“I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis,” Modly said. “Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand. I ask, but don’t expect, that people read them in their entirety.”
Modly’s comments drew sharp criticism from Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.
“Secretary Modly’s comments were completely inappropriate and beneath the office of the Secretary of the Navy,” Kaine said in a statement released by his office. “It’s deeply disappointing that he would deliver a speech on board a U.S. aircraft carrier suggesting that Captain Crozier might be ‘stupid’ and bashing the media for trying to report the truth. These dedicated sailors deserve better from their leadership.”
If Modly’s intent was to reassure the aircraft carrier’s crew that they would be taken care of as they attempted to limit the spread of Covid-19 aboard the ship, his address offered little in the way of concrete measures he intended to see through. Sailors on board the carrier told The Times that Modly didn’t tour the ship, and went right to the intercom for the address. The crew had submitted questions the night before, and several were submitted to Modly, who told the crew he would answer them when he got back to Washington.
At one point, the acting secretary slammed China and its role in the coronavirus pandemic while taking issue with Crozier’s assertion in the leaked letter that America was not at war. “The only reason we are dealing with this right now is because a big authoritarian regime called China was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus and they put the world at risk to protect themselves and to protect their reputations,” he said.
Modly also decried Crozier’s “betrayal” and said his tale of being a “martyr” commanding officer had let everyone down across the chain of command. Crozier has tested positive for coronavirus, The Times first reported Sunday.
Given the number of people Crozier included on his email, he should have known it would leak, Modly said. “There is never a situation where you should consider the media part of your chain of command,” he warned. “You can jump the chain of command if you want and take the consequences. You can disobey the chain of command and take the consequences, but there is no situation where you go to the media.”
Such an action, Modly implied, could threaten the dissolution of the United States.
He ended his comments with a traditional Naval Academy cheer: “Go Navy.”