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GAP Praises OSC Action to Protect MRAP Whistleblower

October 10, 2011
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(Washington, DC) – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) applauds a U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) stay request filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The stay seeks to prevent the Marine Corps from indefinitely suspending without pay "MRAP" whistleblower and GAP client Franz Gayl.

Specifically, the OSC has sought a 45-day stay on the Marine Corps' proposed suspension of Gayl, which is slated to begin this Thursday, October 13. The 45-day stay will give the OSC time to investigate the proposed suspension and decide whether to take further steps in the matter.

Gayl, a Marine Corps science adviser, exposed the fact that the Corps failed to provide American troops in Iraq with MRAPs – Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles – in a timely manner. These vehicles better protect soldiers against improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs. Had MRAPs been available to troops, Gayl maintains, they could have prevented many troop casualties and deaths. In June of this year, shortly before leaving his position, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that the deployment of MRAPs "saved "thousands of lives." Nonetheless, for his whistleblowing, Gayl has been the target of retaliatory investigations and workplace harassment, including the elimination of meaningful duties and loss of his security clearance. 

GAP Staff Attorney Jonathan Cantú, counsel for Gayl, stated: “Mr. Gayl simply wanted to ensure that U.S. troops had the equipment they needed to give them the best chance of coming home safe and sound. This meant speaking out when the Department of Defense bureaucracy failed to provide lifesaving equipment. This OSC action notifies government employees that it’s more important to speak out and save lives than it is to avoid embarrassing their employer.”

The OSC action is simply the latest in a series of positive decisions for whistleblowers made since the confirmation of new Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. GAP previously praised the selection of Lerner as head of this pivotal office, charged with investigating the disclosures of federal whistleblowers, protecting them from retaliation, and defending the merit system.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented: "Mr. Gayl was there for our troops, and luckily the Special Counsel was there for him. Without Mr. Gayl's whistleblowing, thousands more Marines would have lost their lives or limbs. Without OSC, Mr. Gayl would have lost his professional life to bureaucratic friendly fire. The OSC also is challenging the expansion of the security-clearance loophole in the merit system, so that it cannot be exploited to force employees out of government without due process.”

 

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