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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Why is Pentagon Whistleblower Franz Gayl Being Retaliated Against for Saving Our Troops?

Shanna Devine, November 19, 2010

In trying to protect troops and civilians in the Iraq and Afghan wars, Pentagon Science and Technology Advisor Franz Gayl never imagined he would become the target of a war on his home turf. The offense? Gayl refused to turn a blind eye to Quantico’s bureaucracy as it stonewalled the shipment of military equipment that would save the lives of American troops and innocent civilians. Now, after an exhaustive 2.5 year retaliatory investigation into Gayl, his security clearance has been suspended, and he’s been put on indefinite administrative leave without pay. Today the Washington Post ran a compelling piece on the most recent act of reprisal against him.

One of the most serious of Gayl's disclosures related to the bureaucratic delays in sending American troops Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Going back to the mid-1990s, the Marine Corps had known that MRAPs offered far greater protection against mines than the Humvees being relied on. Soldiers in MRAPs are at least four times less likely to be injured or killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast than soldiers in armored Humvees. Gayl also disclosed that the Pentagon was sitting on the shipment ofnon-lethal crowd dispersers, which would allow troops to stop, without killing, unruly civilians or suspected terrorists.

Gayl released a report on the human consequences of delaying urgently requested equipment. This led to anIG audit that further substantiated his warnings. Secretary Gates then made rapid MRAP acquisition a top priority, and General David Petraus thanked Gayl for identifying a discrepancy between one of the General’s expressed urgent needs, and inaction by the support establishment. Gayl has been further vindicated by then Senator Biden and ranking member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Senator Bond.

So why is it that the nation’s most select intelligence leaders have praised Mr. Gayl for his disclosures, but he remains subjected to unfettered harassment by his superiors?

The Pentagon’s targeted retaliation against Gayl may not have silenced him, but it has sent an unmistakable message to other would-be whistleblowers: Keep Your Mouth Shut. In an interview, Franz captured this intrinsic clashing of priorities “By the very interest of being a civilian bureaucracy, you may have objectives and incentives that are in contradiction to the Uniform Marines in the field. That’s just the psychology of bureaucracy.” Here's the full interview:

 

It's scary to think that business as usual could trump troop safety. The removed psychology of bureaucracy that Gayl identified has cost hundreds of Marines their lives, and thousands more casualtiesbetween 2005 and 2006 -- when Quantico delayed the shipment of MRAPs.

For Gayl, it was never about how much it would cost him personally when he blew the whistle. He acted because the protection of troops should not be contingent on a sale. The retaliation against Gayl has never ceased. But when asked it he would blow the whistle again, after all he and his own family have endured, he responds without pause, “Oh absolutely, I’m a Marine - this is my family and I recognize a great danger and a great threat to my family now and in the future...getting beat up over it, well that’s just part of the price.”

In a letter sent to Secretary Gates today, over 30 organizations ranging from National Security Counsels to Veterans for Common Sense to the Liberty Coalition tied our nation’s security with the well-being of Mr. Gayl: “There are few better illustrations than Mr. Gayl’s ordeal that secrecy enforced by repression is a clear and present danger to America’s national security.” The letter concludes by urging his reinstatement.

If the Pentagon is allowed to purge more like Gayl from our country's frontline of defense, our nation’s security and integrity will continue to be unnecessarily compromised.