Championing Responsible National Security Policy

Exchange Between Senator McCaskill and Marine Commandant Conway on Franz Gayl

Read this exchange closely from yesterday between Senator Claire McCaskill and Marine Corps Commandant James Conway regarding Marine Corps science advisor Franz Gayl, who has disclosed problems with the Marine Corps' ability to rapidly procure equipment requested by marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conway basically promises to Senator McCaskill that the Marines will try to find a way to screw over Gayl, hence the immediate follow-up letter from Senators McCaskill and Kennedy we posted last night defending him. Check out the italicized text in particular:

McCaskill: I know that Senator Kennedy talked about the MRAP problems in terms of availability. I’m concerned about the whistleblower. I’m concerned about Franz Gayl. I would like some reassurance from you that Mr. Gayl is not going to face any adverse employment decisions or actions because of his whistle blowing in regard to the study that was done that has now come out as part of the public discourse.

Conway: Ma’am, he works for the Marine Corps. I’ve purposefully stayed at arms length from that discussion. I have never met Major Gayl. I can say there is an investigation underway to determine whether or not he has complied with the guidance that was given to him by his boss. We are making every overture to ensure that we don’t violate any aspect of his whistleblower status. But if it’s determined that Mr. Gayl has done something other than what his leadership and his bosses have instructed him to do, then that outcome will have to be determined as to what happens to Mr. Gayl.

McCaskill: Well I know that General Magnus recently referred him to the Office of the DoD IG, which I think is an appropriate move. I know how hard it is internally to be careful in this regard, and I know there are some whistleblowers who have not followed direct instructions and who have gotten out in ways that maybe they shouldn’t have, but the impact that dealing negatively with whistleblowers has on the entire operation is something that we really need to avoid. Whistleblowers are so important to accountability regardless of whether we’re talking about a bureaucratic agency that’s dealing with the taxpayers or whether we’re talking about the military. I just want to make sure that I didn’t leave this hearing without expressing to you how strongly I feel, and how closely I’ll be watching to make sure that any whistleblower, and this whistleblower in particular, is treated with respect and deference and under the letter of the law, in terms of any potential adverse consequences because of what he did. I think it’s tremendously important and I didn’t want to leave without expressing this.

Conway: I can assure you that he will be treated in accordance with the law.