Going Rogue Could Pose Security Clearance Problems
A civilian Marine Corps advisor who made waves for repeated calls to increase the number of Mine-Resistant-Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles in theater has gotten his job – and his security clearance – back.
Franz Gayl was relieved of his job and had his security clearance suspended last year, after being accused of using an unauthorized flash drive in a secure computer. The clearance suspension came after years of concerns expressed by supervisors and some admittedly odd behavior on the part of Gayl himself. In a military that prides itself on decorum and chain-of-command, Gayl openly went directly to members of congress with concerns, and even wrote several letters with national security policy recommendations to then President George W. Bush. At office meetings he discussed his depression and financial problems, according to co-workers. Concerned about the state of the economy and possible social collapse, Gayl began stocking up on food and shotguns – something else he didn’t hide from co-workers or supervisors…
This behavior alone might be enough to cost many individuals a government job and access to a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). But Gayl isn’t any government worker. He’s also one of the most well-known whistleblowers in the War on Terror era, having made waves across the Marine Corps for his persistent push to get MRAPs into the field. When he didn’t feel like military leadership was acting fast enough, he went directly to congress, the press, and anyone above his immediate chain of command who would listen. Eventually, they did, and several months after Gayl began his MRAP campaign, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a new task force committed to getting MRAPs on the ground faster.
With so much history and controversy surrounding Gayl and his work in the Marine Corps, it’s no surprise that an NCIS investigation occurred. But as we frequently discuss here on ClearanceJobs, it’s rarely a single action alone that causes clearance issues, but more likely someone’s inability to mitigate or explain potential concerns – be they financial or personal.
Whether Gayl’s use of a removable drive in a secure facility was the cause, or the straw that broke the camel’s back, in a series of erratic and odd behavior is hard to say (NCIS and the Marine Corps are so far offering no details about the investigation, and aren’t likely to). That said, the ban on removable hardware has gotten increased scrutiny in the months after Pvt. Bradley Manning stole thousands of classified cables under the guise of listening to a Lady Gaga CD in his secure workspace.
At the end of the day, however, individuals who decide to “go rogue,” both in terms of circumventing chain of command and office protocols, and in defying popular conventions concerning appropriate office decorum, shouldn’t be surprised by possible clearance issues. If you’re going to dance to your own drummer in and out of the office, you’d better, like Gayl, be sure you can defend your beat.