December 1, 2011  

Protecting whistle-blowers

To the Office of Special Counsel, for its work in protecting whistle-blowers.

In 2007, Marine Corps science adviser Franz Gayl criticized military leaders for moving too slowly in deploying mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Iraq. Last year, he was accused of using an unauthorized thumb drive in a secure computer, stripped of his security clearance, placed on leave and, ultimately, slated for indefinite suspension. Gayl denied the charge and countered that he was being punished for his advocacy of the armored vehicles.

Gayl’s stance was vindicated by a 2008 report from the Pentagon inspector general, which cited a months-long delay by Marine Corps planners in filling a request for more than a thousand MRAPs, and by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who credited the machines — and those who advocated for them — with saving thousands of lives.

The Office of Special Counsel, the independent federal agency that protects whistle-blowers, helped Gayl fight back. He denied the charges, and in mid-November was informed that he would be allowed to return to his job.