Michael De Kort was frustrated.
The 41-year-old Lockheed Martin engineer had complained to his bosses. He had told his story to government investigators. He had called congressmen.
But when no one seemed to be stepping up to correct what he saw as critical security flaws in a fleet of refurbished Coast Guard patrol boats, De Kort did just about the only thing left he could think of to get action: He made a video and posted it on YouTube.com.
"What I am going to tell you is going to seem preposterous," De Kort solemnly tells viewers near the outset of the 10-minute clip. Posted three weeks ago, the video describes what De Kort says are blind spots in the ship's security cameras, equipment that malfunctions in cold weather and other problems. "It may be very hard for you to believe that our government and the largest defense contractor in the world [are] capable of such alarming incompetence and can make ethical compromises as glaring as what I am going to describe." In response to De Kort's charges, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the service has "taken the appropriate level of action." A spokeswoman for the contractors said the allegations were without merit.
I most certainly can't vouch for the quality of De Kort's criticisms; perhaps they are entirely or mostly misguided. But whether or not they're sound, De Kort's use of YouTube as the medium for expressing his views, and the publicity that the charges have therefore gotten, seem quite noteworthy.
De Kort "is unemployed after being laid off by Lockheed Martin days after he posted the video. Lockheed said that the video did not influence the decision to lay off De Kort and that he had had been notified earlier this year that he would be out of a job."