by G. Florence Scott

“Ex-Boeing Worker Accused Of Downloading Documents And Leaking To Reporters.”  And so the story begins.

 

In a July 10, 2007 article by Steve Miletich, Seattle Times staff reporter, a Mr. Gerald Eastman of Kent, WA is accused of “16 felony counts of first-degree computer trespass” in court papers filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office.  So what’s the story?  And, what’s the story-behind-the story?  It seems that Eastman worked as a quality-control inspector at Boeing in the Pacific Northwest.  According to Eastman, he was trying to call attention to quality-control problems at Boeing.  These quality-control problems were serious concerns about safety of the airplanes for those civilians or military who must fly.  And according to the July 10, 2007 Seattle Times article, Eastman “had been downloading highly sensitive computer files” for more than two years and providing information to The Times.  The article goes on to say “as a quality-control inspector, Eastman had unfettered access to Boeing’s computer system so he could perform his job, according to papers.  But, Eastman violated a company policy that limits access to areas relevant and necessary to perform work duties, the paper alleges.”

 

Let’s think about these statements, and try to put them into some kind of perspective.  Eastman is self-described as a whistleblower employee concerned about serious safety quality-control issues at The Boeing Company.  What has Eastman done to try to resolve those concerns?  Has he gone to his management?  If so, how did they (Boeing) handle the situation?  It would appear that Eastman remained concerned enough that he sought additional help outside of his company.  Obviously, he was concerned enough to first carry his concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  So how did they handle the situation?  Apparently, they did not feel that Eastman’s concerns had any merit; in other words, they took no further action.  O.K., so then what?  Mr. Eastman remained concerned enough that he carried those concerns on to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Office of Inspector General (OIG).  So how does the DOT/OIG handle whistleblower information?

 

Interestingly, the DOT appears to have outsourced (hired) a contractor company to screen all their whistleblower cases.  Now, how does that work?  A contractor screening other contractor and governmental whistleblower’s information?  So a contractor company has first cut on deciding what information, if any, has any merit!  I’ll bet that works well.  Talk about your self-licking governmental lollypop.  Nope… no problems here!

 

So let’s continue.  Eastman had unfettered access to Boeing’s computer system, and violated a company policy that limits access to areas relevant and necessary to perform work duties.  Sounds good on the surface, doesn’t it?  But, let’s look a little deeper and ask a few more questions about what has been said. 

 

First, you need to know, and understand, that The Boeing Company in Seattle is one of the United States largest companies.  I am sure that no one is surprised by that fact.  The Boeing Company is also one of the largest United States defense contractors.  Again, that is hardly new information to anyone.  Many defense procurements with various levels of classified parameters are worked on at Boeing Seattle.  This means that Boeing has legal obligations; legal obligations, both as a U.S. corporation and as a U.S. defense contractor.  Let’s look a little further.

 

Boeing, as a U.S. corporation, has a legal obligation to adhere to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  So who in the federal government oversees and enforces the EAR.  Well, much of the EAR is covered by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)/Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).  BIS principally oversees the Commerce Commodity List (CCL) items.  These items are unclassified information and/or technology that have various export restrictions placed upon them.  In short, this means that non-U.S. citizens will not have access (in any form) to the information without going through the proper U.S. Government export control process to seek and receive a properly executed export license to export that information and/or technology to said individual’s country.  However, the EAR is not all inclusive.  The EAR does not cover all goods, services and technologies.

 

More specialized types of information and technology may be covered under the United States Government’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).  And, yes, Boeing as a U.S. corporation, has the legal obligation to adhere to the ITAR.  The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has authority over defense articles and defense services.  But, the DOS has assistance from several governmental agencies for day-to-day oversight and enforcement of export restrictions placed upon ITAR controlled information and technology.  Classified information and technology resident at a U.S. defense contractor is the prerogative of the DOS in concert with the Defense Security Service (DSS).  Unclassified ITAR controlled information and technology historically was the oversight responsibility of U.S. Customs (now a part of the Department of Homeland Security).  More recently, DSS has also been tasked to oversee and enforce proper control of unclassified ITAR controlled information and technology resident at U.S. defense contractors.

 

So Boeing has legal obligations to protect various types of export controlled information and technology- both classified and unclassified.  And Eastman has had “unfettered access” and has been downloading “highly sensitive computer files” for more than two years off a system that depends upon a company policy to limit an individual’s access to areas relevant and necessary to perform work duties.  In other words, words or “a company policy” are what restrict an employees’ access to “highly sensitive computer files” that apparently not everyone has the same common need-to-know for.  Mr. Eastman’s access has been restricted by words?  So Mr. Eastman has been charged with 16 felony counts for computer trespass of a system he was authorized access into, but portions of ‘the system’ were being protected by words?  That is interesting indeed. 

 

Is this an insight into how Boeing may be protecting unclassified export controlled information and technology?  Has anyone asked that question?  Has anyone, besides Boeing personnel, really investigated, or is the U.S. government depending upon company personnel to investigate, and the local government to prosecute?  And speaking of investigation, has anyone done an internet search pertaining to Mr. Eastman.  Gerald Eastman seems to have the following web site [  http://www.thelastinspector.com  ] devoted to his particular situation, and his concerns with regard to his former employer (Boeing).

 

In review of Mr. Eastman’s web site, he speaks to concerns for questionable export control situations with regard to export controlled advanced technologies resident within Boeing’s portion of the B-2 program.  Now that really is interesting.  What if Gerald Eastman is right?

 

These charges of 16 felony counts for computer trespass of a system he was authorized access into, but portions of ‘the system’ were being protected by words, come from the same Boeing company found to be holding 30,000+ pages, prior to contract award, of classified U.S. Air Force information relating to satellite launch vehicles that Lockheed had been working on.

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