In Baton Rouge, USS Cole Commander comments on terrorism
BATON ROUGE - Tuesday, acts of terror were the topic of discussion at a campaign rally where the captain of the U.S.S. Cole when it was targeted by terrorists in 2000 discussed what happened and the state of international affairs today.
Retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold was stumping in Baton Rouge.
On October 12, 2000, suicide bombers blew a 20 foot hole in the side of the ship in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen died, 39 were wounded.
"It was just a tremendous ka-boom!" said Lippold. "We had been hit by a suicide boat masquerading as a garbage barge."
Following the attack, the crew split time between damage control, triage to save shipmates, and security to stop another attack.
"If as it now appears, this was an act of terrorism, it was a despicable and cowardly act. We will find out who is responsible and hold them accountable," then-President Bill Clinton said about the attacks.
Al Qaeda took responsibility.
These days, Lippold is retired and is an author who travels the country as a motivational speaker. He said terrorism has been around for a long time and after that act of war in 2000, little was done.
"Eleven months after the attack on us, when neither the Clinton or Bush administration did anything, 9/11 occurred," he said.
Lippold believes terror groups have evolved and have grown the means to conduct their terrorist operation. He said it is crucial for the US to be a step ahead of the bad guys.
"While terrorism may occur on the international stage far away from here, talk to any veteran of history that's fought, back to WWII, and they'll tell you, fight them over there, don't wait for them to come here and fight them," he said.
Lippold thinks the U.S. is still not doing all it can to stop terror before it strikes. He thinks leaders should have more credibility.
"While it's nice to be respected, I want a certain degree of fear as well," Lippold explained. "That we will go out, we will find these terrorists, we will hunt them down. We will either capture them or we will kill them."