Was inspector source of leak at Boeing?Full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/boeingaerospace/2004306499_leaktrial26m.html 

By Natalie Singer

Seattle Times staff reporter   

It has the elements of a best-selling suspense novel: hidden computer devices, anonymous tipoffs, conspiracy theories and accusations of critical safety lapses at a major corporation. But in the end, what King County jurors will have to decide in a criminal trial that began Tuesday is simple: Did a former Boeing assembly inspector access thousands of company files, download them without authorization and funnel the proprietary information to the media? Or did Gerald Eastman — a dedicated but disgruntled longtime employee who had taken his concerns about Boeing’s assembly-line inspection procedures to the Federal Aviation Administration — have permission to view those files? If convicted of 16 counts of first-degree computer trespass, Eastman, 46, faces 3-½ to 4-¾ years in prison. The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Eastman, who inspected engine mounts and tail pipes on Boeing’s assembly line in Tukwila, was investigated after an anonymous tipster alleged to Boeing in April 2006 that Eastman had leaked information about aircraft designs, financial projections and production problems to news media, including The Seattle Times. At the metal desk where Eastman sat just feet from the production floor, Boeing investigators discovered a purple cord protruding out of his company hard drive and going into a hole in the back of a locked drawer. There they found a “thumb drive” — a separate memory device — connected to the company computer, according to charging papers. Eastman spent hours every day surfing internal company Web sites and downloading more than 8,000 files police later found saved on Eastman’s home computer, according to charging documents. Eastman, who worked for Boeing for 18 years, was arrested at his desk in May 2006. During opening statements Tuesday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott Peterson told the jury that Eastman had created elaborate, color-coded Excel spreadsheets in which he “mapped all the Boeing fileshares and whether he could get access to them or not.” Despite Eastman’s belief that ethical missteps and safety flaws plagued the assembly process and other aspects of the company’s operations, the 16 Seattle Times stories that Boeing claimed included information from the downloaded documents had nothing to do with that, Peterson argued. Instead, the documents had to do with Boeing’s plan for “green” planes, sales projections, new business lines and problems with 777 production — “things Airbus would like to know,” Peterson said. He also said Eastman exchanged e-mail correspondence with and suggested news stories to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter. Defense attorney Ramona Brandes said in a court affidavit that Eastman admits to being the source of at least one Times article on Boeing. Suki Dardarian, a Times managing editor, said Tuesday that The Times does not comment on who may or may not be a confidential source. When Boeing began to investigate Eastman, company higher-ups already knew about his concerns. Eastman believed Boeing was encouraging and requiring inspectors to sign off on reports that inspections had been completed when they had not, a practice known as “roller-stamping,” and he had reported those concerns to the FAA and Boeing. The federal agency and the company conducted audits, but Eastman was still not satisfied, according to Peterson and defense attorney Brandes. “He starts to look for evidence … because everyone else is turning a blind eye,” Brandes said. But Eastman did not collect any data from unauthorized areas or “hack” into restricted files, she said. Boeing was upset with Eastman because “he didn’t sing the company song,” Brandes said. It’s true, she told the jury, that Eastman was moved to a different project because he worked more slowly than other inspectors, often stopping to pore over product specs while others operated from memory. He didn’t care as much about schedules. But Eastman did not trespass, she argued. “Gerald Eastman is an authorized user of the Boeing network … ,” she said. “He had consent.” Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or nsinger@seattletimes.com


Boeing data theft trial begins Ex-worker accused of leaking to mediaLast updated March 25, 2008 9:06 p.m. PTBy ANDREA JAMES
A key question arose in opening statements Tuesday in the trial of Gerald Eastman, a former Boeing Co. employee who faces 16 felony counts of computer trespass: Did Eastman have authorization to access the files that he is accused of downloading and then providing to The Seattle Times?Eastman worked for Boeing for 18 years. He was arrested at his desk in May 2006 after, investigators say, they found that he had been combing Boeing’s computer network for sensitive information. He had been working as a quality assurance inspector in the propulsion division.But his public defender, Ramona Brandes, told a King County Superior Court jury of 14 that Eastman had ethical concerns about Boeing and began to look for evidence to support those concerns.“He looked everywhere that he could, everywhere that the computer allowed him to have access to,” Brandes said.“In layman terms, Gerald Eastman stands accused of hacking,” she said. She defined hacking as cracking passwords, impersonating a valid user, tampering with programs, unleashing worms and viruses, jamming computer networks and manipulating data.“Gerald Eastman did not do any of those things,” she said. “What he did is, he signed on with his own login, with his own password, and he searched the Boeing network of which he was an authorized user.”“Don’t get me wrong, he’s no white knight. He’s got some flaws. He did some things that his employer did not want him to do,” she said. Among those were taking data offsite, and revealing to reporters 0.02 percent of the Boeing data that he downloaded. Boeing had discipline options and could have charged Eastman with breaching his contract, Brandes said.But senior deputy prosecutor Scott Peterson told the jury that Eastman is not a true whistle-blower, as he has claimed to be. Eastman exploited Boeing’s computer system to take documents that he was not permitted to access, Peterson said.And he asked Boeing management for money in exchange for not going public with his concerns.“Eastman mentioned an out-of-court settlement with Boeing,” Peterson said. “He wanted that money to keep quiet.”In 2002, Eastman filed a 400-page complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration alleging quality assurance problems, according to testimony.Marie Farrelly, a Boeing lawyer in Renton, oversaw the investigation related to Eastman’s allegations about airplane safety. She put together a team of auditors and experts to check out his complaint.In a separate letter, Farrelly said, Eastman “asked for an investigation and some sort of settlement from the company where we would pay him damages to resolve the issue.”Over the next two years, Boeing and FAA audits confirmed several issues raised by Eastman, and in 10 cases, Boeing took corrective action, Farrelly testified.None of the issues involved “safety of flight,” she said. Farrelly said that she believed that the results of the audits were not relayed back to Eastman.But information Eastman leaked to the media “was all stuff that Boeing wanted to keep close to the vest and stuff that Boeing’s competitors would love to have,” Peterson said.The information had little to do with safety concerns or ethics, he said. Rather, articles that appeared in The Seattle Times mentioned plans for future planes, new business lines, sales projections and “stuff that Airbus would like to know.”

‘A bit of a loner’

John Carpenter, a 28-year Boeing employee and Eastman’s former supervisor, testified that Eastman performed quality assurance inspections more slowly and methodically than other employees.Carpenter moved Eastman from inspections on the 737 line to the 747 line, because the latter plane has a slower engine flow, and thus would give Eastman more time to perform his duties, Carpenter said.Carpenter described Eastman as “a bit of a loner.”In Eastman’s downtime, he was assigned to look for redundant inspection processes, and point them out — to hasten the process. Eastman worked on this task at his desk, in the middle of a work area near the production line.To do his job, Carpenter testified, Eastman did not need to see legal documents, finance documents or anything related to the 787 Dreamliner, future aircraft designs or experimental planes.

Boeing investigated leaks

Anthony Maus, senior manager for Boeing’s investigations division, also testified Tuesday. In 2003, Maus’ manager told him to investigate company leaks to Seattle newspapers. Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates had written several stories based on internal Boeing documents. Maus also investigated stories containing confidential information published in the Seattle P-I, written by aerospace reporter James Wallace.Maus’ team set out to find the source of the leaks, but his inquiry came up empty for three years. Then, in April 2006, a senior manager received an anonymous tip that pinpointed Eastman. Boeing tracked Eastman’s computer activities, and soon, the Seattle Police Department obtained a warrant to arrest Eastman and search his home. Seattle police found thousands of documents on Eastman’s home computer. Maus used a computer forensics tool to scan those documents to see if they corresponded with articles in The Times and the P-I. Maus said he found 16 documents that informed the Times articles, and about 10 more documents that were likely to be source material, but the forensics tool wasn’t certain. Among the leaked data were production rate numbers and information on where Boeing would build its 787, about how much labor was required to build the 787, and about assembly times and sales figures.

Jury selected

Opening statements began after several delays last week in jury selection. The jury is made up of nine women and five men, two of them alternates. One works for Microsoft writing network software. Two people who had been Boeing employees were eliminated from the jury pool. Eastman, who showed up about 20 minutes late Tuesday morning, was admonished by Judge Monica Benton.“You’re either on time, or you’re in jail,” she said.A Boeing lawyer has been working with the prosecutor and attending the trial. A Boeing spokesman was also present Tuesday. Benton told the jury to avoid media and Internet coverage of the trial. Eastman is keeping an online journal about his trial experiences.

P-I reporter Andrea James can be reached at 206-448-8124 or andreajames@seattlepi.com.© 1998-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer 



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Trial begins for ex-Boeing workerP-I reporter Andrea James has coverage today of opening statements in the trial of Gerald Eastman, a former Boeing employee accused of computer trespassing.A key question today was whether Eastman had authorization to access the files that he’s accused of downloading and then providing to the media.Posted by P-I Business Editor Margaret SantjerPosted by document.writeln(showE2(“margaretsantjer”,”seattlepi.com”,”msantjer”)) msantjer at March 25, 2008 2:45 p.m.Comments#111614Posted by unregistered user at 3/26/08 11:07 a.m.It is ridiculous for the judge to disallow all of the evidence and circumstances in this trial, and refuse to allow the Sarbannes Oxley which is warranted to apply. Mr Eastman is a Whistleblower. There are reasons for what he may have done. When you see things that are illegal, unethical, and possibly could endanger the public, and when you have gone to every level of your command chain in your company with no success in getting the problems addressed and responsibly fixed, then you have to go above them. That means the FAA, which we all know from the many news reports, is corrupted, and then to the DOT OIG, which also has been fraught with corruption and other problems, right on up to the Attorney General’s Office, and we all know what happened to the Fed Attorney’s who tried to do the right thing and prosecute corruption there. After being stopped from obtaining help and justice at all those levels, it seems to me the only road left is to work with the press. Someone who works for a different Defense Contractor once told me that the only way to get them to take any kind of positive action is to embarrass the heck out of them.It seems Boeing has a lot of influence, too much influence. I really wonder if the judge also is associated with the Boeing company as well as the King County Prosecutor’s office, as in campaign contributions, other business relations, family members? Someone should investigate this.

Disgusted in Seattle#111734Posted by unregistered user at 3/26/08 2:04 p.m.Boeing has too much influence, if they don’t get there way they go moaning to Washington DC just like they have with the Tanker.#111812Posted by unregistered user at 3/26/08 4:12 p.m.The real story in this case is the corruption in the Boeing inspection department. It’s one of the main area’s they feel they can run under the radar screen and not get caught cutting corners to make an extra buck. Boeing is doing all they can to cover it up. If you don’t go along with Boeing’s “cost savings plan” you will pay with your job. Either they will lay you off or fire you. I know from first hand experience that this is the case. Boeing Ethics department is a complete joke. They hide behind Boeing’s lawyers. Ask anyone in the company that has had the misfortune of having to deal with them. Going to those above you is a recipe for losing your job. You are then pinpointed as one who is “dangerous” and done away with. The one’s that should be making sure Boeing is operating properly such as the FAA and Inspector General’s Office are very friendly with Boeing and do nothing. Look at Southwest Airlines and the so called oversight of the FAA. Those at the FAA that didn’t do their job were not fired or jailed but moved to another position at the FAA. By the way, that’s exactly what Boeing does with their managers that go along with their corruption. Reward them. Wouldn’t you say something is wrong with this picture? Don’t be fooled by this case. Gerald Eastman is being made the poster child by Boeing of what they have planned for any future whistleblower. Safety of the flying public is just going to get worse. If you think it’s safe to fly I suggest that you have a false sense of security.