For eight years, the commander in chief of our military was a lying, draft-dodging adulterer. The good news is that Bill Clinton is now an ex-president. The bad news is that for eight years, he molded the
military into his image. So instead of having military leaders who speak
forthrightly, we have military spokesmen who distort the facts and hide the truth.

That must stop.

Last week, an American submarine sunk a Japanese high-school fishing boat. Mistakes happen. They are an integral part of life. How one responds to mistakes, however, is another thing.

One of the most basic rules of military discipline is that you don’t make excuses and you don’t lie. If you make a mistake, you take responsibility for it immediately and do whatever is required to rectify it. But the first response of Bill Clinton’s Navy was to make excuses and try to cover up the fact that civilians were at key controls of the sub when the accident occurred.

When we first heard about the accident, the Navy led us to believe that the sub was on a serious training mission. In fact, the sub was infested with political guests. And key controls were “manned” by civilians. This wasn’t a serious training mission; it was a public-relations mission.

There is nothing wrong with exposing “influential” civilians to
military life. It’s a price that we must pay for civilian control. But it is wrong to hide that fact when a naval vessel kills civilians while other civilians are at key controls.

We were also led to believe that the crew did everything in its power to help those whose lives had been put at risk because of the collision. In fact, the captain of the Japanese fishing boat reported that for an hour after the accident, no one from the sub entered the water to help the survivors. They just let down a rope from the conning tower and waited for the Coast Guard to arrive.

Every sailor knows that it is your duty when you come across an accident to do all you can to help. That means launching life rafts, putting swimmers into the water and sending out frogmen. Dropping a line from the conning tower isn’t good enough.

The Navy says that no one went into the water because the waves were too high. That doesn’t cut it. There were people in the water. They were in the water because of the negligence of the sub. The crew of that
sub had an obligation to do more than just watch and wait as high-school students in the prime of their lives drowned. I guarantee you that if one of the sub’s people had fallen overboard, they would have done more than let down a rope.

The Navy says that it didn’t use active sonar to “ping” the surrounding area for boats before an emergency surface maneuver because it didn’t want to give away its position to potential enemies. In fact, it
has refused to use active sonar for the last 10 years.

That makes no sense. First, the sub was filled with civilians. This wasn’t a serious mission. Second, the sub was in an area
frequented by scores of fishing boats so the risk of collision was high. Third, an emergency surface maneuver is a violent, loud event. The minute you start it every potential “enemy” sub knows exactly where you are. Finally, this is 2001 and the Cold War has been over for more than a decade. Anyway, they were off the coast of Hawaii. If it was safe for civilians to be on the sub, it was safe to use active sonar to protect civilians on the surface.

The final bit of Clintonesque arrogance is the Navy’s refusal to give out the names of the civilians who were on the sub. The Navy’s spokesman said that accepting an invitation to ride on a submarine doesn’t
waive your right to privacy. That’s pure hogwash. You can bet your bottom dollar that those civilians were required to waive legal liability and every other right before they were allowed to get on that sub. If they wanted to preserve their right to privacy, they should have stayed on shore.

These people were taking advantage of our tax dollars. They were getting a special treat denied to 99.9 percent of the rest of us taxpayers. We have a right to know who they are so that the press can interview them and find out what they did and when they did it. The Navy’s refusal to volunteer their names smacks of a cover up.

Fortunately, when the press uses the Freedom of Information Act, the Navy will be forced to tell us who these people were and what role, if any, they played in the accident. What is sad is that it looks like the Navy is trying to protect the civilians at the controls of the sub from legal liability for killing Japanese children. That is not the Navy’s job.

It’s time for the Navy to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and let the chips fall where they may. That is the way it used to be before Clinton. And that is the way it must become after

The world is too dangerous a place for us to have military “leaders” who are more concerned about covering their rear ends than telling the truth.

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