Retired Generals and Admirals Meet with Presidential Candidates
CONCORD, N.H. –– An unprecedented gathering of retired generals and admirals with backgrounds in combat operations, intelligence, law, and medicine met here with presidential candidates April 13 and 14 to discuss U.S. detention and interrogation policies.
The gathering was co-hosted by Rear Admiral John Hutson, (Ret.), President and Dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, and Human Rights First, a New York-based non-partisan, non-profit group. The group of 19 retired senior leaders met with Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y) and Joseph Biden (D –Del.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) had planned to meet with the group on April 15, but was forced to cancel his appearance due to severe weather.
All candidates of both parties who had announced their candidacy or formed exploratory committees were invited.
The event was chaired by three retired four-star officers with wide-ranging experience: Gen. Charles Krulak, former Commandant of the Marine Corps; Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former Commander in Chief of Central Command, which includes the Middle East; and Gen. Paul J. Kern, who was responsible for conducting an official investigation into events surrounding the allegations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib.
“This was a forum where candidates could come and talk to individuals with solid experience in the military and geo-politics,” said Gen. Krulak. “It was an opportunity for them to learn of some of the issues that are important to individual soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines with regard to the Code of Conduct and treatment of enemy prisoners.”
Gen. Hoar said, “We had a candid give-and-take about U.S. policy regarding interrogation, detention, and detainee treatment with those who seek to be the next president and Commander-in-Chief. These issues we discussed with the candidates affect the standing of the United States in the world as well as the safety of our own troops and our country.”
Gen. Kern said, “The meeting with candidates was not to be the standard forum or debate. Our meetings were private sessions between the officers and individual candidates. It was a unique opportunity for an exchange of views between the candidates for the highest office in the country and experienced military personnel whose backgrounds make them extremely well-suited to the task of communicating the range of issues involved.”
The group of retired generals and admirals is nonpartisan and will not endorse any candidate. The group hopes that all candidates will embrace policies for treatment of detainees that are consistent with the welfare of the military and with American laws, values, and interests.
Along with the co-chairs and co-host Hutson, the retired military participants included:
General Merrill A. McPeak, USAF (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard Jr., USA (Ret.)
Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, USN (Ret.)
Vice Admiral Al Konetzni, USN (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Charles Otstott, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Harry E. Soyster, USA (Ret.)
Rear Admiral Don Guter, USN (Ret.)
Major General Fred E. Haynes, USMC (Ret.)
Major General Melvyn Montano, ANG (Ret.)
Major General William Nash, USA (Ret.)
Brigadier General David M. Brahms, USMC (Ret.)
Brigadier General James P. Cullen, USA (Ret.)
Brigadier General Murray G. Sagsveen, USA (Ret.)
Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, USA (Ret.)