On Thursday Carl Higbie, a Greenwich native appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as chief of external affairs for the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps, submitted his resignation.
Higbie’s resignation from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) came in the wake of a report compiled by CNN’s KFile’s Andrew Kaczynsk that chronicled racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Muslim remarks Higbie made in 2013 while hosting an internet radio program called Sound of Freedom.
On Friday morning Higbie Tweeted an apology.
I’m sorry. I’m not sorry that my words were published, I am sorry that I said them in 2013. Those words do not reflect who I am or what I stand for, I regret saying them. Last night I informed the WH that I was resigning so as not to distract from POTUS’ many success. #noexcuses
— Carl Higbie (@CarlHigbie) January 19, 2018
By Friday afternoon, Greenwich officials had shared statements in response to Higbie’s remarks.
“It is unfortunate that anyone, let alone someone who has served our Country as Carl has, would hold these beliefs that are blatantly offensive on several levels,” said First Selectman Peter Tesei. “Greenwich is a tolerant community that embraces civility, inclusion and respect for all regardless of race, gender, religious and political beliefs. His resignation is the right decision.”
“I join Peter in what he has written,” Republican Selectman John Toner said in a follow up to the First Selectman’s email. “There is no place for prejudice of any kind in today’s world.”
Democratic Selectman Sandy Litvack said Higbie’s comments were more than inappropriate. “These comments are appalling,” he said. “The fact that anyone in this time and age would think these things, much less articulate them, is beyond belief.”
Litvack said Higbie’s words have no place in society and should have no place in Greenwich.
State Rep Livvy Floren (R-149) wrote in an email on Friday saying, “No comment…our statement stands,” a reference to a letter to the editor submitted by Rep. Floren, Rep. Mike Bocchino, Rep. Fred Camillo and Senator Scott Frantz earlier in the week quoting Dr. Martin Luther King and condemning “toxic and divisive rhetoric.”
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James Waters, who, like Higbie, grew up in Greenwich and later served as a Navy Seal before returning to settle in Greenwich, said Higbie’s words do not represent the Navy SEAL Teams.
“People should know that the SEAL Teams stand for serving the American people, all of us no matter our race, creed, or religion, and protecting our way of life,” Waters said in an email.
“As the Navy SEAL ethos says, ‘I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves…I serve with honor on and off the battlefield,” Waters wrote. “Carl’s unacceptable comments show that he doesn’t really believe in these words, which are fundamental to the SEAL Brotherhood.”
Higbie’s trouble began before 2013. After serving two tours in Iraq — one in 2007 and one in 2009 — he was recorded in 2012 on WND News Radio slamming “dumb” Iraqi soldiers and cowardly military top brass.
During the interview, in which he promoted his book, Battle on the Homefront: A Navy SEAL’s Mission to Save the American Dream, he said, “It’s unfathomable how dumb the people were over there,” Higbie said of Iraqi soldiers. “It’s difficult to get them to do basic tasks such as reading a map or doing jumping jacks, and we’re giving them guns! …They’re not capable of learning complex things.”
In the same interview, Higbie, who disapproved of the rules of engagement and policies in Iraq, reserved his harshest criticism for military leaders, specifically Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, calling him a “moron” for not changing policy in Iraq.
Higbie said he had been forced out of the military for writing his book, and that his advice for General Dempsey was to, “Stand on your pride. That’s what I did, because I spoke out about what was wrong. General Dempsey needs to take a page out of my book.”
Higbie said after he wrote his book and sought to publish it, he first submitted it to the US Dept of Defense as per protocol. But after waiting for a response for a year and a half, he went ahead and published it.
“I published it and they said, ‘If you publish this we’re going to give you a dishonorable discharge.’ …They ended up forcing me to resign. I was dumbfounded,” he said.
After publishing the book, Higbie’s security clearance was downgraded and he received an Honorable Discharge from the Navy, but that was downgraded after two months to a General Discharge.
A General Discharge indicates some non-judicial punishment to correct behavior or a failure to meet military standards.
Veterans may not be eligible for certain veterans benefits under a General Discharge, including the GI Bill.