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Navy to stop announcing names of officials fired for misconduct: report

Navy to stop announcing names of officials fired for misconduct: report
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The Navy has stopped announcing the names of commanders removed from their positions for misconduct or bad performance, USA Today reported on Wednesday.

The service’s former practice had been to announce on its website the names of commanders it fired, then notify news outlets of the firings through email, usually referring to a “loss of confidence” with the individual.

Top Navy spokesman Capt. Greg Hicks told USA Today the service is changing its practice to take "the necessary diligence to safeguard security, ensure information accuracy and stay within the bounds of both policy and privacy.”

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Hicks added that Navy Public Affairs "will continue to respond to every query on reliefs in a timely and thorough manner."

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) — who has proposed an amendment to the annual defense spending bill to require the Pentagon to name senior officers who have committed serious acts of misconduct — responded harshly to the new Navy policy. 

“I’m disappointed that the Navy is running away from the transparency they espoused just a few months ago,” said Speier, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, according to the newspaper.

“The American people have a right to know when senior officers exhibit ethical lapses or commit fraud and cost the taxpayers untold millions of dollars. The public expects that officers will be appropriately punished and not simply given a slap on the wrist. They have every right to that expectation.”

After the USA Today story broke, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters he thought the policy change was "being overblown."

"I don’t think the practice is much going to change," Richardson said during a briefing at the Pentagon. "I think that’s being overblown quite a bit. The thing that we value most of all is our relationship of trust and confidence, both within the ranks . . . and then certainly with the American people as well. I think there’s perhaps being more made of that then you’ll see in practice."

 

The Navy changed its practice following the service’s so-called Fat Leonard scandal. The worst corruption scandal in Navy history centered around Malaysian contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, who bribed dozens of officers from the 7th Fleet with extravagant parties, luxury gifts, prostitutes and more in exchange for classified information used to win big-dollar contracts for his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Francis pled guilty to defrauding the government of millions of dollars, while more than 17 senior Navy and Pentagon officials pled guilty to criminal misconduct. The case is still ongoing.

“The United States Navy will continue to hold leaders accountable when they fail to meet the high expectations placed upon them in their unique positions of authority and responsibility,” Hicks said, according to USA Today.

“These accountability actions reflect the seriousness in which the Navy views and holds public trust and confidence in our commanding officers, executive officers and command master chiefs.”

The new Navy practice now mirrors those of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, which do not regularly announce discipline or firing of senior officials.

Updated: 3:45 p.m.