YouTube Whistleblower Vindicated by New York Times, WaPo

by , Dec 15, 2006, 8:00 AM
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It's vindication time for a former Lockheed Martin engineer who blew the whistle on his employer on YouTube.

Long investigative pieces in The New York Times and The Washington Post last weekend chronicled numerous and significant flaws in the Coast Guard's $24 billion Deepwater project, proving the accusations posted on YouTube by Michael De Kort, a former staffer for the military contractor.

In August, De Kort posted a 10-minute video on YouTube that soberly detailed shortcomings in the Deepwater efforts to refurbish boats, helicopters and other aging elements of the domestic shoreline military defense corps. When he tried to make his case, he was rebuffed by superiors at Lockheed Martin, members of Congress and the mainstream media. But now, all his allegations have been shown to be true.

Lockheed Martin would not comment for either newspaper's story.

As it turns out, De Kort's accusations were just the beginning.

Both newspapers detail a broad array of failures in the Deepwater program, including hull cracks and engine failures that made the first eight boats out of the program un-seaworthy. Another new class of ships uses an innovative hull that's been found to be flawed. The first completed ship has structural weaknesses that may make it unsafe.

In an interview yesterday, De Kort said he felt "on our way" to being vindicated but "as long as the Coast Guard and the United States are in far worse shape security-wise than before the Deepwater program was implemented ... we're not all the way there."

De Kort said he was aware of the more profound problems with the boats that would make them un-seaworthy, "but it was hard enough trying to fight Lockheed on things I had expert intelligence on." It was even harder, he says, "for me to try to take them on in an area where they could say I didn't know what I was talking about."

De Kort is sourced in the Times story, and said he had been assisting the newspaper in its investigation for "about six weeks." He is not mentioned in the Post story. The reporters who wrote the articles did not respond to questions by press time Thursday.

Days after posting the YouTube clip, De Kort was downsized from Lockheed Martin. He's had to sell his house in Colorado, and is now living with relatives in Northern Virginia. He is looking for work. "I'm a believer in karma, and I believe I'm in DC at the right time," De Kort said, referencing the forthcoming change in Congress from Republican to Democratic leadership.

"It's ironic, that I was driving past the Deepwater project last week when I got a call from The New York Times, telling me they were going to be running the story. Things are going to work out. It doesn't always happen right away, but it's karmic beauty."

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