Career Advice

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.

Comment Archive

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    It’s obvious an investigation was warranted, if not a suspension of his clearance. There are far too many clearance holders who espouse militia-type beliefs already and think we’re just one race war away from the Apocalypse.

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    I have worked with Franz Gayl on several occasions while a USAF project manager with Joint Warfighting – Space.

    Yes, Franz is a maverick. We need people like that in our services. If those who adjudicate our clearances can’t see that, then we eventually will have a military which is cold, gray, plodding, and soviet-like.

    Remember: the USAF was essentially created by one man with a vision who was willing to embarrass old admirals and appeal to the public: General Billy Mitchell.

    Would Billy Mitchell have retained a TS/SCI if he had lived today?

    Jane: I don’t recall anything in the article about Franz espousing race wars or wanting to be part of a militia. That’s a pretty cheap shot.

    Or perhaps you are the one adjudicating his clearance and decided to vent a bit in public? I’ve never known him to espouse such crazy ideas. Do you know him?

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    I don’t know him, M Carden; I was drawing off his stocking up on food and shotguns and his willingness to tell people about it. If you think that’s a cheap shot, perhaps it is, but I don’t think it’s a completely unfair or unfounded assumption either. I think it’s a bit more outlandish to assume I’m adjudicating his clearance just because I made a comment.

    It sounds like he was going through something pretty tough but, ultimately, did not present the security risk people thought he did. I think his actions with regards to the MRAP campaign maybe could have been handled better but absolutely should not have constituted a national security risk. I’m glad that he spoke out and was just as solid in backing himself up. The services do in fact need more people like this.

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    Hmmm… in my interactions with Franz it seemed that he was on the intellectual horizon and most were huffing and puffing to keep up.

    As far as some of the home security preperations Franz mentioned I would point you to the following video:

    These people were acting uncivilized for things they merely wanted to buy; imagine for a moment if they were outside a grocery store for things they absolutely needed to live.

  5. Avatar

    Its like a love fest in here.

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    Settle down Fed 🙂

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    BW, you still slummin’ it here, short-timer?


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    Are you kidding…miss all the fun. I am never leaving this site. I’m going rogue starting today 🙂

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    Don’t go too rogue. It’s not good for your health.

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    “Are you kidding…miss all the fun. I am never leaving this site. I’m going rogue starting today”

    We need more Rogues. Less Pogues.

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    M Carden,

    None of the USAF old time Generals would qualify. Anyone who knows history, would know they had quite the tempers. Position would be all that saved them–but, political correctness would have cut their careers short in today’s world.

  12. Avatar

    BW said

    “None of the USAF old time Generals would qualify… but, political correctness would have cut their careers short in today’s world.”

    Ain’t that the truth. Check out this Time Magazine illustration of Curtis Lemay:,16641,19450813,00.html

    Chomping on [gasp!] a tobacco product!

  13. Avatar

    M Carden

    I was just in his old office not long ago–it’s still in place, just not all the furniture–he was pretty hardcore. When I joined in the 80’s we all smoked like chimneys at work in the office.

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    Most adjudicative guidelines can be mitigated. There does not appear to be any mitigating factor for introducing/using removable drive in a secured area (in his case), other than, possibly time. Maybe he could be clearable in a couple years, not anytime soon if on my desk. Just based on what was provided in the article above:no brainer for an adjudicator. With all his time/service/knowledge of what is good and right in the world, …. and praise from M. Carden, maybe he should have known better. Just sayin’.

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    M Carden – I do agree that we need people like him in our services, however, fundamentals of protecting National Security classified information is paramount for every person entrusted with access. In this particular case, he was the same as anyone else needing a security violation adjudicated. The adjudicator just got a bigger picture of his whole person concept than most adjudicators are privy to see.

  16. Avatar

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