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Bogus Degrees and Security Clearances
September 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm #80398
Somewhat dated (July 30) article from a local TV station in Huntsville Al.
The article’s presentation has several Links to previous stories related to this one….
Huntsville, AL – WHNT NEWS 19’s initial series of reports in May prompted hundreds of comments, emails and calls from viewers – including Redstone Arsenal employees. Many of them complimented our coverage. One in particular, caught our attention. It was from a man who retired from the Army and Aviation Missile Command long before he wanted to.
He says he brought concerns about bogus degrees to the attention of Army higher-ups and ended up paying a price for it. He is Mark Maxey and his story begins halfway around the world. In the land of the Valley of the Kings, home of one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, an exotic land steeped in history, a desert American Maxey and his wife, Junko, called home.
Maxey worked for the AMCOM Security Assistance Management Directorate in Cairo, Egypt. Maxey was the Chief of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Egyptian Liaison Office which supported the sale of American military hardware to the Egyptians. Maxey explained, “I was working with the Hawk Missile System and the Avenger eventually. And, my secondary job was to run the office.”
Maxey’s three-year assignment began in 1996. In 1999, he was extended for another two years. He told us, “There’s a five-year limit – what they call the five-year rule and to go over this you have to have everyone’s permission.” An exception clearly made because Maxey impressed his bosses. In the extension documentation Maxey’s supervisor praised Maxey writing that he was “an exceptional man who does the work of two.”
This extension would officially end in 2004. In 2003, AMCOM assigned an Egyptian-born American to Maxey’s office. Maxey told us that he said, “Do you have a resume on this gentleman that’s coming in? And they said, ‘Oh, Dr. Baker, yeah, he’s a PhD.'”
Doctor Frank Baker’s resume boasted a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from California Technical University, an MBA from Columbia Southern University and a PhD he claimed to earn 10 months later from Columbia Southern University.
Maxey said, “I read his resume and it was way too good to be true. So, then I got onto the Internet and I started checking out Frank Baker’s background. I was sure from the very beginning that this gentleman had three bogus degrees.”
That’s when Maxey decided to share his concerns with a trusted comrade. Maxey recounts the conversation, “He says, ‘Oh, Frank Baker – Foud Bakri – immigrated to the United States think it was the age of 29. Joined the U.S. Army got his citizenship changed his name. Yeah, we got some security concerns with this gentleman.'”
Little did Maxey know that when he would turn informant, the tables would turn on him when he told his supervisor. “He ripped me apart. He called me biased, prejudiced and it was sort of like being back in the Marine Corps again. Like I am a buck private and I got the General in there just stomping on my head. And, I took it.”
Wendy asked, “And as you took it, what was running through your mind?” “That I had a Hell of a mess,” said Maxey. He continued describing the conversation with his supervisor, “He says, ‘I’m yanking you out of country pulling you out right now.’ I had another year to do on my three-year tour there and suddenly my whole world was collapsing on me.”
Wendy asked, “Because you were trying to do the right thing?” Maxey replied, “Well, of course! Anyone who has sat through any embassy security briefings, especially as many as I have definitely knows the difference between right and wrong. And, this was wrong. ”
Maxey says, “He had essentially full run of the Embassy. Wendy asked, “And he had three bogus degrees?” Maxey replied, “And he had three bogus degrees and no one seemed to care.”
Maxey was out and Baker was in as the Cairo Army Aviation and Missile Command Office Chief. Maxey was re-assigned to Redstone Arsenal. Maxey said, “I was put in a dead-end job.”
Maxey asked his new supervisor for a transfer. But, the answer was no. “So, I essentially knew that I was dead meat. They had me and they pressed the buttons and I retired. And, I never wanted to retire at all.”
Maxey filed a grievance against AMCOM and was represented by the American Federation of Government Employees Union. Union President Don Eiermann argued AMCOM violated a Union agreement that states that all ’employees will be treated with fairness and dignity.’
The grievance asserted that Maxey was reprimanded, harassed, humiliated, labeled as biased and prejudiced, displaced from a job he excelled in and returned to work in a position for which he was not well suited.” Maxey told us, “And it got up to General Pillsbury’s level.”
Eiermann further stated in the grievance that “Major General Pillsbury has a problem for his AMCOM representative to the U.S. Ambassador, the Office of Military Cooperation Commander, and the Egyptian government is an employee… with known bogus credentials.”
Pillsbury denied the grievance and his decision was final.
And, what about Frank Baker? What happened to him?
An email WHNT NEWS 19 obtained indicates that Baker was “counseled to remove the bachelor, master and doctorate credentials” from his Army resume and the bogus degrees were removed from his personnel file.
Eiermann fired back an email to Major General Pillsbury stating it appears that the informant came out on the worse end of the deal. Maxey said, “And General Pillsbury came back and he said that Frank Baker had no quote ‘malicious intent’ unquote.”
Maxey was referring to an email exchange Army higher ups never intended for you to see. In it, Major General Pillsbury writes, “Mr. Baker received his degrees prior to the schools being accredited. Fact. His degrees have been removed from his records. Malicious intent on his part? I don’t think so. Mr. Maxey was not punished for his allegations he was merely returned to CONUS (Continental United States) after his original tour of duty was over.”
Maxey said, “So instead of being punished, I was rewarded for telling them that they had a man with three bogus degrees. You got to be joking!”
Wendy asked, “You fought the machine? And, lost?” Maxey replied, “I fought it. I fought it. And, I lost.” It’s a losing battle Maxey’s never made peace with. He said, “I tell you it’s a real smear on us as government employees.” Especially for those who put on uniform before they could put on a cap and gown. Maxey told us, “I took my first college course in 1969. I got pulled in the Gulf War. I was in the Marines, then the Air Force, then I got to wear an Army uniform.”
More than 20 years later, Maxey was awarded a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University. He said, “I was so proud to have it and then to find out that the U.S. government sent a man with three bogus degrees over and essentially kicked me out of country. I worked so hard and then for my reward I get slapped down. I’m called biased and I’m called prejudiced. I said my God, that’s my reward? Thank you very much. Nah? that’s not the way to do it. That’s not being a good American. That’s garbage.”
Frank Baker went on to replace Mr. Maxey in Cairo. After his tour ended, Baker returned to the U.S. As of Wednesday, July 29, Baker’s profile was updated with his new assignment on an internal Army website called Army Knowledge. But, Frank Baker was still referred to as Dr. Frank Baker in his new role at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he is the Director of International Military Training. That’s even though he was advised to remove the phony degree. We left multiple messages for Frank Baker. He had not returned our calls before our story aired on July 29th.
We still have questions about this matter, but we couldn’t get anyone at AMCOM or the Army Materiel Command to speak with us about these matters.
These kinds of issues have been addressed by the Army and by the federal government over the years. In 2003, Redstone Arsenal’s Commanding General wrote a policy specifically addressing the use of fake degrees and warned employees that submitting them could jeopardize their security clearance. The Office of Personnel Management has had rules in place since 1986 that stated the listing of bogus credentials is unacceptable and outlined potential disciplinary action. And,it’s always been against Army policy to submit any falsified documents into official government records.
Copyright © 2009, WHNT-TV
September 14, 2009 at 7:18 pm #80400
I checked Army Knowledge Online. He’s still listed as “DR” Frank J. Baker.
This is a shame.
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