. In fact, I talk about, when Barack Obama was just beginning to campaign for the Presidency, Roger, he came out to California and named his chief fund raiser to be a lady named Jodie Evans. Jodie Evans is the co-founder of Code Pink, which is a radical, anti-military, anti-war organization out here in California. Code Pink and Jodie Evans took money, $600,000 of money and supplies, into Iraq in 2005, and gave it to the terrorists who were fighting and killing U.S. Marines in Fallujah. Jodie Evans, in my opinion, is a traitor—and she is a very close friend of Barack Obama’s. She’s been a guest of Barack Obama at the White House multiple times since he was elected to the Presidency. That just shows you the kind of people he hangs around with. Jodie Evans is a very radical, anti-American, anti-military person, and she has provided aid and comfort to the enemies of America as we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan—and that’s who Barack Obama chooses to associate with. I think you can see that he’s a very radical guy, and he hangs out with fellow radicals.
ARONOFF: Now I saw in Newsmax where you had written about—or they had written about—your book, and that, and Jodie Evans responded, and they posted her response, and she claimed that her money was all about helping people who’ve been injured in the war and that is was more like $100,000 than $600,000. Do you care to respond to that?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Yeah. Jodie Evans is a liar. She received this support, $600,000 that she talks about, actually, and her co-founder, Medea Benjamin, is quoted in a press conference in Amman, Jordan. When they came back out of Iraq, Medea Benjamin gave a press conference in Amman, Jordan, where she was trumpeting about the money they’d given to the—quote, unquote—“other side,” and that it was $600,000. And they’ve gotten support from Henry Waxman and Barbara Boxer, and Dennis Kucinich actually signed letters to get Code Pink into and out of Iraq back in 2005. You can go on the Code Pink website, which I’ve done on many occasions. You can see how proud they are that they have provided support to the other side that was fighting and killing U.S. Marines in Fallujah. I know Marine mothers who’ve lost their sons in Fallujah, and to talk about the impact of Code Pink on whether or not their sons could have lived is quite emotional. Again, that’s the kind of people that Barack Obama associates with.
ARONOFF: Have you had pushback on this book from anyone in the Obama White House? Have they contacted you?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: No. No. I think it’s because the Woodward book came out almost simultaneously. I don’t know if Bob Woodward’s had any pushback yet or not, but I get the typical radical elements on my website—you know, E-mailing me and saying a lot of really silly things. But no, and I think, really, Roger, always, truth is always the best defense. That’s how I approach my books. I always make sure I reference everything I put in my books to the nth degree, and most people—most liberals—who read my books really can’t come back at the facts, so they show a lot of emotion but they have no substance behind their argument.
ARONOFF: Finally, let’s just talk about the media for a couple minutes here. First, in terms of your book, are you going to be on The Today Show, on the Larry King show, on Oprah Winfrey?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: [Laughs.]
ARONOFF: Is liberal media embracing your book here?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: No. You know, that’s a great—no. I’ve been on Fox News and probably will always be on Fox News, and I would love to go on Oprah. I’d love the chance to voice my opinions and my research on Oprah. But no, I’ll never be asked to be on The Today Show or Oprah Winfrey or, uh—
ARONOFF: Larry King.
LT. COL. PATTERSON: The best I could hope for, Roger these days, is Fox News.
ARONOFF: Right. So, wearing your media watchdog hat, how would you say the media has covered these issues, covered Obama? Are they fair and objective? Are they in the tank? What do you see going on as far as the media coverage of the Obama presidency?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: They’re completely in the tank. I mean, they got him elected and they’re going to protect his Presidency completely. The Code Pink story is a perfect example. When I was researching Code Pink going into Iraq, not a single U.S. media outlet picked up on that. I found it, ironically, in the French press. The French press covered it, the Islamic media in that part of the world covered it, but the U.S. media gave Code Pink a complete pass on that, as they’re continuing to do with Code Pink, and also with Barack Obama. They got him elected and they’re going to protect his candidacy. They are not watchdogs for the U.S., they’re a protector of the Left, of the Left wing of our society.
ARONOFF: Any specific examples of the media in this country in that capacity?
LT. COL. PATTERSON: Well, the perfect example is the fact that Barack Obama used Jodie Evans as his chief fund raiser in California. That should be big news. That should be all over The Today Show. But they won’t go into that. They won’t go into his background. They gave him a pass on Jeremiah Wright and they gave him a pass on Bill Ayers—and if that had been President George W. Bush they’d be all over it. But it’s Barack Obama, so you’re not going to hear anything about that.
ARONOFF: Our guest today has been retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, U.S. Air Force. Covered a lot of ground here, and I want to thank you so much for being on. Tell our listeners and readers where they can find your book, and then we’re going to have to leave it there.
LT. COL. PATTERSON: All the major book stores have it. Of course amazon.com has it, and my website, buzzpatterson.com, has all of my books, actually—all four of my books. And if you’d like a personalized copy, I could certainly arrange that for them on my website.
ARONOFF: Well, thank you so much for being with us today on Take AIM. Good luck with the book, and thanks for your service to this country. We’re going to wrap it there until next week on Take AIM.