Former commander of USS Cole writes book about attack, aftermath
Kirk Lippold says govt. mishandled response
Last Updated: 267 days ago
CORONADO, Calif. -
Nearly 12 years ago, a terror attack blew open the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen. It sent shock waves through the San Diego Navy community.
Seventeen sailors died after the suicide attack that occurred at 11:18 a.m. on Oct. 12th, 2000.
Kirk Lippold was the commanding officer that day and said this is a story that many did not want told.
"It was being lost in history," said Lippold. "The Navy didn't want to talk about it anymore. The nation had moved on."
"Front Burner" is his minute-by-minute account of the terrorist attack on the USS Cole and the aftermath. Lippold said the Clinton administration failed to react.
"All they wanted to do was wrap up the investigation and walk away clean with everything tied up," he said.
Lippold, a conservative, said the Republicans did not handle the response any better.
"The Bush administration came in and unfortunately took a 'we're forward-looking, not backward-acting' attitude," he said.
When asked if he thought a more aggressive response could have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks, Lippold responded, "We will never be able to answer that question but I guarantee you, doing nothing sealed the nation's fate 11 months later."
Lippold said he accepts accountability but not blame. San Diegan Lakiba Palmer was among the sailors who died.
"Each of them was important to me and there wasn't a meeting we didn't do where I didn't shed a tear with those families," said Lippold as he fought back emotion.
When asked if he thinks we have learned from our mistakes with the USS Cole attack, Lippold responded, "I think we're getting there. It's hard work and it's going to take a long time."
He also said the enemies of the United States are feeling emboldened right now.
"We are being perceived as weak and consequently that's why we have attacks on our consulates, that's why we get ambassadors killed," said Lippold, who was referring to the recent attack in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Lippold retired from the Navy in 2007 after serving for 26 years. He attempted a run for Congress in Nevada last year and said he has not ruled out running again.
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