After Crozier Comments, Navy Secretary Modly Must Resign
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly just made things much worse for himself and the Navy by delivering an attack on Capt. Crozier in a speech to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. It will come as no surprise that the contents of the speech have become public:
“It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, DC,” Modly said, according to a transcript of remarks Modly made to the crew, copies of which have been provided to CNN by multiple Navy officials.
Modly’s speech was an attempt to justify his unpopular and outrageous decision to remove Crozier from command, and by giving such an inflammatory speech so soon after that decision he showed remarkably poor judgment. The “big controversy” that he complains about just became even bigger. Lecturing the crew about Crozier’s supposed “betrayal” is not going to persuade anyone, and it is bound to stir up even more discontent than there was before. It is deeply insulting to Crozier and his crew to cast the captain’s actions in such derogatory terms. Even if Modly genuinely believes Crozier to have been in the wrong, it is destructive and demoralizing to attack a well-respected officer this way. He was lashing out at the crew as much as Crozier because the crew gave the captain such a rousing sendoff. That’s unacceptable, and it proves that there needs to be someone else in charge of the Department of the Navy.
Modly’s original decision to relieve Crozier of command was a serious mistake, and this tone-deaf exercise in self-justification compounds the first error. Incredibly, Modly criticized Crozier for being either “too naive” or “stupid” for circulating his letter to maybe 20 people, and then he delivers a speech to a crew of thousands and somehow doesn’t think it was going to leak the minute after he finished. Whatever he hoped to achieve by berating the crew for their devotion to their captain, he has pretty much destroyed whatever credibility he might have still had with them.
The calls for Modly’s resignation began as soon as the speech became available:
Acting Navy secretary blasts ousted aircraft carrier captain as ‘stupid’ in address to ship’s crew – CNNPolitics. (ACTING SEC NAVY MUST RESIGN. This is the worst judgment by a defense official possible. Terrible signal to sailors.) https://t.co/2hrEtcZxAW
— Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) April 6, 2020
Dear @SECNAV Modly: You called Capt Crozier “too naive or too stupid” for not knowing his private letter would be leaked. Now we learn your private speech was leaked.
You should apply the same standard and resign. Or you should reinstate Capt Crozier. Stop being a hypocrite. https://t.co/C0zKv3ab8M
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 6, 2020
I was not in the camp with those calling for acting SecNav Modly to resign for relieving #CaptCrozier. I am now.
These remarks to sailors are unbefitting a senior leader and will only increase divisiveness in the ranks.
He has failed as a leader & should resign. https://t.co/qewpesA9Lg
— David Lapan (@DaveLapanDC) April 6, 2020
Clearly. The tone of the audio is that Modly is not only disparaging Crozier, but haranguing and shaming the sailors for applauding him. A disgraceful display. He’s lost all claim to leadership and should go. https://t.co/ufYllDmgwO
— Adam Mount (@ajmount) April 6, 2020
This is real?? The inappropriateness here is breathtaking. Trump’s @SECNAV went aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and basically told the sailors their beloved former captain is a traitor. https://t.co/373Oe0yvte
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) April 6, 2020
I have heard the recording of the Acting SecNav speech to the crew of the TR. When he calls Crozier “too naive or too stupid to command a ship” you can hear sailors yelling “What the fuck?!?”. I am disgusted by Modly and his dishonorable behavior. He must resign.
— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) April 6, 2020
Whatever you think of Crozier’s firing, these statements by @secnav Modly are a disgrace. If he’s lucky, he’ll be fired quickly, rather than left to twist for months. Regardless, history will remember him for this, and only this. https://t.co/CNODc3e7nm
— Christopher Orr (@OrrChris) April 6, 2020
Modly told the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt that the press is out “to divide us and use [Crozier] to embarrass the Navy.”
We covered it bc COVID on an aircraft carrier is a national-security story with urgent human consequences. Modly doesn’t need us to embarrass the Navy.
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) April 6, 2020
It is worth remembering that Modly chose to remove Crozier over the objections of Crozier’s superior officers, including the chief of naval operations. He insisted on doing this despite their preference that they handle it themselves, and he owns the fallout from it. Modly has handled all of this about as badly as he could have. It is time for him to do the right thing and resign.
Update: There is enormous anger at Modly among lots of veterans because of this speech:
Let me tell you how big this speech on the TR is in the military/veterans community. The Daily Caller first broke the transcript and no I’m seeing veterans of both political parties outraged like nothing I’ve seen…well…ever. Modly’s behavior on the TR spits on their service.
— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) April 6, 2020