Shameful treatment of whistleblower who exposed Pentagon failure to protect troops in Iraq


Marine Corps whistleblower Franz Gayl says military officials are trying to force him from his job for exposing the Pentagon’s unconscionable delays in delivering lifesaving equipment to troops in Iraq. This shameful treatment suggests that the White House has yet to fulfill Obama’s campaign pledge to see to it that whistleblowers are treated as patriots instead of pariahs.

It exemplifies a pervasive anti-whistleblower culture, both civilian and military, in both government and the private sector:  among those in power with something to hide, among managers who lack the courage or integrity to take risks on behalf of the public interest, and even among the rank and file.  We know them all too well. This culture must be challenged continually. Those who perpetuate it, whether political appointees of either party, military brass, corporate executives, or middle managers who are adept at covering up and keeping their heads down, do a disservice to the public interest.

The Associated Press reported on December 20:

INSIDE WASHINGTON: An Anti-Whistleblower Culture

WASHINGTON (AP)—A Marine Corps whistleblower says military officials are trying to force him from his job for exposing failures to deliver lifesaving equipment to troops in Iraq.

Franz Gayl, a senior civilian employee, alleges a series of punitive actions that underscore the challenges President Barack Obama faces in fulfilling a campaign pledge to treat federal whistleblowers as patriots instead of pariahs.

Public interest groups cheered Obama’s promise. But Gayl’s case points to the difficulty of transforming a culture, particularly within the military, where whistleblowers often are viewed with contempt….

Gayl, 52, is the target of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry for allegedly mishandling secret information, according to Tom Devine, his lawyer. Gayl had accused the Marine Corps of ‘‘gross mismanagement’’ for failing to answer the call in 2005 for heavy-duty trucks that could withstand roadside bombs in Iraq.

As a leading Senate Democrat, Biden had used Gayl’s disclosures to hammer the Bush administration for ‘‘unconscionable bureaucratic delays.’’ Biden had called Gayl a hero and urged Gen. James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, to make sure Gayl wasn’t punished.

But now that he’s vice president, Biden hasn’t intervened….

Besides the criminal investigation, Devine says Gayl, a retired Marine officer, has been branded a coward in his Pentagon office where he works as a science and technology adviser.

According to Devine, Gayl has received poor performance evaluations that rank him in the bottom 3 percent of employees at his grade. He’s been hit with a letter of reprimand, had his job description rewritten and been pressured to resign. Before his whistleblowing, Devine says Gayl had a sterling record.

‘‘What they are doing to him is shameful,’’ said Devine, legal director at the Government Accountability Project in Washington. ‘‘His supervisors might as well be drill sergeants at boot camp trying to break a recruit’s spirit.’‘…

Also see: Government Accountability Project newsletter, Spring 2008

Climate Science Watch is a sponsored project of the Government Accountability Project.

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