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Robert Greenwald Exposes the War on Whistleblowers and the Rise of Our National Security State

A new film directed by Robert Greenwald looks at four whistleblowers who had their lives practically destroyed after they went to the press with evidence of government wrongdoing.

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JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Bob, I want to turn to the case of Franz Gayl, a former marine. While working at the Pentagon as a science adviser for the Marine Corps, Gayl volunteered to deploy to  Iraq. Upon his return, he alerted the office of the secretary of defense, and later the Congress and the media, to critical equipment shortages. These included mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs. Gayl’s public outcry exposed the fact that the corps had failed to provide marines in Iraq with life-saving technologies. Yet Gayl has been the target of years of retaliatory investigations, workplace harassment, including the elimination of meaningful duties and extended suspension of his security clearances. In this clip, Gayl explains why he made the fateful decision to save lives by requesting MRAPs to replace Humvees in Iraq. Journalist  Seymour Hersh is also in this clip.

FRANZ GAYL: I had to do something. If not me, then who? And if not now, then when? It was one of those situations. And I just said, "No, no, no, no. It doesn’t matter what the consequences are, personal or otherwise, right?" I said, "This needs to be fixed."

SEYMOUR HERSH: Whistleblowers are just people who say there’s something more important here than my boss or the general or the admiral or the president.

FRANZ GAYL: The most common vehicle used was the Humvee. They were never built to withstand weapons that the insurgents were using, these IEDs.

UNIDENTIFIED: The estimates are that about a third of the casualties in Iraq were due to Humvees.

FRANZ GAYL: Hundreds of Marines were tragically lost, probably thousands maimed, unnecessarily. So I said, "Let’s replace the Humvees with what are called MRAPs, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles." The MRAP was bound to save lives.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Franz Gayl in the clip from  War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State. Robert Greenwald, he was one of the few whistleblowers who actually was able to keep his job, where some of the others have had really terrible times after they did their exposés. Could you talk about that, as well?

ROBERT GREENWALD: Yeah. One of the things that was a common denominator with all the whistleblowers we interviewed is the terrible personal price they paid—even Franz. He was saving lives, literally saving hundreds of lives. He was fired initially. But this is where organizing makes such an incredible impact. Organizations, POGO/GAP got behind him. They worked. People called. They took action. And it really worked. It got him his job back. And it’s important to keep that in mind.

The other cases were horrific. And what is happening over and over again is the Obama administration and previous administrations are literally shooting the messengers—punishing the whistleblowers, trying to pass laws that make it harder for whistleblowers. And look, the only way we find out about the national security state is by these people coming forward.


AMY GOODMAN: The film,  War on Whistleblowers, profiles Michael DeKort, a Lockheed Martin project manager who posted a whistleblowing video on YouTube. In it, he objected to subpar emergency systems on board U.S. Coast Guard boats. Before speaking publicly through his YouTube video, DeKort brought these issues to the attention of immediate management and then to higher-up executives, including theCEO of Lockheed Martin and the board of directors. After his pressing concerns were continually ignored for two years, he was discharged from Lockheed Martin. And as a result, DeKort went public. His video gained a wide amount of exposure. It eventually led to a congressional hearing on the entire Deepwater project. As a result, the boats were taken out of service, engineer changes were made, and a settlement was reached regarding the electronic issues.

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