Judgeship, Middle East, Red Cross/ 911 Liberty Fund, Sharm el-Sheikh, Travel, Walt Disney Co.
George J. Mitchell was born on August 20, 1933, in Waterville, Maine, to Mary Saad, a factory worker, and George Mitchell, a laborer. Senator Mitchell spent his youth in Waterville. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College in 1954, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps until 1956. In 1960 he earned a law degree from Georgetown University. Mitchell worked for Senator Edmund S. Muskie as executive assistant and as deputy campaign manager during Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign. He later became U.S. senator (D-Maine) 1980-1995, Senate majority leader 1989-1995, and, upon his retirement from the Senate, special advisor on Northern Ireland 1995-1998. Since 1998, Senator Mitchell has served on many boards and committees and has received high profile appointments including: chairman of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Fact-Finding Committee on the crisis between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (2000); overseer of the Red Cross Liberty Fund (2001); lead investigator into the illegal use of performance enhancing substances in Major League Baseball (2006); and special envoy for Palestinian-Israeli affairs (2009-2011).
Interview includes discussion of: involvement as a board member and chairman of the board at the Walt Disney Co.; personalities on the board; power, and on advising the powerful; meeting with Maine constituents as a U.S. senator and airing differences of opinion; involvement in the Red Cross 9/11 commission and Mitchell’s role as overseer of the Liberty Fund; being in New York on 9/11, witnessing the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers, and encountering restrictions on travel into Manhattan; challenges in establishing fair criteria for distributing funds to 9/11 victims and their families when claimants had such disparate circumstances; the formation of and circumstances surrounding the Sharm el-Sheikh International Fact-Finding Committee; working relationships among committee members; travel to Berlin, Germany, years after having served there in Army Intelligence; responsibilities that attach to intelligence work, and similar responsibilities that come with being a judge; the Berlin Wall, its collapse, and the failure of Communism; how walls play a role in warring communities (Berlin, Belfast, Palestine); differences and commonalities among peoples around the world; and America’s success as a meritocracy.
This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.