Saturday, March 5, 2022

Is this federal district judge running the Navy?

Mark Joseph Stern writes here, for Slate, on the burgeoning Vaccine Mutiny docket. Excerpt:

But Doe poses the bigger threat. He is currently the commanding officer of a warship that may soon set sail. If he falls seriously ill at sea—which is more likely because he refuses the vaccine—he may thwart the entire mission. The issue, however, goes deeper than that. In declarations, Vice Admiral D.W. Dwyer and Captain Frank Brandon explained that Doe’s anti-vax beliefs are part of a broader pattern of insubordination. Brandon testified that last November, he spoke with Doe on Doe’s ship one day before its scheduled departure. Doe was experiencing multiple symptoms of COVID, and appeared to have a relatively severe case; he could, Brandon recalled, “barely speak.” Yet Doe refused to get tested—a clear violation of protocol—and attended a briefing in a cramped room with about 60 other people. Brandon ordered Doe to get a test, which revealed that he did, indeed, have COVID, and exposed dozens of others to the virus.

Doe engaged in other deceptive behavior. For instance, when requesting leave, he concealed the fact that he was flying to another state, which would have triggered a mandatory risk assessment. After Brandon discovered this subterfuge, he learned that Doe had traveled to a high-risk area, requiring five days’ quarantine upon return. Doe did not inform his Executive Officer of this extended absence, creating a “significant and very rare” disruption “across the waterfront” during a crucial phase of ship preparation. Brandon concluded that Doe “intentionally deceived me,” “put his crew at risk,” “failed to comply with the Navy’s COVID-19 policies,” and engaged in “negligent behavior” in “performance of his duties.”

“I do not trust [Smith] with the lives of our Sailors,” Brandon testified. He continued:

I am responsible for the well-being of my Squadron, including welfare of my ships and the health of my sailors. My loss of confidence in [Smith] is … based on the fact that I cannot trust his judgment, I cannot trust him to look after the welfare of his sailors, and I cannot trust him to be honest with me. In my judgment, allowing him to remain in command of a Navy warship would be reckless.

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