Medal of Honor Winner Pays for Balking at Equipping Pakistani Snipers

At Wired’s Danger Room, Spencer Ackerman blogs about an Associated Press report on a lawsuit filed by a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. Former Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer is suing BAE Systems, the British defense and aerospace company, which employed him after he left the service.

… BAE considered selling … advanced thermal optic scopes to the Pakistanis for their sniper rifles. … 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. [The lawsuit] alleges that the defense behemoth blocked the retired Marine from getting a job with a competitor by slandering his character.

As for the sale of the rifle scopes, Ackerman writes

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.

What Meyer questioned was “whether the sale was responsible.” It’s bad enough that the United States is selling the equipment and that BAE accepted the contract, and that Meyer being subjected to blackballing by the industry. But, according to the AP story:

Meyer wrote that it was “disturbing” how U.S. troops were being issued outdated equipment when better, advanced thermal optic scopes were being offered to Pakistan.

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t know that. Aside from the craven greed and unalloyed injustice embodied by that practice, it shows why U.S. military personnel would seek to equip themselves with aftermarket, as it were, weapons and gear. The sprawling website Military.com hosts a blog titled Kit Up! and subtitled “Beyond standard issue.” One of its bloggers, Bill Janson, who owns a gear and weapons company, posted on Meyers’s lawsuit. A line from the AP article especially stuck in his craw.

Mr. Roehrkasse, the BAE spokesman, said the decision to sell defense equipment is made by the State Department, not BAE.

Janson replies:

No, sir, you are incorrect. The decision of what CAN be sold or exported is decided by the State Department. The decision to actually SELL defense equipment to a foreign government is solely and 100% up to the company selling that equipment.

He then links to a CNN article from 2010 that testifies to BAE’s ethical issues.

British defense contractor BAE Systems has pleaded guilty in Washington to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and was ordered to pay a $400 million criminal fine, authorities announced. A top Justice Department official said the fine is one of the largest criminal fines ever levied in the United States against a company for business-related violations.

Janson concludes:

I’m not calling for a boycott of BAE Systems or any of its brands. More than not, boycotts just end up negatively affecting the employees who have nothing to do with the corporation’s decisions. … I don’t really know how to change the industry, but as veterans and citizens of this great country, we need to start demanding an ethical high ground for our defense contractors.