Who Is Franz Gayl, the Pentagon Worker Taking Heat for Op-Eds in Chinese State Media?

A retired U.S. Marine and Pentagon whistleblower has had his security clearance suspended and is the target of an American counterintelligence investigation after he penned two op-eds in Chinese state-run media outlets.

The Marine Corps confirmed to the Washington Post Friday that Franz Gayl, a 64-year-old retired major who served in Iraq, is part of an "on-going investigation" after he wrote two Global Times opinion pieces.

Gayl was the reported whistleblower behind a May 2007 Wired magazine piece entitled, "Military Dragged Feet on Bomb-Proof Vehicles," which sparked controversy and congressional hearings at the time. Then-Delaware Democratic Senator Joe Biden praised Gayl in 2007 for his whistleblower efforts.

Gayl has since worked as a science adviser to the Marine Corps and recently returned from Iraq after helping the U.S. military with a rollout of armored military vehicles dubbed MRAPs.

Now 14 years later, he has drawn scrutiny from U.S. intelligence officials for writing articles that called Taiwan's democratically elected leaders "renegade secessionists" and described U.S. members of Congress as "corrupt."

"I knew it would get everybody's attention, and man, did it," Gayl told The Washington Post on Friday after conservative U.S. outlets as well as Beijing state-run media promoted his two opinion pieces.

An April 27 op-ed by Gayl was published by the Chinese state-run outlet Global Times and featured the headline, "Why the U.S. will lose a war with China over Taiwan island," prompting some critics on social media to label his piece treasonous.

【美國防部公職人員投書中國媒體被查,稱"不後悔"】

據美國《華盛頓郵報》當地時間6月11日報道,兩次在中國《環球時報》上刊登署名文章談論中美問題後,目前供職於美國國防部的退役海軍陸戰隊員弗朗茨·蓋爾(Franz Gayl )遭到美國軍方調查,未來可能不再從事公職。 pic.twitter.com/XgGglq9qk4

— 通說 (@Tong_Shuo) June 12, 2021

"Once blood is drawn, the US will have few options. If the US elects to fight China over the island of Taiwan, then it will lose," Gayl wrote. "Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) independence hubris is fueled by US cabinet-level China hawks and Congress' bipartisan, bicameral Taiwan Caucus."

The Trump administration designated the Global Times a Chinese government entity in February 2020.

Representatives with both the Pentagon and the Marine Corps told the Washington Post Friday that they could not provide details about the "on-going investigation" into Gayl. But the military spokespeople said Gayl's opinion pieces were not submitted for required prepublication review and are not representative of U.S. foreign policy in China or Taiwan.

"If we don't talk about this now, we are going to sleepwalk into this conflict," Gayl said of a potential military action between the United States and China. "I'm glad that I did it ... but it was probably a step too far with the Marine Corps."

Global Times editors mocked American officials for the reported investigation into Gayl in separate opinion pieces published this weekend.

Newsweek reached out to the Pentagon Saturday morning for any additional remarks.

Pentagon
1968-Washington, DC: Exterior aerial view of the Pentagon. A retired U.S. Marine and Pentagon whistleblower has had his security clearance suspended and is the target of an American counterintelligence investigation after he penned two op-eds in Chinese state-run media outlets. Getty Images