“When outnumbered by the enemy the first thing you should do is praise the Lord for a target rich environment.”
– BG Robin Olds, Air Force fighter pilot, triple ace
I’m going to start shooting my watch here…
Sifting through all the witness accounts from the DIA case, I was able to distill the Agency’s methods into this relatively simple yet effective formula:
Step 1: Attain leverage, use it
Leverage was relatively easy to hold over the attaché. This was due to the fact that positions within the Attaché Service were highly-sought-after and selective and everyone knew it. With that knowledge, the DAS was able to utilize the carrot-and-stick adeptly. In my case, it was dangling a follow-on assignment and, what would eventually come to fruition, writing a career-ending performance report.
Step 2: Control the narrative
DIA told people what color the sky was. They could. Any oversight entity (IGs, DoD, Service representatives, etc.) didn’t keep the regime in check. The end result was a total monopolization of the “truth.” Tanya, who would threaten to, or actually, recall people from their post to D.C. for administrative punishment, didn’t even have the legal authorities to do so, but did anyway. After all, who was going to stop her?
“The sky is green. Questions?”
Recall from a previous chapter the narrative that four people in my office were “guilty” of mutiny? All part of the “narrative” tactic. I even had one colleague recalled to D.C. because, as the cabal spun it, he “punched his superior officer, the Defense Attaché”. Absurd. However, if no one challenges the narrative, what does that mean? For all intents and purposes: the narrative becomes “the truth.”
Step 3: Punish non-conformists
If you said “no, the sky is blue” you did so at your own peril because if you were punished, there was nowhere to turn to from whom you could expect a fair shake. My career as an attaché, and my career overall, was ended because I reported wrongdoings to DIA. Tanya told me that. Verbatim. That’s the word “brazen”’ redefined. But, if you can get away with it, and the leadership and IG will back you up or cover up for you, you become almost untouchable.
Step 4: Outwait people who survive Step 3
If you were counterculture and you did survive any retaliation, the cabal simply outwaited you. You were either military and due to be reassigned so you would just sail off into the sunset, or, you were permanent party and to be a nonconformist was not sustainable so eventually you got worn out and you acquiesced; either by leaving or conforming. It was not uncommon for IG investigations of reprisal to be open for over a year. One of my colleague’s was open for two years and in that time, no witnesses were interviewed. (As an interesting sidenote, the Wall Street Journal contacted the DIA/IG office on February 15th, 2022 to inquire as to the status of that two-years-long-open investigation. The investigation concluded February 16th, 2022. All allegations were unsubstantiated. As my dad would say: “what a coinky-dink!”)
Armed with knowledge of DIA tactics, I had to develop countertactics to defeat the cabal.
Can we just take a minute here to cogitate? How sad is this, really? We’re now talking about how Americans were denigrating and marginalizing our own military people and now I’m going to talk about how I had to defeat them. I mean, who needs Russia and China and hackers and terrorists when it’s Americans doing a bang-up job of defeating America as it is!? And, as we frequently harken back to: for what??
Back to the task at hand: taking down the cabal. Here is what I formulated:
DIA Tactic: Attain Leverage
Countertactic: Appeal to sense of duty
This was likely the most difficult to surmount. The Agency had a monopoly on the commodity of leverage. They could make or break people at will. That’s no exaggeration. I was coming from a position of zero advantage here – I could not coerce (not would I want to) people, my only recourse was to appeal to people’s sense of morality / duty in order to persuade them to take up the cause. The most effective way I could do that was to take up the cause myself and make it known. So, I was extremely present and public in my whistleblowing. My thinking was that if people saw me, in uniform, speaking out, that they may be energized to follow suit.
DIA Tactic: Control the narrative
Countertactic: Control the narrative
Put simply, I needed to get the word out that the sky was blue and I needed people outside the Agency’s sphere of control to agree and purport the same thing. Ultimately, the two mutually-exclusive narratives boiled down to this:
DIA: How we conduct ourselves and treat our people is right and just.
Me: DIA mistreats their people and that impacts people’s lives and disrupts the mission.
I wasn’t going to be able to go directly to DIA leadership and convince them of that, so I had to use “mass”: tell them this is not just a Ryan Sweazey issue, it’s an issue reported by all these people as well. When that failed (and it did), the only two avenues remaining were to convince the body that oversees DIA (Congress) and the press.
DIA Tactic: Punish non-conformists
Countertactic: Get someone to police the police
In an ideal world, we would have functioning systems of recourse. In theory, in the military, one of those systems is the Inspector General. However, when that entity is an unequivocal failure, as is the DoDIG when it comes to protecting people from reprisal, you have to look elsewhere. In this instance, there were two “checks” that I tried to energize: the body that oversees Inspectors General (HSGAC) and the individual Armed Services who had people in DIA. My pitch to the Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) was simply: you have people at risk and no one is providing them top-cover out there. My pitch to the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) was: your boys over at the Department of Defense Inspector General have wandered off the reservation and you need to get them back on it (presented diplomatically, of course).
DIA Tactic: Outwait the “troublemakers“
Countertactic: Remain persistent
Two weeks never went by without me either querying someone or providing an update or submitting new information. This kept the fires stoked and never let the case languish. There’s a lot going on in Washington and a lot of inertia that’s working against a burgeoning case like the DIA affair was (see “All in the noise”). It is just human nature to want to wrap something up and move onto the next thing. I ran into this a lot with staffers, likely overloaded with casework. They would take my email and forward it on to somewhere and call it good and I would not hear from them for months. But I kept coming back. In essence, I was just a nag. An annoyance. A nuisance. But I didn’t go away and my message was as consistent as it was constant: get in there and intervene – people need your help!