Q: What happened at Tailhook -- was it unique to that moment--the fact that
women were about to get combat roles, and a lot of people were edgy about it.
And, on the political horizon, the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings were
happening that fall. Is that part of the political and sociological mix that
led to this?
MOORER: I think so. We were right on the verge of launching into this
program...... the buzz word was "sexual harassment". It probably takes place
sometime, although sometime the women encourage it. And sometime you don't
even have to touch anybody. You're just as guilty of sexual harassment,
because of the way you look at the girl or something like that. And the point
is that mindset was developing. And nothing was going to be allowed that in
any sense that permitted sexual harassment. But when you look at the details
of Tailhook, there were plenty of women in there that were right in the middle
of this, and having a hell of a big time. And no one asked them a single
And what was done there was such a small group out of those that attended
Tailhook. To earmark them in a list, so that every time regardless of what
they did, even if they didn't do anything, if they were present, -- and they
get promoted, then the Senate has to pass judgment on them, even 5 or 6 years
later. And now we are still trying to get that list canceled, because you got
boys out there flying that don't know whether they're going to get promoted or
not. They may be the finest officer you can ever put together. And because
they had that 30 minutes -- like Stumpf did, a short time at Tailhook, then
they are disqualified for a career. It's such a waste.
The problem with sexual harassment is that generally speaking, there are only
two people involved. I mean, you don't go around sexual harassing with
everybody watching you, if you are guilty. And if the girl wants to, she can
charge you with it, and no way you can prove you didn't do it. If she says you
did, you're guilty. You've had it, right then and there. We've lost, I think,
11 admirals generally on that count. We've had many officers just leave the
service because they weren't going to tolerate that. They are smart, active,
and courageous, energetic. They can get a job.
Look at Stan Arthur. That was the biggest waste of all time, when they didn't
give him Commanding Chief of Pacific, because of a very remote thing.
Durenberger had a constituent that failed the flight course. The senior
admiral in the service signed the paper, after it came up the chain, if someone
is removed from flight training. And Stan Arthur, he signed those things all
the time. And he just signed this, and Durenberger puts a hold on his command
of the biggest command in the entire world. And there's no one as well
qualified as he was. He had been Commander of the Seventh Fleet. He knew
people in Malaysia and the Indies and Philippines and Taiwan and Korea and
Hong Kong and so on, Japan--by their first name. Also, he was in Navy command
in Desert Storm. And he flew about 500 missions during the Vietnam War. And
just because one person accused him of something that was never proved, the
Senator jumps up and wipes the guy out.
I think it's breaking down the image of the Navy. It's breaking down the
capability of the Navy. It is causing many of our best people to resign and
leave the Navy. And so it's all negative. Anything that degrades combat
readiness, in my opinion, in a fighting outfit is wrong. To mix social reform
or social changes and fighting ability. They don't mix. And that's what's
The Army and Air Force are catching it, too. As a matter of fact, in the last
year, I think I'm correct in saying that the Army had 600 cases of sexual
harassment; the Air Force had 400; and the Navy only had 200. But you'd think
by reading the press that the Navy and Tailhook, that's the only sexual
harassment that's going on.
Q: Did you know Mike Boorda?
MOORER: Oh yeah. I knew him. I know Mike Boorda. I liked him.
Q: Was he one of the good guys?
MOORER: My opinion of what happened to Boorda was that he was brought in
here. He came in with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of whom
had been involved in Bosnia and the whole Balkan setup. And Boorda had spent
most of his career in personnel matters, and he was very good at it. And he
was very sensitive about what people thought about him, since he was the only
CNO that had ever come up through the ranks, so to speak. But Boorda was a
hard worker. He was very articulate. And he was very upset about Stan Arthur.
And he said that it was the biggest mistake he made; that he didn't stand fast
But I think that he was a victim of this Chinese water torture, when he had
one thing after another. He had homosexuals in the Navy. He had difficulties
at the Naval Academy. He had the women in combat. He had sexual case after
another. He had spill over from Tailhook. And they had a radical reduction in
the Defense budget, which in itself extends through this roller coaster. And
it's very difficult for the man that's calling the shots. And when he found
out that this crowd from Newsweek was going to question him about his
honor, in terms of a little V on a medal he got 20 years ago, I just think
that kind of carried him over the falls.
I saw him on the weekend before he took his own life, down in Pensacola at the
Naval Aviation Museum, where George Bush was making a speech. And we had
practically every retired aviator in the world down there, several thousand
people . I didn't detect any particular concern he had at that time. I think
it's when he got back to Washington, he found out about this crowd from
Newsweek who wanted to question him about a medal. And I think he just
said that he wasn't going to-- couldn't stomach being written up week after
week for violating some kind of rule. I felt it was a really a trivial thing,
Q: There was a story about, after Stanley Arthur's nomination to Pacific
Fleet was pulled, that Admiral Boorda was out in San Diego and taken to the
woodshed by some retired and other admirals. Did you hear that story?
MOORER: Well, I think he and the Secretary of the Navy were always
getting, questioned like that. As a matter of fact, when Boorda first came in
I told him, "Mike," I said, "The retired officers and the regular officers are
very unhappy about what's going on in Washington. And they don't really say
what you are doing, what Boorda's doing or what Dalton is doing and so on.
They're just unhappy with Washington. And you've got to realize that when the
people, say, in San Diego, use the word 'Washington', they're talking about
you. You're Washington. You're part of the whole system they're bitching
about. And so you may not be responsible in any way for what they're unhappy
about. But nevertheless, they're going to scoop you all up in what's called
Q: What's the Navy retirement community thinking about what's
going on in Washington now? What do they think about Stumpf, for
MOORER: They've always supported Stumpf in San Diego. And of course, there are a
lot of retired admirals out there who have sons in these squadrons. And they
get the firsthand information, what's going on?
Q: And what's going on?
MOORER: They feel that there was tremendous pressure to get those two F-14 pilots
qualified. That the officers are afraid to talk to the women. See, in a
squadron, that's the way you learn how to fly. You talk to the guys that have
been flying a year or so, and you sit down in the ready room and you get a cup
of coffee and you say, "Now, now, Jack, this is what I was doing in ...
....What should I do?" Most of the things you learn are from the people that
have already done it, who'd learned from the people who'd already done it,
right on down the chain. And now they're afraid, if they start talking, that
somebody will say all of a sudden, "Well, this guy made a pass at me," or
something. They don't want to even communicate. And that's not good.
I'm not saying that everybody is like that. But that's the feeling they have,
that they are restrained and they can't really take the women in confidence.