A follow-up to a story from yesterday: Captain Owen Honors has been relieved of duty, following an uproar over the release of four-year-old videos containing raunchy material he created while serving as executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.
Fox News reports he has not yet been asked to leave the Navy, but that might happen as the investigation continues. Honors’ career in the Navy is effectively over anyway.
Focus now shifts to Honors’ superior officers, particularly Admiral Mike Mullen, who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness told Fox that “Admiral Mullen failed to discharge his duty with regard to the Enterprise, and members of Congress should hold him accountable.” She also said the Honors videos were as bad as the offenses that ruined the careers of the “Tailhook” aviators in the 1990s. Really? I thought that was all about sexual harassment and assault. Off-color language in videos, made to amuse the crew of a deployed ship in a time of war, are now equivalent to the once-unspeakable blasphemy of harassment? Good to know.
For the record, Admiral Mullen graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, and has commanded two guided missile destroyers and two battle groups. He also has extensive experience working with NATO forces. By all means, let’s trash his career because he didn’t know the goofball XO of the Enterprise was doing “Saturday Night Live” skits on the ship’s closed-circuit TV system. After all, those four-year-old videos were good enough to cost us the services of a Bronze Star winner and combat pilot who had extensive knowledge of the unique systems aboard the Enterprise, a matter of weeks before she’s due to sail into a war zone.
Careers are being mulched to promote agendas in this case. Gay rights groups wanted Honors to walk the plank because he used anti-gay language in his videos. Donnelly actually has the opposite goal in mind – her group opposes the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Fox quotes her as saying “this embarrassing episode demonstrates how discipline can be incrementally redefined downward, lowering standards for all.” Don’t ask, don’t tell, and for God’s sake don’t laugh.
Bottom line: we can’t afford what we’re doing to Captain Owen Honors. His judgment on the battlefield should have been weighed more carefully against his judgment in front of a camera. There are all sorts of ways his “unacceptable behavior” could have been addressed, short of career immolation. We are at war. If al-Qaeda had taken Captain Honors out with a bomb, they’d be celebrating a huge victory. People are asking why Honors was promoted despite so many crew members seeing these weird videos. I would assume it happened because he was good at his job. At least, he used to be.