South Texas Law Review
In approximately 2004, Michael DeKort, a forty-one-year-old Lockheed Martin project manager, became concerned about security flaws in ships his employer was selling to the United States Coast Guard. The new ships were part of a planned $24 billion equipment upgrade that would make the United States Coast Guard a more active part of the war on terror. However, according to DeKort, the vessels featured security cameras with significant blind spots and communications equipment that was not secure. Further, DeKort alleged that other equipment on board could not operate at the extreme temperatures required by Lockheed's contract with the government. This was an especially serious problem given that the Coast Guard vessels might be deployed anywhere from the heat of the Persian Gulf to the cold of the Antarctic. DeKort claimed that he had alerted the Coast Guard and his supervisors at Lockheed, but that he had been told to keep quiet because the program was behind schedule and over budget. Concerned that critical national security matters were being compromised because of inaction, DeKort uploaded a ten-minute video to the website YouTube in which he catalogued the safety and security problems on the ships.
Reactions to DeKort's video varied. Dina Kaplan, co-founder of Blip.tv, said, "This is an excellent example of the democratization of the media, where everyone has access to the printing press of the 21st century." A spokesman for Lockheed Martin said, "Anybody with a webcam and something to say, regardless of whether it's true or not, can say it on YouTube." Lockheed Martin terminated DeKort's employment just days after the video was released, but claimed the move was long planned and not in response to his video. At the date of this Article's publication, DeKort's video has been viewed over 160,000 times. It also attracted the attention of members of Congress, who eventually held a series of hearings seeking explanations and answers.