Medal Of Honor Winner Dakota Meyer Sues Defense Contractor For Defamation

It was just over two months ago that Sgt. Dakota Meyer stood in the East Room of the White House and received the Congressional Medal Of Honor from President Obama for his actions in Afghanistan. Now, he’s at the center of a very interesting legal dispute:

Two months ago, Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama for his service in Afghanistan, the military’s most prestigious award. On Monday, Sgt. Meyer alleged that a defense contractor has called him mentally unstable and a problem drinker, ruining his chances for a job in the defense industry.

In legal papers filed Monday, the Marine claims that BAE Systems, where he worked earlier this year, retaliated against him after he raised objections about BAE’s alleged decision to sell high-tech sniper scopes to the Pakistani military. He says his supervisor at BAE effectively blocked his hiring by another defense contractor by making the claims about drinking and his mental condition.

Sgt. Meyer’s complaint is likely to pose a more difficult challenge for BAE, a British company with extensive U.S. operations, than a typical employment dispute. In the September White House ceremony, Sgt. Meyer was hailed for braving enemy fire as he tried to save the lives of fellow Marines who had been trapped in a Taliban ambush.

BAE said it would defend itself, but comments by BAE officials Monday made clear they don’t want to be seen as denigrating a Medal of Honor recipient. “Although we strongly disagree with his claims, which we will address through the appropriate legal process, we wish him success and good fortune in his endeavors,” said Brian J. Roehrkasse, a BAE spokesman. He declined to discuss any specifics of the suit.

(…)

The amended complaint filed in a Texas state court said that after leaving active duty in May 2010, Sgt. Meyer joined Ausgar Technologies, a defense contractor that hires veterans to train active-duty service members. At that company, Sgt. Meyer helped teach U.S. soldiers to use thermal imaging to spot roadside bombs. Less than a year later, in March 2011, Sgt. Meyer joined BAE Systems, though the suit doesn’t make clear the exact nature of his job there.

Soon after joining BAE, Sgt. Meyer learned it was trying to sell advanced thermal optic scopes to Pakistan, according to the suit. In an email to his supervisor, identified as Bobby McCreight, Sgt. Meyer voiced his objections to the sale, the lawsuit states.

“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,” Sgt. Meyer wrote to Mr. McCreight, according to the lawsuit. “These are the same people killing our guys.”

While in the Marines, Sgt. Meyer had served along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Many in the military who have served on the border have said in interviews they view Pakistan as an unreliable ally, as likely to help Taliban insurgents as they are to aid American troops.

(…)

In the suit, Sgt. Meyer said that after he voiced his criticism, Mr. McCreight began “berating and belittling” him. The supervisor criticized Sgt. Meyer for making a trip with their BAE division president and made sarcastic remarks about Sgt. Meyer’s nomination for the Medal of Honor, allegedly ridiculing his “pending star status,” the suit says.

At the end of May, Sgt. Meyer’s complaint said, he resigned from BAE over the proposed sale to Pakistan and attempted to get his old job back at Ausgar. In the suit, Sgt. Meyer said he was told that that company wanted to hire him back as did the Defense Department program officer who approves hiring for the optics program.

About the same time, Mr. McCreight contacted a Defense Department program manager and said that Sgt. Meyer was “mentally unstable” and “had a problem related to drinking in a social setting,” the lawsuit alleges.

On June 1, an Ausgar employee wrote an email to Sgt. Meyer saying his rehiring had been blocked by what Mr. McCreight told the Pentagon program manager, the suit says. Contacted Monday, the program manager, Robert Higginson, declined to discuss the case. A lawyer for Mr. McCreight didn’t return a request for comment.

There are several interesting questions raised here, not the least of them the question of why BAE wanted to sell advanced technology to the Pakistanis and whether they were required to go through any kind of government approval process to do so, either here or in the U.K. As for Meyer’s allegations, it’s hard to say what the truth is just based on the allegations of the Complaint, but it sounds like a classic case of a supervisor who became vindictive and started spreading rumors about Meyer in retaliation over the fact that he had raised objections to sale. If I were BAE, I’d never want this case to get before a jury because going up against a Medal Of Honor winner is about as difficult as it gets.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Mike says:

    I can’t speak to the U.K., but exporting a product like that from the U.S. would almost certainly fall under the Arms Export Control Act/ITAR restrictions…but given that BAE is a large defense contractor, I have no doubt they would be able to put together the appropriate request/paperwork/etc fairly easily. Actual government approval of course is another issue.

    Whether they had already done this is another question, and how suspicious it will appear if they had not will depend on how far along in the process they were. If this was just internal company spitballing, then I can’t see there being much of a foul, but if they were talking to Pakistani officials about the deal but hadn’t yet made any sort of ITAR compliance effort then it’s going to look a little more suspicious, even if they hadn’t technically broken the law since they hadn’t exported any items yet.

  2. Andy says:

    There is no legal restriction selling optical sights to Pakistan. Meyer’s objections were therefore about principle, not the law.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Andy, I thought these were thermal sights rather than purely optical. Would that change things?

  4. Mike says:

    @Andy:

    Sure about that? Given that legally speaking I can’t export a lower parts kit from a run of the mill AR-15 that amounts to nothing more than a couple of hunks of metal to a friend that lives in another country, I’m about 99.9% sure that any sort of optical weapons sight, thermal or otherwise, would fall under the ITAR restrictions. I’m not saying that BAE couldn’t fill out the appropriate paperwork or wouldn’t get government approval, but it’s not like they could just haul off and legally ship some over there without any sort of process.

  5. Tobe says:

    Why are we selling any weapon to any country, let along one who ‘said’ they didn’t know Bin Laden was living in a fancy house next to an airport (for rapid escape)?! It’s like the Wall Street greed, who gives a F about ethics or morals, ‘my’ life or that guys [pointing over there, away from you] so long as ‘I’ make a few bucks, a number printed on a piece of paper that really has no real value other than what we are led to believe they are worth, and in this respect–life and dignity is worth nothing–when BAE (bad ass evil) can make a few bucks. And I bet those that sell weapons with absent ethics has a church/synagog/mosque/god hut to go to to remind themselves what good and just person he is. This is a joke and anyone who supports such BAE thinking is the joker. Feel free to substitute the nouns with any names you like, the sentence will still work–applicable logic. Ron Paul for President–Real America All the Way…

  6. Josh says:

    Not sure what will come of this particular case. I DO know BAE has been fined before by the US government for violating US export controls.

  7. john says:

    America needs more men like Mr Meyer.