John Hockenberry sat down with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen at the Pentagon on Wednesday for a wide-ranging conversation. In this excerpt, we ask him about the use of Guantanamo Bay in the Haiti relief effort and working with a Haitian government in disarray.
JH: Is the Gitmo facility available to you, however, for people to move off island?
ADM. MULLEN: It’s an option, certainly, an option that General Fraser and General Keen and USAID has as a part of this. But there are actually distribution issues; literally, there are hospitals on Haiti that have rooms. They’re not located necessarily right downtown so we think we need to work to distribute some of those patients who are in hospitals once they’ve received the care to move them out to some of these other areas.
JH: We’ve talked to lots and lots of Haitians over the last week or more and to a person they tell us we don’t trust the Haitian government, we don’t know who to trust inside Haiti for the relief that we need and for our faith in the future of our country. Can you tell the Haitian people at this point, at this stage of the relief operation, who they can trust?
ADM. MULLEN: As I indicated, we are working very closely to support the Haitian government. They are a very important part of all of this. Again, they’ve been very badly, almost decapitated – so I think that it’s going to take them a while to stand back up. I guess what I’d say to the Haitian people is there is no one that I know, from their government through all the support agencies, including those from America and many countries around the world, that don’t want to do anything else than help them, Certainly in the near term, get this relief done, ease this burden which has been so tough on them because of this tragedy. All of us, there isn’t a moment in any of this that myself and many others don’t think about all of the people who’ve died in this and just the epic tragedy that this is and we want to try and relieve that. And I know that everyone including the Haitian government leadership wants to do that as well.