Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Medal of Honor Marine BAE sniper scopes

Marine Who Received Medal of Honor Fights Allegations He is Mentally Unstable


In September, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's most prestigious military award, to Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the marine who saved 36 of his comrades during an ambush in Afghanistan.

Obama called Meyer one of the most "down-to-earth guys that you will ever meet."

But today Meyer, 23, is having trouble getting a job because of allegations by defense contractor BAE Systems that he has a drinking problem and is mentally unstable. Meyer filed legal papers Monday claiming the allegations were in retaliation for objections he raised about BAE's alleged decision to sell high-tech sniper scopes to the Pakistani military.

After leaving active duty in May 2010, Meyer worked at Ausgar Technologies, a service-disabled veteran-owned small business in California, until April 2011.

"He exhibited a maturity for his age and an insightful capability to get the job done and provide recommendations to improve on what we are doing. I was very impressed while he was working for us.

He was an outstanding employee," Tom Grant, a retired military naval officer and a senior program manager at Ausgar Technologies, told ABC News.

When asked about the allegations of mental instability and a drinking problem, Grant said, "While Meyer was working for me, I never saw evidence of either of those issues."

In March 2011, Meyer began working at BAE Systems, a British military contracting company, where he learned the company was trying to sell advanced thermal optic scopes to the Pakistani military.

"We are taking the best gear, the best technology on the market to date and giving it to guys known to stab us in the back," Meyer wrote to BAE Systems manager Bobby McCreight, his former co-worker, according to the lawsuit. "These are the same people killing our guys."

But BAE Systems is claiming that that decision is not up to them.

"The U.S. Department of State, not BAE Systems, makes the decision on what defense-related products can be exported. In recent years, the U.S. Government has approved the export of defense-related goods from numerous defense companies to Pakistan as part of the United States' bilateral relationship with that country," said Brian J. Roehrkasse, the vice president of public relations at BAE, in a statement.

In May 2011, Meyer gave his two weeks notice to BAE Systems and applied to return to Ausgar Technologies. He was approved by the U.S. government for the job, but the Ausgar hiring manager informed Meyer that he would not be hired because of allegations made by former marine McCreight.

Meyer is now suing McCreight for telling "the government program manager that Mr. Meyer should not be hired for reasons that are false and defamatory," according to Meyer's original petition.

According to Roehrkasse, BAE Systems strongly disagrees with Meyer's claims and intends to "vigorously defend [themselves] through the appropriate legal process."


Hero Marine Sues Defense Giant After Sniper Scope Fight

Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer is perhaps this country's best-recognized war hero, a man who risked his life over and over again to save his buddies from a Taliban ambush. That's why he's the only living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor - the nation's highest award for valor - for his actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It's undoubtedly one reason why the defense giant BAE Systems hired Meyer after he left the Corps.

Then, BAE considered selling high-tech sniper rifle scopes to the Pakistani military. Meyer objected, given Islamabad's um, unambiguous relationship with the terrorists and militants based in Pakistan. Then he quit. Suddenly, Meyer's former bosses at BAE started calling the war hero "mentally unstable" and a drunk.

That's according to a lawsuit Meyer filed against BAE, which alleges that the defense behemoth blocked the retired Marine from getting a job with a competitor by slandering his character.

Things started to unravel earlier this year, BAE sought to sell advanced thermal optic scopes to the Pakistanis for their sniper rifles. That's 100 percent legal, thanks to the U.S. government's decade-long decision to sell the Pakistanis billions of dollars' worth of military gear, in the hope of cementing Islamabad's commitment to fighting terrorism. But BAE employee Meyer questioned whether the sale was responsible.

"We are taking the best gear, the best technology on the market to date and giving it to guys known to stab us in the back," Meyer wrote to his supervisor, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Julian Barnes, who obtained Meyer's lawsuit.

When BAE didn't heed him, Meyer decided to take a job with his old defense firm, Ausgar Technologies. But Meyer didn't get the job. His supervisor at BAE, Bobby McCreight, allegedly e-mailed a Defense Department acquisition official to say Meyer was clearly traumatized from combat, "had a problem related to drinking in a social setting," and even mocked Meyer's forthcoming Medal of Honor award as his "pending star status." The suit says an Ausgar official informed Meyer that he wouldn't be rehired, thanks to the Defense Department official's decision to pass McCreight's assessment on to Ausgar.

This man who McCreight allegedly mocked. On Sept. 8, 2008, more than 50 insurgents ambushed Meyer's patrol in Kunar Province. They held the high ground, firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns on Marines and their Afghan partners in what would become a six-hour battle. The barrage left at least four Marines and several dozen Afghans cut off from the rest of the patrol. Meyer's response was to climb in a truck and descend further into the valley to rescue the team, under what his Medal of Honor citation describes as "heavy enemy fire" and "despite a shrapnel wound to the arm." Meyer didn't do that once. He did it five times, the citation reports, "in the face of almost certain death." And that made Meyer the first living Marine to get the medal for his actions during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.

It might be added that Meyer's tour near the border with Pakistan might have given him a particular sensitivity to the risks associated with arming the Pakistani military. The U.S. commander in charge of eastern Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, recently told reporters that those alleged U.S. allies help insurgents rocket U.S. troops on the border. It would seem that Meyer hasn't stopped trying to save U.S. troops in danger.

BAE now has a massive P.R. problem on its hands - the latest of many. For years, officials in Britain and in America have investigated the firm on bribery and corruption charges. In 2010, the company agreed to pay a $400 million fine for violating arms control restrictions, and lying to federal officials about the BAE's actions. That was followed up by an additional $48 million fine in 2011.

Spokespeople declined to comment on the lawsuit to the Journal. But the company, which makes everything from anti-ship microwave guns to stealthy killer drones to freaky invisibility cloaks for tanks, risks calling a war hero an exaggerator or a liar in defending itself. Good luck with that one.

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