What is always amazing about whistleblower stories is that people doing the right thing often gets them punished or terminated. A story from last week relates the experience of an ex-Marine, who at the time was a civilian science advisor in Iraq. He recognized the threat posed to Marines by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which in 2006, where causing two-thirds of American casualties.
Humvees were insufficiently armored to protect their occupants during an encounter with an IED, so he began to argue for more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks. His superiors “brushed aside his concerns.”
So, he became a whistleblower, going to members of Congress and the media. This attention worked, and soon more MRAPs were in Iraq protecting American troops from the risk of IEDs. He was right, as a Pentagon inspector general’s report found in 2008.
For his efforts, of course, he was not rewarded. Instead, he was “suspended, reprimanded and stripped of some of his security clearances,” and he began a seven-year struggle to vindicate his name and his career.
The Marines at one point put him on leave, with a questionable accusation of “improper use” of a flash drive, which he denied. It is important that when your supervisors decide to “get you,” it is often for trivial “violations” of internal policies.
This is because they know they cannot fire you based on their real rationale, which is typically retaliatory and illegal, so they find some minor violation of procedure, which is often a bright-line test, like using a business email to communicate on a personal topic to a spouse, as the pretense violation.
It was only this week that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel finally released news of the settlement with the Marine Corps.
It is wonderful that his “nightmare” is over, but it remains demoralizing that he had to endure such struggle to do the right thing and save the lives of fellow Marines.
USA Today, “Marine whistle-blower vindicated after seven-year fight,” Tom Vanden Brook, September 25, 2014