American Culture

AP story on MRAP delay shows need for good journalism, whistleblowers

An Associated Press story about a leaked internal study that accuses the Marine Corps of delays in providing mine-resistant vehicles to its forces in Iraq provides ample reason why good journalism is a social and political must, government whistleblowers ought to be fully protected from retribution, and journalists should not be compelled to identify anonymous sources.

First, the news:

Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.

The study claims that battlefield commanders asked for MRAP vehicles to replace Humvees because the latter — even with additional armor — did not fare well when struck by improvised explosive devices, leading to deaths and injuries of soldiers riding in them. MRAPs — 40-ton mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles — have “V-shaped hulls that deflect blasts out and away from the vehicles,” says the AP story.

MRAPs were seen by bureaucrats, the study says, as too plodding for the rapid-deployment visions of Marine planners.

The study’s author, Franz J. Gayl, is a former Marine who served in Iraq. He is the science and technology adviser to Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, who heads the Marine Corps’ plans, policies and operations department.

Says Mr. Gayl in the study:

If the mass procurement and fielding of MRAPs had begun in 2005 in response to the known and acknowledged threats at that time, as the [Marine Corps] is doing today, hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented. While the possibility of individual corruption remains undetermined, the existence of corrupted MRAP processes is likely, and worthy of (inspector general) investigation.

Mr. Gayl is a whistleblower. According to the AP:

His stinging indictment of the Marine Corps’ system for fielding gear is not a first. He has been an outspoken advocate for non-lethal weapons, such as a beam gun that stings but doesn’t kill and ”dazzlers” that use a powerful light beam to steer unwelcome vehicles and people from checkpoints and convoys.

The failure to send these alternative weapons to Iraq has led to U.S. casualties and the deaths of Iraqi civilians, Gayl has said.

Gayl filed for whistle-blower protection in May with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. He said he was threatened with disciplinary action after meeting with congressional staff on Capitol Hill. Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Kit Bond, R-Mo., “two critics of delays in sending equipment to Iraq … rebuked the Marine Corps in September for ‘apparent retaliation’ against Gayl,” according to the AP.

Arguments about the number, necessity and preventability of many deaths and injuries to American troops in Iraq have riven the nation since 2003. Those arguments, often bitterly partisan, have been threaded through the current presidential election campaigns. Yet how often have those arguments been built on rhetoric that is devoid of fact?

Mr. Gayl’s leaked internal review and his earlier willingness to point out the malfeasance of government bureaucrats demonstrate why government whistleblowers are needed. If credible ones do not receive protection against punishment for speaking out, readers might not know that many deaths among American service men and women in Iraq could have been prevented.

The AP story contains this line: The study was obtained by the AP from a nongovernment source. Had someone not been willing to provide the AP with a copy of the study, readers — citizens and voters — might not ever have learned of the delay in providing MRAPs to the troops.

But if news organizations had historically demonstrated a willingness to readily burn anonymous sources rather than fight legal and political compulsion to reveal them, the AP might not have obtained the study. Hence the need for shield laws for journalists who are provided information in confidence. Journalists must be able to protect their sources — and the day has arrived when many bloggers need that same protection.

With this information about flawed Marine Corps decision-making, readers — citizens and voters — can make better social and political decisions, especially in election season.

It’s always easy to tell when the combination of a credible whistleblower, an anonymous source, and a good journalist have been effective. The bureaucrats wheedle and whine.

Maj. Manuel Delarosa, a Marine Corps spokesman, called Gayl’s study ”predecisional staff work” and said it would be inappropriate to comment on it. Delarosa said, ”It would be inaccurate to state that Lt. Gen. Natonski has seen or is even aware of” the study. [emphasis added]

37 replies »

  1. Pingback: www.buzzflash.net
  2. Uh oh.

    First of, Dr. Denny, I could NOT agree more about the need to protect whistleblowers and confidential sources. I’m also VERY much in favor of good journalism, good journalists, and plenty of ’em. On that, we walk arm in arm.

    Where I have a problem is with this story and its slant.

    Hey, these things weigh 40 TONS. That’s 80,000 pounds! The Marines are an amphibious force of light infantry with some lighter-than-US-Army tank and APC support, as well as helicopter and ground-support aircraft support. The Marines are structured to be carried to the battlefield in roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ships and landing craft designed to carry specific kinds of equipment. If they get too “heavy,” they will not be able to do this they way they are supposed to. It would be like an Army Airborne Division buying equipment that can’t be airdropped. It doesn’t make a lot of military sense.

    I am not in favor of US soldiers dying. But I am also not in favor of restructuring the equipment of various services to meet a single threat at a single time and, in the process, making them unable to do the task they have been designed to do in the future.

    I sure with the media had gone with some nuance on this one.

  3. 1. Either the press reporting or the report itself is mistaken. The decision to proceed with an upgrade to existing trucks or to purchase new trucks is not a procurement activity decision, it is a program management decision. The analysis of alternatives is conducted by the progam office, not the procurement office. Any procurement action, especially one having life or death implications, could be expedited with high level DoD approvals. Sophisticated program management reviews exist to support such approvals. It appears that the entire acquisition process broke down, possibly from political interference in long-standing procedures. These procedures, had they not been circumvented, would have resulted in the rapid procurement of the new trucks if that truly was the appropriate option. Rather it appears that cost considerations by the administration were held paramount. This was not a procurement failure.

  4. I hear what JSO is saying, but it also raises a fundamental question about what assumptions you make. If I buy the military’s argument here, then we seem to be saying that the lives of a few troops are a price we’re willing to pay for speed. The other side seems to place troop safety at the head of the priority list.

    I’m sure this isn’t a simple either/or, of course, but if you buy the general structure of my frame here then there’s another question to be asked. To wit: if we don’t buy the primacy of their speed argument – and more to the point, if the public at large places troop safety at the top of the list – then what does this say about our commitment to the occupation of Iraq?

    Hmmm. Sorry to sidestep the issue. I think even in light of JSO’s objection Denny’s point is still important, because regardless of what we conclude about this specific case, the general importance of protecting whistleblowers and sources remains.

  5. Sam,

    Please understand that I wasn’t raising an objection to Dr. Denny’s point about protecting whistleblowers, other sources, or even having as many good journalists as possible. My objection was that the story is being told in a very, very shallow manner.

    To your point. I wasn’t talking about military speed. I was talking about the fundamental issue of whether a branch of the military is being forced to use equipment that makes it unable to perform its designed function. Army Airborne troops, for instance, don’t have M1A2 Abrams tanks in their units because they can’t drop them into a battle zone. They are useless to the mission of the airborne troops. Those tanks would be very useful to them in some situations, but would be useless to them if they perform their true function.

    In the Marines’ case, I suspect that those 80,000 lb. (80,000 POUND) monsters would be of little or no use in an amphibious landing. Either they couldn’t land them at all, or they would take up so much transport capacity that it would leave the Marines bereft of light tanks, APCs, and perhaps most importantly, Humvees with TOW missile mounts that can take out the enemy’s heavy armor when the Marines come up against it. In other words, the Marines might very well be faced with a situation in which they cannot land equipment that’s really useful to them when performing the function for which they exist because of a short-term decision to saddle them with trucks that were useful to them only in special circumstances in Iraq.

    And that doesn’t even begin to speak to logistics, which is the military’s real bread-and-butter issue. 80,000 lb. trucks undoubtedly have engines that gulp fuel at a prodigious rate. How fast would the Marines have to land fuel to feed these monsters? How many extra fuel trucks would it take, and would they have to land, to resupply them? What equipment would the Marines like to have on a beach immediately that they would have to wait for so that these trucks can be landed and fed?

    Your point about trading lives for mission (instead of speed) is a good one, but it is one we Americans face every day. We could end loss of life on our highways by reducing the speed limit to 5 mph, but at what cost? Like it or not, speed limits that allow fatal accidents are decisions to trade lives for convenience.

    No military arm and/or specialty can be equipped to face all situations at all times. And the attempt to do so may make them inefficient and unable to perform their missions (in other words, win) when it’s important to do so.

    Finally, the issue of troop safety. What would be the point of saving a few lives in Iraq if we then lose many more at a later date because we have equipped the Marines with equipment they can’t use?

  6. JSO: I think my argument is really aimed more or less at the Marine response instead of yours. You’re more than correct in noting that a vehicle of that size presents some logistical issues. The way the official response was framed here – “plodding” (and not sure if that’s their word or Denny’s) – suggests an issue that’s a little different from what you’re saying. Although maybe they’re saying the same thing and you’re just saying it better….

  7. Both Dr Denny and JSO make fantastic points. Probably the line that stuck out the most though was JSO’s: “But I am also not in favor of restructuring the equipment of various services to meet a single threat at a single time and, in the process, making them unable to do the task they have been designed to do in the future.”

    Tactically speaking, this is my biggest problem with the military. We’re only structured to take on conventional opponents in standard, symmetrical combat. It’s why we lost in Viet Nam and why we’re losing in Iraq. We’re dealing with an enemy who is unafraid to try new tactics and stick with the old ones so long as they are effective. Until our forces can become flexible enough and mutate quickly enough to deal with these asymmetrical situations, we’re just throwing bodies at the problem (literally) to delay the inevitable.

  8. I think what we are seeing is the begining of docturnal change. The Marines current doctrine was solidified by WWII and Korea. HELLO?? We do need a maritime force in readiness, but as far as Amphibious Landings…I think we’ve past that bench mark in global culture. Amphibious Landings in todays Marine Corps consist of LCAC’s taking our trucks, personnel, and equipment to the beach so we can load up on busses and drive on hardball roads to our excersise location. MRAPs don’t have any problem with that, they just require extra LCAC trips. The Cold War mindset sighted by the article is much alive and present here. We have to adapt to todays battlefield and what it requires. Unless we throw the Geneva Conventions out the window (which we should) and send in nothing but civilian clothed SF operators and transition our conventional troops to the SF role (small units, culturally trained, civilian clothed, highly professional, exceptionally mature***), we should make our ‘Big Green’ as uparmored as possible. Anywhere we send our boys now a days in uniform, they are a target. Try as you may, insurgencies are just that, under the radar and have the support of the people. They strike targets of opportunity for the biggest effect and have an endless supply of explosives. Our upper echelon of military managers still think in conventional terms and feel that once the Mid East debacle is over, they will be able to have their conventional wars again with tank formations, distinct battle lines, and defined real estate. This is the 21st century, war has changed, requirements to win have changed, but we still have the same system. The heavy equipment required right now will not be useless when this is over. They should be embraced and added to our doctrine because the need for heavily armored, mine resistant vehicles is here to stay.

  9. The issue of whether the Marines have a mission suited for today’s military environment is a critical one, but it’s not up to the Marines to choose that mission. They are a part of the Department of the Navy. They are the Navy’s means of projecting infantry ashore. If the US wants to change that mission, it can do so. If the US wants to eradicate the Marines, it can do so. But as long as the Marines have been given the mission of amphibious landings, they would be absolutely wrong to decide, on their own, that they will structure and arm themselves in such a way that they reduce the likelihood of performing that mission successfully.

    Up-armoring, hardening, and fortifying have long been the conventional responses to asymmetcial warfare. On occasion, hardened targets have gained the upper hand, most notably, perhaps, in the European medieval era in which siege engineering skills were both rare and rudimentary, and poor hygiene often caused besieging armies to sicken and die at alarming rates.

    I would assert, though, that most of the hardening or up-armoring in military history has been the prelude to defeat. Given the destructive power of modern weapons, there is no conceivable armor that will protect soldiers from determined attacks for long, unless the enemy is technologically incapable of producing and wielding such weapons. In other words, the MRAPs are a bet that the enemy cannot find countermeasures.

    I think that’s a poor bet.

    Regardless, to me, the real issue here is the shallow nature of the media’s coverage. I would be wiling to bet that, if the Marines are resisting the introduction of MRAPs, it is not because they’re in love with the idea of more dead Marines. It’s because they feel the MRAP is not the right vehicle for them, given their current mission. They may be right and they may be wrong, but I’m betting it’s not obvious which they are.

    Pitching the story as “incompetence” or that the Marines don’t care about dead Marines is exactly the kind of journalism that undermines journalists’ credibility.

  10. Any story, including this one, can be challenged as “shallow” or “underreported.” That’s the nature of journalism: Stories are rarely written from beginning to conclusion. (That’s also the nature of blogs.)

    The lack of depth in journalism has accelerated in the past decade. We know many of the reasons why: a focus of style over substance, declining ad revenue driving cuts in newsroom staffs, and an audience that often doesn’t give a damn.

    But the move of news to online environments, to me, has been the greatest factor. Shortly after the Web came into being, reporters who felt limited by space and deadline timing saw an opportunity to work in what amounted to unlimited time and space. Some reporters left newspapers for the earliest online news sites.

    But that promise soon melted away as profit pressures struck those sites. Web editors began to tell reporters this: “Yes, you can do an umpteen thousand word story and take as long as you need. But give it to me 200 words at a time every 20 minutes.”

    Post fast and often: that drives shallow news coverage online. For the Associated Press, that problem is compounded. Back in the day it had three concerns for stories: Make deadlines for the AM and PM cycles, update with “writethrus” through each cycle and beat UPI.

    AP reporters have seen that process accelerate as the notion of AM and PM cycles have vanished as news Web sites have clamored for more news, more often.

    True, the Web has enabled remarkable storytelling — especially in the arena of environmental journalism. But look at any news Web site, and wording like this tells the tale: “Posted 10 minutes.”

    News these days is shallow, and numerous factors have driven it to that. In-depth reporting will not return in quantity and quality until consumers demand it.

  11. Gents: Allow me to provide more substance to the Marine Corps’ view and response to this so-called report. The work was done by Franz Gayl and has not been reviewed above his immediate supervisor, who is a colonel. It therefore represents Gayl’s personal views. At this point, it hasn’t been reviewed to determine if any of the claims in it are substantiated by fact. The work is, in the most literal sense, preliminary. So I’d ask that readers not jump to conclusions about what has been reported.

    Some of the charges leveled by Gayl, according to the AP story, are highly inflammatory and directed against individuals with decades of service to this country. For anyone to imply that those individuals made decisions with anything but the health, welfare and best interests of Marines at heart, is irresponsible at best. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the military knows that acquisition decisions are not made by a single individual.

    Part of the reason for the somewhat benign response from the Marine Corps is that we were contacted mid-afternoon on Friday, by a reporter with a short deadline, and we had to research the issue since this “study” was not known to anyone beyond Gayl and his immediate superiors. In the short time we were given to respond we simply attempted to make the point that this “study” is preliminary, pre-decisional staff work. It still needs to be reviewed to determine if there is any validity to what its author purports to be true. Again I’d ask that readers not drawconclusions based on a single story about a one individual’s work.

  12. Col. Lapan: Thanks for taking the time to reply. I guess the PR pro in me is struck by a couple things. First, that the USMC’s PA group (I assume that’s where you are?) is paying attention to forums like this and responding is a tribute to your willingness to understand the wild world of new media. I once had the pleasure of lecturing the Air Force’s PA division on Internet PR, so obviously I’m impressed by this.

    Of course, the fact that you got pinned on time with a story breaking late Friday, etc., makes me think that not all parts of your organization are fully on-board with the 24/7 nature of new media. If I’m right, I doubt I’m telling you anything you’re not already well aware of.

    In any case, I’m sure we’d all be grateful if you’d keep us posted on future developments here. Thanks again.

  13. The Democratic politicians have no right to point fingers at anyone considering the war in Iraq was a bipartisan effort. Both parties voted for this action including everyone’s beloved Hillary. War on the ‘cheap’ is not a new concept. If you have done any in depth study on the Korean and especially the Vietnam War, and we had a Democrat in office for Vietnam, our soldiers have not been adequately protected for years, if ever. They are frequently the subjects of gross negligence and experimentation.

    No one seemed to care or make a big fuss over the fact the bullet-proof vests our soldiers are wearing are defective, yet since this is an election year the Democrats are going to bemoan the fact the MRAPs were not sent therefore costing many lives. The Defense Secretary filed the request and it ‘got lost in bureaucracy’ and who do you think ‘lost’ it – our politicians.

    Furthermore if you take a good long look at our politics/politicians, we change sides more often than the change of tides. We started our quest in Iraq to remove the Baathist Sunni regime from power and supporting the Shiites. Now we are supporting the Sunni party and decry Iran’s efforts for sending weapons to the Shiites. Come on – this is a joke – our entire government both the Democrats and Republicans are a farce.

    The printing of this study at this point in time is all too obvious – political jockeying. There were several articles printed prior to this ‘study’ stating the fact the troops have these vehicles available to them yet we did not and would not send them. No one cared then, now in 2008 conveniently an election year, this ‘study’ appears in which the information it contains was already known who anyone who can read and it amazes me this information comes as a shock to anyone.

    Military procurement procedures are at best cumbersome and annoying. Military contractors sit back raking in billions charging $12000 (heavy sarcasm – but probably not far from a correct dollar amount) for a screwdriver that you can purchase at Home Depot for $12. Meanwhile Joe and Mary Taxpayer are being screwed (no pun intended) in the long run.

    Unfortunately the problems concerning our occupation of Iraq are so numerous they are almost incalculable. In the meantime our troops are paying the price with their blood, limbs and lives. Do not be fooled, this article was printed (yet again) by a biased press in order to sway the outcome of our upcoming election.

  14. S. Miller,

    It seems to me that one of the inconvenient truths of America is that so many people are unable to separate “fact” from “opinion.” If one has an opinion then, well, it must be a fact, mustn’t it? And of course, since it is a fact, one must state it as a fact. Everyone else who can’t see that this opinion is a fact must be stupid, blind, naive, or what have you.

  15. Doc,

    Agreed. No problem with informed opinions, but I usually need just a wee bit of proof before I buy things.

  16. Dr Slammy. While we recognize the viability and power of blogs and other forms of “New Media,” we are just scratching the surface. We recognize the need to engage more often but are simply not resourced, at present. I hope that changes in the future. Thank you for commenting and recognizing our fledgling efforts. I’ll try to keep readers of this post updated on developments in this story. Today’s USA Today did a little better job than did AP but not much better.

  17. I think the dialogue this point has gotten somewhat derailed. This is generally what happens when a couple of pseudo intellectuals try to stilt the discussion beyond what is warranted given the topic. For being as intellectually slanted as both of you try to flaunt, you have missed one basic tenant. There is no such thing as fact, what one might call a fact is just an opinion wrapped up in the cloaks of academia and intellectual discourse. Unfortunately until the discussion centers around the issues at hand we are stuck in an exercise that amounts to no more that mental masturbation.

    The problem at hand with the MRAPs highlights problems of our entire system and each branch of service.

    1) In terms of new procurements, each service suffers from the bureaucracy that has taken over military operations. On this point I am not just talking about MRAPs, but body armor, the right color camouflage, V-22, structural fatigue in major assets from DDG’s to F-15s, and the list obviously continues.
    2) We are currently asking our military to do more with minimal resources. We expect our military assets to be on the battlefield longer that their designated life cycle, and we are replacing those assets at a slower rate than we are retiring and replacing aged assets.
    3) When a new asset arrives (ie MRAPs) they are much needed and generally rushed into service, as was the first generation of MRAPs raced to the battlefield. Leading to the additional lost of life, not the miracle solution that the media marches in front of us.

    Ultimately we cannot wage any kind of war where the power is removed from the military structure and placed in the political realm and ultimately (thanks to the media) in the public eye. This war has created more armchair generals than any other time in history. And the two of you want to sit here and debate about fact versus opinion versus informed opinion. And who is to decide fact and opinion – you? Furthermore, who is to determine an informed opinion versus and uninformed opinion? Then do we continue to peel the onion and let you decide who has informed opinions, and which sources of ‘information’ are deemed acceptable? Please, when the two of you take a humbling step off of your intellectual pedestal and want to talk about the real issues behind the facade that your discussion feeds let me know.

  18. I’ll let Slammy & JSO tackle you on your other claims (if they even think they’re worth the effort), but there’s a claim you’re making that is so far out there that it has to be addressed.

    There is no such thing as fact…

    Excuse me? If you cared to limit that statement to a few narrow subjects like philosophy, I might – might – be able to agree that it was at least possible. But as an engineer, I work in a field where facts abound.

    My design works – that’s a fact right there. My design uses a particular part – there’s another. The temperature in my cube as I type this is 25 C, +/- 2C is another fact. There’s no opinion involved, informed or otherwise.

    Mr. Gayl wrote his study report is another fact – the question is whether the information contained within that report qualify as fact, informed opinion, or uninformed opinion. And that’s what we, as outsiders, lack enough data (ie facts) to determine.

    In the future, please don’t make universal statements like you just did unless you intend for them to apply universally. And if you do intend them to apply universally, I recommend you don’t make statements that are so easily countered with, um, facts.

  19. S. Miller:

    You comment would have been far more credible without the snark in the first and last grafs. You accuse a few commenters of “derailing” the point; you did the same. Insults to other commentees did not enhance the credibility of your point.

  20. SM: You’re talking a lot of smack without much to back it (and your vocabulary misuse doesn’t help the case).

    Before I wade in any deeper, though, can I ask you to define a term for me? Apparently we’re all “pseudo-intellectuals.” Can you tell me what would count as a REAL intellectual? This really matters, actually.

  21. Mr. Angliss – I was referring to the MRAP report (which is what this blog is about) that even Mr. Lapan, as a member of the USMC, also stated was opinion. This was not a ‘universal’ comment obviously – everyone knows 2+2=4, so do not be so obtuse it is not flattering.

    Dr. Denny – Unfortunately things do not come off as well in print as they do in actual conversation. I was under the impression JSO was insulting me and if I placed the wrong slant on his comment then that is my error.

  22. While we’re waiting for S. Miller’s definitions, I thought I might just point out that, if there are no facts, we need not listen to anything S. Miller has to say.

    For instance:

    There were several articles printed prior to this ‘study’ stating the fact the troops have these vehicles available to them yet we did not and would not send them.

    But … but … but … there ARE no facts, right?? Those articles can only be stating opinion, in your mind. And if it’s only opinion, well, then it may or may not be true. A 50/50 proposition, what, what?

    And this statment:

    Do not be fooled, this article was printed (yet again) by a biased press in order to sway the outcome of our upcoming election.

    It seems that every member of the “press” has a stake is swaying the upcoming election. No proof is needed, of course, since there are no facts. And what are we not supposed to be fooled by? Our own opinions? Someone else’s? How can unsupported opinion, not backed up by non-existent facts, fool anyone?

    Socrates (Plato says) had a word for those who espouse this sort of non-fact thing: “Sophists.” Which gives us the very useful word “sophistry.”

  23. S.Miller – Allow me to point out EXACTLY what you said:

    I think the dialogue this point has gotten somewhat derailed. This is generally what happens when a couple of pseudo intellectuals try to stilt the discussion beyond what is warranted given the topic. For being as intellectually slanted as both of you try to flaunt, you have missed one basic tenant. There is no such thing as fact, what one might call a fact is just an opinion wrapped up in the cloaks of academia and intellectual discourse. Unfortunately until the discussion centers around the issues at hand we are stuck in an exercise that amounts to no more that mental masturbation.(emphasis added)

    There is nothing “obvious” about your statement being specifically targeted at the MRAP issue. In fact, the style of language you used says the opposite. Saying “you have missed one basic tenant(sic)” implies that what you’re about to state is a fundamental rule. In fact, “tenet” means “a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true”.

    So you specifically stated that it was a fundamental (ie “basic”) principle or doctrine that facts don’t exist. “Basic” can also mean “concerned with fundamental scientific principles”, BTW, and fundamental scientific principles are generally believed to be universal (ie gravitation, quantum mechanics, general relativity, Maxwell’s equations).

    So you either intended to imply universality and are backpeddling because you got called on it, or you mis-spoke and used English incorrectly.

  24. Mmmm, mmm, mmm, you all have been busy while I’ve been away.

    Mr. Angliss – I will address you first as you have obviously never misspoke at any point in time in your life. Yes – I used an incorrect term. I am, therefore, walking talking proof that multi-tasking can lead to errors in grammatical precision on occasion. Oh my god – so now the earth will stop spinning on its axis and civilization, as you know it, will cease to exist. Which may not be such a bad thing considering the world if full of blithering idiots.

    Dr. Slammy – With regard to my misuse of vocabulary please refer to my response to Mr. Angliss. As to your other question – what is a real intellectual?

    A real intellectual does more reading about a subject rather than run with a ‘whistleblower’ story that has no foundation in good journalism. In order for there to be a legitimate whistleblower action there has to be proof of fraud committed against the government. There was an obvious lack of good judgment if the government believed the MRAP would save lives and they did not deploy its use – but it is not fraud. In the future do a little research into Qui Tam law procedure before picking up this banner and running with it. And unless Mr. Gayl has something else to offer other than this “leak” his claims have no merit and it is not good journalism or a good source to run with this story or maybe Mr. Gayl is just trying to add credence to an already shaky claim. Furthermore if Mr. Gayl has actually applied for whistleblower status then he has violated his Qui Tam seal, a seal issued by the DOJ.

    The heart of the post of Mr. Denny’s story goes to the whistleblower status of Mr. Gayl, which is questionable in this particular instance, good journalism and a good source and the criteria for the aforementioned subjects are not being met. Also a good portion of this blog aims to turn this into a political issue and I quote, “citizens and voters can make better social and political decisions, especially in election season”. Everything in the political realm is subjective and to tout this story as a solid fact for our citizens to make a solid decision in an election year is in error.

    So, yes, JSO an unsupported opinion based on non-existent facts can fool many people and often does. Our biased press corps often run with and print stories that blur the line between fact and fiction and short-sighted individuals do not recognize this line. And whether you choose to ‘listen’ to what I have to say has absolutely no bearing on me.

  25. Actually, I used to misspeak exactly as you did. It took a long time for me to learn NOT to. Which is why I would have let it go – if you’d admitted you’d misspoke instead of throwing attitude around.

    Your use of language matters, SM, and if you want people to actually take you seriously, I recommend that you get better at saying precisely what you mean. Meaning is hard enough to convey via text when done well, never mind done when done badly.

  26. Mr Angliss – Evidently you need to learn to read since I did admit to incorrect grammatical use when you pointed it out to me. Evidently you are still wrapped around the axle about grammar usage instead of bringing anything substantive to this discussion. But what can one expect an EE.

  27. Now you’re just trolling. But you’re right, you did admit it – with an insult that questions my intelligence. I find it remarkable that you had the audacity to call me obtuse when you were the one being “difficult to comprehend : not clear or precise in thought or expression”. As Denny said, generally you’ll be more effective at convincing people to your point if you leave the attitude behind.

    You’ve made a number of unsubstantiated, and unsubstantiable, claims without proof. You assume that Mr. Gayl is not a whistleblower but haven’t given us a reason why (your Qui Tam point is valid, but you’re assuming that he doesn’t deserve protection because there was no fraud, when the known facts of the situation don’t provide any more substance to that conclusion than the do the conclusion that he does deserve protection).

    You assume that Mr. Gayl is jockeying for political advantage, and while that’s a valid interpretation that may even be correct, you failed to connect the dots in a way that could be followed.

    You don’t understand the reason that the military spending $12,000 for a screwdriver and buys it from Lockheed-Martin instead of Home Depot – that’s how the military pays for black programs, so saying that taxpayers are being screwed is naive.

    You’ve assumed that the military bureaucracy is a negative impact on the operation of the military (your use of the word “suffered” implies as much) without providing examples or proof.

    In my opinion, its opinions like these – offered without any indication that they were informed by actual knowledge – that Slammy made his original comment. And these same opinions, offered up as if they were facts that, naturally, everyone had to know already, are why I believe that JSO made his original comment. I don’t know that, of course, as I’m not telepathic and privy to JSO’s and Slammy’s thought processes.

  28. Mr. Angliss – The insult questioning your intellect was deserved. Before you respond to a blog maybe you should read and with comprehension what a person is saying, re: my admission of error, among other things.

    From Mr. Denny’s story taken from the AP:
    Says Mr. Gayl in the study: “If the mass procurement and fielding of MRAPs had begun in 2005 in response to the known and acknowledged threats at that time, as the [Marine Corps] is doing today, hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented. While the possibility of individual corruption remains undetermined, the existence of corrupted MRAP processes is likely, and worthy of (inspector general) investigation.

    Since you obviously did not catch on the first time I stated it in my other post I will reiterate, unless Mr. Gayl has something more to offer he has not shown fraud. The only thing he has shown is the possibility our government showed poor judgment, big surprise. But this does not prove fraud against the government. Qui Tam law is very clear.

    You stated in your post:
    You don’t understand the reason that the military spending $12,000 for a screwdriver and buys it from Lockheed-Martin instead of Home Depot – that’s how the military pays for black programs, so saying that taxpayers are being screwed is naive.

    Once again you are either showing your low level of reading comprehension, you are lacking the level of education you claim to have or are being deliberately dense, I will use dense instead of obtuse this time.

    My statement was as follows:
    Military contractors sit back raking in billions charging $12000 (heavy sarcasm – but probably not far from a correct dollar amount) for a screwdriver that you can purchase at Home Depot for $12. Meanwhile Joe and Mary Taxpayer are being screwed (no pun intended) in the long run.

    Let me clarify since you so obviously missed it. “Military contractors” – means Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon and a dozen others I can come up with off the top of my head. As far as your comment about my being naïve about the taxpayers being screwed by military spending goes – who do you think pays for government programs including the military – the taxpayer. We are the people paying for the $600 toilet seat the military purchases. If I remember correctly (and oh yes I AM being sarcastic) it is referred to as, oh what is the word I am looking for, oh that’s right its taxes. So who is it that is being naïve here?

    You also stated: As Denny said, generally you’ll be more effective at convincing people to your point if you leave the attitude behind. I freely admit in post #22 I was blunt, I was in a hurry and did not finesse my statements – so it goes. I also told Denny in a later post I thought JSO was being insulting and if I misinterpreted the JSO post it was my error.

    You really need to take a GIANT step down from your pedestal, you grossly over estimate your intellectual capacity. And yes I did have the audacity to call you obtuse and despite your inference I am very well aware of the definition of obtuse, as well as dense, but it the shoe fits as the saying goes. Our part of this conversation is now concluded.

    Ultimately as far as this website goes I have had an opportunity to do some surfing through your website, blogs and various other websites and you people are a joke. You post an article to your website then your own writers post to your blogs, you receive very few hits and virtually no outside communication and when your run into someone outside your circle with a brain that you cannot bully or nit-picking to death over a single grammatical error you are not pleased. So basically this is just your own coffee house discussion with you patting each other on the back for your imagined intellectual prowess.

    So, Dr. Slammy, no I was not in error when I used the term pseudo intellectuals, this term was more than apropos. But I do agree with you on one subject – Buster Keaton was an absolutely incredible man.

    Have fun with your circle jerk and mental masturbation. I am exceedingly bored and out of here, have fun writing to one another.

  29. SM: SO, in other words, a real intellectual is defined by how you approach a story on MRAPs? Hmmm. I’ve turned three or four dictionaries inside-out and can’t find any definitions anywhere that deal with MRAPs. I suspect what you really mean when you think of an intellectual is someone who agrees with you and praises you for how smart you are.

    I don’t know that any of us go through life handing out business cards with the word “intellectual” in big embossed Old English script, but that IS a word with a definition, whether you know that definition or not.

    You seem annoyed that people here would respond to what you SAID. I think your words are pretty clear, and if you didn’t say what you meant that’s hardly somebody else’s fault. You demonstrate that you’re not 100% in command of your own vocabulary, which might lead one to suspect, again, that it’s on you.

    Obviously we like commenters, especially those who add something to the conversation. We’d have preferred that you find a way to move things forward instead of descending into trolling, getting spanked, declaring Mission Accomplished and then huffing off. But since we can’t have that, I guess we can only wish you happy trails.

  30. United States Marine Corps

    Press Release
    Public Affairs Office
    Headquarters Marine Corps; Division of Public Affairs

    Comm: 703-614-4309
    Contact:

    ——————————————————————————–

    Release # 0221-08-1659
    Associated Press Mischaracterized Civilian’s Opinions as Official Study
    Feb. 21, 2008

    HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS (Washington D.C.) — — In a letter today to Associated Press president Thomas Curley, the Marine Corps raised objections to a story by reporter Richard Lardner which mischaracterized a preliminary internal paper written by a civilian employee of Headquarters, Marine Corps.

    Although the paper was clearly marked as the personal views of that employee and not representative of the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense, the AP headline and story led readers to believe the work was an official Marine Corps study. Statements that the work represented the personal opinions of the author were placed deep within the article.

    In addition, another AP report three days later stated that “The Associated Press first reported Friday that hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps officials refused the request of the commanders.” This statement was presented as fact and not attributed to the author of the paper, as representing his personal views.

    As a result of the AP’s inaccurate and imprecise reporting, the Marine Corps was forced to respond to numerous requests for clarification from news organizations, members of Congress and other groups.

    “There has been a clear reluctance on behalf of the AP reporter and his editor to accurately state the nature of the civilian’s opinion paper, and to correct the record,” said Col. Dave Lapan, deputy director of Marine Corps public affairs. “So we are. This is an example of how inaccurate reporting leads to continued inaccuracies and ultimately does a disservice to the millions of readers who rely on the AP for accurate and factual information.”