Desperate Whistleblower Turns to YouTube


"He hasn't worked for the program since the spring of 2005, and some program personnel have been in contact with him ... and obviously, he hasn't gotten the answer he's looking for, whatever that is," said Mary Elder, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard. "But I assure you, the Coast Guard would not operate its vessels in an unsafe manner."

Investigation or Coverup?

De Kort takes full credit for a Department of Homeland Security investigation that's been looking into the allegations since before he posted his video.

But he said he's been told by people at Homeland Security that the investigation has been regularly impeded by a lack of cooperation on the part of the Coast Guard.

Yet Elder maintains that the Coast Guard has provided the DHS inspector general's office with all the requested documentation and necessary access.

"The Deepwater office of the Coast Guard has cooperated fully with the office of the inspector general and has been working with them on this issue since February, and ... we have provided them with over 100 different documents and access to various personnel and provided briefings to them to make sure that they have the information they need to complete the investigation," she explained.

Both the Coast Guard and Lockheed Martin maintain they have conducted internal investigations into De Kort's allegations, in addition to the ongoing Homeland Security investigation.

"Lockheed Martin has thoroughly investigated these allegations on several occasions and found them to be without merit," read a statement from Lockheed Martin. "In addition, Lockheed Martin has determined that the concerns do not pose safety or security issues."

Everybody's a Star on the Internet

De Kort acknowledges that his YouTube video was just a way to get his story out and into the eyes and ears of the public.

Because the Internet allows people the opportunity and, in some cases, the anonymity to say and do whatever they want, that freedom to be heard can be a double-edged sword.

But Noah Shachtman, editor in chief of, which monitors military happenings both at home and abroad, said it's necessary to ensure the public's ability to blow the whistle.

"I think it's never been easier for people to call BS on the shenanigans of their employers or their government," said Shachtman. "Whether it's soldiers from Abu Graib slipping out pictures and getting them to the press, or whether we're talking about bloggers reporting from the front lines. Digital media has really made it incredibly easy for people who want to get their message out and bring questionable practices to light."

Shachtman said there are many examples of these kinds of defense contract scandals, though he said he's unsure if this is one of those cases. He said the promise of digital media is fulfilled when people like Michael De Kort can be heard.

"There are plenty of honest people working at the nation's defense contractors, and there are a lot of very hardworking, very smart people," Shactman said. "Unfortunately, when there are abuses, it can be awfully difficult for someone to penetrate the corporate walls and the government walls that surround them."

Tell that to Michael De Kort -- if you can catch him in between interviews.

"They [the people] need to know the level of incompetence and the decisions that were being made," De Kort said. "Your ethics -- especially after 9/11 -- cannot be decisions of convenience -- they can't be decisions of economics."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...