Top Navy leaders have recommended restoring fired coronavirus whistleblower Capt. Brett Crozier to the command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Crozier was removed from his position about three weeks ago after he raised concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak on his ship to the Navy pleading for help.
The recommendation for reinstatement is the result of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Crozier’s dismissal. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and acting Navy Secretary James McPherson suggested Crozier’s reinstatement. The New York Times reports that the Navy’s review largely cleared Crozier.
“Secretary McPherson is continuing discussions with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. No final decisions have been made,” the Navy said in a statement on Friday.
“Reinstating Captain Crozier sends the right message,” said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn. “Every person in the federal government must be assured that they will not suffer retaliation if they report violations of law or threats to public safety. Captain Crozier did the right thing, and he should never have been punished or publicly humiliated. He deserves the Navy Medal for Heroism.”
Disclosures protected under The Military Whistleblower Law include communications to:
- “any person or organization in the chain of command;”
- “a Member of Congress;”
- “a member of a Department of Defense audit, inspection, investigation, or law enforcement organization;” and “any other person or organization designated pursuant to regulations or other established administrative procedures for such communications.”
In his letter, Crozier urged “decisive action” to remove the “majority of personnel” from the carrier.
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”
“The Secretary of Defense needs to reinstate Captain Brett Crozier as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said in a statement.
“While Captain Crozier’s actions at the outset of the health crisis aboard the TR were drastic and imperfect, it is clear he only took such steps to protect his crew. Captain Crozier should be reinstated to his command immediately,” Rep. Smith said.