Summary: Today we have an analysis of the results of the Snowden affair by one who knows about such things. Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired) was a whistleblower, received the usual retaliation, and successfully fought back to recover his security clearance and job. He gives us grim tidings of our apathy and disinterest in the latest revelations about growing government power.
Today’s NSA scandal results in more bricks laid to build a New America
By Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired)
What is reported in the news is depressing, for sure.
As for unclassified whistleblowing, it is doubtful that government employees will risk going outside their chains of command in the future. The past presumptions of public reason — a discloser’s patriotic intentions, and his/her right to free speech– will all be trumped by fear.
Interestingly, some leaders in government have publicly morphed the description of a legitimate Whistleblower into a person who raises concerns through the chain of command, and only through the chain of command (e.g., this column by Michael Cohen at the Guardian). By inaccurately changing the definition of what a Whistleblower is, the government attempts to regain control over the problem of embarrassing unclassified disclosures. This is a clever trick that may over time lead to new agency-favoring and precedent setting court decisions, and thereby gut the WhistleBlower Protection Act of 1989 — and the Enhancement Act signed by the President last November.
Also, a host of new positions may soon come to be classified as national security sensitive. When this questionable expansion is combined with new executive branch regulations that reportedly will seek to identify and thereby preempt employees from constitutionally protected actions, the civil service will experience a deep chill. Agencies will have no problem dismissing “discontents” who disagree with nationally damaging policies, as they will have the authority to portray them as national security threats potentially capable of future acts of insubordination. Conscientious civil servants having professional misgivings concerning the legality or propriety of agency actions can be quickly discredited and dismissed long before their concerns achieve Congressional oversight or public debate.
In addition to cooperative co-worker informants, agencies have many tools to “confirm” threats, including but not limited to polygraphs and dreaded fitness for duty psychiatric exams.
In the years to come, this introduction of fear will likely transform the objective, patriotic, and constitution-abiding civil servant of our fine tradition into a kowtowing apparatchik of the party in power. Such sycophant survivor-types were common in 20th Century totalitarian regimes which we loathed as sworn enemies. This evolution constitutes an alarming and decidedly un-American corruption within our Republic, possibly a frantic and thoughtless reaction to stem a more general unraveling.
Noah Shachtman gave an excerpt from Gayl’s analysis in his column at Foreign Policy on 24 June.
About the author
Franz J. Gayl serves as a civilian science and technology advisor within Headquarters Marine Corps at the Pentagon. Previously he served for 22 years as an active duty infantry Marine, starting as enlisted and retiring with the rank of Major.
He earned an MS in Space Systems Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School and an MS in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University. At NDU he was presented the “Ambassador’s Award” for my research and paper.
In 2006 he voluntarily deployed to Iraq. There he became aware of corruption within the Quantico support establishment that cost many under-equipped Marines their lives. His subsequent disclosures to the OSD, Congress and the press contributed to dramatic life-saving improvements in rapid acquisition
He also participated for 5 months in a DARPA internship, holds one patent, and is a graduate of the 2011 Singularity University Graduate Studies Program.
Articles about Gayl’s career as a whistleblower:
- “The Case of Marine Corps Whistleblower Franz Gayl“, The Government Accountability Project
- About the study he wrote that almost ended his career: “Refusal to send bomb-resistant trucks to Iraq led to marine deaths, study says“, New York Times, 17 February 2008
- “The Unquiet Life of Franz Gayl“, Washington Monthly, July/August 2011 — “A tech-savvy Marine who made too much noise, helped save the lives of countless troops in Iraq, and paid with his career.”
- “MRAP whistle-blower returning to Marines post“, USA Today, 17 November 2011
- “Whistleblower Franz Gayl gets his job back“, Jason Ukman, Washington Post, 17 November 2011 — “The Marine Corps has given a well-known whistleblower his security clearance and his job back.”
Other posts by Franz Gayl:
- Realism and Realpolitik – Setting the Conditions for America’s Survival in the 21st Century, 23 February 2012
- Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel, 6 March 2012
- What China Wants Us to Understand about China’s Rise, 12 March 2012
For More Information
Posts about surveillance by the government:
- Attention fellow sheep: let’s open our eyes and see the walls of our pen, 2009 — Five years ago these programs, and their growth, were easily visible. We just didn’t want to see.
- The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America!, 7 June 2013
- The US government spies on us because America is a democracy, 8 June 2013
- Our opinion leaders defend the government’s surveillance programs, 10 June 2013
- The government says “We do not have ‘direct’ access to your info …”, 11 June 2013
- Someone call Nixon’s plumbers. We need them again., 13 June 2013
- The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013
- America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013
- Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013
UnAmerican words in the New America: