Lt. Col. Steve Russell opened the annual Cleveland Town Hall Lecture Series’ 2012-13 season in the Ohio Theater at Playhouse Square last Monday, Sept. 24, to reveal his first-hand account of the manhunt and capture of Saddam Hussein. Case Western Reserve University is the official academic sponsor of this season’s Cleveland Town Hall Lecture series, the second longest consecutively running speaker series in the country.
An image of the cover of his 2011 book, “We Got Him: A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein,” projected on the large screen behind him. “My time as a soldier has been soul-searching,” he said.
Russell’s compelling words kept the Ohio Theater glued to the podium while he unraveled his true story to the young and old, presenting a fresh take to native Clevelanders on how their American city could be valued.
To the surprise of some of us, the capture of Saddam Hussein was not the result of “some lofty intelligence” operation, noted Lt. Col. Steve Russell at the podium, as he elaborated on the bond between himself and those who worked alongside him in the aggressive chase. “The plan was done on a piece of butcher’s paper with magic markers,” he said.
Russell served 21 years in the United States Army as an infantry officer, deploying operationally to Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and he is the chairman and founder of Vets for Victory, an organization that works to better the lives of America’s military men and women. Russell retired from the army in 2006 to his native Oklahoma, where he serves in the state Senate.
CWRU School of Law’s Dr. Michael P. Scharf, who trained the judges that oversaw Hussein’s trial, moderated the Q&A portion of the event.
Some of Scharf’s students attended the lecture, including Evan Pelecky, first year student at the CWRU School of Law. “I think that [Russell’s] presentation should heighten public awareness of the military’s continuing presence abroad and remind people to continue to support our veterans,” he said. “It was a testament to the dedication and strength of our military men and women whose sacrifice to this country is under-appreciated.”