I found Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta's June 12 column, "Navy Friendship Survives Scandals," offensive and malicious in its charge that I would seek, in the name of personal friendship, to promote U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill prior to my retirement at the end of this month. This allegation is totally without foundation.
What is even more outrageous is that Mr. Anderson and Mr. Van Atta proceeded with the column after my spokesman denied the allegation to Mr. Van Atta personally before the column appeared. It is unfortunate -- indeed, incredible -- that even the truth does not stop Mr. Anderson and Mr. Van Atta.
In fact, the entire column is filled with innuendo and hyperbole about recent events involving the academy that rely on cursory, unsubstantiated opinion rather than fact.
Mr. Anderson's and Mr. Van Atta's contention that I am "scrambling" to find another job and promote Rear Adm. Hill is an insult to the integrity of Navy flag officer assignment procedures and to me personally. The process of flag officer assignments involves both Navy regulation and U.S. federal law. In the case of officers being promoted to three-star rank, that process includes review and approval by me, the secretary of the Navy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense and the president of the United States and, finally, confirmation by the U.S. Senate. To imply that a personal friendship would influence me to circumvent or manipulate the process is unsupportable character assassination and muckraking.
Finally, while I, as chief of naval operations, have chosen to honor and protect our nation and the rights of its citizens guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution -- including the First Amendment right of freedom of the press -- I do not believe Mr. Anderson and Mr. Van Atta have fulfilled their responsibility of accuracy and fairness to which most legitimate media commit themselves. I find the fact that reputable print news media publish such irresponsible and vicious allegations disappointing.
C. A. H. TROST Admiral, U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Washington