March 24, 2008 -- A top Navy admiral has been fired for misleading Pentagon investigators looking into allegations he had an inappropriate relationship in 1990 while assigned to the White House as the military aide to then-President George H. W. Bush.
Vice Adm. John "Boomer" Stufflebeem was relieved of his position as director of the Navy staff on Friday by the Navy's top officer, Adm. Gary Roughead, according to Navy spokesman Rear Adm. Frank Thorp.
Thorp said Roughead took the action after the Defense Department's inspector general's office concluded that Stufflebeem had provided "false information" to investigators. Stufflebeem remains assigned to the Navy staff while the investigation proceeds into the inappropriate relationship.
The investigation was triggered by an anonymous letter received earlier this year that accused the three-star admiral of having an inappropriate relationship nearly two decades ago. According to Thorp, Stufflebeem "has not been relieved because of the incident, he's been relieved solely because of the DoD IG's conclusion that he provided false information to investigators."
The letter echoed allegations made in a similar letter received in 1999 which alleged that Stufflebeem had engaged in an inappropriate relationship while assigned to the White House.
At that time, the Pentagon's inspector general determined there was not enough information to take action. Thorp said the new letter contained more detail and information into the "the same incident, the same allegations, the same time frame" that triggered a new investigation.
Shortly after Sept. 11, Stufflebeem became a familiar face at Pentagon press briefings when he served on the Joint Staff and routinely briefed reporters in the early months of the war in Afghanistan.
The investigation's findings have not been made public and will be reviewed by a four-star admiral who will look into the incident and determine whether disciplinary action is needed.
In the meantime, Stufflebeem has reverted to the rank of a two-star rear admiral on a technicality. By law, a three- or four-star position has to be confirmed by Congress. Because he no longer serves in a three-star job and has not been nominated to a job of equal rank, Stufflebeem reverts to the lower rank.