Mattis Accuses Trump of Dividing the Nation in a Time of Crisis – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, breaking months of public silence on President Trump since resigning in protest in December 2018, on Wednesday offered a withering critique of the president’s leadership amid growing protests across the country.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mr. Mattis wrote in a statement issued late Wednesday. “Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, also criticized comments by the current defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, who in recent days has described protest sites across the nation as a “battle space” to be cleared.

“We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battle space’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate,’” Mr. Mattis wrote. “At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society.” “

“. . .  In his statement on Wednesday, Mr. Mattis sounded a call to arms of a different sort than have resounded in the streets near the White House, and across the country.

“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square,” Mr. Mattis said. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” “

Chinese Agents Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The alarming messages came fast and furious in mid-March, popping up on the cellphone screens and social media feeds of millions of Americans grappling with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country.

“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages, which cited a source in the Department of Homeland Security. “He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”

The messages became so widespread over 48 hours that the White House’s National Security Council issued an announcement via Twitter that they were “FAKE.”

Putin’s Long War Against American Science – The New York Times

On Feb. 3, soon after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a global health emergency, an obscure Twitter account in Moscow began retweeting an American blog. It said the pathogen was a germ weapon designed to incapacitate and kill. The headline called the evidence “irrefutable” even though top scientists had already debunked that claim and declared the novel virus to be natural.

As the pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information — an “infodemic,” according to the World Health Organization. Analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within.

The House, the Senate and the nation’s intelligence agencies have typically focused on election meddling in their examinations of Mr. Putin’s long campaign. But the repercussions are wider. An investigation by The New York Times — involving scores of interviews as well as a review of scholarly papers, news reports, and Russian documents, tweets and TV shows — found that Mr. Putin has spread misinformation on issues of personal health for more than a decade.

His agents have repeatedly planted and spread the idea that viral epidemics — including flu outbreaks, Ebola and now the coronavirus — were sown by American scientists. The disinformers have also sought to undermine faith in the safety of vaccines, a triumph of public health that Mr. Putin himself promotes at home.

Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy – SFChronicle.com

Note: This story has been updated with comments from the U.S. Navy and other developments.

“The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

In the four-page letter to senior military officials, Crozier said only a small contingent of infected sailors have been off-boarded. Most of the crew remain aboard the ship, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing is impossible.

“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

He asked for “compliant quarantine rooms” on shore in Guam for his entire crew “as soon as possible.”

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.” “

Source: Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy – SFChronicle.com

Opinion | For Coronavirus, Trump Is Not the Wartime President We Need – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Rice is a contributing Opinion writer.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“Donald Trump declared himself a “wartime president” just three weeks ago. On Twitter, he proclaimed “WE WILL WIN THIS WAR.” At last, he seemed to grasp the gravity of the Covid-19 crisis facing the world. Bluster aside, Mr. Trump is correct: This is war, the most consequential since World War II, and he is in charge.

Unfortunately, few of his actions display the leadership we need from a wartime commander in chief who is confronting a viral version of World War III.

The United States military develops detailed war plans for combat scenarios and exercises regularly to prepare for contingencies. The Defense Department gathers intelligence, scans the globe for impending threats, pre-positions forces and equipment, stockpiles supplies and trains its forces. Maintaining readiness is the military’s most prized prerequisite for battlefield success.

In the case of coronavirus, the Trump administration shelved the war plan, or pandemic “playbook,” prepared by the Obama administration. It disbanded the National Security Council office established to provide early warning and ensure preparedness, and disregarded the intelligence community’s warnings that a global pandemic was likely.”

Acting Navy secretary apologizes for scathing rebuke of ousted captain – NBC

By Courtney Kube

“Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Monday delivered a scathing attack against the captain who sounded the alarm over the spread of the coronavirus on his ship.

Speaking in Guam to the crew members of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Modly said Capt. Brett Crozier was guilty of a “betrayal of trust” in choosing to express his concerns to a broad audience in an email that ultimately was leaked to the media, according to a recording of the speech obtained by NBC News.

“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly said. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose.” “

Source: Acting Navy secretary apologizes for scathing rebuke of ousted captain

David Lindsay:  I found this article and NBC news clip at the Facebook page of Seth Bates. Donald Trump rumbles he doesn’t like the optics.

Opinion | Captain Crozier Saved His Crew From Coronavirus. He Is a Hero. – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Roosevelt is a great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and the chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Institute at Long Island University.

Credit…US Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System/EPA, via Shutterstock

“On Monday, Capt. Brett Crozier, the commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, sent a letter to the Navy pleading for permission to unload his crew, including scores of sailors sickened with Covid-19, in Guam, where it was docked. The Pentagon had been dragging its feet, and the situation on the ship was growing dire.

“We are not at war,” he wrote. “Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”

After the letter was leaked to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Navy relented. But on Thursday, it relieved Captain Crozier of his command.

Captain Crozier joins a growing list of heroic men and women who have risked their careers over the last few weeks to speak out about life-threatening failures to treat the victims of this terrible pandemic. Many of them are doctors and nurses, and many of them, like Captain Crozier, have been punished. All of them deserve our deepest gratitude.”

The Navy Fired Captain Crozier After His Letter on the Coronavirus. Hear How the Crew Responded. – The New York Times

Please note, this is my second posting of this ariticle, in order to highlight the section below. I read it to Kathleen Schomaker, who replied, this story, and that scene, are going to make a hell of a good movie someday.

“. . . .As part of his extended explanation of why he removed Captain Crozier, Mr. Modly asserted at a news conference Thursday that the release of Captain Crozier’s letter had panicked the crew and family members, and embarrassed the Navy’s leadership.

It undermines our efforts and the chain of command’s efforts to address this problem and creates a panic,” he said. “And creates a perception that the Navy’s not on the job, the government’s not on the job.”

But videos taken by crew members aboard the Roosevelt and posted on social media on Friday seemed to contradict that assessment.

The sailors on the Roosevelt did not look panicked. Since Captain Crozier’s letter first surfaced, the Navy had evacuated hundreds off the ship, with more each day. During Captain Crozier’s final walk off the ship, many sailors could be seen with their bags packed on the floor next to them as they cheered their departing captain.

It was a surreal scene, beginning with Captain Crozier’s solemn walk through the massive ship’s sprawling hangar bay — a snaking procession that wrapped around a pair of dormant F/A-18 fighter jets and into the cool Guam night.

There was the ship’s bell, and then its whistle. The crew, hundreds of them, some in civilian clothes, others in uniform, slowly saluted as Captain Crozier walked past with a black backpack slung over his left shoulder.

“Captain, United States Navy, departing,” a voice piped in over the loudspeaker. As Captain Crozier reached the gangway, the slender ramp that stretched from ship to shore, he turned back toward his ship. His crew cheered.

The nearly half dozen videos posted to social media, all from different angles amid the throng of sailors, include thundering cheers of “Captain Crozier.” One crew member yells, “Hooyah skipper!” In another video, someone says, “Now that’s how you send off one of the greatest captains you ever had … the GOAT,” using the acronym for Greatest Of All Time. “The man for the people.”

How the Theodore Roosevelt’s Coronavirus Outbreak Became a Moral Crisis for the Military – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — President Trump’s acting Navy secretary, in a profanity-laced reprimand delivered Monday, criticized sailors aboard the stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt for cheering their captain, who was removed after he appealed for help as coronavirus spread throughout the warship.

The Navy’s top civilian, Thomas B. Modly, delivered his message over the ship’s loudspeaker system and deepened the raw us-versus-them atmosphere that had already engulfed the carrier. It also exposed the schism between a commander in chief with little regard for the military’s chain of command and the uniformed Navy that is sworn to follow him.

Like much in the Trump administration, what began as a seemingly straightforward challenge — the arrival of coronavirus onboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier — has now engulfed the military, leading to far-reaching questions of undue command influence and the demoralization of young men and women who promise to protect the country. At its heart, the crisis aboard the Theodore Roosevelt has become a window into what matters, and what does not, in an administration where remaining on the right side of a mercurial president is valued above all else.

The crew of the Roosevelt had already registered its discontent with the Trump administration’s decision to remove the commander, by cheering for Capt. Brett E. Crozier as he walked down the gangway last week and left the ship.”

He Led a Top Navy Ship. Now He Sits in Quarantine, Fired and Infected. – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — For days, he fended off fears that the contagion would spread unchecked through his crew. Then last week, the captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who had appealed to his superiors for help, was fired.

By Sunday, friends said, he had come down with the coronavirus himself.

The military has long adhered to a rigid chain of command and tolerated no dissent expressed outside official channels. Capt. Brett E. Crozier, the skipper of the aircraft carrier, knew he was up against those imperatives when he asked for help for nearly 5,000 crew members trapped in a petri dish of a warship in the middle of a pandemic.

But colleagues say the mistake that could cost Captain Crozier his career was charging headlong into the Trump administration’s narrative that it had everything under control.

Pentagon officials said that although President Trump never ordered Captain Crozier dismissed, he was displeased with the captain’s actions and let the Navy know — a

Even so, the Navy’s top brass clashed about what to do.

Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, privately urged against dismissal and argued that, per usual Navy procedures, an investigation into what went wrong on the Roosevelt should be allowed to play out. But the acting Navy secretary, Thomas B. Modly, overruled the Navy’s top admiral, saying Captain Crozier had cracked under pressure.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said on Sunday that he supported Mr. Modly’s decision. The Washington Post first reported the differing opinions among Navy officials.

Navy officials acknowledged on Sunday that tensions between Captain Crozier and his immediate boss, Rear Adm. Stuart P. Baker, the commander of a multiship task force including the Roosevelt, most likely complicated the Navy’s response to the viral outbreak and prompted the captain to send a four-page letter pleading for help. Officials said the letter, sent as an unclassified email, went only to other Navy personnel, but it leaked to the news media last week.”