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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

William McRaven: What I'm always happy to tell folks is the phenomenal work of the CIA. Our part of the mission was really pretty straightforward. I mean, it's kind of viewed as the sexy piece. We flew from Afghanistan into Pakistan and got Bin Laden and came back. And there was an attractiveness to that aspect of it. But that was a pretty straightforward mission for us. In fact, I would tell you that it was -- I mean, it had a political aspect of it and an angst aspect of it that was higher than the rest of the missions we do -- but from a standpoint of a pure military operation it was pretty straightforward. What I have said before is the credit really belongs to the CIA, who in fact located Bin Laden, and the President and his National Security team who made the decision, the President who made the decision to go after Bin Laden when our intelligence really at best had us at about 50/50. So the President made a decision to risk American lives and frankly to risk his political fortune, I think, to do the right thing for America. And I'm always very appreciative that he did that. And I think those are the big takeaways that the American public ought to have is that the President and his National Security team did the right thing. The CIA -- the best intelligence organization in the world -- along with the National Security Agency, which was part of their ability to figure out where Bin Laden was, those were the real stars of this mission. I'm very proud of what my guys did, but that's the sort of things we do pretty much every day.
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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

I was supposed to go and read at the University of Buffalo, and I didn't know until fairly close to the time of the reading that I was supposed to -- this was at the time of the Vietnam War -- I was supposed to sign a loyalty oath, not only to the Constitution of the United States, but if you please, to the Constitution of the State of New York, and I refused to sign the loyalty. We went around and around and around about all of the different ways around it, but they involved putting down my name and then putting riders under it that made it empty and I said that I don't see why I should do that. I mean, I don't believe in doing this, I don't think this has anything to do with loyalty, I think it has to do with entrapment. And I won't play the game and I just won't do it. And at that time, it was $1,000 for the reading, and they said, "We won't pay you," and I said, "Well, we'll see about that." And finally I agreed to go because a friend -- it was Robert Haas who invited me, and he was very embarrassed by the situation. He hadn't known about it to begin with.
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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

I went and gave this talk about being loyal, what loyalty really meant and why I wouldn't sign a loyalty oath and about the Vietnam War. And then I said -- and I published the talk afterwards in The New York Review of Books -- and passed the hat at the reading. I said, "This is a free reading," and passed the hat, not for me, I said, for the war resisters who have gone to Canada. When war resisters leave, this money will go to them. So, I raised several thousand dollars for the war resisters and the University of Buffalo was angry as could be. And Auden wrote and said that if he didn't know me -- he didn't know me very well -- he would have thought the whole thing was a publicity stunt. And I wrote -- I spent two days over the letter -- answering Auden with deep respect saying, you know, we completely disagree. This was a public situation which I didn't ask for, and I had a right to make a public statement at that time and to use it because I think we're involved in something that is so wrong and so really shameful and we've told so many lies about it that if one has a strong position, one should speak out about it.
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

I decided early on, very early on, that pornography was not for me. That I was able to write books, I hoped, that would be read by enormous numbers of people, without my having to engage in sadism, kinky sex, ultra-violent crime. Anything like that. And I've adhered to that, and I succeeded in that ball game. Now wait a minute. I have to apologize here. What crime is more violent than King David's? Sending his chief general out to be assassinated. Well, I think that some of the things my characters have done have in their own way been comparable to that. But I don't belabor it. I don't seek it out, and I have never cheapened myself in that respect. Would refuse to do so.
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