The uproar around the abrupt dismissal of Captain Brett Crozier of the coronavirus-ravaged aircraft carrier U.S.S Theodore Roosevelt has reached the halls of Congress. Democratic lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are calling for an investigation into the firing of the captain, who decided that the health of his 3,000 sailors was more important than the Navy’s classified message regulations.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) have issued a letter, co-signed by 15 of their colleagues, demanding an immediate “formal investigation” into the matter by the Pentagon’s Inspector General, Gen. Glenn Fine.
DOD IG must immediately investigate the COVID-19 crisis on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Navy must provide urgent assistance to the entire crew & the island of Guam to contain the spread.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) April 2, 2020
“It is essential that your office conduct a comprehensive investigation to avoid any potential conflicts of interest within the Navy chain of command, and we encourage you to evaluate all relevant matters associated with the dismissal and the outbreak on the ship,” wrote the Senators in their letter.
They were joined by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), both veterans, who issued their own directive to Gen. Fine over the termination of Capt. Crozier. “As veterans, we were taught that protecting the health and safety of troops was one of the highest priorities of any commander” begins the missive:
Today @RubenGallego & I sent a letter to @DoD_IG requesting an investigation of @SECNAV Modly. He relieved Captain Crozier of command after Capt Crozier warned sailors would die from #coronavirus if they weren’t evacuated from the ship. Commanders should not be afraid to warn. pic.twitter.com/NmM6Ht6wHy
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 3, 2020
Over the past day, Captain Brett Crozier of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt has become a symbol of American resilience and determination in a time of crisis. Faced with a nightmare scenario as coronavirus stalked the 3,000 man crew of his aircraft carrier and displeased with the response he was getting from the Navy, Captain Crozier made the brave and risky decision to widely share his letter to Navy officials through non-classified channels, in which he made it clear that leaving the uninfected sailors aboard the vessel was needlessly putting them at risk.
“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,” wrote Crozier in his letter, which he CC’d to 20 or 30 people. The letter found its way to the San Francisco Chronicle and led to his rapid dismissal by the Navy, who officially insisted it was because Crozier went outside the chain of command.
If Capt. Crozier was really fired for embarassing the Trump administration and the Pentagon — as was hinted today by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly when he complained the Crozier had painted the Navy in a “negative light” — then punitive action must be taken.
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