Is release of documents on Medal of Honor recipient related to his lawsuit against former employer?

In October 2011, a U.S. Marine named Dakota Meyer was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama for his acts of heroism in Afghanistan. He was the first living Marine to receive such an honor since the Vietnam War.

According to Marines’ official website, Meyer and his unit were ambushed by more than 50 insurgents.

Over the course of a six-hour fire-fight, without regard for his own personal safety, Meyer entered the kill zone five separate times to evacuate the wounded, provide essential aid and, ultimately, saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers in addition to 23 Afghan soldiers. Meyer personally killed at least eight Taliban insurgents, while providing cover for his team to fight their way out and escape certain death.

Two years later, Meyer is in the middle of a controversy that has brought his credentials for the medal into question. He has filed a lawsuit against his ex-employer defense contractor BAE Systems for interfering with his ability to find work with another defense contractor. Meyer claims someone from BAE told the other contractor that he was mentally unstable and an alcoholic. Meyer worked for BAE after leaving active duty.

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.” …

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.

In that  Dec. 3, 2011, Wall Street Journal story, a BAE representative said it didn’t want to “be seen denigrating a Medal of Honor recipient.” But, two weeks later, the denigration of a Medal of Honor recipient — from whatever source — has begun in earnest, as someone leaked a series of documents to McClatchy Newspapers that supposedly show that “crucial parts of the story … are untrue.” The article claims that statements show that “he didn’t save as many people, kill as many enemy fighters or lead the final push to retrieve his dead comrades, as the record says.” [Read the article if you care about the alleged discrepancy].

The Marine Corps released a statement defending Meyer and the MOH process:

Due to the distance and length of time the battle lasted and the fact that the majority of the participants were in a deadly fight for their lives and the lives of their comrades, the eyewitness accounts may vary in certain detail – variations that are expected. These Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers were engaged in a six-hour battle from the time the Coalition forces entered the Ganjgal Valley and were ambushed, until the time when the last of the Coalition forces left the valley. Many of the participants moved back and forth along the three kilometers of terraced valley floor on multiple occasions during the engagement. While a number of the witnesses were in close proximity to Cpl. Meyer and SSgt. Rodriguez-Chavez at various points in the battle, many other witnesses were farther away. The geography of this battle and the location of the participants meant that not every witness had equal and accurate visibility or situational clarity on every activity.

But, the same story says, the medal was awarded based on accurate information. So why release these documents at all? To discredit an American hero? It fails do to that, as even the same McClatchey story states that Meyer is a hero who had earned the medal. What would be the purpose of letting releasing the documents, and who would have done so? Could it possibly be to attack his credibility if the case ever went to trial?

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