Doing Too Good a Job

Capt. Brett E. Crozier addressing the crew of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in November.
Capt. Brett Crozier; image by U.S. Navy, via Reuters

It’s one thing to get fired for not doing your job: for slacking off, taking too many sick days on Mondays and Fridays, leaving a copy of your resume in the office copier.

Getting fired for doing your job is much harder to accept or explain.

Brett E. Crozier captained a nuclear aircraft carrier for the U.S. Navy, the Theodore Roosevelt. While stationed at Guam, crew members began falling ill with the coronavirus. Within days, 114 among more than 4,000 crew member were sick. The close quarters made social distancing impossible.

So Capt. Crozier sent up a distress signal, a letter to multiple recipients asking for immediate evacuation and quarantine of his entire crew while the massive ship was scrubbed down.

Crozier’s letter surfaced in the San Francisco Chronicle. A couple days later, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly fired Crozier because recipients of his letter included persons outside the Navy’s chain of command.

Crozier’s crew gave him a rousing ovation as he left the ship for the last time.

Also recently sacked for doing his job was Michael Atkinson, inspector general (chief watchdog) for the intelligence agencies. Last September, he alerted Congress to a whistleblower’s report that President Trump had asked the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of rival presidential contender Joe Biden. This triggered an impeachment trial of Trump. He was acquitted.

The Atlantic magazine this month reports that thousands of government scientists, lawyers, diplomats, law enforcement officials and intelligence officers have fled their jobs while political appointees gutted their agencies and browbeat the employees over loyalty to the president.

For those federal workers willing to do their jobs anyway, help is available at the National Whistleblowers Center at whistleblowers.org. Also, check out a book by Anonymous called “The Art of Anonymous Activism: Serving the Public While Surviving Public Service.”

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