Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #407 Pecunia Nervus Belli

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Intro­duc­tion: The title trans­lates: “Mon­ey is the sinew of war.” The pro­gram fur­ther devel­ops the top­ic of the geopo­lit­i­cal and macro­eco­nom­ic strug­gle between the dol­lar and the euro and relates it to the events of 9/11, the Iraq war and the Asian economies. Par­tic­u­lar empha­sis is on the air­line trav­el indus­try, the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing indus­try, the SARS epi­dem­ic and the con­test between Boe­ing and the Euro­pean aero­space man­u­fac­tur­er EADS—the man­u­fac­tur­er of the Air­bus. EADS has been pres­sur­ing Boe­ing to price its prod­uct in euros, mir­ror­ing the con­test between the dol­lar and the euro evi­denced in Iraq’s pric­ing of its oil in euros. The 9/11 attacks and SARS have depressed the air­line and air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness­es: Mr. Emory asks whether both events may be an out­growth of the Under­ground Reich’s appli­ca­tion of the con­cept of total war devel­oped by Karl Von Clause­witz. Von Clause­witz under­stood that war is waged in its totally—against all aspects of the enemy’s society—its econ­o­my, its morale and its social fab­ric, as well as against the mil­i­tary forces of the oppo­nent. At the core of the dis­cus­sion is the con­cept of both the euro and the US cur­rent accounts deficit as weapons of war which will, in time (if the sit­u­a­tion is not cor­rect­ed,) destroy the Unit­ed States as effec­tive­ly as ter­ror­ists or armies.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: the role of Asian cen­tral banks in prop­ping up Bush’s Iraq war by invest­ing in dol­lar-denom­i­nat­ed issues; the pos­si­ble effect of SARS on the glob­al econ­o­my and (con­se­quent­ly) the US cur­rent accounts deficit; the effect of SARS on the air­lines busi­ness; the effect of SARS on the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness; the coin­ci­dent effects on the dol­lar and on Asian economies of SARS; the unsuc­cess­ful attempt by vet­er­ans of Project Coast to trans­fer their resid­ual BW weapons to the Unit­ed States; the role of GOP heavy­weight Grover Norquist as the point man for the Repub­li­can tax-cut­ting plan and as the Islamist point man in the GOP; the pro­ject­ed effects of Norquist’s tax cuts and the effects of the 9/11 attacks by his Islamist bud­dies on the US cur­rent accounts deficit; Bush’s use of counter-ter­ror fund­ing to fur­ther his socio-eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal goals.
1. Begin­ning with review of an arti­cle that was fea­tured in FTR 405, the pro­gram intro­duces the eco­nom­ic con­text in which the events ana­lyzed here must be con­sid­ered. The assault against the US by the Under­ground Reich and its Islam­o­fas­cist allies that Mr. Emory believes to be under way is—in its pri­ma­ry manifestation—economic in nature. It can be argued per­sua­sive­ly that the goal of the gam­bit of the 9/11 attacks is the destruc­tion and/or sub­ju­ga­tion of the Unit­ed States. In FTR#405, Mr. Emory sug­gests that the attack, from a con­cep­tu­al point of view, could be viewed as a com­bi­na­tion of the Ger­man inva­sion of France in World War II, the bat­tle of Ver­dun in World War I, and Oper­a­tion Bern­hard in World War II. (For dis­cus­sion of the com­par­i­son of the Ger­man inva­sion of France in World War II to 9/11, see FTR#’s 366, 372, 395, 401.) The goal of the Ger­man high com­mand in the bat­tle of Ver­dun was to attack a posi­tion (the steel-mak­ing city of Ver­dun) that the French would not be will­ing to lose. In so doing, the Ger­mans hoped to bleed the French army dry—to inflict so many casu­al­ties that they would have to sue for peace. Oper­a­tion Bern­hard (see RFA#17—available from Spit­fire) was a Ger­man gam­bit intend­ed to destroy the British econ­o­my by forg­ing pound notes and destroy­ing the UK’s abil­i­ty to finance its war effort. The fol­low­ing arti­cle dis­cuss­es the eco­nom­ic aspects of the war with Iraq. Asian cen­tral banks’ sup­port of the dol­lar has—to date—made this an eas­i­er enter­prise to under­take than it might have been under dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances. This sit­u­a­tion might change should the eco­nom­ic land­scape be altered in a sig­nif­i­cant fash­ion. Note the US cur­rent accounts deficit. “The 19th cen­tu­ry British polit­i­cal econ­o­mist Wal­ter Bage­hot had a pithy quote from Louis XIV on war finance. The last guinea, said the Sun King, will always win. In the case of Iraq it will be the last US dol­lar. And one of the more remark­able things about the US-led inva­sion of Iraq is just how eas­i­ly and cheap­ly the ven­ture will be financed. On the face of it, war has rarely been waged in such inaus­pi­cious finan­cial cir­cum­stances. At a time of extreme geopo­lit­i­cal uncer­tain­ty the pay­ments bal­ances of the world’s biggest economies are bad­ly out of kil­ter. US house­hold sav­ings are seri­ous­ly deplet­ed and the deficit on the cur­rent account of the Amer­i­can bal­ance of pay­ments is close to an unprece­dent­ed 5 per cent gross domes­tic prod­uct.”
(“The Sinews of War are Asian” by John Plen­der; Finan­cial Times; 3/21/2003; p. 17.)
2. The rel­a­tive­ly strong posi­tion of the dol­lar (in turn result­ing from invest­ment in dol­lar-denom­i­nat­ed IOU’s) stems from the rel­a­tive strength of Asian economies and their cen­tral banks’ invest­ments in the dol­lar.

“The US has, since the burst­ing of the stock mar­ket bub­ble, become a rel­a­tive­ly unat­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion for for­eign pri­vate cap­i­tal. Inter­est rates are low, the dol­lar is weak and the US econ­o­my will advance this year at less than its under­ly­ing trend growth rate. Yet as pri­vate cap­i­tal has fought increas­ing­ly shy of the world’s largest econ­o­my, the cen­tral bankers have come to George W. Bush’s res­cue. Japan, Chi­na, Tai­wan, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore alone have accu­mu­lat­ed offi­cial reserves worth more than $1,100bn, of which the great major­i­ty is invest­ed in dol­lar-denom­i­nat­ed IOU’s such as US Trea­suries. For many cen­tral banks these reserves are earn­ing much less in inter­est than they could earn back at home.”

3. If the US should become enmeshed in a cost­ly post-war, or if the Bush administration’s plans to dras­ti­cal­ly increase mil­i­tary spend­ing while dra­mat­i­cal­ly slash­ing tax­es on the wealthy should come to fruition, the effect on the dol­lar and the US cur­rent accounts deficit could be dis­as­trous and deci­sive.

“This is not, of course, a phil­an­thropic ges­ture. For Japan, with a stag­nant econ­o­my, it is a mat­ter of resist­ing an appre­ci­a­tion of the yen that would hit the export sec­tor. The oth­ers main­tain a dol­lar peg, large­ly for rea­sons of com­pet­i­tive­ness . . . Yet it remains the case that glob­al finance has been excep­tion­al­ly kind to Mr. Bush. And Louis XIV was indeed express­ing an age-old ver­i­ty. The Tac­i­tus ver­sion was pecu­nia nervus bel­li: mon­ey is the sinew of war. We should not for­get that unlim­it­ed mon­ey, how­ev­er help­ful, can­not guar­an­tee the peace.”

4. Against the back­ground of Bush’s fis­cal­ly-insane tax cut pro­pos­als, the US bud­getary sit­u­a­tion is not to be ignored. The only rea­son the US got away with the sui­ci­dal fis­cal poli­cies of the Rea­gan and Bush admin­is­tra­tions is the fact that the US was able to bor­row against the dol­lars held as reserve cur­ren­cy. A sig­nif­i­cant­ly weak­ened dol­lar and exac­er­bat­ed cur­rent accounts deficit for the US will dras­ti­cal­ly weak­en the coun­try.

“The US government’s finances are set to head sharply into deficit and stay there ‘for the fore­see­able future,’ the White House bud­get direc­tor said yes­ter­day. Mitchell Daniels, direc­tor of the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get (OMB), said he expect­ed fed­er­al deficits equiv­a­lent to 2–3 per cent of gross domes­tic prod­uct for this fis­cal year and next, and could not say when the bud­get would return to sur­plus.”

(“US Finances Set to Head ‘Sharply into Deficit’” by Alan Beat­tie; Finan­cial Times; Jan­u­ary 16, 2003; p. 2.)

5. The pro­gram reviews Grover Norquist’s role as pri­ma­ry tax-slash­er. In this con­text, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that he is also the point man for the Islamists in the Repub­li­can Par­ty. Note that these Islamists’ attacks on the Unit­ed States pre­cip­i­tat­ed the nation­al secu­ri­ty build-up which, when com­bined with the Bush tax cuts, has led to a return to record bud­get deficits. Whether Norquist is ful­ly con­scious of the effects of his actions is not par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant. In FTR#327, the col­lapse of the com­modi­ties mar­ket effect­ed by the Under­ground Reich is worth not­ing. When cou­pled with the assas­si­na­tion of JFK, it led to a huge prof­it for the Under­ground Reich per­pe­tra­tors of these events. Tino De Ange­lis was (appar­ent­ly) under mind con­trol and not aware of the impli­ca­tions of his actions. The same may be true of Norquist.

“Reac­tion from advo­cates and crit­ics was swift and strong. ‘It’s a tax shel­ter for the wealthy. This is real­ly an attempt to help the president’s friends,’ said Rep. Robert t. Mat­sui, D‑Sacramento. ‘It’s unbe­liev­able.’ ‘These are the build­ing blocks of a new tax sys­tem,’ said Grover Norquist, pres­i­dent of the con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform.”

(“Bush Pro­pos­es New Tax-Free Sav­ings Plans” by Peter G. Gos­selin; The Los Ange­les Times; 2/1/2003; p. A20.)

6. One should note the reac­tion of some Islamists to the Iraq war. Some have called for Mus­lims to embrace the euro as opposed to the dol­lar. The issue of the dol­lar vs. the euro is at the core of the the­sis Mr. Emory has been devel­op­ing about the 9/11 attacks and their macro­eco­nom­ic effect on the US. The reac­tion expressed by the Mus­lim cler­ic in this arti­cle goes to the heart of the dis­cus­sion from past broad­casts about the Earth Island and the Under­ground Reich’s attempts at gain­ing polit­i­cal con­trol of that area’s pop­u­la­tion and effect­ing eco­nom­ic advan­tage as a result.

“In this sandswept Niger­ian town on the edge of the Sahara Desert, a Mus­lim cler­ic, dis­play­ing anger about the U.S. war in Iraq, recent­ly exhort­ed his fol­low­ers to take action to inflict pain on the U.S. name­ly, ditch the dol­lar and embrace the euro. ‘Euro­pean Coun­tries,’ preached Sheik Ibrahim Umar Kabo, the head of Nigeria’s Coun­cil of Mus­lim Schol­ars, ‘have refused to be fooled by Amer­i­ca’ and sup­port the war. ‘We should there­fore encour­age trans­ac­tions with the euro and stop patron­iz­ing the Amer­i­can dol­lar.’ The sheik’s advice was met with cries of ‘Down with Amer­i­ca.’ The enthu­si­asm spilled out into the streets with the faith­ful shout­ing, ‘Euro yes! Dol­lar no!’”

(“Some Mus­lims Advo­cate Dump­ing the Dol­lar for the Euro” by Robert Block; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 4/15/2003; p. C1.)

7. An arti­cle not includ­ed in the orig­i­nal pro­gram notes the effect of the euro on the geopol­i­tics sur­round­ing the Franco/German oppo­si­tion to the war.

“It was the euro—not the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil veto—that enabled France to oppose U.S. pol­i­cy on Iraq so bold­ly. Indeed, the suc­cess of the Euro­pean cur­ren­cy has turned it into a polit­i­cal anti-mis­sile shield that works, and that has changed the inter­na­tion­al bal­ance of pow­er. Absent the euro, it would have been rel­a­tive­ly easy for the U.S. to qui­et­ly bring the French back into line. A stealth U.S. attack on the French franc, and on French finan­cial markets—more like­ly just the hint of it—would do the job . . . With the Cold War behind us, the key ques­tion of inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics, as seen by the French polit­i­cal and admin­is­tra­tive elite, is this: Now that there is no mil­i­tary threat to Europe from the Sovi­et Union, or any­one else, how to con­tain the US? In this log­ic, the euro must become an alter­na­tive, or co-reserve cur­ren­cy along­side the dol­lar.”

(“Euro Shield” by Stephen S. Cohen; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 4/29/2003; p. A16.)

8. One of the major points of dis­cus­sion in this broad­cast is SARS. Is it a nat­u­ral­ly-occur­ring dis­ease or is it the prod­uct of bio­log­i­cal war­fare? If the lat­ter is the case, is it pos­si­ble that SARS may be an appli­ca­tion of the Von Clause­witz con­cept of total war? Much of the pro­gram con­sid­ers the effect of SARS on the air­line indus­try, the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness, and on the strength of the dol­lar.

“It has all the appear­ance of a per­fect storm. A vir­u­lent con­flu­ence of fac­tors has shak­en the glob­al econ­o­my in recent weeks and caused com­pa­nies to put inter­na­tion­al busi­ness on hold. The most dis­rup­tive have been the flu­like severe acute res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­drome from Asia and the war in Iraq with its asso­ci­at­ed fear of ter­ror­ism . . . Com­pli­cat­ing the pos­si­ble long-term effects of the war is its tim­ing: The war is being fought while the U.S. econ­o­my is still strug­gling. The dol­lar has fall­en by 17 per­cent against the euro since ear­ly 2002, mak­ing imports from coun­tries such as Ger­many and France cost­ly for Amer­i­cans [Empha­sis added.”

(“Eco­nom­ic Tsuna­mi” by David Arm­strong; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/6/2003; p. B1.)

9. Con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­ble eco­nom­ic impact of the dis­ease, a WHO offi­cial notes the poten­tial­ly severe impli­ca­tions of SARS.

“The SARS dis­ease pos­es one of the most seri­ous glob­al health threats since Aids because of its infec­tious­ness and poten­tial to spread through air trav­el, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion warned yes­ter­day. It said oth­er dis­eases that have emerged in recent decades, such as Ebo­la, had high­er fatal­i­ty rates but tend­ed to be focused on lim­it­ed geo­graph­ic areas and were not as eas­i­ly passed on. ‘SARS could become the first severe new dis­ease of the 21st cen­tu­ry with glob­al epi­dem­ic poten­tial,’ said Dr. David Hey­mann, exec­u­tive direc­tor of WHO’s com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease pro­grams.”

(“SARS Could Spread World­wide, Warns WHO” by Joe Leahy; Finan­cial Times; 4/12/13/2003; p. 1.)

10.

“The dis­ease has affect­ed hotel and air­line book­ings across Asia and led econ­o­mists to revise down their fore­casts for region­al growth. Dr. Hey­mann said glob­al eco­nom­ic con­se­quences were already esti­mat­ed at about US$30bn. He said the disease’s incu­ba­tion peri­od of up to 10 days meant it could be trans­port­ed in symp­tom­less air trav­el­ers all over the world.”

11. Mir­ror­ing the fears of the WHO offi­cial dis­cussed above, an ana­lyst with Mor­gan Stan­ley fears the eco­nom­ic impact of the dis­ease.

“With the Chi­nese now reluc­tant to travel—not just over­seas but also at home—and with Asian coun­tries restrict­ing the entry of vis­i­tors from affect­ed areas, the SARS effect could eas­i­ly esca­late. Mor­gan Stan­ley has pared its 2003 esti­mate of growth in Asia (ex Japan) from 5 per cent to 4.5 per cent. This assumes a 60 per cent fall in tourism over the next three months and then a return to nor­mal. Unfor­tu­nate­ly the SARS effect is con­cen­trat­ed on Asia—the region of the world that we had count­ed on to keep the glob­al econ­o­my afloat. With this source of glob­al resilience now being under­mined, the glob­al econ­o­my has lit­tle left to sup­port it. Had eco­nom­ic growth been more vig­or­ous before the out­break of SARS, this prob­a­bly would not have made such a dif­fer­ence. Sad­ly, that is not the case. There is far more to the sto­ry of emerg­ing glob­al weak­ness than a SARS-relat­ed down­turn in Asia. War, and the relat­ed uncer­tain­ties are equal­ly impor­tant fac­tors. But SARS may be the tip­ping point.”

(“Asia Sneezes and the World Catch­es a Cold” by Stephen Roach; Finan­cial Times; 4/14/2003; p. 15.)

12. Eco­nom­ic colum­nist Paul Krug­man also notes the poten­tial impact of SARS on the glob­al and US economies.

“Seri­ous peo­ple know that germs pose a far greater threat to mankind than ter­ror­ism, and read­ers of books like William McNeill’s ‘Plagues and Peo­ples’ and Jared Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ know microbes have been the down­fall of many a civ­i­liza­tion. SARS—severe acute res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­drome, a new virus from Guang­dong Province in China—doesn’t look like a civ­i­liza­tion-killer, and prob­a­bly isn’t near­ly as bad as the 1918–19 influen­za virus. But experts fear it may be too late to pre­vent a glob­al SARS pandemic—that is, it may be too late to stop the virus from spread­ing through­out the world. And the bug is already hav­ing major eco­nom­ic con­se­quences; fear of the dis­ease has par­a­lyzed much busi­ness in Hong Kong and has led to a drop in air trav­el world­wide.”

(“Guns, Germs and Stall?” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 4/4/2003; p. A19.)

13.

“Even if SARS doesn’t become wide-spread here—and that’s not a safe bet—it can do a lot of dam­age to our own econ­o­my because the world has grown so inter­de­pen­dent. Con­sid­er this: the most like­ly engine of a vig­or­ous U.S. recov­ery would be a renewed surge in tech­nol­o­gy spend­ing, and Guang­dong is now the work­shop of the infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy world, the place where a lot of the equip­ment that we would expect busi­ness­es to buy if there was an invest­ment boom—for exam­ple, com­po­nents for wire­less com­put­er networks—is assem­bled. The virus is already ham­per­ing pro­duc­tion, not so much because work­ers have become sick as because Tai­wan-based man­agers and engi­neers are afraid to vis­it their plants. The result may be to stall an invest­ment recov­ery before it starts. The war has monop­o­lized everyone’s atten­tion, includ­ing mine. But oth­er things are hap­pen­ing, and you shouldn’t be shocked if the eco­nom­ic news turns awful.”

14. In addi­tion to the above lines of analy­sis, the poten­tial effect of SARS on the US cur­rent accounts deficit is at the core of econ­o­mist Mar­tin Wolf’s analy­sis.

“The unbal­anced pat­tern of demand has gen­er­at­ed the patent­ly unsus­tain­able cur­rent accounts deficits and sur­plus­es not­ed by [IMF econ­o­mist Ken­neth] Rogoff. The world econ­o­my can­not build a strong and durable recov­ery on the profli­ga­cy of the Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries alone. Soon­er or lat­er such a glob­al­ly unbal­anced recov­ery will blow up, prob­a­bly with cur­ren­cy col­laps­es. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s].”

(“A World Econ­o­my Trapped by Com­pla­cen­cy and Pan­ic” by Mar­tin Wolf; Finan­cial Times; 4/16/2003; p. 15.)

15.

“The world is suf­fused with a mix­ture of com­pla­cen­cy and panic—complacency over the world econ­o­my and pan­ic over secu­ri­ty and now a new (and so far minor) dis­ease. The end of the war is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to redress the bal­ance. It must be seized.”

16. The Under­ground Reich’s con­tri­bu­tion of soft­ware for the mass pro­duc­tion of nuclear weapons was dis­cussed at length. John Lof­tus dis­cussed intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion main­tain­ing that Iraq and North Korea had shared infor­ma­tion about nuclear tech­nol­o­gy. With the inter­na­tion­al weapons trade cut­ting across ide­o­log­i­cal lines, is it pos­si­ble that North Korea’s nuclear capa­bil­i­ty may have come from the Under­ground Reich (per­haps via Iraq?) In that con­text, con­sid­er the pos­si­ble effect of the North Kore­an nuclear sit­u­a­tion on the Asian economies. Like SARS, the cri­sis may have a very dis­turb­ing out­come for the US. One should bear in mind that the Japan­ese hold rough­ly 15% of America’s for­eign debt. A dra­mat­ic wors­en­ing of the sit­u­a­tion vis-a-vis North Korea could pro­duce a seri­ous down­turn in the Japan­ese stock mar­ket and a result­ing liq­uid­i­ty cri­sis for Japan­ese banks. Should they sell off Amer­i­can T‑bills, it could col­lapse the US econ­o­my, by gen­er­at­ing a rush to dump the T‑bills by oth­er investors. Pecu­nia nervus bel­li. (* Note that this arti­cle was not in the orig­i­nal broad­cast.)

“A dif­fi­cult nego­ti­a­tion will be all the more per­ilous because, unlike Iraq, North Korea is adja­cent to advanced indus­tri­al economies with com­plex and pow­er­ful finan­cial mar­kets. Those economies now account for most of the world’s out­put growth. North Korea has tak­en hostage the pros­per­i­ty of the Asia Pacif­ic region. There is less pre­mon­i­to­ry blus­ter and less fer­vor in Wash­ing­ton, but the North Korea cri­sis could do far more dam­age to the glob­al econ­o­my than war in Iraq.”

(“A Kore­an Peace may Hurt More than an Iraqi War” by John Edwards; Finan­cial Times; 4/23/2003; p. 13.)

17.

“It is true that the North Korea cri­sis is unlike­ly to devel­op like the con­flict over Iraq. The US will not invade North Korea. North Korea can­not make any claim to region­al lead­er­ship. It has no strate­gic resource such as oil, and it is almost com­plete­ly iso­lat­ed in glob­al pol­i­tics. And far from want­i­ng to go it alone, the US is insist­ing on mul­ti­lat­er­al rather than bilat­er­al talks. The dis­pute will prob­a­bly be peace­ful­ly resolved, but not with­out alarm­ing brinks­man­ship. For the economies of the Asia Pacif­ic region, this is the real prob­lem. Through the impact of threat and counter-threat on finan­cial mar­kets and cap­i­tal flows the region could suf­fer anoth­er eco­nom­ic calami­ty with­out a shot being fired.”

18. The piv­otal con­flict between the euro and the dollar—a cen­tral behind-the-scenes aspect of the Iraq war—is at the core of the fis­cal con­test between Boe­ing and the EU-man­u­fac­tured Air­bus. (For more about Air­bus and its con­nec­tions to the CDU fund­ing scan­dal and Karl-Heinz Schreiber, see FTR#194.) It is impor­tant to note that the 9/11 attacks had a huge, neg­a­tive impact on the air­line indus­try and (con­se­quent­ly) on Boeing’s air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness. Bear in mind the Ger­man asso­ciates of Mohammed Atta.

“The own­ers of Air­bus, the pan-Euro­pean air­craft mak­er, are seek­ing to per­suade their main US aero­space rival Boe­ing to adopt the euro as the bench­mark cur­ren­cy for the tra­di­tion­al­ly dol­lar-based com­mer­cial air­craft mar­ket. The call from Philippe Camus, co-chief exec­u­tive of the Fran­co-Ger­man Euro­pean Aero­nau­tic Defense and Space com­pa­ny (EADS), reflects the cost dis­ad­van­tage that Air­bus cur­rent­ly suf­fers fol­low­ing the sus­tained depre­ci­a­tion of the dol­lar against the euro. ‘Cur­ren­cies are a fac­tor of com­pe­ti­tion and we want to force Boe­ing to adopt our cur­ren­cy struc­ture,’ said Mr. Camus in his first inter­view since the death ear­li­er this month of Jean-Luc Lagardere, the EADS co-chair­man.”

(“Euro­peans Try to Pull Boe­ing into Euro” by Paul Betts and Mar­tin Arnold; Finan­cial Times; 3/25/2003; p. 20.)

19.
“How­ev­er, Mr. Camus’ call also has a sym­bol­ic edge, reflect­ing the recent change in the bal­ance of pow­er in the civ­il air­craft mar­ket. Airbus—of which EADS owns 80 percent—last year claimed 54 per cent of new orders for large air­craft by units and dol­lar val­ue, with Boe­ing tak­ing the rest. . . . A sim­i­lar shift in base cur­ren­cies was pro­posed a year and a half ago by some oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries includ­ing Iran, Libya and Rus­sia, which sug­gest­ed that oil prices should be expressed in euros. Before the out­break of war, Iraq was already pric­ing its oil in euros. . . . A US oil indus­try ana­lyst yes­ter­day sug­gest­ed that there would only be a case for the euro to become the ref­er­ence cur­ren­cy for oil if it unseat­ed the US dol­lar to become the strongest cur­ren­cy on a last­ing basis.”
20. Again, the pres­sures of 9/11 have had a seri­ous and neg­a­tive effect on Boeing’s for­tunes. In some of Mr. Emory’s con­ver­sa­tions with Pro­fes­sor Wil­helm Stauf­fer in the ear­ly 1990s, Pro­fes­sor Stauf­fer detailed Lufthansa’s attempts at gain­ing con­trol of the air­line indus­try. Sub­si­dized by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, Lufthansa may be in a posi­tion to gain from 9/11 and SARS. Air­bus may be in a sim­i­lar posi­tion. There is sub­stan­tive infor­ma­tion con­nect­ing 9/11 with the Under­ground Reich. Is it pos­si­ble that SARS may be an appli­ca­tion of Von Clausewitz’s con­cept of Total War to bio­log­i­cal war­fare and eco­nom­ics? Pecu­nia nervus bel­li.
“Boe­ing faces a crit­i­cal choice between spend­ing bold­ly to devel­op a new jet and hun­ker­ing down to play defense dur­ing the air­line industry’s worst down­turn ever. Two of the most pow­er­ful mem­bers of the company’s 11-per­son board are said to be rais­ing cost con­cerns about the 7E7, as they press Boe­ing to improve its earn­ings and stock price—even if that means sac­ri­fic­ing cut­ting-edge engi­neer­ing . . .”
(“Boe­ing, Los­ing Ground to Air­bus, Faces Key Choice” by J. Lynn Lunsford; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 4/21/2003; p. A1.)

21.

“ . . . The case for Boe­ing hedg­ing its bets has appeal dur­ing a his­toric com­mer­cial-avi­a­tion slump. But it implies a will­ing­ness to cede mar­ket share to the industry’s only oth­er titan, Europe’s Air­bus. And the strat­e­gy strong­ly resem­bles the one McDon­nell Dou­glas employed as it sank to also-ran sta­tus in the 1990’s.”

22. As one observes the maneu­ver­ing on the inter­na­tion­al and eco­nom­ic stages, bear in mind the com­plex CDU fund­ing scan­dal that linked the French Elf oil com­pa­ny with a com­plex series of trans­ac­tions involv­ing the Thyssen firm, Sau­di Ara­bia, the Leu­na refin­ery in East Ger­many. Air­bus and the mys­te­ri­ous Karl-Heinz Schreiber are at the core of this scan­dal. The Ger­man dom­i­na­tion of cor­po­rate France is anoth­er fac­tor to con­sid­er in the con­text of the maneu­ver­ing around the Iraq war.

“This could yet throw light on kick­backs paid by Elf over a deal between Mr. Mit­terand and Ger­man ex-chan­cel­lor Hel­mut Kohl to invest in the Leu­na refin­ery in East Germany—an affair which helped bring Mr. Kohl down.”

(“French Tri­al Paints a Pic­ture of Graft on a Grandiose Scale” by Robert Gra­ham; Finan­cial Times; 4/22/2003; p. 14.)

23. Next, the pro­gram dis­cuss­es the impact of SARS on the air trav­el busi­ness. Will this por­tend well for Air­bus and poor­ly for Boe­ing?

“Two of Asia’s biggest air car­ri­ers, Cathay Pacif­ic Air­ways and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, announced deep cut­backs on Fri­day because pas­sen­gers have been scared off by a vir­u­lent res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease in the region. Cathay Pacif­ic said that it would oper­ate 37 per­cent few­er flights than it had pre­vi­ous­ly planned. Sin­ga­pore Air­lines said it would cut 19.7 per­cent of its flights. Both air­lines said their reduc­tions in ser­vice would last through the end of May. The fig­ures include the more mod­est reduc­tions in ser­vice announced in the past two weeks.”

(“Two Asian Air­lines Cut Back Because of SARS Impact” by Kei­th Brad­sh­er [New York Times]; San Jose Mer­cury News; 4/12/2003; p. 2C.)

24. SARS appears to be caused by an entire­ly new coro­na virus. Is it pos­si­ble that this dis­ease was delib­er­ate­ly pro­duced?

“ . . . Cana­di­an researchers said the genome appears to be that of a ‘com­plete­ly new’ coro­n­avirus unre­lat­ed to any known human or ani­mal virus.”

(“Team Decodes SARS Virus” by Don­ald G. McNeil Jr. [New York Times]; 4/14/2003; p. A3.)

25. In the con­text of the advent of SARS, it is inter­est­ing (and pos­si­bly sig­nif­i­cant) that vet­er­ans of Project Coast were recent­ly turned down in their attempts at trans­fer­ring their inven­to­ry to the US. (For more about Project Coast and its con­nec­tions to Amer­i­can per­son­nel, see FTR#’s 225, 317, 324, 386.) Could the Project Coast alum­ni have had any­thing to do with SARS?

“Daan Goosen’s call­ing card to the FBI was a vial of bac­te­ria he had freeze-dried and hid­den inside a tooth­paste tube for secret pas­sage to the Unit­ed States. From among hun­dreds of flasks in his Pre­to­ria lab, the South African sci­en­tist picked a man-made strain that was sure to impress: a micro­bial Franken­stein that fused the genes of a com­mon intesti­nal bug with DNA from the pathogen that caus­es the dead­ly ill­ness gas gan­grene. ‘This will show the Amer­i­cans what we are capa­ble of,’ Goosen said at the time.”

(“Vile Vials Live on in South Africa” by Joby War­rick and John Mintz [Wash­ing­ton Post]; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/20/2003; p. A16.)

26.
“On May 6, 2002, Goosen slipped the par­cel to a retired CIA offi­cer who couri­ered the microbes 8,000 miles for a drop-off with the FBI. If U.S. offi­cials liked what they saw, Goosen said he was pre­pared to offer much more: an entire col­lec­tion of pathogens devel­oped by a secret South African bio-weapons research pro­gram Goosen once head­ed. Goosen’s extra­or­di­nary offer to the FBI, out­lined in obtained doc­u­ments and inter­views with key par­tic­i­pants, promised scores of addi­tion­al vials con­tain­ing the bac­te­ria that cause anthrax, plague, sal­mo­nel­la and bot­u­lism, as well as anti­dotes for many of the dis­eases. Sev­er­al strains had been genet­i­cal­ly altered, a tech­nique used by weapons sci­en­tists to make dis­eases hard­er to detect and defeat. All were to be deliv­ered to the U.S. gov­ern­ment for safe­keep­ing and to help strength­en U.S. defens­es against future ter­ror­ism attacks . . . ”
27.

“ . . . Par­tic­i­pants in the failed deal dif­fer on what hap­pened and why. But they agree that the bac­te­r­i­al strains remain in pri­vate hands in South Africa, where they have con­tin­ued to attract atten­tion from indi­vid­u­als inter­est­ed in acquir­ing them . . .”

28. In describ­ing the efforts at mov­ing the South African BW sam­ples, Goosen makes ref­er­ence to Project Coast vet­er­ans who had been using the inven­to­ry for pri­vate indus­tri­al projects. Dr. Lar­ry Ford’s “Inner Con­fi­dence” sup­pos­i­to­ry was one such project.

“ . . . South African offi­cials claimed to have destroyed all of Project Coast’s bio­log­i­cal mate­ri­als in 1993. But Goosen says many sci­en­tists kept copies of organ­isms and doc­u­ments to con­tin­ue work on ‘dual-use’ projects with com­mer­cial as well as mil­i­tary appli­ca­tions. Goosen’s vac­cine pro­duc­tion lab end­ed up with hun­dreds of strains, at least half of which were from Project Coast . . .”

(Ibid.; p. A17.)

29. Note that a Ger­man and an appar­ent Arab were among those who sought access to Project Coast’s inven­to­ry.

“ . . . In the past nine months, the sci­en­tist has been offered mon­ey by a Ger­man trea­sure-hunter and a man claim­ing to be an Arab Sheikh. Goosen says he turned the offers down, but wor­ries about future bioter­ror­ism. ‘A small con­tain­er of pathogens could kill a mil­lion peo­ple,’ he said.”

(Ibid.; p. A17.)

30. The broad­cast con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of the dis­turb­ing use of counter-ter­ror­ism to pro­vide a dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly large amount of fund­ing to the peo­ple of states that vot­ed for George Bush. Mr. Emory notes that the “blue states” are basi­cal­ly the areas that are destroyed in the Nazi tract Serpent’s Walk. This sub­ject will be tak­en up at greater length in FTR#409.

“ . . . What Mr. Chait doesn’t point out is the extent to which already inad­e­quate antiter­ror­ism spend­ing has been focused on the parts of the coun­try that need it least. I’ve writ­ten before about the myth of the heartland—roughly speak­ing, the ‘red states,’ which vot­ed for George W. Bush in the 2000 elec­tion, as opposed to the ‘blue states,’ which vot­ed for Al Gore. The nation’s inte­ri­or is sup­pos­ed­ly a place of rugged indi­vid­u­al­ists, unlike the spongers and whin­ers along the coasts. In real­i­ty, of course, rur­al states are heav­i­ly sub­si­dized by urban states. New Jer­sey pays about $1.50 in fed­er­al tax­es for every dol­lar it gets in return; Mon­tana receives about $1.75 in fed­er­al spend­ing for every dol­lar it pays in tax­es.”

(“A Red-Blue Ter­ror Alert” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 4/1/2003; p. 1;.)

31.

“Any sen­si­ble pro­gram of spend­ing on home­land secu­ri­ty would at least part­ly redress this bal­ance. The most nat­ur­al tar­gets for ter­ror­ism lie in or near great met­ro­pol­i­tan areas; sure­ly pro­tect­ing those areas is the high­est pri­or­i­ty, right? Appar­ent­ly not. Even in the first months after Sept. 11, Repub­li­can law­mak­ers made it clear that they would not sup­port any major effort to rebuild or even secure New York. And now that anti-urban prej­u­dice has tak­en sta­tis­ti­cal form; under the for­mu­la the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty has adopt­ed for hand­ing out mon­ey, it spends 7 times as much pro­tect­ing each res­i­dent of Wyoming as it does pro­tect­ing each res­i­dent of New York.”

(Ibid.; pp. 1–2.)

Discussion

11 comments for “FTR #407 Pecunia Nervus Belli”

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_Incident

    The Vela Inci­dent (some­times referred to as the South Atlantic Flash) was an uniden­ti­fied “dou­ble flash” of light that was detect­ed by an Amer­i­can Vela Hotel satel­lite on Sep­tem­ber 22, 1979.
    Some spe­cial­ists who exam­ined the data spec­u­lat­ed that the dou­ble flash, char­ac­ter­is­tic of a nuclear explo­sion, may have been the result of a nuclear weapons test: “The con­clu­sions of the Pres­i­den­tial pan­el (the Ad Hoc Pan­el) were reas­sur­ing, as they sug­gest­ed that the most like­ly expla­na­tion of the Vela detec­tion was a mete­oroid hit­ting the satel­lite — in part because of the dis­crep­an­cy in bhang­me­ter read­ings. Oth­ers who exam­ined the data, includ­ing Defense Intel­li­gence Agency (DIA), the nation­al lab­o­ra­to­ries, and defense con­trac­tors reached a very dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion — that the data sup­port­ed the con­clu­sion that on 22 Sep­tem­ber 1979, Vela 6911 had detect­ed a nuclear detonation.”[1][2]

    [ ... ]

    The “dou­ble flash” was detect­ed on Sep­tem­ber 22, 1979, at 00:53 GMT, by the Amer­i­can Vela Hotel satel­lite 6911, which car­ried var­i­ous sen­sors that had been designed specif­i­cal­ly to detect nuclear explo­sions. In addi­tion to being able to detect gam­ma rays, x‑rays, and neu­trons, the satel­lite also con­tained two sil­i­con sol­id-state bhang­me­ter sen­sors that would be able to detect the dual light flash­es asso­ci­at­ed with a nuclear explosion—to be spe­cif­ic the ini­tial brief, intense flash, fol­lowed by the sec­ond longer flash.[2]
    The satel­lite report­ed the char­ac­ter­is­tic dou­ble flash of an atmos­pher­ic nuclear explo­sion of two to three kilo­tons, in the Indi­an Ocean between The Crozet Islands (a very small, sparse­ly inhab­it­ed French pos­ses­sion) and the Prince Edward Islands which belong to South Africa at 47°S 40°ECoordinates: 47°S 40°E.

    [ ... ]

    In Feb­ru­ary 1994, Com­modore Dieter Ger­hardt, a con­vict­ed Sovi­et spy and the com­man­der of South Africa’s Simon’s Town naval base at the time, talked about the inci­dent upon his release from prison. He said:
    Although I was not direct­ly involved in plan­ning or car­ry­ing out the oper­a­tion, I learned unof­fi­cial­ly that the flash was pro­duced by an Israeli-South African test, code-named Oper­a­tion Phoenix. The explo­sion was clean and was not sup­posed to be detect­ed. But they were not as smart as they thought, and the weath­er changed – so the Amer­i­cans were able to pick it up.[29]

    April 20, 1997, the Israeli dai­ly news­pa­per Haaretz quot­ed the South African Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter, Aziz Pahad, as sup­pos­ed­ly con­firm­ing that the “dou­ble flash” from over the Indi­an Ocean was indeed from a South African nuclear test. Haaretz also cit­ed past reports that Israel had pur­chased 550 tons of ura­ni­um from South Africa for its own nuclear plant in Dimona. In exchange, Israel alleged­ly sup­plied South Africa with nuclear weapons design infor­ma­tion and nuclear mate­ri­als to increase the pow­er of nuclear warheads.[30] This state­ment was con­firmed by the Unit­ed States Embassy in Pre­to­ria, South Africa,[16][31] but Pahad’s press sec­re­tary stat­ed that Pahad had said only that “there was a strong rumor that a test had tak­en place, and that it should be inves­ti­gat­ed”. In oth­er words – he was mere­ly repeat­ing rumors that had been cir­cu­lat­ing for years.[32][33]

    In Octo­ber 1999, a white paper that was pub­lished by the U.S. Sen­ate Repub­li­can Pol­i­cy Com­mit­tee in oppo­si­tion to the Com­pre­hen­sive Test Ban Treaty stat­ed:
    There remains uncer­tain­ty about whether the South Atlantic flash in Sep­tem­ber 1979 record­ed by opti­cal sen­sors on the U.S. Vela satel­lite was a nuclear det­o­na­tion and, if so, to whom it belonged.[34]
    In his 2006 book On the Brink, the retired C.I.A. clan­des­tine ser­vice offi­cer, Tyler Drumheller, wrote of his 1983–88 tour-of-duty in South Africa:
    We had oper­a­tional suc­cess­es, most impor­tant­ly regard­ing Pre­to­ri­a’s nuclear capa­bil­i­ty. My sources col­lec­tive­ly pro­vid­ed incon­tro­vert­ible evi­dence that the apartheid gov­ern­ment had in fact test­ed a nuclear bomb in the South Atlantic in 1979, and that they had devel­oped a deliv­ery sys­tem with assis­tance from the Israelis.

    Posted by R. Wilson | November 26, 2011, 7:16 pm
  2. @R. Wil­son: I’ve heard of this as well. Why was this so heav­i­ly con­cealed, and if South Africa man­aged to build more nukes, where have they gone since the end of 1994? Makes you won­der, does­n’t it?

    Posted by Steven l. | November 27, 2011, 6:18 pm
  3. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super­man Oh crap, it’s a Boe­ing plane! Watch out for falling parts. Or falling planes. It’s hard to think of a com­pa­ny that has suf­fered rep­u­ta­tion­al­ly more than Boe­ing in recent years. Chron­ic saftey inci­dents and mul­ti­ple crash­es tend to do that.

    But Boe­ing isn’t just suf­fer­ing from a plague of safe­ty inci­dents and out­right crash­es. There are whistle­blow­ers. The kind of whistle­blow­ers who can’t eas­i­ly be ignored, like John Bar­nett, a long­time Boe­ing employ­ee who held the role of qual­i­ty man­ag­er over the 787 Dream­lin­ers until he become a whistle­blow­er in 2017. As Bar­nett informed the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA), it was­n’t just one unad­dressed safe­ty issue but a cor­po­rate cul­ture start­ing from the top that pri­or­i­tized push­ing out planes as fast as pos­si­ble. And push­ing out planes fast meant not just skip­ping safe­ty checks but open­ly ignor­ing issues after Bar­nett and oth­ers flagged them. Boe­ing was lit­er­al­ly sell­ing defec­tive planes and its exec­u­tives not only knew it but forced it to hap­pen.

    It’s the kind of scan­dal that should have brought the wrath of reg­u­la­tors. But it did­n’t. This is a major defense con­trac­tor we’re talk­ing about after all. Instead, while the FAA inves­ti­gat­ed and con­firmed Bar­net­t’s claims, noth­ing was done. It also turns out that the FAA has been del­e­gate some of its inspec­tion to Boe­ing. Yep. Fol­low­ing the Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent back in Jan­u­ary, where a pan­el miss­ing bolts blew off a 737 Max 9 mid-flight and depres­sur­ized the cab­in, the head of the FAA announced the agency is re-eval­u­at­ing that deci­sion. Reg­u­la­to­ry cap­ture is a big part of this sto­ry.
    \
    A num­ber of pas­sen­gers actu­al­ly had to get up and change seats in that depres­sur­ized Alaskan Air­lines flight because some of the oxy­gen masks did­n’t deploy. That issue turns out to be the same issue Bar­nett raised with the FAA after Bar­nett found as many as 25 per­cent of oxy­gen masks failed to deploy dur­ing tests on the Dream­lin­er and man­age­ment refused to address it. The FAA inves­ti­gat­ed and con­firmed the issue, but did noth­ing. That’s part of why Bar­nett has been warn­ing that the safe­ty issues fac­ing Boe­ing aren’t lim­it­ed the 737 Max series. All of Boe­ing’s pro­duc­tion lines are suf­fer­ing from a man­age­ment cul­ture that active­ly depri­or­i­tized safe­ty and qual­i­ty con­trol the pur­suit of prof­its and from a reg­u­la­tor that appears to fol­low Boe­ing’s orders.

    That said, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the 737 Max planes did also suf­fer from a major design flaw that direct­ly caused the two crash­es that end­ed up ground­ing the planes glob­al­ly for two years. That would be the Manoeu­vring Char­ac­ter­is­tics Aug­men­ta­tion Sys­tem (MCAS) sys­tem that mal­func­tioned in both crash­es. Worse, Boe­ing nev­er informed pilots about the exis­tence of this MCAS sys­tem, as it was sup­posed to oper­ate pas­sive­ly. So on top of qual­i­ty con­trol in gen­er­al there were these mas­sive design flaws on the 737 Max series. The prob­lems run deep at this com­pa­ny.

    While Boe­ing did­n’t appear to suf­fer any con­se­quences from Bar­net­t’s whistle­blow­ing, Bar­nett suf­fered so much retal­i­a­tion that he end­ed up fil­ing a whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit against the com­pa­ny. That suit is cur­rent in the dis­cov­ery phase and slat­ed for for­mal hear­ings in June. Or, at least, that was the case until Bar­nett just showed up dead in an alleged sui­cide. As a result of Bar­net­t’s untime­ly death, it’s unclear if the case against Boe­ing is going to pro­ceed at all.

    But, as we should expect, it’s so much worse than just Bar­net­t’s sui­cide. Because based on the avail­able evi­dence, this sure has the look of some­thing more like an arranged ‘sui­cide’ than a gen­uine sui­cide. For starters, the sui­cide took place while Bar­nett was com­plete the process of cross-exam­i­na­tion as part of the dis­cov­ery process of the upcom­ing tri­al in his whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit. First, Bar­nett was cross-exam­ined by the defense team. Then it was his legal team’s turn for cross-exam­i­na­tion. And while Bar­nett was cross-exam­ined by his team on Fri­day, it was­n’t com­plet­ed and they agreed to com­plete it the next day. But when his lawyers con­tact­ed him the next day they could­n’t get an answer. So they sent the police for a wel­fare check where they found Bar­net­t’s body in his pick­up truck in the back of the Hol­i­day Inn park­ing lot where he was stay­ing for the tri­al. Bar­nett died from an appar­ent self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound to the right tem­ple, with a sil­ver pis­tol still in his right hand and his trig­ger fin­ger still on the trig­ger. We’re also told there was a white piece of paper “resem­bling a note” on the pas­sen­ger seat of that car. We don’t know any­thing about the con­tents of the note.

    We also know that a hotel employ­ee report­ed hear­ing a “pop” sound near the car a less than an hour before police arrived, where police found Bar­nett with a gun­shot wound to the right tem­ple and a hand­gun in his right hand with the fin­ger still on the trig­ger. This is where the case gets very weird. Because we are told the police were sent to the Hol­i­day Inn short­ly before 10:20 AM after get­ting the request for a wel­fare check from his lawyers when they could­n’t con­tact him. So if an Hol­i­day Inn employ­ee heard a “pop” less than a half hour before they arrived, that sug­gest Bar­nett was shot lit­er­al­ly that morn­ing after get­ting into his truck, per­haps on his way to see his attor­neys. So he got up, got dressed and ready to go, got in the truck, and then was shot in the head. That’s the pic­ture that emerges.

    So was there any evi­dence indi­cat­ing why Bar­nett may have decid­ed to take his life? Well, his broth­er, Rod­ney, points to the PTSD Bar­nett suf­fered from the retal­i­a­tion he expe­ri­enced at Boe­ing. And yet, when we read the state­ments from his legal team, they appear to be a state of dis­be­lief, in part because Bar­nett seemed to be in such good spir­its when they last saw him. As they put it, “He was in very good spir­its and real­ly look­ing for­ward to putting this phase of his life behind him and mov­ing on. We didn’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. No one can believe it.”

    And that’s the hor­rid state of this inves­ti­ga­tion. An unbe­liev­able ‘sui­cide’ nar­ra­tive is emerg­ing and threat­en­ing to squash the whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit that as going to pro­ceed this sum­mer. A suit that could have unearthed who knows what else. Don’t for­get that Bar­nett isn’t the only Boe­ing whistle­blow­er. There are oth­ers as we’re going to see who have made very sim­i­lar alle­ga­tion. This suit was a very real threat to Boe­ing in terms of reveal­ing even more safe­ty hor­rors and now the it’s no longer clear it will pro­ceed at all. It’s amaz­ing what a dif­fer­ence a sin­gle extreme­ly untime­ly death can make some­times:

    Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter

    Boe­ing Whistle­blow­er Found Dead in Charleston After Break in Depo­si­tions

    By Edi­tor Filed in Uncat­e­go­rized
    March 10th, 2024 @ 12:52 pm

    Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett was found dead in his truck at a hotel in Charleston, South Car­oli­na after a break in depo­si­tions in a whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion law­suit.

    That’s accord­ing to Barnett’s lawyer Bri­an Knowles.

    In an email to Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter, Knowles wrote that Bar­nett “was sup­posed to do day three of his depo­si­tion here in Charleston on his AIR21 case.” (AIR21 refers to a fed­er­al law that pro­vides whistle­blow­er pro­tec­tion for employ­ees in the avi­a­tion indus­try.)

    “Today is a trag­ic day,” Knowles wrote. “John had been back and forth for quite some time get­ting pre­pared. The defense exam­ined him for their allowed sev­en hours under the rules on Thurs­day. I cross exam­ined him all day yes­ter­day (Fri­day) and did not fin­ish. We agreed to con­tin­ue this morn­ing at 10 a.m. (co-coun­sel) Rob (Turke­witz) kept call­ing this morn­ing and his (Barnett’s) phone would go to voice­mail. We then asked the hotel to check on him. They found him in his truck dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflict­ed gun­shot. We drove to the hotel and spoke with the police and the coro­ner.”

    For almost three decades, John Bar­nett was a qual­i­ty man­ag­er at Boe­ing.

    ...

    Then in 2010, Bar­nett was trans­ferred to Boeing’s new plant in Charleston, South Car­oli­na.

    That’s where Boe­ing builds the 787 Dream­lin­er.

    And things start­ed going down­hill.

    “The new lead­er­ship didn’t under­stand process­es,” Bar­nett told Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter in an inter­view in 2019. (See — John Bar­nett on Why He Won’t Fly on a Boe­ing 787 Dream­lin­er, (Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter, Novem­ber 29, 2019). “They brought them in from oth­er areas of the com­pa­ny. The new lead­er­ship team – from my direc­tor down – they all came from St. Louis, Mis­souri. They said they were all bud­dies there.”

    “That entire team came down. They were from the mil­i­tary side. My impres­sion was their mind­set was – we are going to do it the way we want to do it. Their mot­to at the time was – we are in Charleston and we can do any­thing we want.”

    They start­ed pres­sur­ing us to not doc­u­ment defects, to work out­side the pro­ce­dures, to allow defec­tive mate­r­i­al to be installed with­out being cor­rect­ed. They start­ed bypass­ing pro­ce­dures and not main­tain­ing con­fig­ure­ment con­trol of air­planes, not main­tain­ing con­trol of non con­form­ing parts – they just want­ed to get the planes pushed out the door and make the cash reg­is­ter ring.

    Bar­nett had been speak­ing to reporters recent­ly about Boe­ing pro­duc­tion issues, includ­ing the inci­dent involv­ing the mid-air blow out of a door plug on an Alas­ka Air­lines flight on Jan­u­ary 5, caus­ing decom­pres­sion of the air­plane.

    “Once you under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing inside of Boe­ing, you’ll see why we’re see­ing these kinds of issues,” Bar­nett told ABC News in Aus­tralia in late Jan­u­ary.

    ———

    “Boe­ing Whistle­blow­er Found Dead in Charleston After Break in Depo­si­tions” By Edi­tor; Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter; 03/10/2024

    ““Today is a trag­ic day,” Knowles wrote. “John had been back and forth for quite some time get­ting pre­pared. The defense exam­ined him for their allowed sev­en hours under the rules on Thurs­day. I cross exam­ined him all day yes­ter­day (Fri­day) and did not fin­ish. We agreed to con­tin­ue this morn­ing at 10 a.m. (co-coun­sel) Rob (Turke­witz) kept call­ing this morn­ing and his (Barnett’s) phone would go to voice­mail. We then asked the hotel to check on him. They found him in his truck dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflict­ed gun­shot. We drove to the hotel and spoke with the police and the coro­ner.””

    John Bar­rett was­n’t ran­dom­ly found dead. He was in the mid­dle of the process of being cross-exam­ined by his own legal team in a whistle­blow­er law­suit he filed against Boe­ing and there was still more cross-exam­in­ing by his team yet to be com­plet­ed the next day! It was the cul­mi­na­tion of years of whistle­blow­ing activism on his part. The inves­ti­ga­tion he called for years ago was actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing and there was one more round of friend­ly cross-exam­i­na­tion by his legal team to go. That’s when John Bar­rett alleged­ly killed him­self. The guy has been brave­ly and pub­licly blow­ing the whis­tle for years, but right when it seemed like the jus­tice sys­tem was final­ly, belat­ed, swing­ing into action, he shows up dead.

    Beyond that, his entire case against Boe­ing was basi­cal­ly con­firmed to the world two months ago with the Jan­u­ary 5 mid-flight blow out of door that decom­pressed the plane. Real­i­ty was prov­ing John Bar­net­t’s case. And now he’s dead:

    ...
    Bar­nett had been speak­ing to reporters recent­ly about Boe­ing pro­duc­tion issues, includ­ing the inci­dent involv­ing the mid-air blow out of a door plug on an Alas­ka Air­lines flight on Jan­u­ary 5, caus­ing decom­pres­sion of the air­plane.

    “Once you under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing inside of Boe­ing, you’ll see why we’re see­ing these kinds of issues,” Bar­nett told ABC News in Aus­tralia in late Jan­u­ary.
    ...

    Now, what do we know about the inves­ti­ga­tion so far? Well, we know that Bar­net­t’s body was found in his pick­up truck parked in the back of a Hol­i­day Inn park­ing lot. We also know that a hotel employ­ee report­ed hear­ing a pop sound near the car a less than an hour before police arrived, where police found Bar­nett with a gun­shot wound to the right tem­ple and a hand­gun in his right hand with the fin­ger still on the trig­ger. In addi­tion, they found a white piece of paper “resem­bling a note” on the pas­sen­ger seat of that car.

    Keep in mind that we are told the police were sent to the Hol­i­day Inn short­ly before 10:20 AM after get­ting the request for a wel­fare check from his lawyers. So if an Hol­i­day Inn employ­ee heard a “pop” less than a half hour before they arrived, that sug­gest Bar­nett was shot lit­er­al­ly that morn­ing, per­haps on his way to see his attor­neys. So he got up, got dressed and ready to go, got in the truck, and then shot him­self in the head, before com­plet­ing his cross-exam­i­na­tion. It’s not exact­ly a com­pelling sto­ry.

    So was there any evi­dence indi­cat­ing why Bar­nett may have decid­ed to take his life? Well, his broth­er, Rod­ney, points to the PTSD Bar­nett suf­fered from the retal­i­a­tion he expe­ri­enced at Boe­ing. And yet, when we read the state­ments from his legal team, they appear to be a state of dis­be­lief, in part because Bar­nett seemed to be in such good spir­its when they last saw him. As they put it, “He was in very good spir­its and real­ly look­ing for­ward to putting this phase of his life behind him and mov­ing on. We didn’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. No one can believe it.”

    And as the arti­cle also notes, Bar­net­t’s death hap­pened near the end of what was the dis­cov­ery phase of tri­al over the whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit that has for­mal hear­ings sched­uled for June. The sta­tus of that suit is now in ques­tion thanks to Bar­net­t’s death:

    Live 5 WCSC

    ‘A brave, hon­est man’: Boe­ing whistleblower’s attor­neys release state­ment on his death

    By Patrick Phillips, Maris­sa Lute, Blair Sabol and Emi­ly John­son
    Pub­lished: Mar. 12, 2024 at 1:38 PM CDT|Updated

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) — The attor­neys of a for­mer Boe­ing employ­ee who raised con­cerns about the company’s pro­duc­tion stan­dards have released a state­ment as an inves­ti­ga­tion into his death this week­end con­tin­ues.

    John Bar­nett, 62, from Louisiana was found dead in his vehi­cle out­side a Charleston hotel on Sat­ur­day morn­ing. Bar­nett, who worked for Boe­ing for 32 years, filed a whistle­blow­er com­plaint alleg­ing safe­ty con­cerns. The Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Labor was work­ing through the dis­cov­ery phase of its inves­ti­ga­tion and is set to begin hear­ings on that com­plaint this June.

    Barnett’s attor­neys, Robert Turke­witz of the Law Office of Robert M. Turke­witz, LLC and Bri­an Knowles of Knowles Law Firm, PC, released the fol­low­ing state­ment Tues­day after­noon:

    John was a brave, hon­est man of the high­est integri­ty. He cared dear­ly about his fam­i­ly, his friends, the Boe­ing com­pa­ny, his Boe­ing co-work­ers, and the pilots and peo­ple who flew on Boe­ing air­craft. We have rarely met some­one with a more sin­cere and forth­right char­ac­ter.

    In the course of his job as a qual­i­ty man­ag­er at Boe­ing South Car­oli­na, John learned of and exposed very seri­ous safe­ty prob­lems with the Boe­ing 787 Dream­lin­er and was retal­i­at­ed against and sub­ject­ed to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment, which is the sub­ject of his pend­ing AIR-21 case.

    John was in the midst of a depo­si­tion in his whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion case, which final­ly was near­ing the end. He was in very good spir­its and real­ly look­ing for­ward to putting this phase of his life behind him and mov­ing on. We didn’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. No one can believe it.

    We are all dev­ast­ed. We need more infor­ma­tion about what hap­pened to John. The Charleston police need to inves­ti­gate this ful­ly and accu­rate­ly and tell the pub­lic what they find out. No detail can be left unturned.

    Police dis­cov­ered Bar­nett after wel­fare check request­ed

    Police said offi­cers found Bar­nett in his orange 2015 Dodge Ram truck dead from a gun­shot wound to the head Sat­ur­day morn­ing. Police were sent to the Hol­i­day Inn on Savan­nah High­way short­ly before 10:20 a.m. to per­form a wel­fare check, Sgt. Antho­ny Gib­son said. Police say a friend named Rob called police to request that they check on Bar­nett.

    Offi­cers found the truck in the hotel’s back park­ing lot, an inci­dent report states.

    Charleston Coun­ty Coro­ner Bob­bi Jo O’Neal said Bar­nett died Sat­ur­day “from what appears to be a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound.” Police said Bar­nett had a sil­ver hand­gun in his right hand with his fin­ger still on the trig­ger and had suf­fered an appar­ent gun­shot wound to his right tem­ple.

    An employ­ee told police they heard a “pop” sound near the car a less than an hour before police arrived, but the employ­ee said they didn’t think any­thing of it. Police also not­ed there was a white piece of paper “resem­bling a note” on the pas­sen­ger seat of that car.

    The report did not spec­i­fy the con­tents of the note, but Dr. Ken­ny Kin­sey, a crim­i­nal jus­tice expert who tes­ti­fied dur­ing the Alex Mur­daugh mur­der tri­al, said that depend­ing on what police found, it could either mean the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion or just the begin­ning.

    “Detec­tives are active­ly inves­ti­gat­ing this case and are await­ing the for­mal cause of death, along with any addi­tion­al find­ings that might shed fur­ther light on the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of Mr. Bar­nett,” Sgt. Antho­ny Gib­son said in a state­ment. “We under­stand the glob­al atten­tion this case has gar­nered, and it is our pri­or­i­ty to ensure that the inves­ti­ga­tion is not influ­enced by spec­u­la­tion but is led by facts and evi­dence.”

    Fam­i­ly: Bar­nett suf­fered from PTSD, anx­i­ety after work­ing for com­pa­ny

    Bar­nett retired from Boe­ing back in 2017. He worked at Boeing’s North Charleston loca­tion from 2010 until his retire­ment. Barnett’s wife, Diane John­son, who died in Novem­ber of 2022, worked for Boe­ing for 28 years.

    He report­ed­ly alert­ed man­agers about the com­pa­ny using sub-stan­dard parts and oxy­gen sys­tems with seri­ous prob­lems on sev­er­al occa­sions. Those man­agers alleged­ly took no action to fix the issues and Boe­ing denied Barnett’s claims, the BBC report­ed.

    ...

    “John was deeply con­cerned about the safe­ty of the air­craft and fly­ing pub­lic, and had iden­ti­fied some seri­ous defects that he felt were not ade­quate­ly addressed,” Barnett’s broth­er, Rod­ney, said in a fam­i­ly state­ment to The Asso­ci­at­ed Press on Tues­day. “He said that Boe­ing had a cul­ture of con­ceal­ment and was putting prof­its over safe­ty.”

    Rod­ney Bar­nett said work­ing at Boe­ing cre­at­ed stress for John.

    “He was suf­fer­ing from PTSD and anx­i­ety attacks as a result of being sub­ject­ed to the hos­tile work envi­ron­ment at Boe­ing, which we believe led to his death,” the broth­er said.

    ...

    In 2019, Bar­nett told The New York Times about qual­i­ty issues at Boeing’s fac­to­ry in South Car­oli­na, where the 787 jet­lin­er is assem­bled.

    Bar­nett said he found dis­card­ed met­al shav­ings near wiring for the flight con­trols. He said it could have been “cat­a­stroph­ic” if the sharp pieces had pierced the wiring. He said after he com­plained to supe­ri­ors, they moved him to anoth­er part of the plant.

    Bar­nett told the BBC that same year that up to a quar­ter of the oxy­gen sys­tems on the 787 – a two-aisle plane that air­lines use most­ly for inter­na­tion­al flights – might not work because of faulty parts installed at the Boe­ing plant. Boe­ing denied the claim.

    Whistle­blow­er com­plaint set to be heard in June

    The Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Labor set a sched­ule for a hear­ing of Barnett’s whistle­blow­er com­plaint, accord­ing to doc­u­ments.

    ...

    Bar­nett filed a com­plaint on Jan. 16, 2017, with the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion alleg­ing Boe­ing retal­i­at­ed against him in vio­la­tion of the Employ­ee Pro­tec­tion Pro­vi­sions Act.

    Bar­nett claims Boe­ing sub­ject­ed him to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment for engag­ing in whistle­blow­er-pro­tect­ed activ­i­ty, which caused severe stress that led Bar­nett to take med­ical leave and ear­ly retire­ment.

    Boe­ing tried to dis­miss Barnett’s claims, argu­ing he did not present facts suf­fi­cient to prove his claims. But the judge denied Boeing’s par­tial motion to dis­miss on March 31, 2022.

    On Nov. 14, 2023, Bar­nett filed a motion to com­pel dis­cov­ery, a move to ask the court to enforce a request for infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant to a case.

    Court doc­u­ments state Boeing’s efforts to iden­ti­fy records of oth­er com­plaints made by oth­er employ­ees at the South Car­oli­na loca­tion of adverse actions tak­en in response to reports of safe­ty or qual­i­ty vio­la­tions are woe­ful­ly lack­ing. The judge adds that Boe­ing has had the requests for over a year.

    The judge ruled on Dec. 21, 2023, that Boe­ing must pro­duce the doc­u­ments sought by Bar­nett.

    The dis­cov­ery phase was set to be com­plet­ed by March 30 with a for­mal hear­ing set to take place dur­ing the week of June 24, doc­u­ments from the Depart­ment of Labor state.

    The for­mal hear­ing was sched­uled for 9 a.m. from June 24–28 in Charleston.

    It’s unclear where the case now stands.

    ————

    “‘A brave, hon­est man’: Boe­ing whistleblower’s attor­neys release state­ment on his death” By Patrick Phillips, Maris­sa Lute, Blair Sabol and Emi­ly John­son; WCSC; 03/12/2024

    ““He was suf­fer­ing from PTSD and anx­i­ety attacks as a result of being sub­ject­ed to the hos­tile work envi­ron­ment at Boe­ing, which we believe led to his death,” the broth­er said.”

    Was this a case of PTSD sud­den­ly dri­ving Bar­nett to sui­cide? If so, his lawyers sure did­n’t get a whiff of it. As we can see, not only did they report see­ing Bar­nett in good spir­its and excit­ed to put this whole case behind him, the lan­guage in their state­ments — like calls for no detail to be left unturned — sug­gests they don’t real­ly believe this was a sui­cide:

    ...
    Barnett’s attor­neys, Robert Turke­witz of the Law Office of Robert M. Turke­witz, LLC and Bri­an Knowles of Knowles Law Firm, PC, released the fol­low­ing state­ment Tues­day after­noon:

    John was a brave, hon­est man of the high­est integri­ty. He cared dear­ly about his fam­i­ly, his friends, the Boe­ing com­pa­ny, his Boe­ing co-work­ers, and the pilots and peo­ple who flew on Boe­ing air­craft. We have rarely met some­one with a more sin­cere and forth­right char­ac­ter.

    In the course of his job as a qual­i­ty man­ag­er at Boe­ing South Car­oli­na, John learned of and exposed very seri­ous safe­ty prob­lems with the Boe­ing 787 Dream­lin­er and was retal­i­at­ed against and sub­ject­ed to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment, which is the sub­ject of his pend­ing AIR-21 case.

    John was in the midst of a depo­si­tion in his whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion case, which final­ly was near­ing the end. He was in very good spir­its and real­ly look­ing for­ward to putting this phase of his life behind him and mov­ing on. We didn’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. No one can believe it.

    We are all dev­ast­ed. We need more infor­ma­tion about what hap­pened to John. The Charleston police need to inves­ti­gate this ful­ly and accu­rate­ly and tell the pub­lic what they find out. No detail can be left unturned.

    ...

    And then we get to the foren­sic details police made avail­able: Bar­nett was found in his pick­up truck in the Hol­i­day Inn’s back park­ing lot, with a gun­shot wound to his right tem­ple and his right hand trig­ger fin­ger still on the trig­ger. But that was­n’t all they found. There was also a white piece of paper “resem­bling a note”. We have no idea what the note said:

    ...
    Police said offi­cers found Bar­nett in his orange 2015 Dodge Ram truck dead from a gun­shot wound to the head Sat­ur­day morn­ing. Police were sent to the Hol­i­day Inn on Savan­nah High­way short­ly before 10:20 a.m. to per­form a wel­fare check, Sgt. Antho­ny Gib­son said. Police say a friend named Rob called police to request that they check on Bar­nett.

    Offi­cers found the truck in the hotel’s back park­ing lot, an inci­dent report states.

    Charleston Coun­ty Coro­ner Bob­bi Jo O’Neal said Bar­nett died Sat­ur­day “from what appears to be a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound.” Police said Bar­nett had a sil­ver hand­gun in his right hand with his fin­ger still on the trig­ger and had suf­fered an appar­ent gun­shot wound to his right tem­ple.

    An employ­ee told police they heard a “pop” sound near the car a less than an hour before police arrived, but the employ­ee said they didn’t think any­thing of it. Police also not­ed there was a white piece of paper “resem­bling a note” on the pas­sen­ger seat of that car.

    The report did not spec­i­fy the con­tents of the note, but Dr. Ken­ny Kin­sey, a crim­i­nal jus­tice expert who tes­ti­fied dur­ing the Alex Mur­daugh mur­der tri­al, said that depend­ing on what police found, it could either mean the end of the inves­ti­ga­tion or just the begin­ning.
    ...

    And then we get to the remark­ably con­ve­nient turn of events for Boe­ing’s exec­u­tives and share­hold­ers: Thanks to Bar­net­t’s death, the dis­cov­ery phase of his whistle­blow­er law­suit which was set to be com­plet­ed by the end of this month has obvi­ous­ly been thrown into dis­ar­ray and now it’s unclear if the planned June hear­ings will hap­pen at all:

    ...
    The Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Labor set a sched­ule for a hear­ing of Barnett’s whistle­blow­er com­plaint, accord­ing to doc­u­ments.

    ...

    Bar­nett filed a com­plaint on Jan. 16, 2017, with the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion alleg­ing Boe­ing retal­i­at­ed against him in vio­la­tion of the Employ­ee Pro­tec­tion Pro­vi­sions Act.

    Bar­nett claims Boe­ing sub­ject­ed him to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment for engag­ing in whistle­blow­er-pro­tect­ed activ­i­ty, which caused severe stress that led Bar­nett to take med­ical leave and ear­ly retire­ment.

    Boe­ing tried to dis­miss Barnett’s claims, argu­ing he did not present facts suf­fi­cient to prove his claims. But the judge denied Boeing’s par­tial motion to dis­miss on March 31, 2022.

    On Nov. 14, 2023, Bar­nett filed a motion to com­pel dis­cov­ery, a move to ask the court to enforce a request for infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant to a case.

    Court doc­u­ments state Boeing’s efforts to iden­ti­fy records of oth­er com­plaints made by oth­er employ­ees at the South Car­oli­na loca­tion of adverse actions tak­en in response to reports of safe­ty or qual­i­ty vio­la­tions are woe­ful­ly lack­ing. The judge adds that Boe­ing has had the requests for over a year.

    The judge ruled on Dec. 21, 2023, that Boe­ing must pro­duce the doc­u­ments sought by Bar­nett.

    The dis­cov­ery phase was set to be com­plet­ed by March 30 with a for­mal hear­ing set to take place dur­ing the week of June 24, doc­u­ments from the Depart­ment of Labor state.

    The for­mal hear­ing was sched­uled for 9 a.m. from June 24–28 in Charleston.

    It’s unclear where the case now stands.
    ...

    But as the fol­low­ing report from back in Jan­u­ary describes, it’s not like this is just a sto­ry about John Bar­net­t’s whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit. Bar­nett is far from the only one blow­ing the whis­tle. Nor is this just a 737 Max sto­ry. Per­va­sive qual­i­ty con­trol issues go back years on a vari­ety of Boe­ing planes. Includ­ing issues with the deploy­ment of oxy­gen masks dur­ing an emer­gency. It turns out that not only did some pas­sen­gers on the Alaskan Air flight have to change seats in order to access deployed masks due to deploy­ment mal­func­tions, but that was the same issue Bar­nett orig­i­nal­ly flagged in his ini­tial 2017 whistle­blow­er com­plaint to the FAA. Except the planes Bar­nett found that issue on was the 787 Dream­lin­er, not the 737 Max. As Bar­nett was warn­ing reporters back in Jan­u­ary, the Alaskan Air mid-flight door loss inci­dent, this is about all of the planes being built by Boe­ing at this point. And he’s not the only one issu­ing these warn­ings:

    ABC.net.au

    For­mer Boe­ing employ­ees warn pro­duc­tion defects ignored by com­pa­ny and US avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor put pas­sen­gers at risk

    By busi­ness reporter Nadia Daly

    Post­ed Mon 29 Jan 2024 at 12:39pm
    , updat­ed Tue 30 Jan 2024 at 1:46am

    Key points:

    * For­mer Boe­ing employ­ees say their repeat­ed con­cerns about pro­duc­tion defects on Boe­ing planes have been ignored
    * Boe­ing has been under intense scruti­ny after a pan­el on a 737 MAX 9 air­craft blew off mid-flight
    * The US avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor has since announced an audit of 737 MAX pro­duc­tion

    Whistle­blow­ers are warn­ing pro­duc­tion defects on Boe­ing planes haven’t been addressed by the com­pa­ny or the US reg­u­la­tor, putting trav­ellers at greater risk of being involved in an inci­dent.

    The air­craft mak­er has faced increased scruti­ny in recent weeks after its most com­mer­cial­ly pop­u­lar but scan­dal-plagued plane, the 737 MAX, was involved in anoth­er mid-air emer­gency when a hole blew open in the fuse­lage of a 737 MAX 9 Alas­ka.

    The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA) — the indus­try reg­u­la­tor — ground­ed all MAX 9s while they inves­ti­gat­ed, but this week­end they gave the green light for flights to resume.

    Boe­ing will face more scruti­ny when it releas­es its quar­ter­ly earn­ings this week.

    But it’s pre­cise­ly the intense scruti­ny over its earn­ings from investors that has indus­try insid­ers con­cerned that safe­ty is being com­pro­mised to pump up the share price.

    The ABC has spo­ken to for­mer Boe­ing and FAA work­ers who allege they raised safe­ty con­cerns with the com­pa­ny and the watch­dog but they were ignored.

    The whistle­blow­ers’ inter­views paint a pic­ture of a com­pa­ny cul­ture that pri­ori­tis­es pro­duc­tion speed over qual­i­ty and safe­ty, lead­ing to defects being missed or ignored to meet dead­lines.

    ‘This is a Boe­ing issue, this is not a 737 issue’

    “Once you under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing inside of Boe­ing, you’ll see why we’re see­ing these kinds of issues,” for­mer Boe­ing work­er John Bar­nett told the ABC from his home in Louisiana.

    For three decades, Mr Bar­nett proud­ly worked on the Boe­ing fac­to­ry floor, over­see­ing air­craft pro­duc­tion and car­ry­ing out safe­ty checks until he retired in 2017. He’s now deeply dis­il­lu­sioned with the com­pa­ny he once loved.

    While the 737 MAX line has been the focus of scruti­ny after two dead­ly crash­es five years ago and the recent inci­dent involv­ing Alas­ka Air­lines, Mr Bar­nett says the prob­lem runs deep­er than the trou­bled MAX due to what he alleged were lax qual­i­ty and safe­ty stan­dards and shod­dy work in the pro­duc­tion line.

    “This is a Boe­ing issue, this is not a 737 issue,” the for­mer qual­i­ty man­ag­er said.

    Mr Bar­nett said he report­ed sev­er­al safe­ty issues to his supe­ri­ors at the com­pa­ny, includ­ing defec­tive parts going miss­ing and alleged­ly being installed on air­craft with­out first being repaired.

    When these reports met a dead end he took his con­cerns to the reg­u­la­tor, the FAA, who inves­ti­gat­ed and sub­stan­ti­at­ed Mr Bar­net­t’s com­plaint that Boe­ing had lost track of hun­dreds of faulty parts which could not be found.

    Pro­duc­tion defects the ‘ele­phant in the room’

    While the fatal crash­es of two Boe­ing 737 MAX 8s in 2018 and 2019 were attrib­uted large­ly to a design issue with a new piece of soft­ware known as MCAS (Manoeu­vring Char­ac­ter­is­tics Aug­men­ta­tion Sys­tem), whistle­blow­ers told the ABC the “ele­phant in the room” was chron­ic man­u­fac­tur­ing and qual­i­ty con­trol issues that are increas­ing­ly show­ing up as defects in planes short­ly after leav­ing the fac­to­ry.

    After the recent Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent last month, the air­line con­duct­ed inspec­tions on oth­er MAX 9 planes — all near-new — which revealed some already had loose bolts and fix­ings. It raised ques­tions for the air­line about the way the air­craft had been man­u­fac­tured.

    The Wall Street Jour­nal also report­ed on Mon­day that a num­ber of Boe­ing offi­cials believe bolts need­ed to secure the plug door which blew off the Alas­ka Air­lines jet were miss­ing when the jet left Boe­ing’s fac­to­ry.

    Dur­ing that Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent, when the door fell off mid-flight leav­ing a gap­ing hole in the air­craft, ter­ri­fied pas­sen­gers were forced to put on emer­gency oxy­gen masks as the plane rapid­ly depres­surised at 16,000 feet (near­ly 5,000 metres).

    A week lat­er a group of those pas­sen­gers launched a civ­il law­suit in the US against the air­line and Boe­ing, alleg­ing that sev­er­al of the oxy­gen masks did­n’t deploy, and some peo­ple had to move around the plane to find a mask that could pro­vide emer­gency oxy­gen so they could breathe.

    Mr Bar­nett said he was hor­ri­fied when he heard this, but not sur­prised. He had raised the issue of faulty oxy­gen masks dur­ing his time at Boe­ing but he said the issue was “swept under the rug”.

    “When I heard that some of the pas­sen­gers on the 737 MAX 9 were say­ing that their oxy­gen mask won’t work, it’s like, well, we’ve known about that since 2016. And they’ve done noth­ing about it,” he said.

    Years ear­li­er at his fac­to­ry in Charleston, South Car­oli­na he had dis­cov­ered that 25 per cent of oxy­gen mask sys­tems and tanks did­n’t ini­ti­ate prop­er­ly in one instance.

    He said when he report­ed it to his supe­ri­ors at Boe­ing his con­cerns were dis­missed so he filed a whistle­blow­er com­plaint to the FAA in 2017.

    The FAA inves­ti­gat­ed and found that indeed many emer­gency oxy­gen sys­tems were not work­ing cor­rect­ly in the fac­to­ry, how­ev­er the FAA did not take any action as they said Boe­ing was aware of the issue.

    ...

    While Mr Bar­nett worked in a fac­to­ry mak­ing the 787 Dream­lin­er, and the Alas­ka Air­lines plane is a 737 MAX 9, he believes the same emer­gency oxy­gen tanks are used in both the Boe­ing air­craft.

    Boe­ing declined to com­ment or answer ques­tions sent by the ABC for this sto­ry but it has pre­vi­ous­ly said it addressed the issue with the faulty oxy­gen sys­tem in 2017 by remov­ing defec­tive oxy­gen bot­tles from pro­duc­tion.

    Mr Bar­nett filed a whistle­blow­er claim against Boe­ing alleg­ing the com­pa­ny retal­i­at­ed against him for repeat­ed­ly report­ing defects. The case is set for tri­al in late June.

    ‘A slow ero­sion of cul­ture’

    Avi­a­tion con­sul­tant Neil Hans­ford agrees with the gen­er­al assess­ment from avi­a­tion experts world­wide that the prob­lems with Boe­ing began two decades ago when it merged with rival com­pa­ny McDon­nell Dou­glas.

    ...

    “This is all about cul­ture,” he explained.

    “Boe­ing was run by engi­neers. And every­thing was moti­vat­ed by engi­neers. And part of that was excel­lence, and safe­ty and secu­ri­ty.

    “Then in came McDon­nell Dou­glas … Engi­neers have been dri­ven down the hill and replaced by accoun­tants, and the man­age­ment style just has­n’t worked.”

    When Boe­ing’s rival Air­bus was set to release a new plane around a decade ago, Boe­ing rushed to find a mod­el that could com­pete. Instead of build­ing an entire­ly new mod­el, which would have tak­en far longer at greater expense, the com­pa­ny redesigned its hit 737 plane, a best-sell­er that had been around for decades, cre­at­ing the 737 MAX.

    But due to the big­ger engine on the old design, the MCAS soft­ware was required to auto­mat­i­cal­ly acti­vate dur­ing flight and pre­vent the plane’s nose from tip­ping up.

    The prob­lem was, Boe­ing did­n’t tell pilots about it (as it was sup­posed to be a pas­sive, back­ground sys­tem) and in 2018, and then again in 2019, the sys­tem mal­func­tioned and sent planes into a vio­lent nose dive, with the result­ing crash­es killing all on board both flights — 346 peo­ple in total.

    All 737 MAX 8s were ground­ed glob­al­ly for two years.

    “It’s absolute­ly lost its way try­ing to catch up with Air­bus,” Mr Hans­ford said, adding “the FAA has lost their way”.

    ...

    “When you start killing that num­ber of peo­ple in the num­ber of crash­es that they’ve had…in most coun­tries oth­er than the Unit­ed States you would­n’t sur­vive it, the stock mar­ket would pil­lo­ry you, and there’d be a slaugh­ter at dawn of all the man­age­ment.

    The assess­ment of a slow cul­tur­al change rings true for Mr Bar­nett, who also attrib­ut­es a cul­tur­al shift at Boe­ing to the prob­lems he saw emerge around a decade ago.

    ...

    As a result of the cut­backs and the rush to meet dead­lines, he said, some steps were left unchecked and mechan­ics were often forced to approve their own work.

    “In my opin­ion, Boe­ing needs a reck­on­ing from the top down, because, like I say, this cul­ture has been eat­ing at it and eat­ing at and eat­ing at it for 20 years,” Mr Bar­nett said.

    The head of the FAA him­self, Michael Whitak­er, last week acknowl­edged the reg­u­la­tor was con­cerned about qual­i­ty con­trol laps­es at the plane mak­er, despite giv­ing the MAX 9s the green light to head back to the skies, say­ing they would block any request from Boe­ing to expand its pro­duc­tion of the 737 MAX planes “until we are sat­is­fied that the qual­i­ty con­trol issues uncov­ered dur­ing this process are resolved”.

    “This won’t be back to busi­ness as usu­al for Boe­ing,” Mr Whitak­er told reporters.

    He also said as a result of the lat­est 737 MAX inci­dent the FAA would be re-eval­u­at­ing its prac­tice in recent years of del­e­gat­ing parts of the qual­i­ty review process to Boe­ing.

    ...

    ‘That plane should­n’t have been built’

    Anoth­er whistle­blow­er Ed Pier­son agreed with Mr Bar­nett that Boe­ing need­ed an “over­haul” of its man­u­fac­tur­ing and qual­i­ty con­trol process­es to pre­vent anoth­er mid-air inci­dent occur­ring.

    He described Boe­ing as an “out­stand­ing” com­pa­ny of “real­ly tal­ent­ed, hard-work­ing pro­fes­sion­als” but said the lead­er­ship had let it down.

    ...

    The new­ness of the planes with defects was for Mr Pier­son a trou­bling sign that the prob­lem was one of man­u­fac­tur­ing, rather than nor­mal wear and tear.

    “It was a hor­ror to think that brand new planes crash like that,” he said.

    Mr Pier­son was employed by Boe­ing for a decade, where he worked on the 737 MAX line, fin­ish­ing up as a senior man­ag­er in their Seat­tle fac­to­ry in Octo­ber 2018 — two months before the first 737 MAX 8 crash.

    “My instant reac­tion was: that plane should­n’t have been built, we should have stopped pro­duc­tion, every­thing was being rushed from the design of the plane to the devel­op­ment to the pro­duc­tion.”

    Mr Pier­son said he tried to raise issues around pro­duc­tion and qual­i­ty with his man­agers mul­ti­ple times but he alleged those con­cerns were min­imised or dis­missed.

    “There was a huge amount of pres­sure from cor­po­rate to get these aero­planes out the door and sell them to cus­tomers,” he said.

    His con­cern mir­rors those raised by his col­league on the oth­er side of the coun­try, Mr Bar­nett, about the reduc­tion in qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions.

    “The com­pa­ny has tak­en short­cuts across all air­craft pro­grams,” Mr Pier­son alleged to the ABC.

    “The ratio­nale, as I’ve been told, is that if you have less qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions, you can move the prod­uct down the line faster and pro­duce more aero­planes. But those qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions were there for a rea­son.”

    Air safe­ty reg­u­la­tor ‘behold­en to Boe­ing’

    One ques­tion often raised in dis­cus­sions about issues at the plane mak­er is the role of the US gov­ern­ment body tasked with over­see­ing them, the FAA.

    Mr Pier­son said the “over­ly cosy” rela­tion­ship between Boe­ing and the FAA had led to the lack of over­sight and allowed a lax safe­ty cul­ture to devel­op.

    “They com­plete­ly defer to Boe­ing,” he said, “they down­play inci­dents”.

    “I think at the core there’s this belief that it’s the Boe­ing com­pa­ny, right, we don’t need to kind of watch them close­ly.”

    That’s an assess­ment for­mer FAA employ­ee Joe Jacob­sen agrees with.

    “They’re still a lit­tle bit behold­en to Boe­ing, and Boe­ing is able to pres­sure them to do what Boe­ing wants to do,” he said.

    Mr Jacob­sen worked for the FAA between 1995 and 2021 (and before that worked for Boe­ing for a decade) and believes the reg­u­la­tor has failed in its role to scru­ti­nise Boe­ing to pre­vent the mul­ti­ple safe­ty inci­dents in recent years.

    “The FAA needs to step up and be more assertive in their reg­u­la­to­ry role,” Mr Jacob­sen told the ABC.

    A near-new Boe­ing 737 MAX 8 plane, flown by Lion Air, crashed in Octo­ber 2018, killing all 189 peo­ple on board and prompt­ing many reg­u­la­tors in oth­er coun­tries to ground oth­er MAX 8s.

    How­ev­er the FAA resist­ed tak­ing that action until a sec­ond MAX 8 plane, flown by Ethiopi­an Air­lines, crashed in March 2019, again killing every­one on board.

    “The first crash basi­cal­ly exposed the design flaw — MCAS was a design flaw — but in addi­tion to the design flaw there were pro­duc­tion and qual­i­ty prob­lems that were nev­er inves­ti­gat­ed, and I think that’s a key point that was missed,” Mr Jacob­sen said.

    He said the fact that planes pre­sent­ed with such seri­ous issues so soon after leav­ing the fac­to­ry indi­cat­ed to him there were still qual­i­ty con­trol prob­lems in the pro­duc­tion line.

    “I think [the FAA] still needs to get into the fac­to­ry, and they need to just chase down all of the dif­fer­ent prob­lems that are com­ing out of the fac­to­ry because there are a lot of aero­planes com­ing out of the fac­to­ry with qual­i­ty defects. They’re fail­ing very quick­ly,” he said.

    The FAA seems to be lis­ten­ing. Last week it announced it was audit­ing the 737 MAX pro­duc­tion and increas­ing mon­i­tor­ing of qual­i­ty over­sight at Boe­ing.

    When the ABC approached it for com­ment, the FAA referred us to pre­vi­ous mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar fines Boe­ing had been issued in years past for pro­duc­tion defects and oth­er non-com­pli­ance issues.

    The FAA has launched a probe into Boe­ing fol­low­ing the inci­dent and the plane mak­ers last week began to hold a series of “qual­i­ty stand downs” at its fac­to­ries to pause pro­duc­tion on all of its air­craft and reassess safe­ty and qual­i­ty.

    Cur­rent­ly, no Aus­tralian air­lines have the MAX 9 plane. Vir­gin and Bon­za oper­ate MAX 8s (both air­lines’ entire fleet is com­prised of var­i­ous Boe­ing air­craft), while Qan­tas has a range of oth­er Boe­ing and Air­bus air­craft in its fleet.

    ...

    ———-

    “For­mer Boe­ing employ­ees warn pro­duc­tion defects ignored by com­pa­ny and US avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor put pas­sen­gers at risk” By busi­ness reporter Nadia Daly; ABC.net.au; 01/29/2024

    “While the 737 MAX line has been the focus of scruti­ny after two dead­ly crash­es five years ago and the recent inci­dent involv­ing Alas­ka Air­lines, Mr Bar­nett says the prob­lem runs deep­er than the trou­bled MAX due to what he alleged were lax qual­i­ty and safe­ty stan­dards and shod­dy work in the pro­duc­tion line.

    This isn’t just a MAX safetey issue. This is a much deep­er Boe­ing safe­ty issue. That’s what Bar­nett was warn­ing the world just a lit­tle over a month before his death. “This is a Boe­ing issue, this is not a 737 issue”:

    ...
    “Once you under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing inside of Boe­ing, you’ll see why we’re see­ing these kinds of issues,” for­mer Boe­ing work­er John Bar­nett told the ABC from his home in Louisiana.

    For three decades, Mr Bar­nett proud­ly worked on the Boe­ing fac­to­ry floor, over­see­ing air­craft pro­duc­tion and car­ry­ing out safe­ty checks until he retired in 2017. He’s now deeply dis­il­lu­sioned with the com­pa­ny he once loved.

    ...

    “This is a Boe­ing issue, this is not a 737 issue,” the for­mer qual­i­ty man­ag­er said.

    Mr Bar­nett said he report­ed sev­er­al safe­ty issues to his supe­ri­ors at the com­pa­ny, includ­ing defec­tive parts going miss­ing and alleged­ly being installed on air­craft with­out first being repaired.

    When these reports met a dead end he took his con­cerns to the reg­u­la­tor, the FAA, who inves­ti­gat­ed and sub­stan­ti­at­ed Mr Bar­net­t’s com­plaint that Boe­ing had lost track of hun­dreds of faulty parts which could not be found.
    ...

    But it’s even worse than a pan­el fly­ing off the Alaskan Air­lines plane. Pas­sen­gers actu­al­ly had to change seats in the depres­sur­ized plane to access func­tion­ing oxy­gen masks because a num­ber of them did­n’t deploy. As Bar­nett dis­cov­ered years ear­li­er, non-deploy­ing oxy­gen masks was a known issue. A known issue that was appar­ent­ly nev­er fixed and “swept under the rug” despite Bar­nett rais­ing the alarm:

    ...
    While the fatal crash­es of two Boe­ing 737 MAX 8s in 2018 and 2019 were attrib­uted large­ly to a design issue with a new piece of soft­ware known as MCAS (Manoeu­vring Char­ac­ter­is­tics Aug­men­ta­tion Sys­tem), whistle­blow­ers told the ABC the “ele­phant in the room” was chron­ic man­u­fac­tur­ing and qual­i­ty con­trol issues that are increas­ing­ly show­ing up as defects in planes short­ly after leav­ing the fac­to­ry.

    After the recent Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent last month, the air­line con­duct­ed inspec­tions on oth­er MAX 9 planes — all near-new — which revealed some already had loose bolts and fix­ings. It raised ques­tions for the air­line about the way the air­craft had been man­u­fac­tured.

    The Wall Street Jour­nal also report­ed on Mon­day that a num­ber of Boe­ing offi­cials believe bolts need­ed to secure the plug door which blew off the Alas­ka Air­lines jet were miss­ing when the jet left Boe­ing’s fac­to­ry.

    Dur­ing that Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent, when the door fell off mid-flight leav­ing a gap­ing hole in the air­craft, ter­ri­fied pas­sen­gers were forced to put on emer­gency oxy­gen masks as the plane rapid­ly depres­surised at 16,000 feet (near­ly 5,000 metres).

    A week lat­er a group of those pas­sen­gers launched a civ­il law­suit in the US against the air­line and Boe­ing, alleg­ing that sev­er­al of the oxy­gen masks did­n’t deploy, and some peo­ple had to move around the plane to find a mask that could pro­vide emer­gency oxy­gen so they could breathe.

    Mr Bar­nett said he was hor­ri­fied when he heard this, but not sur­prised. He had raised the issue of faulty oxy­gen masks dur­ing his time at Boe­ing but he said the issue was “swept under the rug”.

    “When I heard that some of the pas­sen­gers on the 737 MAX 9 were say­ing that their oxy­gen mask won’t work, it’s like, well, we’ve known about that since 2016. And they’ve done noth­ing about it,” he said.

    Years ear­li­er at his fac­to­ry in Charleston, South Car­oli­na he had dis­cov­ered that 25 per cent of oxy­gen mask sys­tems and tanks did­n’t ini­ti­ate prop­er­ly in one instance.
    ...

    In fact, it was the oxy­gen maks deploy­ment issue, and the lack of any response by his supe­ri­ors, that result­ed in Bar­nett fil­ing a whistle­blow­er com­plaint with the FAA in 2017. That whistle­blow­er com­plaint, in turn, trig­gered retal­i­a­tion against Bar­nett by Boe­ing, result­ing in the whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit that is now at risk of unrav­el­ing as a result of his death. And yet, despite the FAA dis­cov­er­ing that there was indeed a prob­lem from oxy­gen masks, the agency nev­er took any actions to force Boe­ing to fix it. This isn’t just a Boe­ing prob­lem. The FAA is a cap­tured reg­u­la­tor:

    ...
    He said when he report­ed it to his supe­ri­ors at Boe­ing his con­cerns were dis­missed so he filed a whistle­blow­er com­plaint to the FAA in 2017.

    The FAA inves­ti­gat­ed and found that indeed many emer­gency oxy­gen sys­tems were not work­ing cor­rect­ly in the fac­to­ry, how­ev­er the FAA did not take any action as they said Boe­ing was aware of the issue.

    ...

    While Mr Bar­nett worked in a fac­to­ry mak­ing the 787 Dream­lin­er, and the Alas­ka Air­lines plane is a 737 MAX 9, he believes the same emer­gency oxy­gen tanks are used in both the Boe­ing air­craft.

    Boe­ing declined to com­ment or answer ques­tions sent by the ABC for this sto­ry but it has pre­vi­ous­ly said it addressed the issue with the faulty oxy­gen sys­tem in 2017 by remov­ing defec­tive oxy­gen bot­tles from pro­duc­tion.

    Mr Bar­nett filed a whistle­blow­er claim against Boe­ing alleg­ing the com­pa­ny retal­i­at­ed against him for repeat­ed­ly report­ing defects. The case is set for tri­al in late June.
    ...

    And it’s note just Bar­nett. Whistle­blow­er Ed Pier­son wit­nessed the same sys­tem­at­ic lack of qual­i­ty con­trol. As Pier­son put it, “The ratio­nale, as I’ve been told, is that if you have less qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions, you can move the prod­uct down the line faster and pro­duce more aero­planes. But those qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions were there for a rea­son”:

    ...
    Avi­a­tion con­sul­tant Neil Hans­ford agrees with the gen­er­al assess­ment from avi­a­tion experts world­wide that the prob­lems with Boe­ing began two decades ago when it merged with rival com­pa­ny McDon­nell Dou­glas.

    ...

    “This is all about cul­ture,” he explained.

    “Boe­ing was run by engi­neers. And every­thing was moti­vat­ed by engi­neers. And part of that was excel­lence, and safe­ty and secu­ri­ty.

    “Then in came McDon­nell Dou­glas … Engi­neers have been dri­ven down the hill and replaced by accoun­tants, and the man­age­ment style just has­n’t worked.”

    ...

    Anoth­er whistle­blow­er Ed Pier­son agreed with Mr Bar­nett that Boe­ing need­ed an “over­haul” of its man­u­fac­tur­ing and qual­i­ty con­trol process­es to pre­vent anoth­er mid-air inci­dent occur­ring.

    ...

    The new­ness of the planes with defects was for Mr Pier­son a trou­bling sign that the prob­lem was one of man­u­fac­tur­ing, rather than nor­mal wear and tear.

    “It was a hor­ror to think that brand new planes crash like that,” he said.

    ...

    His con­cern mir­rors those raised by his col­league on the oth­er side of the coun­try, Mr Bar­nett, about the reduc­tion in qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions.

    “The com­pa­ny has tak­en short­cuts across all air­craft pro­grams,” Mr Pier­son alleged to the ABC.

    “The ratio­nale, as I’ve been told, is that if you have less qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions, you can move the prod­uct down the line faster and pro­duce more aero­planes. But those qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tions were there for a rea­son.”
    ...

    And as Pier­son and oth­ers con­firm, the FAA repeat­ed­ly failed to hold Boe­ing account­able and act as if the agency is behold­en to the com­pa­ny. Bar­nett had a lot of peo­ple back­ing him up:

    ...
    One ques­tion often raised in dis­cus­sions about issues at the plane mak­er is the role of the US gov­ern­ment body tasked with over­see­ing them, the FAA.

    Mr Pier­son said the “over­ly cosy” rela­tion­ship between Boe­ing and the FAA had led to the lack of over­sight and allowed a lax safe­ty cul­ture to devel­op.

    “They com­plete­ly defer to Boe­ing,” he said, “they down­play inci­dents”.

    “I think at the core there’s this belief that it’s the Boe­ing com­pa­ny, right, we don’t need to kind of watch them close­ly.”

    That’s an assess­ment for­mer FAA employ­ee Joe Jacob­sen agrees with.

    “They’re still a lit­tle bit behold­en to Boe­ing, and Boe­ing is able to pres­sure them to do what Boe­ing wants to do,” he said.
    ...

    Final­ly, note the grim­ly com­i­cal response from the head of the FAA to the Alaskan Air­lines incident:the FAA would be re-eval­u­at­ing its prac­tice in recent years of del­e­gat­ing parts of the qual­i­ty review process to Boe­ing. That’s the state of affairs. The FAA is going to ‘re-eval­u­ate’ let­ting Boe­ing do its own qual­i­ty reviews on behalf of the FAA:

    ...
    As a result of the cut­backs and the rush to meet dead­lines, he said, some steps were left unchecked and mechan­ics were often forced to approve their own work.

    “In my opin­ion, Boe­ing needs a reck­on­ing from the top down, because, like I say, this cul­ture has been eat­ing at it and eat­ing at and eat­ing at it for 20 years,” Mr Bar­nett said.

    The head of the FAA him­self, Michael Whitak­er, last week acknowl­edged the reg­u­la­tor was con­cerned about qual­i­ty con­trol laps­es at the plane mak­er, despite giv­ing the MAX 9s the green light to head back to the skies, say­ing they would block any request from Boe­ing to expand its pro­duc­tion of the 737 MAX planes “until we are sat­is­fied that the qual­i­ty con­trol issues uncov­ered dur­ing this process are resolved”.

    “This won’t be back to busi­ness as usu­al for Boe­ing,” Mr Whitak­er told reporters.

    He also said as a result of the lat­est 737 MAX inci­dent the FAA would be re-eval­u­at­ing its prac­tice in recent years of del­e­gat­ing parts of the qual­i­ty review process to Boe­ing.
    ...

    Is this tru­ly the end of Boe­ing’s free ride with the FAA? Time will tell, but it’s hard to imag­ine any of the peo­ple tru­ly respon­si­ble for this state of affairs is actu­al­ly going to face any sort of pun­ish­ment. Pun­ish­ment for elites isn’t real­ly the US’s forte.

    But at least it’s not just the FAA involved at this point. The jus­tice sys­tem is part of the sto­ry too thanks to John Bar­nett and his whistle­blow­ing suits. Or, at least, the jus­tice sys­tem was involved, thanks to a suit that may no longer be pro­ceed­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 12, 2024, 11:42 pm
  4. That did­n’t take long: The mys­tery of Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­net­t’s incred­i­bly untime­ly death is con­tin­u­ing to get more mys­te­ri­ous, with dis­cor­dant facts of the case already start­ing to pile up.

    First, recall how Bar­nett was stay­ing at a Hol­i­day Inn in Charleston, SC, to pro­vide depo­si­tions as part of the dis­cov­ery phase of the whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion law­suit he filed against Boe­ing, with the for­mal hear­ings sched­uled for June. He was deposed first by Boe­ing’s lawyers and then, on Fri­day March 8th, it was Bar­net­t’s legal team’s turn to cross-exam­ine him, but they did­n’t fin­ish as expect­ed. So they decid­ed to extend the depo­si­tion to the next day. But instead of show­ing up for the 10 am meet­ing, Bar­nett nev­er arrived and could­n’t be con­tact­ed. His legal team made a wel­fare check request at the hotel, where his body was found in an pick­up truck parked in the back of the Hol­i­day Inn park­ing lot. Bar­nett had a gun shot wound to the right tem­ple, with a sil­ver pis­tol found in his hand with his fin­ger still on the trig­ger. A hotel employ­ee also report­ed hear­ing a “pop” sound in the area near where his truck was locat­ed rough­ly a half hour before the police were called. His lawyers expressed shock after recount­ing how he seemed to be in good spir­its the next day.

    That’s what we ini­tial­ly learned. And as the fol­low­ing BBC report from Mon­day describes, the coro­ner’s office is report­ing that Bar­nett died on March 9, con­sis­tent with the employ­ee hear­ing a “pop” short­ly before the wel­fare check was request­ed. And also con­sis­tent with the idea that Bar­nett stayed in the hotel one one more night.

    Here’s were the report­ed facts get weird: For starters, the Dai­ly Mail report­ed that the BBC was told the coro­ner’s office stat­ed the death hap­pened on Fri­day, March 8th, not the next day. Now, that’s pre­sum­ably a typo or some kind of mis­re­port­ing because the BBC report clear­ly states the coro­ner told them the death was March 9, and even archived ini­tial ver­sions of the report give a March 9th date so it’s not like the BBC report changed that date.

    But then we get to some details that don’t appear to be mis­re­port­ed and yet don’t real­ly add up. Accord­ing to police reports that are shown in the Dai­ly Mail piece, Bar­nett was ini­tial­ly sched­uled to check out of the hotel on March 6, but Bar­nett end­ed up extend­ing his stay to the 8th. ABC News also reports that police reports state Bar­nett was sched­uled to check out on the 8th.

    Now, that Bar­nett would have been sched­uled to check out on the 8th isn’t real­ly sur­pris­ing. He was expect­ed to com­plete his depo­si­tion that day. But, of course, that did­n’t hap­pen and they agreed to com­plete it on the 9th and all indi­ca­tions are that Bar­nett stayed one more night at the hotel. That’s why his lawyers called the hotel to check on him and that’s, pre­sum­ably, why those employ­ees agreed to knock on the door of his hotel room on Sat­ur­day morn­ing to make sure he’s ok after get­ting a request for a wel­fare check.

    And yet there does­n’t appear to be any updates in the police report about Bar­nett stay­ing an addi­tion­al night. Instead, we are told in the Dai­ly Mail arti­cle that there is sur­veil­lance video avail­able show­ing Bar­nett exit­ing the hotel on the morn­ing of the 8th, but no ref­er­ence to any sur­veil­lance video show­ing Bar­nett return­ing for anoth­er night or leav­ing for his truck the next day. Keep in mind Bar­net­t’s truck is described as a “Clem­son orange” Dodge Ram, which sounds like the kind of paint job that would stick out on video even in the evening.

    So that’s the weird set of report­ed facts that have emerged already in this inves­ti­ga­tion. Putting aside the Dai­ly Mail’s mis­re­port­ing on the coro­ner’s time of death, the lack of any men­tion of the extra nights stay at the hotel along with no men­tion of sur­veil­lance footage of Bar­nett on that extra night/morning is just odd. It’s like we’re see­ing a cog­ni­tive gap in the inves­ti­ga­tion. Per­haps there’s an expla­na­tion that will come out and it will all make sense. But let’s not for­get we’re look­ing a death that sure has plen­ty of hall­marks of a ‘sui­cide’ coverup. The pil­ing up of dis­cor­dant fact is not a good sign at this point in the inves­ti­ga­tion, but that’s what hap­pen­ing.

    Ok, first, here’s Mon­day’s BBC report on the ini­tial sto­ry that con­tains the March 9th date of death deter­mined by a the coro­ner:

    BBC

    Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett found dead in US

    By Theo Leggett,Business cor­re­spon­dent, BBC News
    03/11/2024

    A for­mer Boe­ing employ­ee known for rais­ing con­cerns about the fir­m’s pro­duc­tion stan­dards has been found dead in the US.

    John Bar­nett worked for Boe­ing for more than 30 years before retir­ing in 2017.

    In the days before his death, he had been giv­ing evi­dence in a whistle­blow­er law­suit against the com­pa­ny.

    Boe­ing said it was sad­dened to hear of Mr Bar­net­t’s pass­ing. The Charleston Coun­ty coro­ner con­firmed his death to the BBC on Mon­day.

    It said the 62-year-old had died from a “self-inflict­ed” wound on 9 March and police were inves­ti­gat­ing.

    ...

    ———-

    “Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett found dead in US” By Theo Leggett; BBC News; 03/11/2024

    “It said the 62-year-old had died from a “self-inflict­ed” wound on 9 March and police were inves­ti­gat­ing.”

    That what the BBC first first report­ed on the time of death. Keep in mind that, if Bar­nett did end up get­ting shot at the time of “pop” , it would have been short­ly before the police and coro­ner got there, mak­ing the tim­ing of shot obvi­ous, foren­si­cal­ly speak­ing. Blood con­geals.

    Now, here’s the Dai­ly Mail report from the next day, giv­ing a March 8 day of death, pre­sum­ably in error. But then the report goes on to include pho­tos of the police report that describes the expect­ed check­out time on the morn­ing of the 8th and men­tions in the arti­cle how sur­veil­lance footage shows Bar­nett exit­ing the hotel on the morn­ing of the 8th. But no men­tion of the check out get­ting extend­ed to the 9th or any­thing about lat­er sur­veil­lance video show­ing Bar­nett return­ing for an extra night:

    Dai­ly Mail

    EXCLUSIVE Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett was found dead with a gun in his hand and left note on the pas­sen­ger seat of his truck out­side a South Car­oli­na hotel, police report reveals

    * Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett was found dead in his truck on Sat­ur­day
    * He was due to attend a third day of depo­si­tions when he was found dead
    * Local police have begun their inves­ti­ga­tion into his death

    By Emma James, In Charleston, South Car­oli­na, For Dailymail.Com

    Pub­lished: 11:48 EDT, 12 March 2024 | Updat­ed: 15:53 EDT, 12 March 2024

    A Boe­ing whistle­blow­er who had tes­ti­fied against the com­pa­ny days before his death shot him­self with a hand­gun and left a sui­cide note in his vehi­cle, DailyMail.com can reveal.

    John Bar­nett, 62, was found dead in his truck in a hotel park­ing lot in Charleston, South Car­oli­na, on Sat­ur­day — sev­en years after he retired fol­low­ing a 32-year career.

    The ex-qual­i­ty man­ag­er at Boe­ing’s North Charleston plant died from a ‘self-inflict­ed’ wound, with Charleston Police Depart­ment prob­ing his death.

    A police report obtained by DailyMail.com reveals that Bar­nett extend­ed his stay at the Hol­i­day Inn two days pri­or to his sus­pect­ed sui­cide and had been set to check out the day before the alarm was raised.

    The report details that a friend of Bar­net­t’s con­tact­ed the hotel ask­ing for a wel­fare check at 10am on March 9, with employ­ees knock­ing on his hotel room door with no response.

    A mem­ber of staff then searched for his orange Dodge Ram in the park­ing lot of the hotel, and dis­cov­ered Bar­nett deceased in the dri­ver’s seat with a ‘sil­ver hand­gun’ in his right hand.

    Bar­nett had his ‘right point­er fin­ger remain­ing on the trig­ger’, and suf­fered a ‘gun­shot wound near his right tem­ple, accord­ing to the report.

    It added that there was a ‘white piece of paper that close­ly resem­bled a note’, lying in plain view on the pas­sen­ger seat.

    The con­tents of the note have not yet been revealed.

    A mem­ber of staff at the hotel told inves­ti­ga­tors that he heard a ‘pop’ at around 9.30am when he was work­ing on the exte­ri­or of the hotel, with Bar­net­t’s truck dis­cov­ered at the rear of the prop­er­ty.

    Sur­veil­lance footage also shows Bar­nett exit­ing the hotel on the morn­ing of March 8, though the alarm was not raised until 24 hours lat­er.

    ...

    In a state­ment issued after DailyMail.com pub­lished the con­tents of the inci­dent report on Tues­day, Bar­net­t’s lawyers, Robert Turke­witz and Bri­an Knowles, claimed there had been ‘no indi­ca­tion’ the for­mer Boe­ing employ­ee would take his own life.

    The state­ment read in part: ‘John was in the midst of a depo­si­tion in his whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion case, which final­ly was near­ing the end. He was in very good spir­its and real­ly look­ing for­ward to putting this phase of his life behind him and mov­ing on. We did­n’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. No one can believe it.

    ‘We are all dev­as­tat­ed. We need more infor­ma­tion about what hap­pened to John. The Charleston police need to inves­ti­gate this ful­ly and accu­rate­ly and tell the pub­lic what they find out. No detail can be left unturned.’

    Ear­li­er on Tues­day police announced they have launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into Bar­net­t’s death after a coro­ner ruled he died from a ‘self-inflict­ed’ gun­shot wound.

    Bar­nett was found dead in South Car­oli­na on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, less than three months after he warned about the pro­duc­tion process­es of both the 737 and 787-Dream­lin­er.

    Charleston Police Depart­ment have con­firmed that it is inves­ti­gat­ing the death of Bar­nett as it emerged he was in Charleston for legal inter­views linked to claims that Boe­ing has ham­pered his career and tar­nished his rep­u­ta­tion for speak­ing out about pro­duc­tion issues on sev­er­al plane mod­els.

    On the third day of his depo­si­tion, he was due to be cross exam­ined by his own lawyers, but failed to show up.

    After enquiries were made, he was found dead in his truck in his hotel’s park­ing lot.

    Bar­net­t’s attor­ney, Bri­an Knowles, told the BBC that Bar­nett had been in the mid­dle of a depo­si­tion in a whistle­blow­er law­suit in Charleston relat­ed to pro­duc­tion of the 787 Dream­lin­er plane.

    The suit alleged under-pres­sure work­ers were delib­er­ate­ly fit­ting ‘sub-stan­dard’ parts to Boe­ing 787s, and that brass were sweep­ing defects under the rug to save mon­ey.

    The FAA has since revealed the firm failed a whop­ping 33 of 89 audits dur­ing an exam of its 737 Max pro­duc­tion.

    In Jan­u­ary, Bar­nett appeared on TMZ to pro­vide his take on a tech­ni­cal fail­ure that saw a door fly off its hinges of a 737 — a mod­el he said was being vic­tim­ized by recent shifts in strat­e­gy along with the 787.

    His warn­ing would prove prophet­ic, as a 787 expe­ri­enced a midair ‘tech­ni­cal event’, injur­ing 50 pas­sen­gers.

    In Jan­u­ary, Bar­nett explained why he believed both mod­els were tick­ing time bombs, as both inci­dents remain under inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ‘This is not a 737 prob­lem — this is a Boe­ing prob­lem,’ he said after being asked if he believed the 737 was safe to fly fol­low­ing the door inci­dent and a sub­se­quent FAA inspec­tion.

    ‘I know the FAA is going in and done due dili­gence and inspec­tions to ensure the door close on the 737 is installed prop­er­ly and the fas­ten­ers are stored prop­er­ly,’ he said, cit­ing the parts that like­ly played a part in the inci­dent.

    ‘But, my con­cern is, ‘What’s the rest of the air­plane? What’s the con­di­tion of the rest of the air­plane?”

    He went on to pro­vide a rea­son for that con­cern — one that he said led him to file the law­suit against the avi­a­tion firm

    ‘Back in 2012, Boe­ing start­ed remov­ing inspec­tion oper­a­tions off their jobs,’ he told TMZ’s Charles Lat­i­beaudiere and Har­vey Levin, recall­ing his time as a qual­i­ty over­seer at Boe­ing’s plant in South Car­oli­na, which man­u­fac­tured most­ly 787s.

    ‘So, it left the mechan­ics to buy off their own work,’ he explained.

    Bar­nett went on to charge that the inci­dent involv­ing the door was indica­tive of some­thing greater — and some­thing alleged in his law­suit: Boe­ing turn­ing a blind eye to safe­ty con­cerns in order to raise their bot­tom line.

    ‘What we’re see­ing with the door plug blowout is what I’ve seen with the rest of the air­plane, as far as jobs not being com­plet­ed prop­er­ly, inspec­tion steps being removed, issues being ignored,’ he charged, months before his sud­den death.

    ‘My con­cerns are with the 737 and 787, because those pro­grams have real­ly embraced the the­o­ry that qual­i­ty is over­head and non val­ue added.

    ‘Those two pro­grams have real­ly put a strong effort into remov­ing qual­i­ty from the process.’

    The FAA appears to have stood up some of the expert’s asser­tions after reveal­ing how a six-week audit found ‘mul­ti­ple instances where [Boe­ing] alleged­ly failed to com­ply with man­u­fac­tur­ing qual­i­ty con­trol require­ments’ of its 737s.

    At one point dur­ing the exam, feds found that mechan­ics at Spir­it AeroSys­tems — one of Boe­ing’s main sup­pli­ers — used a hotel key card to check a door seal, and a liq­uid Dawn soap to a door seal ‘as lubri­cant in the fit-up process.’

    That action was ‘not iden­ti­fied/­doc­u­ment­ed/­called-out in the pro­duc­tion order,’ a doc­u­ment out­lin­ing the probe said — spurring FAA Admin­is­tra­tor Mike Whitak­er to decree Boe­ing must devel­op a com­pre­hen­sive plan to address such ‘sys­temic qual­i­ty-con­trol issues’ with­in 90 days

    He sent sum­ma­ry of its find­ings to the com­pa­nies in its com­plet­ed audit, after an all-day Feb­ru­ary 27 meet­ing with CEO Dave Cal­houn. He did not state the spe­cif­ic cor­rec­tive actions Boe­ing and Spir­it must take.

    ‘Boe­ing must com­mit to real and pro­found improve­ments,’ Whitak­er explained at the time last week. ‘We are going to hold them account­able every step of the way, with mutu­al­ly under­stood mile­stones and expec­ta­tions.’

    Cal­houn respond­ed in his own state­ment, say­ing that Boe­ing’s lead­er­ship team was ‘total­ly com­mit­ted’ to address­ing FAA con­cerns and devel­op­ing the plan.

    Mean­while, Spir­it, which makes the fuse­lage for the now scru­ti­nized MAX, issued a state­ment say­ing it was ‘in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Boe­ing and the FAA on appro­pri­ate cor­rec­tive actions.’

    In response, Boe­ing brass claimed that after the ‘qual­i­ty stand-downs, the FAA audit find­ings, and the recent expert review pan­el report, [the firm has] a clear pic­ture of what needs to be done.’

    The Charleston Coun­ty coro­ner con­firmed to the BBC on Mon­day that he had died from a ‘self-inflict­ed’ wound on Fri­day March 8.

    ...

    John’s lawyer dur­ing the depo­si­tion, Bri­an Knowles, said in a state­ment issued on Mon­day: ‘John had been back and forth for quite some time get­ting pre­pared.

    ‘The defense exam­ined him for their allowed sev­en hours under the rules on Thurs­day.

    ‘I cross exam­ined him all day yes­ter­day [Fri­day] and did not fin­ish. We agreed to con­tin­ue this morn­ing at 10 am [co-coun­sel] Rob [Turke­witz] kept call­ing this morn­ing and his phone would go to voice­mail.

    ———-

    “EXCLUSIVE Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett was found dead with a gun in his hand and left note on the pas­sen­ger seat of his truck out­side a South Car­oli­na hotel, police report reveals” By Emma James, In Charleston, South Car­oli­na, For Dailymail.Com; Dai­ly Mail; 03/12/2024

    “A police report obtained by DailyMail.com reveals that Bar­nett extend­ed his stay at the Hol­i­day Inn two days pri­or to his sus­pect­ed sui­cide and had been set to check out the day before the alarm was raised.”

    John Bar­nett extend­ed his stay at the hotel two days pri­or to his sus­pect­ed sui­cide and was set to check out the day before he was found dead. That’s what we find in this Dai­ly Mail report. But there’s an impor­tant nec­es­sary cor­rec­tion to these report­ed facts. The arti­cle claims the BBC report­ed that the Charleston Coun­ty coro­ner con­firmed to the BBC that Bar­nett actu­al­ly die on Fri­day, March 8, not Sat­ur­day March 9. So that appears to just be a report­ing error on the part of the Dai­ly Mail because as we saw above, the BBC report­ed a March 9 death con­clu­sion by the coro­ner’s office:

    ...

    Ear­li­er on Tues­day police announced they have launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into Bar­net­t’s death after a coro­ner ruled he died from a ‘self-inflict­ed’ gun­shot wound.

    Bar­nett was found dead in South Car­oli­na on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, less than three months after he warned about the pro­duc­tion process­es of both the 737 and 787-Dream­lin­er.

    ...

    The Charleston Coun­ty coro­ner con­firmed to the BBC on Mon­day that he had died from a ‘self-inflict­ed’ wound on Fri­day March 8.
    ...

    But what about that March 8 sched­uled check­out? Well, the arti­cle does include an image to a police report that states that Bar­nett was due to check out on the morn­ing of the 8th. Now, we do know that the plan was for Bar­nett to have com­plet­ed his depo­si­tion on Fri­day, March 8, so it makes sense that he would have been sched­uled to check out on the 8th. But then, obvi­ous­ly, those plans changed after the depo­si­tion could­n’t be com­plet­ed on Fri­day. And all indi­ca­tions are that, not only did Bar­net­t’s lawyers expect him to con­tin­ue stay­ing one more night at the Hol­i­day Inn, but so did the employ­ees since they first knocked on his hotel door on the morn­ing of the 9th as part of their wel­fare check. It would have been odd for them to check on some­one who checked out the pri­or day. On top of that is the fact that there was the employ­ee who heard the “pop” sound in the area of Bar­net­t’s truck at around 9:30 am on the 9th which would sug­gest that Bar­nett died short­ly before his sched­uled 10am depo­si­tion. So we have a con­ver­gence of facts that strong sug­gest Bar­nett stayed one more night at the Hol­i­day Inn, only to die in his truck on the morn­ing of the 9th.

    And yet we’re also told about sur­veil­lance footage show­ing Bar­nett exit­ing the hotel on the morn­ing of the 8th but noth­ing about any fol­lowup sur­veil­lance footage. Should­n’t there be footage of Bar­nett return­ing to the hotel lat­er in the day on the 8th for one more night’s stay? And maybe even more footage of Bar­nett head­ing to his truck on the morn­ing of the 9th? Keep in mind he had an orange pick­up truck that prob­a­bly stick on on cam­eras, even at night. Did Bar­nett check out of the hotel on the morn­ing of the 9th or did he plan on check­ing out after his depo­si­tion? We have no idea, but it’s an odd con­stel­la­tion of details that aren’t lin­ing up:

    ...
    The report details that a friend of Bar­net­t’s con­tact­ed the hotel ask­ing for a wel­fare check at 10am on March 9, with employ­ees knock­ing on his hotel room door with no response.

    A mem­ber of staff then searched for his orange Dodge Ram in the park­ing lot of the hotel, and dis­cov­ered Bar­nett deceased in the dri­ver’s seat with a ‘sil­ver hand­gun’ in his right hand.

    Bar­nett had his ‘right point­er fin­ger remain­ing on the trig­ger’, and suf­fered a ‘gun­shot wound near his right tem­ple, accord­ing to the report.

    It added that there was a ‘white piece of paper that close­ly resem­bled a note’, lying in plain view on the pas­sen­ger seat.

    The con­tents of the note have not yet been revealed.

    A mem­ber of staff at the hotel told inves­ti­ga­tors that he heard a ‘pop’ at around 9.30am when he was work­ing on the exte­ri­or of the hotel, with Bar­net­t’s truck dis­cov­ered at the rear of the prop­er­ty.

    Sur­veil­lance footage also shows Bar­nett exit­ing the hotel on the morn­ing of March 8, though the alarm was not raised until 24 hours lat­er.

    ...

    John’s lawyer dur­ing the depo­si­tion, Bri­an Knowles, said in a state­ment issued on Mon­day: ‘John had been back and forth for quite some time get­ting pre­pared.

    ‘The defense exam­ined him for their allowed sev­en hours under the rules on Thurs­day.

    ‘I cross exam­ined him all day yes­ter­day [Fri­day] and did not fin­ish. We agreed to con­tin­ue this morn­ing at 10 am [co-coun­sel] Rob [Turke­witz] kept call­ing this morn­ing and his phone would go to voice­mail.
    ...

    So is this Dai­ly Mail arti­cle just unfor­tu­nate­ly filled with var­i­ous mis­takes? Well, while that March 8 date of death appears to be a mis­take, but the Dai­ly Mail did pub­lish the police report which clear­ly refers to an expect­ed March 8 check out date. And it’s not like the Dai­ly Mail is the only out­let report­ing that Bar­nett was due to check out of the hotel on March 8. The fol­low­ing ABC News arti­cle makes the same ref­er­ence to a March 8 sched­uled check out based on a police report:

    ABC News

    Boe­ing whistle­blow­er who raised safe­ty con­cerns found dead; attor­ney says he’s shocked

    John Bar­nett was found dead of a “self-inflict­ed” gun­shot wound, police said.

    By Vic­tor Ordonez and Aman­da Maile
    March 12, 2024, 8:05 PM

    A for­mer Boe­ing employ­ee who raised numer­ous con­cerns about the com­pa­ny’s pro­duc­tion stan­dards died from a “self-inflict­ed” gun­shot wound Sat­ur­day, per a coro­ner’s report. The for­mer employ­ee was active­ly engaged in a whistle­blow­er com­plaint against the com­pa­ny pri­or to his death, the employ­ee’s attor­ney con­firmed.

    John Bar­nett, 62, was found by police offi­cers on the morn­ing of March 9 in a vehi­cle parked at a Hol­i­day Inn along Savan­nah High­way “hold­ing a sil­ver hand gun in his right hand,” accord­ing to the Charleston Police Depart­ment.

    Police said they were respond­ing to a hotel work­er’s call after the work­er heard a “pop” from Bar­net­t’s vehi­cle about 30 min­utes pri­or to offi­cers arriv­ing, per the police report. Bar­nett had checked into the hotel on March 2 and was due to check out on March 8.

    Respond­ing offi­cers dis­cov­ered a male inside a vehi­cle “suf­fer­ing from a gun­shot wound to the head,” the inci­dent report reads. “He was pro­nounced deceased at the scene.”

    The Charleston Police Depart­ment said the inves­ti­ga­tion is still active.

    ...

    Boe­ing has moved to dis­miss the case on sev­er­al occa­sions and has denied all of Bar­net­t’s alle­ga­tions – includ­ing claims the com­pa­ny put prof­its over safe­ty. “Safe­ty issues are imme­di­ate­ly inves­ti­gat­ed, and changes are made wher­ev­er nec­es­sary,” said a Boe­ing spokesper­son at the time of his law­suit.

    Upon learn­ing of Bar­net­t’s pass­ing, Boe­ing released a state­ment: “We are sad­dened by Mr. Bar­net­t’s pass­ing, and our thoughts are with his fam­i­ly and friends.”

    The news fol­lows the com­ple­tion of the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion’s (FAA) audit of Boe­ing’s pro­duc­tion lines after a Boe­ing 737 MAX 9 plane lost its door plug mid-flight ear­li­er this year.

    The New York Times report­ed Mon­day that Boe­ing failed 33 of 89 audits. Spir­it Aerosys­tems — a sup­pli­er for Boe­ing that man­u­fac­tures the fuse­lage for the 737 — failed 7 of 13 audits from the FAA.

    In response to the results, Boe­ing said it will “con­tin­ue to imple­ment imme­di­ate changes and devel­op a com­pre­hen­sive action plan to strength­en safe­ty and qual­i­ty, and build the con­fi­dence of our cus­tomers and their pas­sen­gers.”

    ———-

    “Boe­ing whistle­blow­er who raised safe­ty con­cerns found dead; attor­ney says he’s shocked” By Vic­tor Ordonez and Aman­da Maile; ABC News; 03/12/2024

    “Police said they were respond­ing to a hotel work­er’s call after the work­er heard a “pop” from Bar­net­t’s vehi­cle about 30 min­utes pri­or to offi­cers arriv­ing, per the police report. Bar­nett had checked into the hotel on March 2 and was due to check out on March 8.

    This March 8 check out date isn’t just a typo. It’s the infor­ma­tion mul­ti­ple out­lets are attribut­ing to the police report. A report the Dai­ly Mail pub­lished. Again, maybe there’s going to be a clar­i­fi­ca­tion after addi­tion­al inves­tiga­tive facts are revealed. But for now, there’s bizarre time and sur­veil­lance gaps in this inves­ti­ga­tion. Gaps that just hap­pens to encom­pass when and where Bar­nett appears to have died.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 13, 2024, 10:32 pm
  5. It start­ed with a trick­le. It’s become a tor­rent. There’s sim­ply no way to accept Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­net­t’s death as a sui­cide any longer. It’s a murder/cover up. The big ques­tion now is whether or not the legal sys­tem will help with the cov­er up, much as it’s done for Boe­ing for years.

    For starters, we have one of the most defin­i­tive pieces of evi­dence against a sui­cide that we could rea­son­ably get: a close fam­i­ly friend told reporters that Bar­nett recent­ly dis­closed to her that he pre­dict­ed he could end up dead as a result of his whistle­blow­ing. And when she asked Bar­nett if he was scared, he replied, “No, I ain’t scared, but if any­thing hap­pens to me, it’s not sui­cide.” This close fam­i­ly friend, Jen­nifer, last saw Bar­nett at the end up Feb­ru­ary, when he attend­ed her father’s funer­al.

    But as defin­i­tive and com­pelling as Jen­nifer­’s state­ments are in clar­i­fy­ing Bar­net­t’s state of mind, she’s not the only fam­i­ly friend mak­ing sim­i­lar state­ments to the press. Anoth­er fam­i­ly friend, Bob Emery, is also telling reporters that he was con­tact­ed by Bar­nett a cou­ple of weeks ago and Bar­nett did­n’t seem depressed at all.

    And that’s just what we’ve learned from fam­i­ly friends about Bar­net­t’s state of mind. Then there’s the foren­sic details about the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death. For exam­ple, we learned more about the note found on the pas­sen­gers seat of Bar­net­t’s truck. Accord­ing to report­ing, a fam­i­ly mem­ber read the note and told Bar­net­t’s attor­ney’s that “it didn’t sound like John.”

    We’re also learn­ing more about Bar­net­t’s where­abouts on the evening before his death. We are told he last spoke to his attor­ney’s at 6 PM that Fri­day, and he then picked up some food from Taco bell and returned to the hotel. An employ­ee saw him scrolling on his phone, eat­ing a que­sadil­la, and not look­ing depressed that evening. It’s not clear where in the hotel Bar­nett was sit­ting but he was vis­i­bly there.

    The morn­ing when his body was dis­cov­ered, it sounds like the hotel man­ag­er who was first asked to con­duct a wel­fare check on his hotel room, room 511, actu­al­ly found con­den­sa­tion still on a cup of melt­ed ice in his room, indi­cat­ing he recent­ly left for his truck. And in what could be an impor­tant detail, it also sounds like the weath­er was hor­ren­dous that morn­ing with tor­ren­tial rain in the Charleston area. Six inch­es of rain was already on the ground around the truck when his body was dis­cov­ered.

    Keep in mind that one of the odd­i­ties in the ear­ly report­ing was how we are told hotel secu­ri­ty cam­eras cap­tured Bar­nett leav­ing on that Fri­day morn­ing and that he was sched­uled to check out also that morn­ing, but we nev­er heard about sub­se­quent footage show­ing him return­ing for anoth­er evening’s stay after it was decid­ed to extend the depo­si­tion for day. So now we’re learn­ing that he was indeed spot­ted at the hotel lat­er that evening by an employ­ee and that there was hor­ri­ble weath­er the next morn­ing. Did that weath­er effec­tive­ly obscure secu­ri­ty cam­eras? And what kind of impact might tor­ren­tial rain have on phys­i­cal evi­dence left at the scene if we’re look­ing at a poten­tial mur­der here? These are some of the kinds of ques­tions that now loom large in this inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But as we’re also going to see, part of what makes this case so dis­turb­ing is the fact that Boe­ing has already received kid glove treat­ment by the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) for years. The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA) isn’t the only cap­tured agency here. In fact, it turns out that some of the same lawyers who worked out Jef­frey Epstein’s sweet­heart deal were involved with a “deferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment” against Boe­ing that was, per­haps fit­ting­ly, signed on Jan­u­ary 6, 2021, the day of the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. Can we real­ly expect a seri­ous inves­ti­ga­tion into this? Would the US gov­ern­ment allow a major defense con­trac­tor to get caught up in murder/coverup scan­dal of this pro­por­tions? It’s hard to imag­ine. And that’s part of the dis­turb­ing con­text of this whole sto­ry. Because Bar­nett isn’t the only Boe­ing whistle­blow­er here. But he is the biggest. And it’s hard to imag­ine Boe­ing get­ting away with a bla­tant mur­der isn’t going to have a chill­ing effect on the rest of the whistle­blow­ers out there. That’s why the whole nar­ra­tive we’re see­ing already emerg­ing dis­miss­ing the idea that Boe­ing would risk all the per­il of mur­der­ing a whistle­blow­er ignores the real­i­ty that we aren’t just deal­ing with a cor­rupt­ed FAA. Boe­ing does­n’t have to wor­ry about a seri­ous crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion and nev­er did.

    And that’s all why we have to ask if reports like the fol­low­ing, describ­ing how Jen­nifer was warned by Bar­nett that he might be killed and it won’t be a sui­cide, is exact­ly the kind of report Boe­ing is hop­ing every last whistle­blow­er reads and takes very seri­ous­ly. Because, intend­ed or not, that the mes­sage this sto­ry is send­ing to the whistle­blow­er com­mu­ni­ty and it’s going to become a much more com­pelling mes­sage after time, and a lack of con­vic­tions against Boe­ing, proves that Boe­ing got away with it:

    WCIV

    ‘If any­thing hap­pens, it’s not sui­cide’: Boe­ing whistle­blow­er’s pre­dic­tion before death

    by Anne Emer­son
    Thu, March 14th 2024 at 6:56 PM
    Updat­ed Thu, March 14th 2024 at 7:58 PM

    CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — A close fam­i­ly friend of John Bar­nett said he pre­dict­ed he might wind up dead and that a sto­ry could sur­face that he killed him­self.

    But at the time, he told her not to believe it.

    “I know that he did not com­mit sui­cide,” said Jen­nifer, a friend of Bar­net­t’s. “There’s no way.”

    Jen­nifer said they talked about this exact sce­nario play­ing out. How­ev­er, now, his words seem like a pre­mo­ni­tion he told her direct­ly not to believe.

    “I know John because his mom and my mom are best friends,” Jen­nifer said. “Over the years, get-togeth­ers, birth­days, cel­e­bra­tions and what­not. We’ve all got togeth­er and talked.”

    When Jen­nifer need­ed help one day, Bar­nett came by to see her. They talked about his upcom­ing depo­si­tion in Charleston. Jen­nifer knew Bar­nett filed an extreme­ly dam­ag­ing com­plaint against Boe­ing. He said the aero­space giant retal­i­at­ed against him when he blew the whis­tle on unsafe prac­tices.

    For more than 30 years, he was a qual­i­ty man­ag­er. He’d recent­ly retired and moved back to Louisiana to look after his mom.

    “He was­n’t con­cerned about safe­ty because I asked him,” Jen­nifer said. “I said, ‘Aren’t you scared?’ And he said, ‘No, I ain’t scared, but if any­thing hap­pens to me, it’s not sui­cide.’ ”

    Jen­nifer added: “I know that he did not com­mit sui­cide. There’s no way. He loved life too much. He loved his fam­i­ly too much. He loved his broth­ers too much to put them through what they’re going through right now.”

    Jen­nifer said she thinks some­body “did­n’t like what he had to say” and want­ed to “shut him up” with­out it com­ing back to any­one.

    “That’s why they made it look like a sui­cide,” Jen­nifer said.

    The last time Jen­nifer saw Bar­nett was at her father’s funer­al in late Feb­ru­ary. He was one of the pall­bear­ers. Some­times fam­i­ly and friends referred to him by his mid­dle name – Mitch.

    “I think every­body is in dis­be­lief and can’t believe it,” Jen­nifer said. “I don’t care what they say, I know that Mitch did­n’t do that.”

    Just because Bar­nett is dead does­n’t mean the case won’t move for­ward.

    His attor­ney said they’re still pre­pared to go to tri­al in June.

    ...

    ———–

    “ ‘If any­thing hap­pens, it’s not sui­cide’: Boe­ing whistle­blow­er’s pre­dic­tion before death” by Anne Emer­son; WCIV; 03/14/2024

    ““He was­n’t con­cerned about safe­ty because I asked him,” Jen­nifer said. “I said, ‘Aren’t you scared?’ And he said, ‘No, I ain’t scared, but if any­thing hap­pens to me, it’s not sui­cide.’ ”

    Bar­nett told his close fam­i­ly friend, Jen­nifer, that if any­thing hap­pens it’s not sui­cide. It’s hard to get a more defin­i­tive pre-rebut­tal for a sui­cide con­clu­sion than that. Jen­nifer is adamant. They talked about this exact sce­nario:

    ...
    “I know that he did not com­mit sui­cide,” said Jen­nifer, a friend of Bar­net­t’s. “There’s no way.”

    Jen­nifer said they talked about this exact sce­nario play­ing out. How­ev­er, now, his words seem like a pre­mo­ni­tion he told her direct­ly not to believe.

    ...

    Jen­nifer added: “I know that he did not com­mit sui­cide. There’s no way. He loved life too much. He loved his fam­i­ly too much. He loved his broth­ers too much to put them through what they’re going through right now.”

    Jen­nifer said she thinks some­body “did­n’t like what he had to say” and want­ed to “shut him up” with­out it com­ing back to any­one.

    “That’s why they made it look like a sui­cide,” Jen­nifer said.

    ...

    “I think every­body is in dis­be­lief and can’t believe it,” Jen­nifer said. “I don’t care what they say, I know that Mitch did­n’t do that.”
    ...

    Then we get to anoth­er major rea­son Bar­nett would have had for not tak­ing his life: he recent­ly moved back to Louisiana to look after his mom. In oth­er words, he has a sig­nif­i­cant fam­i­ly oblig­a­tion to live for. And Jen­nifer last spoke to him back him Feb­ru­ary, for her father’s funer­al. She has a very recent sense of his state of mind:

    ...
    “I know John because his mom and my mom are best friends,” Jen­nifer said. “Over the years, get-togeth­ers, birth­days, cel­e­bra­tions and what­not. We’ve all got togeth­er and talked.”

    When Jen­nifer need­ed help one day, Bar­nett came by to see her. They talked about his upcom­ing depo­si­tion in Charleston. Jen­nifer knew Bar­nett filed an extreme­ly dam­ag­ing com­plaint against Boe­ing. He said the aero­space giant retal­i­at­ed against him when he blew the whis­tle on unsafe prac­tices.

    For more than 30 years, he was a qual­i­ty man­ag­er. He’d recent­ly retired and moved back to Louisiana to look after his mom.

    ...

    The last time Jen­nifer saw Bar­nett was at her father’s funer­al in late Feb­ru­ary. He was one of the pall­bear­ers. Some­times fam­i­ly and friends referred to him by his mid­dle name – Mitch.
    ...

    Also note this poten­tial­ly impor­tant detail that will be some­thing to keep an eye on: Bar­net­t’s lawyers are still plan­ning on mov­ing for­ward with the whistle­blow­ing com­plaint law­suit. Will they stick plan that as we get­ting clos­er to the June tri­al date?

    ...
    Just because Bar­nett is dead does­n’t mean the case won’t move for­ward.

    His attor­ney said they’re still pre­pared to go to tri­al in June.
    ...

    So that was the mas­sive recent update on this case. But it’s not the only update. A num­ber of details have been trick­ling in via var­i­ous sto­ries. For exam­ple, Bar­net­t’s lawyers last spoke to him at 6 PM on the Fri­day before he was found dead. No signs of dis­tress were observed by his lawyers. And then, the next morn­ing, at the time of “pop” that was heard by a hotel staff mem­ber, huge storms inun­dat­ed the area. So Bar­net­t’s death took place in the mid­dle of a mas­sive storm:

    WICV

    Mys­tery lingers around Boe­ing whistle­blow­er’s death at Charleston hotel

    by Anne Emer­son
    Wed, March 13th 2024 at 7:18 PM
    Updat­ed Thu, March 14th 2024 at 7:01 AM

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — New details con­tin­ue to come for­ward sur­round­ing the death of Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett.

    Bar­nett was found dead in his truck at a Hol­i­day Inn right off Savan­nah High­way in Charleston. Pre­lim­i­nary reports from the Charleston Coun­ty Coro­ner’s Office state that his death appears to be from a “self-inflict­ed” gun­shot wound.

    How­ev­er, that has not quelled the pub­lic’s atten­tion over his death. For years, Bar­nett said pub­li­cal­ly he was retal­i­at­ed against the world’s largest aero­space com­pa­ny because he blew the whis­tle on unsafe prac­tices.

    The Bar­nett Time­line

    Cur­rent­ly, the time­line is still in ques­tion.

    The hotel staff told police, Bar­nett checked into Room 511 at the hotel on March 2. Bar­net­t’s lawyer, Robert Turke­witz, said he sat down for his depo­si­tion with Boe­ing lawyers on Thurs­day, March 7.

    It was the start of a mon­th’s long depo­si­tion process ahead of a June tri­al.

    On March 8, Bar­nett put his com­plaints of a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment at Boe­ing on the record with his lawyers, but he grew tired of the ques­tion­ing and left a lit­tle ear­ly.

    The idea was they would resume the next morn­ing.

    Turke­witz said he spoke to his client for the last time around 6 p.m. Fri­day, March 8.

    Sat­ur­day, March 9, the weath­er is ter­ri­ble.

    Huge storms inun­date the Charleston area. At 9:24 a.m., a hotel staff mem­ber said they heard a “pop” near where Bar­net­t’s car was parked but thought noth­ing of it.

    Turke­witz called the hotel when Bar­nett failed to show up for the depo­si­tion around 10 a.m.

    The hotel staff then locat­ed Bar­nett in his car with a gun still in his hand and what they said was a note on the pas­sen­ger seat.

    “We did not have any indi­ca­tion that he was under tremen­dous stress to the point where he would take his own life,” Turke­witz said.

    ...

    “He was in good spir­its when I last saw him,” Turke­witz said.

    Claims have been made that his death was retal­i­a­tion because he blew the whis­tle on unsafe prac­tices by the aero­space giant. The case was set to go to tri­al in the sum­mer.

    “He was look­ing for­ward to com­plet­ing his depo­si­tion and then dri­ving back home to Louisiana and see­ing his fam­i­ly,” Turke­witz said. “It was a total shock to us when we found out what had hap­pened.”

    ...

    “John was suf­fer­ing from PTSD and anx­i­ety as a result of the hos­tile work envi­ron­ment that he expe­ri­enced at Charleston at Boe­ing,” Turke­witz said. “We did not have any indi­ca­tion that he was under tremen­dous stress to the point where he would take his own life.”

    ———–

    “Mys­tery lingers around Boe­ing whistle­blow­er’s death at Charleston hotel” by Anne Emer­son; WCIV; 03/13/2024

    “Huge storms inun­date the Charleston area. At 9:24 a.m., a hotel staff mem­ber said they heard a “pop” near where Bar­net­t’s car was parked but thought noth­ing of it.”

    Huge storms were inun­dat­ing the Charleston area. It might be a minor detail. But since we’re talk­ing about a poten­tial mur­der that took place in a hotel park­ing lot, the fact that major storms were tak­ing place at the time could be an impor­tant detail.

    Anoth­er poten­tial­ly impor­tant detail: Bar­net­t’s lawyer last spoke to him around 6 PM on that Fri­day evening. And when they last spoke, there was no indi­ca­tion of some sort of tremen­dous stress of any immi­nent psy­cho­log­i­cal break:

    ...
    It was the start of a mon­th’s long depo­si­tion process ahead of a June tri­al.

    On March 8, Bar­nett put his com­plaints of a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment at Boe­ing on the record with his lawyers, but he grew tired of the ques­tion­ing and left a lit­tle ear­ly.

    The idea was they would resume the next morn­ing.

    Turke­witz said he spoke to his client for the last time around 6 p.m. Fri­day, March 8.

    Sat­ur­day, March 9, the weath­er is ter­ri­ble.

    ...

    Turke­witz called the hotel when Bar­nett failed to show up for the depo­si­tion around 10 a.m.

    The hotel staff then locat­ed Bar­nett in his car with a gun still in his hand and what they said was a note on the pas­sen­ger seat.

    “We did not have any indi­ca­tion that he was under tremen­dous stress to the point where he would take his own life,” Turke­witz said.
    ...

    Now, as we’re going to see in the fol­low­ing New York Post arti­cle, Bar­nett was actu­al­ly spot­ted by a hotel employ­ee on that Fri­day evening eat­ing a que­sadil­la and scrolling on his phone. The employ­ee said Bar­nett looked fine.

    We also got details from anoth­er fam­i­ly friend, Bob Emery, who spoke with Bar­nett around two weeks ago, which sounds like around the same time Jen­nifer last spoke with him. Accord­ing to Emery, “he seemed too focused on what he was doing,” with the law­suit and “didn’t seem depressed.” The con­stel­la­tion of facts keeps point in one direc­tion:

    The New York Post

    Inside Boe­ing whistle­blow­er final moments — with John Bar­nett not seem­ing ‘depressed’ on night before alleged sui­cide: sources

    By Steve Helling, Haley Brown and Megan Palin
    Pub­lished March 14, 2024, 5:10 p.m. ET

    Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett “didn’t seem depressed” at din­ner on the evening before he was mys­te­ri­ous­ly found dead in his car with a gun­shot wound to his head, sources told The Post.

    Lawyers, fam­i­ly friends and wit­ness­es all say the 62-year-old was upbeat about fin­ish­ing off giv­ing tes­ti­mo­ny against his for­mer employ­er in Charleston, South Car­oli­na, and raised sus­pi­cious as to whether he’d take his own life.

    An employ­ee who works at the Hol­i­day Inn where Bar­nett was found dead in the park­ing lot told The Post Bar­nett ate a que­sadil­la, drank a Coke, scrolled on his phone and seemed fine on the evening of Feb. 8.

    “I didn’t think of him at all until I heard the news the next day. He didn’t seem upset at all,” the employ­ee told The Post.

    ...

    The Charleston Coun­ty coro­ner ini­tial­ly not­ed the death as a “self-inflict­ed” wound, but said more tests are being done before a final deter­mi­na­tion. Police have made clear they are still active­ly inves­ti­gat­ing the death.

    Sources have also told The Post Barnett’s car has been dust­ed inside and out for prints — an unusu­al meau­re in a sui­cide case.

    Fam­i­ly friend Bob Emery spoke to Bar­nett around two weeks before he died and said “he seemed too focused on what he was doing,” with the law­suit and “didn’t seem depressed.”

    Emery told The Post they had both lost their wives, him­self more recent­ly, and it was Bar­nett who was mak­ing calls and check­ing up on him to make sure he was OK.

    “I lost my wife last year and he checked on me a lot,” Emery told The Post.

    “I told him that I have good days and bad days. He said that’s to be expect­ed, but as time pass­es, there would be more good days than bad days. He said he was doing well.”

    “He had a good life going for him. Even with the prob­lems at Boe­ing.”

    Barnett’s wife, Diane John­son — also a for­mer Boe­ing work­er, described in her obit­u­ary as hav­ing “enjoyed work­ing on race cars with her hus­band” — died in 2022 fol­low­ing an undis­closed ill­ness.

    “He took Diane’s loss hard. They had got­ten togeth­er lat­er and he ful­ly thought they were going to grow old together…but I felt like he had got­ten through that,” Emery said.

    “He def­i­nite­ly missed her a lot, but I didn’t think he was sui­ci­dal over her.”

    ...

    ———–

    “Inside Boe­ing whistle­blow­er final moments — with John Bar­nett not seem­ing ‘depressed’ on night before alleged sui­cide: sources” By Steve Helling, Haley Brown and Megan Palin; The New York Post; 03/14/2024

    “An employ­ee who works at the Hol­i­day Inn where Bar­nett was found dead in the park­ing lot told The Post Bar­nett ate a que­sadil­la, drank a Coke, scrolled on his phone and seemed fine on the evening of Feb. 8.”

    A hotel employ­ee saw Bar­nett scrolling on his phone, eat­ing a que­sadil­la, and look­ing per­fect­ly fine that Fri­day evening. So we can con­firm Bar­nett was vis­i­bly present at the hotel on that evening:

    ...
    “I didn’t think of him at all until I heard the news the next day. He didn’t seem upset at all,” the employ­ee told The Post.

    ...

    The Charleston Coun­ty coro­ner ini­tial­ly not­ed the death as a “self-inflict­ed” wound, but said more tests are being done before a final deter­mi­na­tion. Police have made clear they are still active­ly inves­ti­gat­ing the death.

    Sources have also told The Post Barnett’s car has been dust­ed inside and out for prints — an unusu­al meau­re in a sui­cide case.
    ...

    Beyond that, we have anoth­er fam­i­ly friend, Bob Emery, who also spoke with Bar­nett recent­ly and who did­n’t get the impres­sion Bar­nett was depressed at all. On the con­trary, it was Bar­nett who was help­ing Emery cope with the recent loss of his wife. These do no seem like the actions of some­one con­tem­plat­ing tak­ing their own life:

    ...
    Fam­i­ly friend Bob Emery spoke to Bar­nett around two weeks before he died and said “he seemed too focused on what he was doing,” with the law­suit and “didn’t seem depressed.”

    Emery told The Post they had both lost their wives, him­self more recent­ly, and it was Bar­nett who was mak­ing calls and check­ing up on him to make sure he was OK.

    “I lost my wife last year and he checked on me a lot,” Emery told The Post.

    “I told him that I have good days and bad days. He said that’s to be expect­ed, but as time pass­es, there would be more good days than bad days. He said he was doing well.”

    “He had a good life going for him. Even with the prob­lems at Boe­ing.”

    ...

    “He took Diane’s loss hard. They had got­ten togeth­er lat­er and he ful­ly thought they were going to grow old together…but I felt like he had got­ten through that,” Emery said.

    “He def­i­nite­ly missed her a lot, but I didn’t think he was sui­ci­dal over her.”
    ...

    Final­ly, we have the fol­low­ing piece in the Amer­i­can Prospect with some addi­tion­al impor­tant details. First, it sounds like there was six inch­es of rain on the ground already by the time Bar­net­t’s body was found. So, again, what kind of impact did that tor­ren­tial rain have on the abil­i­ty of secu­ri­ty cam­eras to see what was going on in the area around Bar­net­t’s truck? Anoth­er poten­tial rel­e­vant detail is that con­den­sa­tion was found on a cup of melt­ed ice by the hotel man­ag­er who as ini­tial­ly asked to check on Bar­net­t’s room by his attor­neys, which is fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion that he had just recent­ly left his room for the truck. We’re also told that a fam­i­ly mem­ber has seen the note that was found on the pas­sen­ger seat and told Bar­net­t’s attor­neys that “it didn’t sound like John.”

    But beyond those evi­den­tiary details on Bar­net­t’s death, the piece also con­tains an impor­tant detail on what made Bar­net­t’s whistle­blow­er claims so poten­tial­ly dev­as­tat­ing for Boe­ing: Bar­nett kept the receipts. His case isn’t just based on his tes­ti­mo­ny. He has the doc­u­ments to back his claims up. Which is also part of what it’s going to be very inter­est­ing to see if his lawyers do end up con­tin­u­ing with the case. Because they pre­sum­ably still have all those doc­u­ments, and at this point a much more com­pelling case:

    Amer­i­can Prospect

    The Strange Death of a Boe­ing Whistle­blow­er

    There’s no way America’s last great man­u­fac­tur­er mur­dered a promi­nent crit­ic … is there?

    by Mau­reen Tkacik
    March 14, 2024

    John Bar­nett was called “Mitch” among fam­i­ly and “Swampy” (short for “Swamp Dawg”) by friends, a ref­er­ence to the warm heav­i­ness of his Louisiana drawl. He had lots of tat­toos, raced cars on dirt tracks, drove a bright orange Dodge Ram pick­up, and was known as the “FUN­cle” by his dot­ing nieces and nephews, to whom he jumped at the chance to move clos­er when Boe­ing, his then-employ­er of 22 years, announced it was open­ing a mas­sive final assem­bly plant in North Charleston, South Car­oli­na, for its new 787 Dream­lin­er in 2010.

    The job, over­see­ing a group of 10 to 12 qual­i­ty assur­ance inspec­tors, quick­ly turned out to be the stuff of night ter­rors. Boe­ing had relo­cat­ed south to avoid the machin­ists’ union, but they had no real plan for cir­cum­vent­ing Charleston’s dis­tinct dearth of machin­ists. Swampy was a good teacher, but Boe­ing exec­u­tives did not shy away from voic­ing their opin­ion that qual­i­ty assur­ance itself was fun­da­men­tal­ly friv­o­lous. At Boeing’s Everett, Wash­ing­ton, facil­i­ty, each qual­i­ty assur­ance inspec­tor was assigned to exam­ine the work of 15 mechan­ics; in Charleston, that num­ber was 50, and the mechan­ics them­selves more often than not were guys who had been “flip­ping burg­ers” a month ago, as Swampy put it in mul­ti­ple inter­views. So every day, the work­ers he super­vised inspect­ed planes that had been assem­bled by com­plete ama­teurs, while the boss­es to whom he report­ed insist­ed the fry cooks were per­fect­ly qual­i­fied to self-inspect their own work­man­ship. “Every day was a bat­tle to get Boe­ing man­age­ment to do the right thing,” Swampy’s broth­er Rod­ney Bar­nett recalled in an email.

    In 2016, a doc­tor warned Swampy he’d have a heart attack if he stayed at Boe­ing much longer; last week­end, when a front desk work­er at a Hol­i­day Inn in Charleston called to say that Swampy had been locat­ed in his orange Ram and that “EMS is com­ing,” his lawyer Robert Turke­witz fig­ured his weary heart had giv­en out on him.

    He’d known Swampy since Jan­u­ary 2017, when he got a call from the new­ly retired man­ag­er about what he’d wit­nessed at the 787 plant. They filed their first com­plaint in Bar­nett v. Boe­ing Co. that very night. More than sev­en years lat­er, their case was final­ly in the home stretch, and Swampy, now 62, was sched­uled to show up at the down­town office of Boeing’s defense firm Ogle­tree Deakins at 10 a.m. on Sat­ur­day for the third day of a three-day depo­si­tion. The tri­al date had been set for June.

    ...

    On the first day of the depo­si­tion, Swampy had killed it, because no one knew more about his case than he did. But when it came time for Swampy’s own legal team to take over ques­tion­ing, he began to wear thin, exhaust­ed by the bur­dens of going over the minute details of his six-year odyssey into the depths of avi­a­tion hell. They agreed to break around 6 p.m. and come back the next morn­ing, after which Swampy planned to dri­ve straight back to Louisiana; he could no longer stom­ach fly­ing after what he’d seen at the 787 plant.

    He grabbed some Taco Bell on the way back to the Hol­i­day Inn; there was still con­den­sa­tion on the cup of melt­ed ice the hotel man­ag­er found when Turke­witz asked if the recep­tion­ist could check his room the next morn­ing, wor­ried that his phone was send­ing him straight to voice­mail. Turke­witz asked if she could see the orange Ram in the park­ing lot; it was indeed there, sit­ting in about six inch­es of rain. All the lawyers, Boeing’s includ­ed, quick­ly drove over to what they assumed was the scene of a car­diac arrest.

    Swampy was inside the Ram, bleed­ing from his right tem­ple with a sil­ver pis­tol in his hand and some­thing “resem­bling a note” in the pas­sen­ger seat. A grounds­man told police he’d heard a “pop” around 9:24 a.m., but rain had muf­fled the sound. Every­one was in shock. Bar­nett had been diag­nosed with anx­i­ety and post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der, incurred in his dai­ly strug­gles with Boe­ing man­age­ment. “I rep­re­sent a lot of dis­abled vet­er­ans, and I know that there’s a real­ly high per­cent­age of peo­ple with PTSD who kill them­selves because it becomes unbear­able,” Turke­witz said. But Swampy, he insists, was not in that kind of place. “It made no sense” for him to take his own life when he was so close to final vin­di­ca­tion, Turke­witz added.

    “It real­ly came out of nowhere,” con­curs his broth­er Rod­ney, who oth­er­wise refrained from com­ment­ing in def­er­ence to the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion. (Louisiana does not require cit­i­zens to reg­is­ter their own­er­ship of small firearms, but Rod­ney refused to say whether his broth­er owned a sil­ver pis­tol.) A fam­i­ly mem­ber told Turke­witz what was writ­ten on the note, but “it didn’t sound like John,” he insists. Turkewitz’s co-coun­sel Bri­an Knowles issued a state­ment to Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter say­ing Bar­nett was “dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflict­ed gun­shot.” No one want­ed to say out­right what they thought had hap­pened, but as CNBC anchor Becky Quick quipped when she opened Tuesday’s Squawk Box with the sto­ry, “this looks fishy.”

    ...

    I per­son­al­ly have trou­ble believ­ing Boe­ing would plot a whistle­blow­er mur­der, most­ly because there are dozens of inter­nal whistle­blow­ers where Swampy came from, and it would be imprac­ti­cal to kill all of them, espe­cial­ly giv­en that Boe­ing has thus far enjoyed excep­tion­al impuni­ty with­out bring­ing about the mys­te­ri­ous death of any cru­cial wit­ness­es. (Save of course for the pilots and crew of the 737 MAX jets whose uncom­mand­ed nose­dives into the Earth five years ago pre­cip­i­tat­ed the quick descent of the rep­u­ta­tion of America’s last great man­u­fac­tur­er into the ranks of cor­po­rate car­toon vil­lains like Pur­due Phar­ma and Corinthi­an Col­leges.)

    Last month, we explored the affil­i­a­tions and career his­to­ries of the inces­tu­ous clique of Boe­ing attor­neys and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials who facil­i­tat­ed the shame­ful “deferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment” that end­ed the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Boeing’s homi­ci­dal con­duct with regard to the 737 MAX. Con­spir­a­cy fans will be inter­est­ed to read about the thick­et of con­nec­tions between the lawyers who draft­ed Jef­frey Epstein’s shock­ing 2008 immu­ni­ty deal and those who con­coct­ed Boeing’s, which was signed Jan­u­ary 6, 2021. What­ev­er the sig­nif­i­cance of those eerie con­nec­tions, Boe­ing has thus far proven so immune from con­se­quence for its greed-dri­ven deci­sions that a fed­er­al judge warned the DOJ in open court two weeks ago that its mys­te­ri­ous resis­tance to prop­er­ly inves­ti­gat­ing Boe­ing was jeop­ar­diz­ing its own rep­u­ta­tion in the eyes of the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

    The judge said this while rul­ing in the DOJ’s favor, in a case filed by 737 MAX vic­tims’ fam­i­lies to force the agency to hand over its files on the deci­sion to close the Boe­ing case with a tooth­less DPA. The judge, Beryl How­ell, denied the fam­i­lies’ motion, but rebuked the agency for fail­ing to “take seri­ous­ly the rep­u­ta­tion of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice [in] respond­ing to all the smoke that has been gen­er­at­ed about this DPA,” as evi­denced by its fail­ure to send a sin­gle lawyer from the fraud divi­sion to the March 1 hear­ing. “It’s the Depart­ment of Justice’s rep­u­ta­tion at stake here in how well they’re pro­tect­ing the pub­lic inter­est,” she told the court­room.

    Eight days lat­er, The Wall Street Jour­nal broke the news that the DOJ had opened a new crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Boeing’s cul­pa­bil­i­ty for the door plug that flew off a 737 MAX oper­at­ed by Alas­ka Air­lines on Jan­u­ary 5.

    Giv­en all we have learned in the past few weeks alone about Boeing’s insti­tu­tion­al rot—its fail­ure to install a sin­gle bolt that would have affixed the door plug into the Alas­ka Air­lines fuse­lage, that the Alas­ka plane was sched­uled for a safe­ty check the day the door plug blew out, its fail­ure of 33 of 89 FAA audits, the jammed rud­der that caused a near miss in a 737 MAX in Newark last week, the pas­sen­ger not­ing a “wing com­ing apart” on a San Fran­cis­co-to-Boston flight that was forced to make a pre­ma­ture land­ing, its ongo­ing effort to fast-track a mal­func­tion­ing de-icing func­tion, the use of Dawn dish soap and hotel room key cards to check door seals—one might assume that prov­ing the com­pa­ny had vio­lat­ed the terms of its DPA would be a cake­walk. But as it is writ­ten, the only actu­al require­ments of com­ply­ing with the DPA are that Boe­ing coop­er­ate ful­ly with domes­tic and for­eign reg­u­la­to­ry author­i­ties in any inves­ti­ga­tions dur­ing the three years in which it remains in effect.

    To be sure, the Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board accused Boe­ing last week of refus­ing to coop­er­ate in its inves­ti­ga­tion of the fly­away door plug. Boe­ing main­tains it has coop­er­at­ed “ful­ly and trans­par­ent­ly” with the NTSB; it sim­ply does not pos­sess the doc­u­ments the agency is seek­ing because it no longer doc­u­ments the repairs and pro­ce­dures the agency is accus­tomed to ask­ing for doc­u­men­ta­tion of.

    Delib­er­ate non­doc­u­men­ta­tion was a cor­ner­stone of the new Boe­ing cul­ture with which Swampy came into con­stant con­flict. In 2014, he was rep­ri­mand­ed in a per­for­mance review for doc­u­ment­ing “process vio­la­tions” in writ­ing instead of flag­ging issues ver­bal­ly and “work­ing in the gray areas”—i.e., with­out leav­ing a paper trail. Non­doc­u­men­ta­tion was part of a larg­er “the­o­ry,” Swampy explained in an inter­view ear­li­er this year with TMZ, that “qual­i­ty is over­head and not val­ue-added.”

    Sit­ting before a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque from his work on the Space Shut­tle pro­gram, on which he worked before Boe­ing bought the Rock­well divi­sion that man­aged the shut­tle con­tract, Swampy gen­tly described how his team had been tak­en off a job for find­ing 300 defects on a sec­tion of fuse­lage, and his failed efforts to pre­vent mechan­ics from break­ing into the cage where defec­tive parts were stored before sup­pli­ers retrieved them to be repaired. Man­agers stole parts from the cage so fre­quent­ly that he had the locks changed, Turke­witz told the Prospect, but high­er-ups direct­ed him to have 200 new keys made so they could con­tin­ue swip­ing bad parts to install on planes. And that was just the tip of the prover­bial ice­berg of what Swampy wit­nessed in his six tor­tur­ous years in North Charleston, Turke­witz says.

    And while Bar­nett con­duct­ed numer­ous high-pro­file inter­views over the years with the likes of The New York Times, the pro­duc­ers of the Net­flix doc­u­men­tary Down­fall, and the Today show, what was most unusu­al from his lawyers’ per­spec­tive was that he had the receipts. Unlike would-be whistle­blow­er clients who find them­selves “perp walked” out of the plant with­out access to their phones or email accounts, Turke­witz told the Prospect, “John had metic­u­lous­ly doc­u­ment­ed every­thing, he had thou­sands of pages stored on his com­put­er.” Those doc­u­ments were espe­cial­ly invalu­able because of the mea­ger force of the “AIR 21” statute gov­ern­ing avi­a­tion whistle­blow­ers, which forces indus­try employ­ees who are fired for speak­ing out about unsafe prac­tices to lit­i­gate their griev­ances in a secret court sys­tem oper­at­ed by the Depart­ment of Labor that lacks sub­poe­na pow­er.

    ...

    But the end was almost in sight. “He was in very good spir­its and real­ly look­ing for­ward to putting this phase of his life behind him,” Turke­witz said. “We didn’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. We need more infor­ma­tion … No one can believe it.”

    ———-

    “The Strange Death of a Boe­ing Whistle­blow­er” by Mau­reen Tkacik; Amer­i­can Prospect; 03/14/2024

    He grabbed some Taco Bell on the way back to the Hol­i­day Inn; there was still con­den­sa­tion on the cup of melt­ed ice the hotel man­ag­er found when Turke­witz asked if the recep­tion­ist could check his room the next morn­ing, wor­ried that his phone was send­ing him straight to voice­mail. Turke­witz asked if she could see the orange Ram in the park­ing lot; it was indeed there, sit­ting in about six inch­es of rain. All the lawyers, Boeing’s includ­ed, quick­ly drove over to what they assumed was the scene of a car­diac arrest.”

    The was six inch­es of rain already when Bar­net­t’s body was dis­cov­ered, pre­sum­ably less than an hour after he was shot based on the avail­able evi­dence. What kind of vis­i­bil­i­ty was there around Bar­net­t’s truck at the time of the ‘pop’ sound? Was it rain­ing so hard it was impos­si­ble for, for exam­ple, secu­ri­ty cam­eras to accu­rate­ly see what was going on around the truck? Did tor­ren­tial rains cre­ate an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a hit on Bar­nett that could­n’t be caught on cam­era?

    Also observe how, while we don’t yet know the con­tents of the white note on Bar­net­t’s pas­sen­ger, a fam­i­ly mem­ber did see the note and told Bar­net­t’s lawyer that “it did­n’t sound like John”:

    ...
    “It real­ly came out of nowhere,” con­curs his broth­er Rod­ney, who oth­er­wise refrained from com­ment­ing in def­er­ence to the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion. (Louisiana does not require cit­i­zens to reg­is­ter their own­er­ship of small firearms, but Rod­ney refused to say whether his broth­er owned a sil­ver pis­tol.) A fam­i­ly mem­ber told Turke­witz what was writ­ten on the note, but “it didn’t sound like John,” he insists. Turkewitz’s co-coun­sel Bri­an Knowles issued a state­ment to Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter say­ing Bar­nett was “dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflict­ed gun­shot.” No one want­ed to say out­right what they thought had hap­pened, but as CNBC anchor Becky Quick quipped when she opened Tuesday’s Squawk Box with the sto­ry, “this looks fishy.”
    ...

    Also note this poten­tial­ly impor­tant char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the depo­si­tion that Bar­nett was able to accom­plish in those two days before his death: he killed it because no one knew the case bet­ter. But beyond that, there’s the fact that Bar­nett kept the doc­u­ments detail­ing exten­sive wrong­do­ing by Boe­ing. This was­n’t a case that relied entire­ly on his tes­ti­mo­ny. He had the receipts:

    ...
    On the first day of the depo­si­tion, Swampy had killed it, because no one knew more about his case than he did. But when it came time for Swampy’s own legal team to take over ques­tion­ing, he began to wear thin, exhaust­ed by the bur­dens of going over the minute details of his six-year odyssey into the depths of avi­a­tion hell. They agreed to break around 6 p.m. and come back the next morn­ing, after which Swampy planned to dri­ve straight back to Louisiana; he could no longer stom­ach fly­ing after what he’d seen at the 787 plant.

    ...

    And while Bar­nett con­duct­ed numer­ous high-pro­file inter­views over the years with the likes of The New York Times, the pro­duc­ers of the Net­flix doc­u­men­tary Down­fall, and the Today show, what was most unusu­al from his lawyers’ per­spec­tive was that he had the receipts. Unlike would-be whistle­blow­er clients who find them­selves “perp walked” out of the plant with­out access to their phones or email accounts, Turke­witz told the Prospect, “John had metic­u­lous­ly doc­u­ment­ed every­thing, he had thou­sands of pages stored on his com­put­er.” Those doc­u­ments were espe­cial­ly invalu­able because of the mea­ger force of the “AIR 21” statute gov­ern­ing avi­a­tion whistle­blow­ers, which forces indus­try employ­ees who are fired for speak­ing out about unsafe prac­tices to lit­i­gate their griev­ances in a secret court sys­tem oper­at­ed by the Depart­ment of Labor that lacks sub­poe­na pow­er.
    ...

    And then there’s the fact that this isn’t just a sto­ry about the cor­rup­tion of the FAA. The DOJ has been oper­ate as Boe­ing’s ‘legal guardian’ too. In fact, some of the same lawyers who worked out Jef­frey Epstein’s sweet­heart deal were involved with a “deferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment” against Boe­ing that was, per­haps fit­ting­ly, signed on Jan­u­ary 6, 2021, the day of the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion:

    ...
    Last month, we explored the affil­i­a­tions and career his­to­ries of the inces­tu­ous clique of Boe­ing attor­neys and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials who facil­i­tat­ed the shame­ful “deferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment” that end­ed the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Boeing’s homi­ci­dal con­duct with regard to the 737 MAX. Con­spir­a­cy fans will be inter­est­ed to read about the thick­et of con­nec­tions between the lawyers who draft­ed Jef­frey Epstein’s shock­ing 2008 immu­ni­ty deal and those who con­coct­ed Boeing’s, which was signed Jan­u­ary 6, 2021. What­ev­er the sig­nif­i­cance of those eerie con­nec­tions, Boe­ing has thus far proven so immune from con­se­quence for its greed-dri­ven deci­sions that a fed­er­al judge warned the DOJ in open court two weeks ago that its mys­te­ri­ous resis­tance to prop­er­ly inves­ti­gat­ing Boe­ing was jeop­ar­diz­ing its own rep­u­ta­tion in the eyes of the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

    The judge said this while rul­ing in the DOJ’s favor, in a case filed by 737 MAX vic­tims’ fam­i­lies to force the agency to hand over its files on the deci­sion to close the Boe­ing case with a tooth­less DPA. The judge, Beryl How­ell, denied the fam­i­lies’ motion, but rebuked the agency for fail­ing to “take seri­ous­ly the rep­u­ta­tion of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice [in] respond­ing to all the smoke that has been gen­er­at­ed about this DPA,” as evi­denced by its fail­ure to send a sin­gle lawyer from the fraud divi­sion to the March 1 hear­ing. “It’s the Depart­ment of Justice’s rep­u­ta­tion at stake here in how well they’re pro­tect­ing the pub­lic inter­est,” she told the court­room.

    Eight days lat­er, The Wall Street Jour­nal broke the news that the DOJ had opened a new crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Boeing’s cul­pa­bil­i­ty for the door plug that flew off a 737 MAX oper­at­ed by Alas­ka Air­lines on Jan­u­ary 5.
    ...

    Final­ly, we get to the con­clu­sion of the author of this piece that Bar­nett prob­a­bly would­n’t have been killed by Boe­ing because doing so would seem­ing­ly be point­less since there are so many oth­er whistle­blow­ers. And while it’s pos­si­ble that Bar­net­t’s death will some­how rein­vig­o­rate all of these oth­er whistle­blow­ers and make them even more deter­mined to deliv­er jus­tice to the com­pa­ny, it’s also impor­tant to keep in mind that bump­ing off the lead­ing whistle­blow­er and get­ting away with it would be be one of the most effec­tive means of chill­ing all of the rest of those whistle­blow­ers that Boe­ing could pos­si­bly come up with. In oth­er words, this is going to be a dis­as­ter for Boe­ing if it’s thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed and a mur­der plot is revealed. But if that does­n’t hap­pen, this could be one of the most dia­bol­i­cal­ly potent cor­po­rate pow­er plays we could imag­ine: pulling off a pret­ty bla­tant mur­der sure will send a pow­er­ful mes­sage to all those oth­er whistle­blow­ers:

    ...
    I per­son­al­ly have trou­ble believ­ing Boe­ing would plot a whistle­blow­er mur­der, most­ly because there are dozens of inter­nal whistle­blow­ers where Swampy came from, and it would be imprac­ti­cal to kill all of them, espe­cial­ly giv­en that Boe­ing has thus far enjoyed excep­tion­al impuni­ty with­out bring­ing about the mys­te­ri­ous death of any cru­cial wit­ness­es. (Save of course for the pilots and crew of the 737 MAX jets whose uncom­mand­ed nose­dives into the Earth five years ago pre­cip­i­tat­ed the quick descent of the rep­u­ta­tion of America’s last great man­u­fac­tur­er into the ranks of cor­po­rate car­toon vil­lains like Pur­due Phar­ma and Corinthi­an Col­leges.)
    ...

    As the arti­cle describes, Boe­ing has already been oper­at­ing with basic impuni­ty. Would it feel the need to mur­der Bar­nett giv­en that impuni­ty? It pos­es a grim kind of para­dox: would hav­ing a his­to­ry of oper­at­ing with impuni­ty make a cor­po­ra­tion more, or less, like­ly to bump off a whistle­blow­er? What if this whistle­blow­er is only one of many whistle­blow­ers, with more poten­tial­ly on the way? These are the kinds of ques­tions we have to ask. Along with the gen­er­al ques­tion of whether or not one want to risk fly­ing at all at this point with­out assur­ances that it won’t be on a Boe­ing.

    And in relat­ed news, a 25 year old Boe­ing was just dis­cov­ered to be miss­ing an exter­nal pan­el after land­ing from a domes­tic US flight. Which is the kind of sto­ry that sug­gest Boe­ing’s qual­i­ty issues aren’t just impact­ing the new­er planes. And which is also the kind sto­ry that sug­gests there could be even more poten­tial whistle­blow­ers wait­ing to come for­ward. Or at least wait­ing to see how the death of John Bar­nett gets inves­ti­gat­ed before decid­ing whether or not to come for­ward.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2024, 4:44 pm
  6. John Bar­nett packed up all his stuff from his hotel room on the morn­ing of March 9, and then decid­ed to leave his stuff, still packed, sit­ting there in the room, along with his dri­vers license. Bar­nett then went down to his truck in the back of the hotel park­ing lot in the mid­dle of a tor­ren­tial rain storm to end his life. This is after telling a close fam­i­ly friend in recent weeks that if he ends up dead it’s not a sui­cide. That’s the ‘sui­cide’ sce­nario we would have to accept based on the facts that have emerged so far in the inves­ti­ga­tion of Bar­net­t’s extreme­ly untime­ly death. Or extreme­ly time­ly death, depend­ing on your per­spec­tive.

    The updates keep com­ing in, and the more they do the more this is look­ing like some­one forced Bar­nett into his truck where he met his end. First, there’s the fact that video footage of Bar­nett exists from the morn­ing of Fri­day March 8, but no reports of footage from that evening or the morn­ing of the 9th. Was some­thing sud­den­ly wrong with the hotel cam­eras? We don’t have an answer on that. But we can rea­son­ably con­clude that Bar­nett left his hotel room and returned at least once on that morn­ing because a cup of melt­ed ice with con­den­sa­tion on it was found in his room by the hotel staff.

    Then there’s the fact that the weath­er in Charleston was so awful there was report­ed­ly six inch­es of rain already around his truck when his body was found. Even if we assume Bar­nett was gen­uine­ly gripped by a spon­ta­neous sui­ci­dal impulse, why trudge your way out to your pick­up truck in tor­ren­tial rain to do it? On the oth­er hand, if you’re a hit­man, it’s not hard to imag­ine why hav­ing a go off in a truck would be far more prefer­able than in a hotel room, espe­cial­ly of some­thing is going wrong with the cam­eras or the hor­ren­dous rain is obscur­ing vis­i­bil­i­ty. After all, the only per­son to hear any­thing was a hotel employ­ee who hap­pened to be out­side at the time and just hear a “pop” he ignored. A lot more peo­ple would have pre­sum­ably heard some­thing had Bar­nett shot him­self in his room.

    And now we’re learn­ing two more details that give us some insights into Bar­net­t’s activ­i­ty on the morn­ing of his death: Not only was Bar­net­t’s dri­vers license was also found still in his hotel room but when the hotel employ­ees con­duct­ed their wel­fare check they told his lawyers that ‘His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there.’ Under the sui­cide sce­nario, Bar­nett packed up all his stuff and then decid­ed to leave it there to kill him­self.

    We’re also learn­ing that Bar­net­t’s lawyers first reach out to him at 9am on that morn­ing to see if Bar­nett want­ed a ride to the depo­si­tion. But Bar­nett did­n’t answer. Keep in mind that a hotel employ­ee told police they heard a “pop” near Bar­net­t’s truck at 9:24 am. So if the lack of an answer to that 9am phone call is a sign that Bar­nett was already in some sort of dis­tress, there was still close to a half hour before his death. Plen­ty of time to, who knows, force Bar­nett to write that sui­cide note. A sui­cide note that a fam­i­ly mem­ber told Bar­net­t’s attor­neys “didn’t sound like John.”

    We also got a very inter­est­ing piece of insight from foren­sic con­sul­tant Steve Chan­cel­lor, who notes how the fact that the gun was still in Bar­net­t’s hand, with the trig­ger fin­ger still on the trig­ger, jumped out at him because find­ing a gun still in the hand of a sui­cide vic­tim only hap­pens around 25% of the time. As Chan­cel­lor put it, “The mere fact that the gun was in the hand, I would pay atten­tion to that...Because many times when some­one is try­ing to make it look like a sui­cide, they make that mis­take and they put the gun in the hand.” What are the odds that the gun not only remained in Bar­net­t’s hand but with the trig­ger fin­ger still on the trig­ger?

    And then there’s the dis­turb­ing update we got about what kind of impact Bar­net­t’s death is already hav­ing on the Boe­ing work­force. Because as the fol­low­ing New York Post piece describes, while the pub­lic at large might be more than hap­py to accept the ‘sui­cide’ nar­ra­tive, Boe­ing’s employ­ees are hav­ing no prob­lem accept­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that he was killed. But they would rather not talk about it:

    New York Post

    Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett ‘made pow­er­ful ene­mies’ before his death, as work­ers ‘skep­ti­cal’ he killed him­self

    By Steve Helling, Haley Brown and Megan Palin
    Pub­lished March 15, 2024, 6:00 a.m. ET

    Boe­ing work­ers warn that whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett “made pow­er­ful ene­mies” before his alleged sui­cide, as a puz­zling dis­crep­an­cy on his police report has emerged.

    The whistle­blow­er was found dead in his pick­up truck in a Charleston, South Car­oli­na, hotel park­ing lot on March 9, the same morn­ing he was due to con­clude pri­vate tes­ti­mo­ny in a law­suit against the jet com­pa­ny where he had worked for most of his career.

    Accord­ing to a report by Charleston police, he had extend­ed his stay at the Hol­i­day Inn until March 8 and was caught on sur­veil­lance video leav­ing the hotel that morn­ing.

    How­ev­er, staff at the Hol­i­day Inn told The Post he ate din­ner in the hotel’s restau­rant that night.

    The police report also not­ed Barnett’s driver’s license was still in his room when he was found with a gun­shot wound to the head and a pis­tol in his hand the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

    The alarm had been raised by Barnett’s lawyers when they couldn’t reach him on the phone and request­ed a wel­fare check.

    A hotel staff mem­ber found Barnett’s body in the truck while respond­ing to the wel­fare check request and alert­ed police, who found him still clutch­ing a pis­tol and with a gun­shot wound to his head.

    An inves­ti­ga­tion into his death is ongo­ing.

    Employ­ees at the local Boe­ing plant where Bar­nett had worked until retir­ing in 2017 say the whole com­mu­ni­ty is shak­en up.

    One employ­ee, who spoke to The Post on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said work­ers were skep­ti­cal about the cause of Barnett’s death, which has been pre­lim­i­nar­i­ly labeled a sui­cide.

    “It actu­al­ly gives me a pit in my stom­ach because of what he’s been say­ing, and he’s dead now. Maybe he killed him­self,” the source said.

    “I don’t know what to believe. We don’t real­ly talk about it on the (assem­bly) line. We’re on cam­era from the minute we get on the prop­er­ty. They can hear us. So no one wants to talk about it at work.

    “A lot of peo­ple are skep­ti­cal, because he made some pret­ty pow­er­ful ene­mies.”

    Anoth­er Boe­ing employ­ee who spoke to The Post said: “Noth­ing sur­pris­es me when it comes to Boe­ing. It’s a good job but you’ve got to stay in line. If you don’t, you won’t work there any­more.

    Boe­ing did not direct­ly address the claims but told The Post in a state­ment: “We are sad­dened by Mr. Barnett’s pass­ing, and our thoughts are with his fam­i­ly and friends.”

    Police have not indi­cat­ed that Boe­ing is under inves­ti­ga­tion or sus­pect­ed of any foul play.

    Mean­while, an employ­ee who works at the Hol­i­day Inn where Bar­nett was found dead in the park­ing lot told The Post Bar­nett ate a que­sadil­la, drank a Coke, scrolled on his phone and seemed fine on the evening of March 8.

    “I didn’t think of him at all until I heard the news the next day. He didn’t seem upset at all,” the employ­ee said.

    ...

    Steve Chan­cel­lor, who has writ­ten two books on staged crime scenes and runs Sec­ond Look Train­ing and Foren­sic Con­sult­ing, said that when some­one dies by sui­cide, the gun only remains in the person’s hand 25% of the time.

    “The mere fact that the gun was in the hand, I would pay atten­tion to that,” he told The Post.

    “Because many times when some­one is try­ing to make it look like a sui­cide, they make that mis­take and they put the gun in the hand.”

    The police report also said “a white piece of paper that close­ly resem­bled a note” was found in plain view on the passenger’s seat, but its con­tents have not been dis­closed.

    ———-

    “Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett ‘made pow­er­ful ene­mies’ before his death, as work­ers ‘skep­ti­cal’ he killed him­self” By Steve Helling, Haley Brown and Megan Palin; New York Post; 03/15/2024

    “The police report also not­ed Barnett’s driver’s license was still in his room when he was found with a gun­shot wound to the head and a pis­tol in his hand the fol­low­ing morn­ing.”

    Bar­net­t’s dri­vers license was still in his room. It’s in intrigu­ing piece of evi­dence. On the one hand, if Bar­nett was plan­ning on just killing him­self in the truck one can under­stand why he may not both­er tak­ing his dri­vers license with him. But why else might Bar­nett have left his license in the room? Well, there’s one obvi­ous poten­tial rea­son: he may have been forced out of the room by an intrud­er. Keep in mind one of the oth­er facts we’ve already learn: Bar­nett had a cup of ice from the ice machine that still had con­den­sa­tion on it when the hotel staff con­duct­ed their wel­fare check, an obser­va­tion that informs us that Bar­nett left his room to get the ice before return­ing. Was Bar­nett pos­si­bly approached by some­one while get­ting that ice? Some­one who per­haps turned with Bar­nett to his room before head­ing to the truck to com­plete the final act?

    Keep in mind that, putting aside the bizarre tim­ing of his death in rela­tion to the cul­mi­na­tion of a sev­en year legal bat­tle, just in terms of the loca­tion for his demise, if you assume Bar­nett real­ly did kill him­self you have to won­der why he would have cho­sen the truck that was out in the mid­dle of tor­ren­tial storm in the back of the park­ing lot? Why not just do it in the rel­a­tive com­fort of the room? Why drench your­self in tor­ren­tial rain only to head out to your truck to kill your­self?

    On the oth­er hand, if you’re a hit­man sent to take Bar­nett out, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty aris­es to either kill him in the hotel room or in the truck, the truck is obvi­ous­ly the pre­ferred method from a sound stand point. Guests are going to hear a gun­shot in a room. But as we saw, the only per­son who heard any­thing was a hotel staffer who hap­pened to be out­side at the time of the pre­sumed gun­shot and report­ed hear­ing a “pop”.

    Of course, there’s a major com­pli­ca­tion for a hit­man plan­ning on forc­ing Bar­nett from his hotel room to the truck for the mur­der, which is the pos­si­bil­i­ty of being see­ing and even get­ting caught on cam­era. But that just brings us back to the puz­zling fact that the hotel cam­eras seemed to only cap­ture Bar­nett on the morn­ing of Fri­day, March 8, but not that evening or the morn­ing of March 9, pos­si­bly due to the tor­ren­tial rain in the area. And that’s on top of the puz­zling dis­crep­an­cy in the police report, where the fact that Bar­nett extend­ed his stay to the 8th is men­tioned with­out an acknowl­edg­ment that he made the last-minute deci­sion to extend it anoth­er night. We know Bar­nett stayed there one more evening. But we still don’t know why the offi­cial report­ing of the facts seems to leave out the last evening and does­n’t explain the lack of any video for Bar­net­t’s final evening/morning at the hotel:

    ...
    Boe­ing work­ers warn that whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett “made pow­er­ful ene­mies” before his alleged sui­cide, as a puz­zling dis­crep­an­cy on his police report has emerged.

    The whistle­blow­er was found dead in his pick­up truck in a Charleston, South Car­oli­na, hotel park­ing lot on March 9, the same morn­ing he was due to con­clude pri­vate tes­ti­mo­ny in a law­suit against the jet com­pa­ny where he had worked for most of his career.

    Accord­ing to a report by Charleston police, he had extend­ed his stay at the Hol­i­day Inn until March 8 and was caught on sur­veil­lance video leav­ing the hotel that morn­ing.

    How­ev­er, staff at the Hol­i­day Inn told The Post he ate din­ner in the hotel’s restau­rant that night.
    ...

    And then there’s the remark­able detail of how the pis­tol was not only found in Bar­net­t’s hand but with his fin­ger still on the trig­ger. As foren­sic con­sul­tant Steve Chan­cel­lor notes, that’s not a com­mon find­ing for sui­cides, with the gun remain­ing in the hand only 25% of the time. What are the odds that the gun not only remained in Bar­net­t’s hand but with the trig­ger fin­ger still on the trig­ger? Pre­sum­ably a lot low­er than 25% It was like a tell­tale sign of a set up, as Chan­cel­lor seemed to view:

    ...
    Steve Chan­cel­lor, who has writ­ten two books on staged crime scenes and runs Sec­ond Look Train­ing and Foren­sic Con­sult­ing, said that when some­one dies by sui­cide, the gun only remains in the person’s hand 25% of the time.

    “The mere fact that the gun was in the hand, I would pay atten­tion to that,” he told The Post.

    “Because many times when some­one is try­ing to make it look like a sui­cide, they make that mis­take and they put the gun in the hand.”
    ...

    And then we get to the qui bono part of this sto­ry. Because we do have to aks why Bar­nett was­n’t killed soon­er if Boe­ing had the inten­tion of silenc­ing him. But when we hear the respons­es from these unnamed Boe­ing employ­ees and how read­i­ly they arrived at the sus­pi­cion that Bar­nett was mur­dered, it’s not hard to see how Boe­ing’s man­age­ment would ben­e­fit from Bar­net­t’s death. A mes­sage was sent. The mes­sage that Boe­ing could kill you an get away with it. Whether or not that was the intend­ed mes­sage, that’s the mes­sage these employ­ees appear to be hear­ing from this sto­ry:

    ...
    Employ­ees at the local Boe­ing plant where Bar­nett had worked until retir­ing in 2017 say the whole com­mu­ni­ty is shak­en up.

    One employ­ee, who spoke to The Post on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said work­ers were skep­ti­cal about the cause of Barnett’s death, which has been pre­lim­i­nar­i­ly labeled a sui­cide.

    “It actu­al­ly gives me a pit in my stom­ach because of what he’s been say­ing, and he’s dead now. Maybe he killed him­self,” the source said.

    “I don’t know what to believe. We don’t real­ly talk about it on the (assem­bly) line. We’re on cam­era from the minute we get on the prop­er­ty. They can hear us. So no one wants to talk about it at work.

    “A lot of peo­ple are skep­ti­cal, because he made some pret­ty pow­er­ful ene­mies.”

    Anoth­er Boe­ing employ­ee who spoke to The Post said: “Noth­ing sur­pris­es me when it comes to Boe­ing. It’s a good job but you’ve got to stay in line. If you don’t, you won’t work there any­more.
    ...

    As we can see, while it remains to be seen if the pub­lic at large is going to accept the ‘sui­cide’ nar­ra­tive, the Boe­ing employ­ees don’t seem to have any trou­ble believ­ing the com­pa­ny killed him.

    And as we’re going to see in the fol­low­ing For­tune piece, the more we learn about what Bar­nett was try­ing to blow the whis­tle on, the more poten­tial motives emerge. Like the fact that OSHA had pre­vi­ous­ly let Boe­ing off the hook in the face of Bar­net­t’s accu­sa­tions because OSHA does­n’t have the suf­fi­cient author­i­ty to sub­poe­na doc­u­ments. As we saw, Bar­nett kept the receipts. He had the incrim­i­nat­ing doc­u­ments.

    But there’s also a poten­tial­ly very inter­est­ing foren­sic detail about what was dis­cov­ered in Bar­net­t’s hotel: the hotel staff told his lawyers that, ‘His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there.’ So if we are to believe the sui­cide sce­nario, Bar­nett active­ly packed his stuff up, and then left it all in the room, with his dri­vers license too, and went out to his truck in hor­ren­dous weath­er to kill him­self there. It’s a sce­nario that strains creduli­ty.

    On the oth­er hand, if we assume some­one effec­tive­ly forced Bar­nett to go out to his car truck where the ‘sui­cide’ scene was to be arranged, leav­ing every­thing in the hotel would explain what the staff found. Don’t for­get the obser­va­tion of con­den­sa­tion on a cup of melt­ed ice, which strong­ly sug­gests Bar­nett left his hotel room at some point that morn­ing to go to the ice machine. Plus the puz­zling lack of secu­ri­ty footage from that morn­ing. We can’t real­ly say at this point if some­one accost­ed Bar­nett that morn­ing and forced him out to his truck, but that sce­nario sure would explain the avail­able evi­dence. Because oth­er­wise we are being asked to believe that Bar­nett packed up all his stuff that morn­ing, and then spon­ta­neous­ly decid­ed to kill him­self by leav­ing all his stuff in the hotel and instead walk­ing out to his truck in the mid­dle of a tor­ren­tial stuff to do the final deed:

    For­tune

    The last days of the Boe­ing whistle­blow­er

    BY Shawn Tul­ly
    03/16/2024

    Sat­ur­day March 9 dawned as a gusty gray morn­ing in Charleston, S.C. with thun­der­storms rolling across the his­toric city and dag­gers of light­en­ing light­ing up the skies. Just after 10 AM, Rob Turke­witz was sit­ting in a tony lawyers’ office down­town, wait­ing for his client John Bar­nett to testify—and fur­ther his cru­sade for safe­ty in the skies. “My co-coun­sel Bri­an Knowles and I were gath­ered around a con­fer­ence table along­side Boeing’s in-house coun­sel, and its tri­al lawyer from Ogle­tree, Deak­ens. It was in Ogletree’s offices, much fanci­er than ours, what you’d call a ‘grand door.’”

    Turke­witz wasn’t total­ly sur­prised that Bar­nett was late for this round of depo­si­tions. “Down­town Charleston was flood­ed by one of the worst rain­storms I’ve ever seen,” he recalls. “I’d called John’s room at the Hol­i­day Inn where he was stay­ing at 9 AM to see if he want­ed me to pick him up, but he didn’t answer.”

    Turke­witz was espe­cial­ly buzzed about this ses­sion because Bar­nett was slat­ed to con­tin­ue the account of the pro­duc­tion gaffes he’d alleged­ly wit­nessed up-close on the Boe­ing fac­to­ry floor, a dra­mat­ic nar­ra­tive that he’d start­ed the pre­vi­ous day. Bar­nett, 62, had worked from 2011 to 2017 as a qual­i­ty man­ag­er at the North Charleston plant that assem­bles the 787 Dream­lin­er. In that role, he’d alert­ed senior man­agers to what he called vio­la­tions of legal­ly required process­es and pro­ce­dures, and main­tained that his warn­ings were being ignored. In the years fol­low­ing his depar­ture, Bar­nett emerged as arguably the most renowned Boe­ing whistle­blow­er, recount­ing the qual­i­ty abus­es he’d claimed to have wit­nessed to mul­ti­ple media out­lets.

    Barnett’s charges had drawn fresh atten­tion in the wake of the Jan­u­ary 737 MAX door-plug blowout on Air Alas­ka flight 1282 just after take­off from Port­land, Ore., fol­lowed by a string of oth­er mishaps on Boe­ing air­craft. In inter­views after the big bang over Port­land, Bar­nett had been scathing in his crit­i­cism of Boeing’s safe­ty laps­es, and attrib­uted the cat­a­stro­phe to the types of slop­py prac­tices he said that he’d wit­nessed and flagged years ear­li­er at the North Charleston plant.

    In the action that brought Bar­nett across the table from Boeing’s attor­neys in Charleston, he was suing the plane­mak­er in a so-called AIR21 case. His charge: Boe­ing had vio­lat­ed U.S. Depart­ment of Labor statutes stip­u­lat­ing that it’s unlaw­ful to retal­i­ate against a whistle­blow­er. Bar­nett was seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for alleged­ly being forced to retire ten years before he planned to leave Boe­ing, get­ting black­balled from the pro­mo­tions he deserved because of what he argued were jus­ti­fied warn­ings that his boss­es failed to heed, and under­go­ing harass­ment on the job that left him suf­fer­ing from PTSD and pan­ic attacks.

    The pre­vi­ous day, Bar­nett had been on a roll as a video cam­era record­ed the event. “John tes­ti­fied for four hours in ques­tion­ing by my co-coun­sel Bri­an,” says Turke­witz. “This was fol­low­ing sev­en hours of cross exam­i­na­tion by Boeing’s lawyers on Thurs­day. He was real­ly hap­py to be telling his side of the sto­ry, excit­ed to be field­ing our ques­tions, doing a great job. It was explo­sive stuff. As I’m sit­ting there, I’m think­ing, ‘This is the best wit­ness I’ve ever seen.’” At one point, says Turke­witz, the Boe­ing lawyer protest­ed that Bar­nett was recit­ing the details of inci­dents from a decade ago, and spe­cif­ic dates, with­out look­ing at doc­u­ments. As Turke­vitz recalls the exchange, Bar­nett fired back, “I know these doc­u­ments inside out. I’ve had to live it.”

    That Fri­day, Barnett’s tes­ti­mo­ny end­ed at 4 PM, and the par­ties recon­vened an hour lat­er. “John was real­ly tired and didn’t want to tes­ti­fy any more that day,” says Turke­witz. “He want­ed to dri­ve home to Louisiana start­ing that evening, as he had planned. He’d told his mom that he’d be home on Sun­day, and it took him two days to dri­ve home. I sug­gest­ed that we break for a week or two. But the Boe­ing lawyers took the posi­tion that no more depo­si­tions could be tak­en until Bar­nett com­plet­ed his tes­ti­mo­ny. Turke­witz didn’t think the judge would stand for that restric­tion. “We had a March 30 dead­line for com­plet­ing the depo­si­tions, there was a list of 20 wit­ness­es from both sides. On our list were around eight wit­ness­es who’d worked with John and backed his eye­wit­ness ver­sion of events at the plant. We knew Boe­ing would file a motion for sum­ma­ry judg­ment, and we want­ed to lay out through John’s tes­ti­mo­ny that he was sub­ject­ed to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment.” (Boe­ing did not respond to a request to com­ment for this sto­ry.)

    For Bar­nett, pas­sion for the cause sur­mount­ed the fatigue from two days of intense ques­tion­ing. Accord­ing to Turke­witz, he told the lawyers, ‘Let’s just get it done. I’ve already been wait­ing for sev­en years.’”

    Tragedy in the Hol­i­day Inn park­ing lot as the Boe­ing whistle­blow­er is found dead

    Short­ly after 10 AM, Turke­witz called the Hol­i­day Inn. “I asked if he’d checked out, and they said no,” he recounts. “I asked to be put through to the room, and the phone just kept ring­ing, so I then asked that they check the room. They Hol­i­day Inn folks said ‘His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there.’ Turke­witz asked that they look for his car, a “Clem­son Orange” Dodge Ram truck. “The man­ag­er came back and told me, ‘His truck is still there, and we called EMS. I can’t tell you any­thing more.’” At that point, the lawyers around the con­fer­ence table feared that Bar­nett could have suf­fered a heart attack.

    Turke­witz then called the man­ag­er back, and she said that she couldn’t pro­vide any addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, and that a police offi­cer would give him a call. Around 20 min­utes lat­er, at exact­ly 11:11, he got the call. “The offi­cer asked whom I was, and how many times I’d called John that morn­ing,” says Turke­witz. “I asked her, ‘Is John okay? Can you at least tell us if he’s alive?” The offi­cer replied, “I’m sor­ry, but I can’t pro­vide that infor­ma­tion to you.” Recalls Turke­witz, “That’s when I knew that this is not good.”

    At that point, all four attor­neys drove to the Hol­i­day Inn to wit­ness a park­ing lot crowd­ed with vol­un­teer emer­gency vehi­cles and police cars. “John’s truck was blocked from view by emer­gency vehi­cles. I was asked to keep a dis­tance,” says Turke­witz. Accord­ing to press reports, Bar­nett was found in the Ram with a sil­ver pis­tol still in his hand, his fin­ger on the trig­ger. The Charleston Coun­ty Coro­ner ruled the cause of death as “a self-inflict­ed wound,” and a police report dis­closed that “a white piece of paper resem­bling a note” lay in plain view on the pas­sen­ger seat. Its con­tents haven’t been dis­closed.

    ...

    In North Charleston, Bar­nett sees shock­ing­ly bro­ken safe­guards and cul­ture, and tries to fix it

    In the Cor­po­rate Crime Reporter inter­view, Bar­nett dis­cussed both the vast gulf in cul­ture between North Charleston and Everett, and three major safe­ty issues that he uncov­ered, and that in his telling, man­age­ment not only ignored, but pun­ished him for report­ing. “The entire team came down…from the mil­i­tary side,” he said, refer­ring to the company’s defense busi­ness. “Their mot­to was, we’re in Charleston and we can do any­thing we want. They start­ed pres­sur­ing us not to doc­u­ment defects, to work out­side pro­ce­dures, to allow defec­tive mate­r­i­al to be installed with­out being cor­rect­ed. They just want­ed to push planes out the door and make the cash reg­is­ter ring.” Emblem­at­ic of the blowsy mind­set, he not­ed in a lat­er inter­view, “Was that the whole place smelled of French fries.”

    The first prob­lem, he relat­ed, involved clus­ters of razor-sharp, tita­ni­um sliv­ers that fell onto the same floor­board that sup­port­ed the elec­tron­ic equip­ment con­trol­ling pow­er to the air­plane. These more or less three-inch shards peeled off tita­ni­um threads when work­ers installed the tita­ni­um bolts that secured the floor in these fly-by-wire planes. Bar­nett filed a com­plaint with man­age­ment. The FAA then per­formed mul­ti­ple audits and found the sliv­ers in all ten planes inspect­ed. The FAA blocked Boe­ing from deliv­er­ing planes with shards, but accord­ing to Bar­nett did not con­sid­er that the scraps posed a safe­ty issue on the 800 planes already deliv­ered (Bar­nett claimed that the issue could have trig­gered a cat­a­stroph­ic event).

    The sec­ond issue involved the emer­gency oxy­gen equip­ment. Barnett’s team found that 25% of the sys­tems didn’t work prop­er­ly, so that when the masks fell from the ceil­ing in the event of an acci­dent that caused decom­pres­sion, the cylin­ders would fail to send oxy­gen to the pas­sen­gers. Accord­ing to Bar­nett, man­age­ment stonewalled on his report. He also alert­ed the FAA. Boe­ing lat­er dis­closed that its own inves­ti­ga­tion revealed that some of the oxy­gen masks were not work­ing.

    Third, Bar­nett states that Boe­ing wasn’t keep­ing prop­er track of parts shipped from sup­pli­ers that it found defec­tive. “Many of them were lost or shown to have been installed on the air­plane with­out being repaired,” he says in the Cor­po­rate Crime piece. “We didn’t know where a lot of them went. Some of them were sig­nif­i­cant struc­tur­al components…such as on the aft pres­sure bulk­heads.” Bar­nett says that he filed a whole series of inter­nal warn­ings on the defec­tive parts prob­lem, first by dis­cussing it with man­agers, then going to HR, and final­ly lodg­ing a com­plaint to the ethics group.

    After fil­ing his faulty parts com­plaint, Barnett’s man­agers, in his words, “rep­ri­mand­ed” him for “doc­u­ment­ing process vio­la­tions,” and told him that the com­pa­ny didn’t want him putting prob­lems in writ­ing. In ear­ly 2017, the Everett brass exiled Bar­nett to a sec­tion called Mate­r­i­al Review Seg­re­ga­tion Area or MRSA, iron­i­cal­ly the stor­age site for those non-con­form­ing parts. Bar­nett claims that he fought a rear-guard bat­tle to pre­vent work­ers from access­ing those defec­tive com­po­nents (when ship­ments of new parts were slow, for exam­ple) and installing them in the planes.. “They iso­lat­ed me from the oth­er qual­i­ty man­agers,” he says. “I was basi­cal­ly by myself. They were con­stant­ly den­i­grat­ing me. I could do noth­ing right. My com­plaints seemed to go into a black hole.”

    “I was going through health issues and hav­ing anx­i­ety attacks,” he explains. “I had gone as far as I could go inside the com­pa­ny. I had to go out­side.” In ear­ly 2017 while in the wilder­ness of MRSA, Bar­nett filed an AIR21 whistle­blow­er com­plaint with The Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA). He cit­ed the ignored safe­ty com­plaints as well as Boeing’s alleged hos­til­i­ty result­ing from his drum­beat of warn­ings. He also charge the Boe­ing blocked him from being trans­ferred from the North Charleston plant. Weeks lat­er, his health had dete­ri­o­rat­ed to the point where he resigned. “His doc­tor told him that if he didn’t quit his job at Boe­ing, he could die of a heart attack,” says Turke­witz.

    The final inter­view

    As it turned out, OSHA found the facts pre­sent­ed in Barnett’s case insuf­fi­cient to rule against Boe­ing. “OSHA is hand­i­capped because they don’t have the author­i­ty to sub­poe­na doc­u­ments,” says Turke­witz. In 2021, Boe­ing issued a state­ment that read, “Boe­ing has in no way neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed Mr. Barnett’s abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue what­ev­er cho­sen pro­fes­sion he choos­es.” Bar­nett and his legal team filed an amend­ed com­plaint to the Depart­ment of Labor, still under the AIR21 whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion statute, seek­ing more than $1 mil­lion in dam­ages for lost income from his claim of being effec­tive­ly forced from his job and denied pro­mo­tion, and addi­tion­al com­pen­sa­tion for emo­tion­al dis­tress, the case in which he’d tes­ti­fied in the days before his death.

    It’s impor­tant to empha­size that the two fatal 737 crash­es that killed 346 pas­sen­gers and crew in 2018 and 2019, and the Port­land acci­dent, all hap­pened on 737s, not on the 787, the air­craft Bar­nett worked on in North Charleston. Still, Bar­nett viewed the 737 pro­gram as suf­fer­ing from pre­cise­ly the same ills as he says he wit­nessed on the 787 pro­duc­tion. Dur­ing his last media inter­view with TMZ in late Jan­u­ary, Bar­nett dis­cussed the qual­i­ty regime that led to the dis­as­ter on Alas­ka Air­lines Flight 1282. “This is not a 737 prob­lem, this is a Boe­ing prob­lem,” he intoned. “I know the FAA has done due dili­gence and inspec­tions. My con­cern is for the con­di­tion of the rest of the plane. What I’ve seen with the door plug is what I’ve seen with the rest of the plane in terms of jobs not being com­plet­ed prop­er­ly, inspec­tion steps removed, issues being ignored. The 737 and 787 pro­grams have real­ly embraced the the­o­ry that qual­i­ty is over­head and non-val­ue added.”

    For Turke­witz, Barnett’s death is a huge loss in the fight for pro­tect­ing air­borne pas­sen­gers and crew, as well as a tragedy for his friends and fam­i­ly. “On that last day, John was look­ing so for­ward to get­ting the case behind him and liv­ing a life ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing air­line safe­ty,” says Turke­witz. As for the case against Boe­ing, Turke­witz insists that Barnett’s trag­ic pass­ing may not mark the death of his late client’s hero­ic cam­paign. “We’re plan­ning to sub­sti­tute John’s estate, his fam­i­ly, for John,” says Turke­witz. The “Fun­cle” whose elan seemed to fill the pool where he splashed hap­pi­ly with his nieces is gone. But with every new mishap at Boe­ing, the lega­cy of this mav­er­ick-whistle­blow­er ris­es in stature.

    ————-

    “The last days of the Boe­ing whistle­blow­er” BY Shawn Tul­ly; For­tune; 03/16/2024

    Turke­witz was espe­cial­ly buzzed about this ses­sion because Bar­nett was slat­ed to con­tin­ue the account of the pro­duc­tion gaffes he’d alleged­ly wit­nessed up-close on the Boe­ing fac­to­ry floor, a dra­mat­ic nar­ra­tive that he’d start­ed the pre­vi­ous day. Bar­nett, 62, had worked from 2011 to 2017 as a qual­i­ty man­ag­er at the North Charleston plant that assem­bles the 787 Dream­lin­er. In that role, he’d alert­ed senior man­agers to what he called vio­la­tions of legal­ly required process­es and pro­ce­dures, and main­tained that his warn­ings were being ignored. In the years fol­low­ing his depar­ture, Bar­nett emerged as arguably the most renowned Boe­ing whistle­blow­er, recount­ing the qual­i­ty abus­es he’d claimed to have wit­nessed to mul­ti­ple media out­lets.”

    It was expect­ed to be anoth­er block­buster day of depo­si­tions. A com­ple­tion of the dra­mat­ic nar­ra­tive that start­ed the day before. That’s how Bar­net­t’s lawyer describes his sense of antic­i­pa­tion. Bar­nett may have spent the past sev­en years whistle­blow­ing, but this was the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get the sto­ry of the retal­i­a­tion he face down on the legal record. And it was explo­sive tes­ti­mo­ny. Bar­nett was the best wit­ness his lawyer had ever seen. And his lawyers insist they are con­tin­u­ing with the case.

    But it’s also impor­tant to note that Bar­nett was­n’t the only wit­ness in this case. There was a March 30 dead­line to com­plete the depo­si­tions over a list of 20 wit­ness­es from both sides, includ­ing eight oth­er wit­ness­es who backed up Bar­net­t’s ver­sion of events. Which rais­es the impor­tant ques­tion: did those eight wit­ness­es tes­ti­fy yet? If not, are they still going to tes­ti­fy? And if they do end up tes­ti­fy­ing after Bar­net­t’s death, are they going to stick to their orig­i­nal sto­ry?

    ...
    The pre­vi­ous day, Bar­nett had been on a roll as a video cam­era record­ed the event. “John tes­ti­fied for four hours in ques­tion­ing by my co-coun­sel Bri­an,” says Turke­witz. “This was fol­low­ing sev­en hours of cross exam­i­na­tion by Boeing’s lawyers on Thurs­day. He was real­ly hap­py to be telling his side of the sto­ry, excit­ed to be field­ing our ques­tions, doing a great job. It was explo­sive stuff. As I’m sit­ting there, I’m think­ing, ‘This is the best wit­ness I’ve ever seen.’” At one point, says Turke­witz, the Boe­ing lawyer protest­ed that Bar­nett was recit­ing the details of inci­dents from a decade ago, and spe­cif­ic dates, with­out look­ing at doc­u­ments. As Turke­vitz recalls the exchange, Bar­nett fired back, “I know these doc­u­ments inside out. I’ve had to live it.”

    That Fri­day, Barnett’s tes­ti­mo­ny end­ed at 4 PM, and the par­ties recon­vened an hour lat­er. “John was real­ly tired and didn’t want to tes­ti­fy any more that day,” says Turke­witz. “He want­ed to dri­ve home to Louisiana start­ing that evening, as he had planned. He’d told his mom that he’d be home on Sun­day, and it took him two days to dri­ve home. I sug­gest­ed that we break for a week or two. But the Boe­ing lawyers took the posi­tion that no more depo­si­tions could be tak­en until Bar­nett com­plet­ed his tes­ti­mo­ny. Turke­witz didn’t think the judge would stand for that restric­tion. “We had a March 30 dead­line for com­plet­ing the depo­si­tions, there was a list of 20 wit­ness­es from both sides. On our list were around eight wit­ness­es who’d worked with John and backed his eye­wit­ness ver­sion of events at the plant. We knew Boe­ing would file a motion for sum­ma­ry judg­ment, and we want­ed to lay out through John’s tes­ti­mo­ny that he was sub­ject­ed to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment.” (Boe­ing did not respond to a request to com­ment for this sto­ry.)

    For Bar­nett, pas­sion for the cause sur­mount­ed the fatigue from two days of intense ques­tion­ing. Accord­ing to Turke­witz, he told the lawyers, ‘Let’s just get it done. I’ve already been wait­ing for sev­en years.’”

    ...

    For Turke­witz, Barnett’s death is a huge loss in the fight for pro­tect­ing air­borne pas­sen­gers and crew, as well as a tragedy for his friends and fam­i­ly. “On that last day, John was look­ing so for­ward to get­ting the case behind him and liv­ing a life ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing air­line safe­ty,” says Turke­witz. As for the case against Boe­ing, Turke­witz insists that Barnett’s trag­ic pass­ing may not mark the death of his late client’s hero­ic cam­paign. “We’re plan­ning to sub­sti­tute John’s estate, his fam­i­ly, for John,” says Turke­witz. The “Fun­cle” whose elan seemed to fill the pool where he splashed hap­pi­ly with his nieces is gone. But with every new mishap at Boe­ing, the lega­cy of this mav­er­ick-whistle­blow­er ris­es in stature.
    ...

    And then we get to this key detail that under­scores why Bar­net­t’s tes­ti­mo­ny is so pow­er­ful: OSHA does­n’t have the author­i­ty to sub­poe­na doc­u­ments. And as we saw, Bar­nett kept the reciepts. The sys­temic pro­tec­tions Boe­ing long enjoyed did­n’t apply when it came to Bar­net­t’s com­plaints. Which also rais­es the ques­tion: were any of Bar­net­t’s doc­u­ments miss­ing from his hotel room? Any miss­ing lap­tops or thumb­drives? Let’s hope Bar­net­t’s lawyers already had pos­ses­sion of all the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments:

    ...
    As it turned out, OSHA found the facts pre­sent­ed in Barnett’s case insuf­fi­cient to rule against Boe­ing. “OSHA is hand­i­capped because they don’t have the author­i­ty to sub­poe­na doc­u­ments,” says Turke­witz. In 2021, Boe­ing issued a state­ment that read, “Boe­ing has in no way neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed Mr. Barnett’s abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue what­ev­er cho­sen pro­fes­sion he choos­es.” Bar­nett and his legal team filed an amend­ed com­plaint to the Depart­ment of Labor, still under the AIR21 whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion statute, seek­ing more than $1 mil­lion in dam­ages for lost income from his claim of being effec­tive­ly forced from his job and denied pro­mo­tion, and addi­tion­al com­pen­sa­tion for emo­tion­al dis­tress, the case in which he’d tes­ti­fied in the days before his death.
    ...

    And then we get to the details from his lawyer about the morn­ing of his death. Like every­one well, we get a recount­ing of how the weath­er was hor­ren­dous. We also get more clar­i­ty on the time­line of Bar­net­t’s unre­spon­sive­ness because his lawyer informs us that he first called Bar­nett at 9am to see if he want­ed a ride but Bar­nett was­n’t answer­ing. Keep in mind that it was 9:24 AM when a hotel employ­ee report­ed­ly heard the “pop” near Bar­net­t’s car. There was close to a half hour between when Bar­nett did­n’t answer his lawyer’s phone call and the pre­sumed gun shot:

    ...
    Turke­witz wasn’t total­ly sur­prised that Bar­nett was late for this round of depo­si­tions. “Down­town Charleston was flood­ed by one of the worst rain­storms I’ve ever seen,” he recalls. “I’d called John’s room at the Hol­i­day Inn where he was stay­ing at 9 AM to see if he want­ed me to pick him up, but he didn’t answer.”

    ...

    Final­ly, we have this detail: The hotel staff who checked Bar­net­t’s room told the attor­ney ‘His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there.’ So it’s not just dri­vers license that was left in the hotel room. His packed up stuff was also left in the room. If we’re to believe it was a sui­cide, Bar­nett appar­ent­ly packed up, and then decid­ed to leave all his stuff in hotel and instead go out out to his truck in the mid­dle a hor­ren­dous storm to shoot him­self. Because who does­n’t want to die in soak­ing wet socks:

    ...

    Short­ly after 10 AM, Turke­witz called the Hol­i­day Inn. “I asked if he’d checked out, and they said no,” he recounts. “I asked to be put through to the room, and the phone just kept ring­ing, so I then asked that they check the room. They Hol­i­day Inn folks said ‘His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there.’ Turke­witz asked that they look for his car, a “Clem­son Orange” Dodge Ram truck. “The man­ag­er came back and told me, ‘His truck is still there, and we called EMS. I can’t tell you any­thing more.’” At that point, the lawyers around the con­fer­ence table feared that Bar­nett could have suf­fered a heart attack.
    ...

    Sui­cide isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a ratio­nal act. But the more we’re learn­ing about the cir­cum­stances of Bar­net­t’s death, the more irra­tional the sui­cide sce­nario sounds. And the more plau­si­ble the hit­man sce­nario gets.

    Who knows, maybe the secu­ri­ty cam­era footage is going to be revealed and can at least clar­i­fy whether or not Bar­nett real­ly was alone in this truck at the time of his death. But until that hap­pens, it’s hard to ignore the hit­man sce­nario. Espe­cial­ly since, at this point in the inves­ti­ga­tion, with the odd­ly miss­ing hotel secu­ri­ty cam­era footage, it would be a hitman/coverup sce­nario.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 20, 2024, 4:12 pm
  7. Why would Boe­ing’s man­age­ment risk cre­at­ing a mega-scan­dal by bump­ing off the most promi­nent whistle­blow­er in the com­pa­ny’s his­to­ry? What could prompt a major defense con­trac­tor to take a giant gam­ble like, if caught, could imper­il the com­pa­ny’s man­age­ment in a mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion? It’s one of biggest ques­tions that has been loom­ing over the inves­ti­ga­tion of John Bar­net­t’s alleged sui­cide sev­er­al weeks ago.

    But as we’ve also seen, the pos­si­ble answers to that major ques­tion have also been vis­i­ble from the begin­ning of the inves­ti­ga­tion. For starters, Bar­net­t’s whistle­blow­ing hint­ed as a cor­po­rate cul­ture that was sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly cre­at­ing far more safe­ty issues on Boe­ing’s planes than had been already rec­og­nized. Boe­ing was oper­at­ing a cor­po­rate cul­ture that was so cor­rupt and reck­less it was bound to cre­ate new safe­ty inci­dents but also new whistle­blow­ers. But also keep in mind that Bar­nett was already far from the only whistle­blow­er mak­ing these same alle­ga­tions. He was just the most promi­nent. In oth­er words, if Boe­ing’s man­age­ment felt like Bar­net­t’s ‘sui­cide’ might silence the rest of the whistle­blow­ers, and pre­vent new poten­tial whistle­blow­ers from going down that path, that might explain why some­one in Boe­ing’s man­age­ment (or major investors) might have deter­mined that bump­ing Bar­nett off is actu­al­ly less risky than allow­ing his whistle­blow­er law­suit to play out. After all, it’s not like we should assume Bar­nett was the only employ­ee sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly abused for blow­ing the whis­tle. We already know of oth­er Boe­ing whistle­blow­ers like Ed Pier­son. How many oth­er poten­tial whistle­blow­ers are there? And how many oth­er qual­i­ty con­trol employ­ees are there with sto­ries of sys­temic man­age­ment abus­es? There’s not rea­son to assume Bar­nett was the only one to have is career destroyed.

    And that brings us to the fol­low­ing piece in the Amer­i­can Prospect that gives us more insight into the kind of deep cor­rup­tion that per­vad­ed Boe­ing’s man­age­ment. Cor­rup­tion that did­n’t just tar­get Bar­nett for sidelin­ing and ter­mi­na­tion. Any­one who cared about the integri­ty of Boe­ing’s planes was tar­get­ed by Boe­ing’s man­age­ment. And that basi­cal­ly meant almost the entire qual­i­ty con­trol team. In fact, when Boe­ing issued the direc­tive to its qual­i­ty con­trol man­agers for them to out­source 90 per­cent of their duties to the mechan­ics they were sup­posed to be super­vis­ing, this was done with the idea that Boe­ing could then lay off the bulk of its qual­i­ty con­trol staff. It’s a big part of the sto­ry here: Boe­ing already fired thou­sands of inspec­tors who are no longer left to blow the whis­tle. Instead, the mechan­ics work­ing the lines are the remain­ing poten­tial whistle­blow­ers because they’re the ones left to do their own qual­i­ty inspec­tions. So Boe­ing not only has all of these for­mer, now laid off, qual­i­ty inspec­tors to wor­ry about as poten­tial whistle­blow­ers but also all the mechan­ics who have been tasked with inspect­ing their own work. It’s a whistle­blow­ing night­mare for the com­pa­ny. At least potentially...unless Boe­ing can some­how keep all these voic­es silent.

    So how are Boe­ing’s employ­ees — all those poten­tial whistle­blow­ers — respond­ing to Bar­net­t’s alleged sui­cide? Well, as we’ve seen, some anony­mous employ­ees are already express­ing their skep­ti­cism about Bar­net­t’s sui­cide while also express­ing para­noia talk­ing about it with fel­low employ­ees over con­cerns about the com­pa­ny’s man­age­ment spy­ing on them. And we have more anony­mous employ­ees express­ing sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments in the arti­cle below, with one telling the reporter, “If I show up dead any­time soon, even if it’s a car acci­dent or some­thing, I’m a safe dri­ver, please be on the look­out for foul play.” A mes­sage eeri­ly sim­i­lar to what Bar­nett report­ed­ly con­veyed to a fam­i­ly friend not long before his death.

    But it’s the com­ments from a long­time for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive that real­ly stand out. Accord­ing to this for­mer exec­u­tive, “I don’t think one can be cyn­i­cal enough when it comes to these guys.” When asked if he thought Boe­ing assas­si­nat­ed Bar­nett, his response was “It’s a top-secret mil­i­tary con­trac­tor, remem­ber; there are spies every­where,” he replied.

    That’s all part of the con­text of assess­ing the untime­ly — or extreme­ly time­ly — demise of John Bar­nett. His death could trig­ger a mega-scan­dal for this major defense con­trac­tor. Or, per­haps, it could end up silenc­ing a mega-scan­dal that was already unfold­ing by ensur­ing the army of poten­tial whistle­blow­ers remain qui­et. In oth­er words, killing Bar­nett would have been a gam­ble, but a gam­ble with a huge poten­tial pay­off for a com­pa­ny that was look­ing at a much much big­ger scan­dal should Bar­net­t’s law­suit suc­ceed. And the kind of gam­ble a major defense con­trac­tor like Boe­ing has the means of pulling off:

    The Amer­i­can Prospect

    Sui­cide Mis­sion

    What Boe­ing did to all the guys who remem­ber how to build a plane

    by Mau­reen Tkacik
    March 28, 2024

    John Bar­nett had one of those boss­es who seemed to spend most of his wak­ing hours schem­ing to inflict humil­i­a­tion upon him. He mocked him in week­ly meet­ings when­ev­er he dared con­tribute a thought, assigned a fel­low man­ag­er to spy on him and spread rumors that he did not play nice­ly with oth­ers, and dis­ci­plined him for things like “using email to com­mu­ni­cate” and push­ing for flaws he found on planes to be fixed.

    ...

    But Swampy was mired in an insti­tu­tion that was in a per­pet­u­al state of unlearn­ing all the lessons it had absorbed over a 90-year ascent to the pin­na­cle of glob­al man­u­fac­tur­ing. Like most neolib­er­al insti­tu­tions, Boe­ing had come under the spell of a seduc­tive new the­o­ry of “knowl­edge” that essen­tial­ly reduced the whole con­cept to a com­bi­na­tion of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, trade secrets, and data, dis­card­ing “thought” and “under­stand­ing” and “com­plex rea­son­ing” pos­sessed by a skilled and expe­ri­enced work­force as essen­tial­ly not worth the increased health care costs. CEO Jim McN­er­ney, who joined Boe­ing in 2005, had last helmed 3M, where man­age­ment as he saw it had “over­val­ued expe­ri­ence and under­val­ued lead­er­ship” before he purged the vet­er­ans into ear­ly retire­ment.

    “Prince Jim”—as some long-timers used to call him—repeatedly invoked a slur for long­time engi­neers and skilled machin­ists in the oblig­a­tory van­i­ty “lead­er­ship” book he co-wrote. Those who cared too much about the integri­ty of the planes and not enough about the stock price were “phe­nom­e­nal­ly tal­ent­ed ass­holes,” and he encour­aged his deputies to ostra­cize them into leav­ing the com­pa­ny. He ini­tial­ly refused to let near­ly any of these tal­ent­ed ass­holes work on the 787 Dream­lin­er, instead out­sourc­ing the vast major­i­ty of the devel­op­ment and engi­neer­ing design of the brand-new, rev­o­lu­tion­ary wide-body jet to sup­pli­ers, many of which lacked engi­neer­ing depart­ments. The plan would save mon­ey while bust­ing unions, a win-win, he promised investors. Instead, McNerney’s plan burned some $50 bil­lion in excess of its bud­get and went three and a half years behind sched­ule.

    Swampy belonged to one of the cleanup crews that Boe­ing detailed to McNerney’s dis­as­ter area. The sup­pli­er to which Boe­ing had out­sourced part of the 787 fuse­lage had in turn out­sourced the design to an Israeli firm that had botched the job, leav­ing the sup­pli­er strapped for cash in the midst of a glob­al cred­it crunch. Boe­ing would have to bail out—and buy out—the pri­vate equi­ty firm that con­trolled the sup­pli­er. In 2009, Boe­ing began recruit­ing man­agers from Wash­ing­ton state to move east to the supplier’s non-union plant in Charleston, South Car­oli­na, to train the work­force to prop­er­ly put togeth­er a plane.

    But after the FAA cleared Boe­ing to deliv­er its first 787s to cus­tomers around the end of 2011, one of Swampy’s old co-work­ers says that McNerney’s hench­men began tar­get­ing any­one with expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge for tor­ment and ter­mi­na­tion. One of Swampy’s clos­est col­leagues, Bill Seitz, took a demo­tion to go back west. A qual­i­ty con­trol engi­neer named John Woods was ter­mi­nat­ed for insist­ing inspec­tors thor­ough­ly doc­u­ment dam­age and repair per­formed on com­pos­ite mate­ri­als, which were far less resilient than steel. Good machin­ists and inspec­tors who wore wrist­bands in sup­port of a union dri­ve were framed with dubi­ous infrac­tions. “Every­one from Everett start­ed drop­ping like flies,” remem­bers a for­mer man­ag­er at the plant.

    ...

    The boss­es hit Swampy with a new ini­tia­tive called “Mul­ti-Func­tion Process Per­former,” through which qual­i­ty inspec­tors were direct­ed to out­source 90 per­cent of their duties to the mechan­ics they were sup­posed to be super­vis­ing. This was sup­posed to speed up pro­duc­tion and save Boe­ing mil­lions once it suc­cess­ful­ly shed the thou­sands of inspec­tors it intend­ed to axe. Swampy believed rely­ing on mechan­ics to self-inspect their work was not only insane but ille­gal under the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion char­ter, which explic­it­ly required qual­i­ty inspec­tors to doc­u­ment all defects detect­ed, work per­formed, and parts installed on a com­mer­cial air­plane in one cen­tral­ized data­base. Swampy knew he was caught in a prisoner’s dilem­ma. If he went along, he was break­ing the law; if he didn’t, whistle­blow­ers who com­plained about unsafe prac­tices were rou­tine­ly ter­mi­nat­ed on grounds of vio­lat­ing the same safe­ty pro­to­cols they had opposed vio­lat­ing.

    Swampy cal­cu­lat­ed that it would be a big­ger pain for Boe­ing to fire him for doing the right thing than fol­low­ing orders, so he kept his head down and con­tin­ued man­ag­ing his inspec­tors as though he were back in Everett, tak­ing spe­cial care to metic­u­lous­ly record every episode of non­com­pli­ance (and non­con­for­mance, which is sim­i­lar but not iden­ti­cal) he encoun­tered. He doc­u­ment­ed his dis­cov­ery that machin­ists installing floor pan­els had been lit­ter­ing long tita­ni­um sliv­ers into wire bun­dles and elec­tri­cal box­es between the floor­boards and the car­go com­part­ment ceil­ing pan­els, where they risked caus­ing an elec­tri­cal short. A series of mys­te­ri­ous bat­tery fires had already caused the FAA to ground the 787 for a few months just over a year after the first plane had been deliv­ered. He wrote that 75 out of a pack­age of 300 oxy­gen masks slat­ed for instal­la­tion on a plane did not actu­al­ly pump oxy­gen. His team com­piled a list of 300 defects on a fuse­lage sched­uled for deliv­ery, and he dis­cov­ered that more than 400 non­con­form­ing air­craft parts had gone miss­ing from the defec­tive parts cage and like­ly been installed on planes ille­gal­ly and with­out doc­u­men­ta­tion, by man­agers and mechan­ics des­per­ate to get them out the door.

    Few qual­i­ty man­agers were as stub­born as Swampy. A Seat­tle Times sto­ry detailed an inter­nal Boe­ing doc­u­ment boast­ing that the inci­dence of man­u­fac­tur­ing defects on the 787 had plunged 20 per­cent in a sin­gle year, which inspec­tors anony­mous­ly attrib­uted to the “bul­ly­ing envi­ron­ment” in which defects had sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly “stopped being doc­u­ment­ed” by inspec­tors. They weren’t fool­ing cus­tomers: Qatar Air­ways had become so dis­gust­ed with the state of the planes it received from Charleston that it refused to accept them, and even inspired the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera to pro­duce a with­er­ing doc­u­men­tary called Bro­ken Dreams, in which an employ­ee out­fit­ted with a hid­den cam­era chitchat­ted with mechan­ics and inspec­tors about the planes they were pro­duc­ing. “They hire these peo­ple off the street, dude … fuc king flip­ping burg­ers for a liv­ing, mak­ing sand­wich­es at Sub­way,” one mechan­ic mar­veled of his col­leagues; anoth­er regaled the nar­ra­tor with tales of co-work­ers who came to work high on “coke and painkillers and weed” because no one had ever had a urine test. Asked if they would fly the 787 Dream­lin­er; just five of 15 answered yes, and even the pos­i­tive respons­es did Boe­ing no favors: “I prob­a­bly would, but I have kind of a death wish, too.”

    The day after Bro­ken Dreams pre­miered, Swampy got an email inform­ing him that he’d been put on a 60-day cor­rec­tive action plan four weeks ear­li­er. His alleged offense con­sti­tut­ed using email to com­mu­ni­cate about process vio­la­tions; the HR file not­ed, fic­ti­tious­ly, that his boss had dis­cussed his “infrac­tion” with him ear­li­er.

    Swampy was no fool. “Lead­er­ship wants noth­ing in email so they main­tain plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty,” he wrote in the “com­ments” space on his cor­rec­tive action plan paper­work. “It is obvi­ous lead­er­ship is just look­ing for items to crit­i­cize me on so I stop iden­ti­fy­ing issues. I will con­form!” He imme­di­ate­ly applied for a job on the grave­yard shift, whose super­vi­sor promised the gig would go to the man­ag­er with the most senior­i­ty on the Final Assem­bly team. But the job went to a man­ag­er who had trans­ferred to Final Assem­bly all of a week ear­li­er, which is when Swampy began to real­ize he’d been insti­tu­tion­al­ly black­balled from the only com­pa­ny he’d ever worked for.

    He got two more inter­nal job offers rescind­ed after that, includ­ing one from a group that was lit­er­al­ly des­per­ate for some­one with Barnett’s breadth of expe­ri­ence. “They didn’t care how bad I want­ed him,” the senior man­ag­er told one of Swampy’s friends. “They said John Bar­nett is not going any­where.”

    Final­ly, in ear­ly 2017 Swampy hap­pened upon a print­out of a list of 49 “Qual­i­ty Man­agers to Fire.” The name John Bar­nett was num­ber one. Swampy decid­ed to go on a med­ical leave of absence, which turned into ear­ly retire­ment on March 1. He called a labor lawyer he knew from a colleague’s case, and togeth­er they began the seem­ing­ly unend­ing process of fil­ing an avi­a­tion whistle­blow­er com­plaint detail­ing his sev­en years at the Charleston plant. It made him sick to think that the val­ue of his Boe­ing shares had tripled over the same peri­od dur­ing which he’d watched the com­pa­ny get so com­pre­hen­sive­ly dis­man­tled. But it was down­right sur­re­al to watch the stock price near­ly triple once more dur­ing the two years after he left the com­pa­ny.

    Nine days after the stock reached its high of $440, a brand-new 737 MAX dove into the ground near Addis Aba­ba, Ethiopia, at near­ly 800 miles per hour, killing 157 peo­ple on board, thanks to a shock­ing­ly dumb soft­ware pro­gram that had pro­grammed the jets to nose-dive in response to the input from a sin­gle angle-of-attack sen­sor. The soft­ware had already killed 189 peo­ple on a sep­a­rate 737 MAX in Indone­sia, but Boe­ing had large­ly deflect­ed blame for that crash by exploit­ing the island nation’s rep­u­ta­tion for avi­a­tion lax­i­ty. Now it was clear Boe­ing was respon­si­ble for all the deaths.

    Swampy had no first­hand expe­ri­ence with the 737 MAX, but it was obvi­ous that the ethos that drove the 787 plant had poi­soned that pro­gram as well. He began shar­ing his sto­ry in media inter­views, and soon the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, which had opened a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the MCAS flight con­trol sys­tem crash­es that quick­ly widened to encom­pass the Dream­lin­er pro­gram, came call­ing as well.

    While the crim­i­nal probe ulti­mate­ly shriv­eled into one of the most pathet­ic plea bar­gains in the his­to­ry of Amer­i­can jus­tice, some­thing shift­ed with­in the FAA. Boe­ing had qui­et­ly assumed many of the roles tra­di­tion­al­ly played by its pri­ma­ry reg­u­la­tor, an arrange­ment that was eth­i­cal­ly absurd, though in prac­tice it prob­a­bly worked bet­ter than being reg­u­lat­ed by an agency full of under­paid bureau­crats des­per­ate to ingra­ti­ate them­selves to Boe­ing. (Swampy’s best friend and lat­er wife Diane John­son worked at Boe­ing as an FAA liai­son.) Most of the Boe­ing employ­ees who worked in qua­si-reg­u­la­to­ry roles were like Swampy, ter­ri­fied of any­thing going wrong on a plane they had inspect­ed and deeply skep­ti­cal of their boss­es, who seemed uncon­cerned about the con­se­quences.

    Amid the MAX ground­ing, the FAA began to take a clos­er look at the 787 pro­gram that was the sub­ject of so many com­plaints from work­ers and air­lines. The com­pa­ny had cam­paigned the FAA heav­i­ly to approve a “ran­dom sam­pling” method of inspect­ing the pre­ci­sion of the shims it cut to con­nect var­i­ous pieces of the plane togeth­er; a clos­er look revealed the shims were not as pre­cise­ly sized as the com­pa­ny had boast­ed. Eight planes were imme­di­ate­ly ground­ed, and the agency forced Boe­ing to halt deliv­er­ies pend­ing fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion. Weeks stretched into years as non­con­for­mances and non­com­pli­ances piled up; “Boe­ing Looked for Flaws in Its Dream­lin­er and Couldn’t Stop Find­ing Them,” one head­line sum­ma­rized.

    In Decem­ber 2022, Avi­a­tion Week pro­duced a help­ful dia­gram map­ping what sec­tions of the plane had caused audi­tors the biggest headaches. Every sin­gle sec­tion, from the tip of the nose to the hor­i­zon­tal sta­bi­liz­ers, was marked up with red arrows. In 2023, deliv­er­ies were halt­ed in Jan­u­ary, Feb­ru­ary, and again in August over prob­lems with the shim­ming, the hor­i­zon­tal sta­bi­liz­er, and God knows what else. Swampy, and hun­dreds of oth­ers who had blown the whis­tle on Boeing’s man­age­r­i­al nihilism, had been thor­ough­ly vin­di­cat­ed. But it was too late. There were no more cleanup crews left at Boe­ing; too much knowl­edge had been drained from the com­pa­ny.

    “For every new plane you put up into the sky there are about 20,000 prob­lems you need to solve, and for a long time we used to say Boeing’s core com­pe­ten­cy was pil­ing peo­ple and mon­ey on top of a prob­lem until they crushed it,” says Stan Sorsch­er, a long­time Boe­ing physi­cist and for­mer offi­cer of the Soci­ety of Pro­fes­sion­al Engi­neer­ing Employ­ees in Aero­space (SPEEA), the labor union rep­re­sent­ing Boe­ing engi­neers. But those peo­ple are gone.

    Sorsch­er has warned Boe­ing man­age­ment for decades now of the cat­a­stroph­ic effects of the brain drain inflict­ed by its war on “bril­liance.” He says McDon­nell Dou­glas man­agers pub­lished a sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis in 1997 gaug­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty against the aver­age senior­i­ty of man­agers across var­i­ous pro­grams that found that green­er work­forces were sub­stan­tial­ly less pro­duc­tive, which he found to be a “mir­ror image” of a kind of “rule of thumb” with­in Boe­ing that held that every Boe­ing employ­ee takes four years to become “ful­ly pro­duc­tive.” But the aver­age employ­ee assigned to the 737 pro­gram has been at Boe­ing just five years, accord­ing to a long­time Boe­ing exec­u­tive who is involved in var­i­ous efforts to save the com­pa­ny; for comparison’s sake, he says the aver­age employ­ee assigned to the 777 pro­gram had between 15 and 20 years under their belt. The typ­i­cal engi­neer or machin­ist assigned to the task of fix­ing Boeing’s 20,000 prob­lems has nev­er known a Boe­ing that wasn’t a five-alarm dump­ster fire.

    ...

    SPEEA has demand­ed, under­stand­ably, that the board choose an aero­space engi­neer as its next CEO. But there are few signs that will hap­pen: None of the names float­ed thus far for the spot have been aero­space engi­neers, and the shoo-in for the posi­tion, GE’s Lar­ry Culp, is not an engi­neer at all.

    ...

    It is worth not­ing here that Swampy’s for­mer co-work­ers uni­ver­sal­ly refuse to believe that their old col­league killed him­self. One for­mer co-work­er who was ter­ri­fied of speak­ing pub­licly went out of their way to tell me that they weren’t sui­ci­dal. “If I show up dead any­time soon, even if it’s a car acci­dent or some­thing, I’m a safe dri­ver, please be on the look­out for foul play.” Swampy’s wife Diane, who worked at Boe­ing for 28 years, died of brain can­cer at age 60 in late 2022.

    Dis­cussing Swampy’s death and the whistle­blow­er law­suit he left behind, the long­time for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive told me, “I don’t think one can be cyn­i­cal enough when it comes to these guys.” Did that mean he thought Boe­ing assas­si­nat­ed Swampy? “It’s a top-secret mil­i­tary con­trac­tor, remem­ber; there are spies every­where,” he replied. More impor­tant­ly, he added, “there is a prin­ci­ple in Amer­i­can law that there is no such thing as an acci­den­tal death dur­ing the com­mis­sion of a felony. Let’s say you rob a bank and while trav­el­ing at high speed in the get­away you run down a pedes­tri­an and kill them. That’s sec­ond-degree mur­der at the very least.”

    ———–

    “Sui­cide Mis­sion” by Mau­reen Tkacik; The Amer­i­can Prospect; 03/28/2024

    “But Swampy was mired in an insti­tu­tion that was in a per­pet­u­al state of unlearn­ing all the lessons it had absorbed over a 90-year ascent to the pin­na­cle of glob­al man­u­fac­tur­ing. Like most neolib­er­al insti­tu­tions, Boe­ing had come under the spell of a seduc­tive new the­o­ry of “knowl­edge” that essen­tial­ly reduced the whole con­cept to a com­bi­na­tion of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, trade secrets, and data, dis­card­ing “thought” and “under­stand­ing” and “com­plex rea­son­ing” pos­sessed by a skilled and expe­ri­enced work­force as essen­tial­ly not worth the increased health care costs. CEO Jim McN­er­ney, who joined Boe­ing in 2005, had last helmed 3M, where man­age­ment as he saw it had “over­val­ued expe­ri­ence and under­val­ued lead­er­ship” before he purged the vet­er­ans into ear­ly retire­ment.

    A cor­po­rate phi­los­o­phy that defined “knowl­edge” as a com­bi­na­tion of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, trade secrets, and data, while eschew­ing “thought” and “under­stand­ing” and “com­plex rea­son­ing” pos­sessed by a skilled and expe­ri­enced work­force as essen­tial­ly not worth the increased health care costs. In oth­er words, wis­dom isn’t prof­itable or nec­es­sary. That was the neolib­er­al phi­los­o­phy that ‘seduced’ Boe­ing’s man­age­ment and investors. The kind of phi­los­o­phy that implic­it­ly asks the ‘stu­pid or evil?’ meta-ques­tion that looms over so much of the con­tem­po­rary insti­tu­tion­al land­scape.

    And as the arti­cle makes clear, John “Swampy” Bar­nett was far from the only knowl­edge­able work­er who cared by the integri­ty of Boe­ing’s planes tar­get­ed for ter­mi­na­tion. Nor was Bar­nett the only employ­ee rais­ing con­cerns about the safe­ty of these planes. He’s just the most promi­nent of the hun­dreds of oth­ers who have blown the whis­tle. That’s as key part of the con­text of Bar­net­t’s alleged ‘sui­cide’. Any­one who cared about the integri­ty of the planes was deemed a “phe­nom­e­nal­ly tal­ent­ed ass­hole” by the com­pa­ny’s one-time CEO Jim McN­er­ney. But it was­n’t just employ­ees who open­ly cared about the integri­ty of the planes who were tar­get­ed. Thou­sands of qual­i­ty con­trol inspec­tors were to be let go in favor of hav­ing the mechan­ics do their own inspec­tions. It was a whole­sale gut­ting of Boe­ing’s qual­i­ty con­trol oper­a­tions all done in the inter­est of cut­ting costs and boost­ing stock prices:

    ...
    “Prince Jim”—as some long-timers used to call him—repeatedly invoked a slur for long­time engi­neers and skilled machin­ists in the oblig­a­tory van­i­ty “lead­er­ship” book he co-wrote. Those who cared too much about the integri­ty of the planes and not enough about the stock price were “phe­nom­e­nal­ly tal­ent­ed ass­holes,” and he encour­aged his deputies to ostra­cize them into leav­ing the com­pa­ny. He ini­tial­ly refused to let near­ly any of these tal­ent­ed ass­holes work on the 787 Dream­lin­er, instead out­sourc­ing the vast major­i­ty of the devel­op­ment and engi­neer­ing design of the brand-new, rev­o­lu­tion­ary wide-body jet to sup­pli­ers, many of which lacked engi­neer­ing depart­ments. The plan would save mon­ey while bust­ing unions, a win-win, he promised investors. Instead, McNerney’s plan burned some $50 bil­lion in excess of its bud­get and went three and a half years behind sched­ule.

    Swampy belonged to one of the cleanup crews that Boe­ing detailed to McNerney’s dis­as­ter area. The sup­pli­er to which Boe­ing had out­sourced part of the 787 fuse­lage had in turn out­sourced the design to an Israeli firm that had botched the job, leav­ing the sup­pli­er strapped for cash in the midst of a glob­al cred­it crunch. Boe­ing would have to bail out—and buy out—the pri­vate equi­ty firm that con­trolled the sup­pli­er. In 2009, Boe­ing began recruit­ing man­agers from Wash­ing­ton state to move east to the supplier’s non-union plant in Charleston, South Car­oli­na, to train the work­force to prop­er­ly put togeth­er a plane.

    But after the FAA cleared Boe­ing to deliv­er its first 787s to cus­tomers around the end of 2011, one of Swampy’s old co-work­ers says that McNerney’s hench­men began tar­get­ing any­one with expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge for tor­ment and ter­mi­na­tion. One of Swampy’s clos­est col­leagues, Bill Seitz, took a demo­tion to go back west. A qual­i­ty con­trol engi­neer named John Woods was ter­mi­nat­ed for insist­ing inspec­tors thor­ough­ly doc­u­ment dam­age and repair per­formed on com­pos­ite mate­ri­als, which were far less resilient than steel. Good machin­ists and inspec­tors who wore wrist­bands in sup­port of a union dri­ve were framed with dubi­ous infrac­tions. “Every­one from Everett start­ed drop­ping like flies,” remem­bers a for­mer man­ag­er at the plant.

    ...

    The boss­es hit Swampy with a new ini­tia­tive called “Mul­ti-Func­tion Process Per­former,” through which qual­i­ty inspec­tors were direct­ed to out­source 90 per­cent of their duties to the mechan­ics they were sup­posed to be super­vis­ing. This was sup­posed to speed up pro­duc­tion and save Boe­ing mil­lions once it suc­cess­ful­ly shed the thou­sands of inspec­tors it intend­ed to axe. Swampy believed rely­ing on mechan­ics to self-inspect their work was not only insane but ille­gal under the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion char­ter, which explic­it­ly required qual­i­ty inspec­tors to doc­u­ment all defects detect­ed, work per­formed, and parts installed on a com­mer­cial air­plane in one cen­tral­ized data­base. Swampy knew he was caught in a prisoner’s dilem­ma. If he went along, he was break­ing the law; if he didn’t, whistle­blow­ers who com­plained about unsafe prac­tices were rou­tine­ly ter­mi­nat­ed on grounds of vio­lat­ing the same safe­ty pro­to­cols they had opposed vio­lat­ing.

    ...

    Final­ly, in ear­ly 2017 Swampy hap­pened upon a print­out of a list of 49 “Qual­i­ty Man­agers to Fire.” The name John Bar­nett was num­ber one. Swampy decid­ed to go on a med­ical leave of absence, which turned into ear­ly retire­ment on March 1. He called a labor lawyer he knew from a colleague’s case, and togeth­er they began the seem­ing­ly unend­ing process of fil­ing an avi­a­tion whistle­blow­er com­plaint detail­ing his sev­en years at the Charleston plant. It made him sick to think that the val­ue of his Boe­ing shares had tripled over the same peri­od dur­ing which he’d watched the com­pa­ny get so com­pre­hen­sive­ly dis­man­tled. But it was down­right sur­re­al to watch the stock price near­ly triple once more dur­ing the two years after he left the com­pa­ny.

    Nine days after the stock reached its high of $440, a brand-new 737 MAX dove into the ground near Addis Aba­ba, Ethiopia, at near­ly 800 miles per hour, killing 157 peo­ple on board, thanks to a shock­ing­ly dumb soft­ware pro­gram that had pro­grammed the jets to nose-dive in response to the input from a sin­gle angle-of-attack sen­sor. The soft­ware had already killed 189 peo­ple on a sep­a­rate 737 MAX in Indone­sia, but Boe­ing had large­ly deflect­ed blame for that crash by exploit­ing the island nation’s rep­u­ta­tion for avi­a­tion lax­i­ty. Now it was clear Boe­ing was respon­si­ble for all the deaths.

    ...

    In Decem­ber 2022, Avi­a­tion Week pro­duced a help­ful dia­gram map­ping what sec­tions of the plane had caused audi­tors the biggest headaches. Every sin­gle sec­tion, from the tip of the nose to the hor­i­zon­tal sta­bi­liz­ers, was marked up with red arrows. In 2023, deliv­er­ies were halt­ed in Jan­u­ary, Feb­ru­ary, and again in August over prob­lems with the shim­ming, the hor­i­zon­tal sta­bi­liz­er, and God knows what else. Swampy, and hun­dreds of oth­ers who had blown the whis­tle on Boeing’s man­age­r­i­al nihilism, had been thor­ough­ly vin­di­cat­ed. But it was too late. There were no more cleanup crews left at Boe­ing; too much knowl­edge had been drained from the com­pa­ny.
    ...

    And that brings us to the stream of anony­mous com­ments from Boe­ing employ­ees that we’re see­ing show up in these reports. Com­ments seem­ing­ly uni­form­ly describ­ing a deep sense of skep­ti­cism of Bar­net­t’s sui­cide. So note the com­men­tary here from an anony­mous long­time for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive when asked if he thought Bar­nett was assas­si­nat­ed: “I don’t think one can be cyn­i­cal enough when it comes to these guys...It’s a top-secret mil­i­tary con­trac­tor, remem­ber; there are spies every­where”:

    ...
    It is worth not­ing here that Swampy’s for­mer co-work­ers uni­ver­sal­ly refuse to believe that their old col­league killed him­self. One for­mer co-work­er who was ter­ri­fied of speak­ing pub­licly went out of their way to tell me that they weren’t sui­ci­dal. “If I show up dead any­time soon, even if it’s a car acci­dent or some­thing, I’m a safe dri­ver, please be on the look­out for foul play.” Swampy’s wife Diane, who worked at Boe­ing for 28 years, died of brain can­cer at age 60 in late 2022.

    Dis­cussing Swampy’s death and the whistle­blow­er law­suit he left behind, the long­time for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive told me, “I don’t think one can be cyn­i­cal enough when it comes to these guys.” Did that mean he thought Boe­ing assas­si­nat­ed Swampy? “It’s a top-secret mil­i­tary con­trac­tor, remem­ber; there are spies every­where,” he replied. More impor­tant­ly, he added, “there is a prin­ci­ple in Amer­i­can law that there is no such thing as an acci­den­tal death dur­ing the com­mis­sion of a felony. Let’s say you rob a bank and while trav­el­ing at high speed in the get­away you run down a pedes­tri­an and kill them. That’s sec­ond-degree mur­der at the very least.”
    ...

    It’s hard to inter­pret that as any­thing oth­er than an admis­sion that “yes, I think it’s pos­si­ble he was assas­si­nat­ed” from an anony­mous long­time for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive. It’s not hard to see why he chose to remain anony­mous.

    Time will tell if Boe­ing man­aged to put the whistle­bow­er genie back in the bot­tle. We’ll see. Per­haps in the form of a wave of new whistle­blow­er alle­ga­tions. Or per­haps a dis­turb­ing peri­od of whistle­blow­er silence punc­tu­at­ed with the occa­sion­al plane part, or entire plane, falling out of the sky. It’s like a ‘choose-your-own-adven­ture’ mega-scan­dal. And based on the avail­able evi­dence, it appears Boe­ing may have cho­sen the kind of cor­po­rate intim­i­da­tion adven­ture that a defense con­trac­tor with spies every­where might be tempt­ed to make in this kind of sit­u­a­tion. And few things are more intim­i­dat­ing than an offi­cial ‘sui­cide’ that no one believes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 30, 2024, 5:21 pm
  8. There a new dis­turb­ing round of Boe­ing-relat­ed safe­ty updates. No, it’s not an update on John Bar­net­t’s alleged ‘sui­cide’. Instead, it’s an arguably far more dis­turb­ing update about the gen­er­al state of affairs at Boe­ing and the com­pa­ny’s grow­ing safe­ty issues.

    There’s a new Boe­ing whistle­blow­er mak­ing high­ly alarm­ing claims about the Dream­lin­er, the same class of plane Bar­nett spe­cial­ized in for his his qual­i­ty con­trol work. Accord­ing to Boe­ing engi­neer Sam Saleh­pour, the fuse­lages of the Dream­lin­ers con­tain poten­tial­ly cat­a­stroph­ic flaws due to improp­er fus­ing of the pieces dur­ing the assem­bly process. The risk does­n’t just arise from pos­si­ble issues with how the fuse­lage pieces were fit­ted but also the fact that Dream­lin­er fuse­lages are made from a light com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al of car­bon and glass fibers. And it’s sim­ply not known how these com­pos­ite mate­ri­als will hold up to the stress­es of flight over the years. What is known, how­ev­er, is that these mate­ri­als do not show signs of fatigue until they sud­den­ly snap one day.

    Oh, and Saleh­pour also reports being retal­i­at­ed against by the com­pa­ny after his whistle­blow­ing and get­ting trans­ferred to the 777 pro­duc­tion line, where he report­ed iden­ti­fy­ing new issues. Recall how Bar­nett had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence, get­ting trans­ferred to over­see­ing a defec­tive parts bin after his whistle­blow­ing, where he dis­cov­ered that defec­tive parts were being tak­en from the bin to be used on planes. Also recall the reports cit­ing anony­mous Boe­ing employ­ees express­ing their belief that Bar­nett was killed by the com­pa­ny and that employ­ees were being spied on by man­age­ment. Or the anony­mous for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive who shared, “I don’t think one can be cyn­i­cal enough when it comes to these guys...It’s a top-secret mil­i­tary con­trac­tor, remem­ber; there are spies every­where.”

    But here’s per­haps the most dis­turb­ing part of this sto­ry: Boe­ing’s denials that there’s a prob­lem con­tain admis­sions that, yes, there’s prob­a­bly a prob­lem. Accord­ing to Boe­ing, the com­pa­ny has done exten­sive test­ing on the Dream­lin­er and “deter­mined that this is not an imme­di­ate safe­ty of flight issue,” adding that
    this “would not become an issue for the in-ser­vice fleet for many years to come, if ever, and we are not rush­ing the team so that we can ensure that analy­sis is com­pre­hen­sive.” So Saleh­pour warns the world that there’s a loom­ing issue with a cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure of fuse­lages that could arise years from now with­out warn­ing and Boe­ing assures us that there’s no imme­di­ate prob­lems and if any arise it won’t be for many years to come. It’s not exact­ly reas­sur­ing.

    Beyond that, Jeff Guzzetti, a for­mer Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion safe­ty inves­ti­ga­tor, told NBC that even “if these cracks would form, which there’s no evi­dence of, the air­plane is so resis­tant, and so struc­tural­ly robust, accord­ing to Boe­ing, that they’re not going to break apart.” So it would appear that Boe­ing told this for­mer FAA inves­ti­ga­tor that it’s fine if cracks form in this com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al.

    Oh, and when asked direct­ly if he would allow his fam­i­ly to fly in a Dream­lin­er, Saleh­pour told reporters “Right now, I would not.” So while this might be pri­mar­i­ly a long-term issue, we don’t actu­al­ly know how far off that ‘long-term’ real­ly is at this point. It’s a gam­ble.

    That’s the ter­ri­fy­ing update on Boe­ing’s safe­ty issues. The kind of update that hope­ful­ly won’t be fol­lowed up with anoth­er ‘sui­cide’ or some oth­er unfor­tu­nate turn of events:

    The New York Times

    F.A.A. Inves­ti­gates Claims by Boe­ing Whis­tle-Blow­er About Flaws in 787 Dream­lin­er

    The whis­tle-blow­er, an engi­neer, says that sec­tions of the plane’s body are being assem­bled in a way that could weak­en the air­craft over time. Boe­ing says there is no safe­ty issue.

    By Mark Walk­er and James Glanz
    Mark Walk­er report­ed from Wash­ing­ton, and James Glanz from New York.
    April 9, 2024

    The Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion is inves­ti­gat­ing claims made by a Boe­ing engi­neer who says that sec­tions of the fuse­lage of the 787 Dream­lin­er are improp­er­ly fas­tened togeth­er and could break apart mid-flight after thou­sands of trips.

    The engi­neer, Sam Saleh­pour, who worked on the plane, detailed his alle­ga­tions in inter­views with The New York Times and in doc­u­ments sent to the F.A.A. A spokesman for the agency con­firmed that it was inves­ti­gat­ing the alle­ga­tions but declined to com­ment on them.

    Mr. Saleh­pour, who has worked at Boe­ing for more than a decade, said the prob­lems stemmed from changes in how the enor­mous sec­tions were fit­ted and fas­tened togeth­er in the assem­bly line. The plane’s fuse­lage comes in sev­er­al pieces, all from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers, and they are not exact­ly the same shape where they fit togeth­er, he said.

    Boe­ing con­ced­ed those man­u­fac­tur­ing changes were made, but a spokesman for the com­pa­ny, Paul Lewis, said there was “no impact on dura­bil­i­ty or safe longevi­ty of the air­frame.”

    Mr. Lewis said Boe­ing had done exten­sive test­ing on the Dream­lin­er and “deter­mined that this is not an imme­di­ate safe­ty of flight issue.”.

    “Our engi­neers are com­plet­ing com­plex analy­sis to deter­mine if there may be a long-term fatigue con­cern for the fleet in any area of the air­plane,” Mr. Lewis said. “This would not become an issue for the in-ser­vice fleet for many years to come, if ever, and we are not rush­ing the team so that we can ensure that analy­sis is com­pre­hen­sive.”

    In a sub­se­quent state­ment, Boe­ing said it was “ful­ly con­fi­dent in the 787 Dream­lin­er,” adding that “these claims about the struc­tur­al integri­ty of the 787 are inac­cu­rate and do not rep­re­sent the com­pre­hen­sive work Boe­ing has done to ensure the qual­i­ty and long-term safe­ty of the air­craft.”

    ...

    The Dream­lin­er is a wide-body jet that is more fuel effi­cient than many oth­er air­craft used for long trips, in part because of its light­weight com­pos­ite con­struc­tion. First deliv­ered in 2011, the twin-aisle plane has both racked up orders for Boe­ing and cre­at­ed headaches for the com­pa­ny.

    For years, the plane mak­er has dealt with a suc­ces­sion of issues involv­ing the jet, includ­ing bat­tery prob­lems that led to the tem­po­rary ground­ing of 787s around the world and qual­i­ty con­cerns that more recent­ly caused an extend­ed halt in deliv­er­ies.

    Boe­ing has also con­front­ed a slew of prob­lems at its plant in South Car­oli­na where the Dream­lin­er is built. A promi­nent Boe­ing whis­tle-blow­er who raised con­cerns about man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tices at the plant, John Bar­nett, was found dead last month with what appeared to be a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound.

    The Dream­lin­er was a pio­neer in using large amounts of so-called com­pos­ite mate­ri­als rather than tra­di­tion­al met­al to build the plane, includ­ing major sec­tions like the fuse­lage, as the aircraft’s body is known. Often made by com­bin­ing mate­ri­als like car­bon and glass fibers, com­pos­ites are lighter than met­als but, as com­par­a­tive­ly new­er mate­ri­als, less is known about how they hold up to the long-term stress­es of flight. Those stress­es cre­ate what engi­neers call fatigue, which can com­pro­mise safe­ty if it caus­es the mate­r­i­al to fail.

    Mr. Saleh­pour said he was repeat­ed­ly retal­i­at­ed against for rais­ing con­cerns about short­cuts he believed that Boe­ing was tak­ing in join­ing togeth­er the pieces of the Dreamliner’s fuse­lage.

    Debra S. Katz, a lawyer for Mr. Saleh­pour, said that her client raised his con­cerns with super­vi­sors and tried to dis­cuss them in safe­ty meet­ings, but that com­pa­ny offi­cials did not lis­ten. Instead, she said that Mr. Saleh­pour was silenced and trans­ferred to work on anoth­er wide-body air­craft, the 777. Mr. Saleh­pour said that after his trans­fer, he found addi­tion­al prob­lems with how Boe­ing was assem­bling the fuse­lage of the 777.

    ...

    In its state­ment, Boe­ing said that it encour­aged its work­ers “to speak up when issues arise” and that retal­i­a­tion was “strict­ly pro­hib­it­ed.”

    The F.A.A. inter­viewed Mr. Saleh­pour on Fri­day, Ms. Katz said. In response to ques­tions about the Dream­lin­er, Mike Whitak­er, the agency’s admin­is­tra­tor, reit­er­at­ed that the reg­u­la­tor was tak­ing a hard line against the Boe­ing after the Alas­ka Air­lines episode.

    “This won’t be back to busi­ness as usu­al for Boe­ing,” Mr. Whitak­er said in a state­ment. “They must com­mit to real and pro­found improve­ments. Mak­ing foun­da­tion­al change will require a sus­tained effort from Boeing’s lead­er­ship, and we are going to hold them account­able every step of the way.”

    Mr. Saleh­pour said the short­cuts that he believed Boe­ing was tak­ing result­ed in exces­sive force being applied to nar­row unwant­ed gaps in the assem­bly con­nect­ing pieces of the Dreamliner’s fuse­lage. He said that force led to defor­ma­tion in the com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al, which he said could increase the effects of fatigue and lead to pre­ma­ture fail­ure of the com­pos­ite.

    John Cox, a for­mer air­line pilot who runs a safe­ty con­sult­ing firm, said that while com­pos­ites were more tol­er­ant of excess force than met­als, it was hard­er to see that com­pos­ites had been stressed to the point that they would fail. “They just snap,” he said.

    “The cat­a­stroph­ic in-flight breakup, yes, that’s a the­o­ret­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ty,” Mr. Cox said. “That’s why you’d want to have the test­ing done to pre­clude that.”

    Boeing’s tests are an appro­pri­ate step, Mr. Cox said, because “if the degra­da­tion goes far enough, that could poten­tial­ly lead to a cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure.”

    ———–

    “F.A.A. Inves­ti­gates Claims by Boe­ing Whis­tle-Blow­er About Flaws in 787 Dream­lin­er” By Mark Walk­er and James Glanz; The New York Times; 04/09/2024

    Mr. Saleh­pour, who has worked at Boe­ing for more than a decade, said the prob­lems stemmed from changes in how the enor­mous sec­tions were fit­ted and fas­tened togeth­er in the assem­bly line. The plane’s fuse­lage comes in sev­er­al pieces, all from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers, and they are not exact­ly the same shape where they fit togeth­er, he said.”

    Sam Saleh­pour isn’t rais­ing alarm over issues like doors blow­ing out or pan­els falling off. No, it’s much worse. He’s warn­ing about defects in how the Dream­lin­er hulls are fused in place. Defects that could be far worse on a Dream­lin­er than on tra­di­tion­al planes thanks to the use of car­bon and glass fiber com­pos­ite mate­ri­als which have rel­a­tive­ly unknown long-term respons­es to stress­es. But what is know about these com­pos­ites is that they don’t show signs of stress until they sud­den­ly snap. And one thing that could con­tribute to the devel­op­ment of this kind of dan­ger­ous fatigue in these com­pos­ite mate­ri­als is the improp­er fus­ing of the pieces. In oth­er words, the Dream­lin­ers are tick­ing time­bombs:

    ...
    Boe­ing has also con­front­ed a slew of prob­lems at its plant in South Car­oli­na where the Dream­lin­er is built. A promi­nent Boe­ing whis­tle-blow­er who raised con­cerns about man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tices at the plant, John Bar­nett, was found dead last month with what appeared to be a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound.

    The Dream­lin­er was a pio­neer in using large amounts of so-called com­pos­ite mate­ri­als rather than tra­di­tion­al met­al to build the plane, includ­ing major sec­tions like the fuse­lage, as the aircraft’s body is known. Often made by com­bin­ing mate­ri­als like car­bon and glass fibers, com­pos­ites are lighter than met­als but, as com­par­a­tive­ly new­er mate­ri­als, less is known about how they hold up to the long-term stress­es of flight. Those stress­es cre­ate what engi­neers call fatigue, which can com­pro­mise safe­ty if it caus­es the mate­r­i­al to fail.

    ...

    Mr. Saleh­pour said the short­cuts that he believed Boe­ing was tak­ing result­ed in exces­sive force being applied to nar­row unwant­ed gaps in the assem­bly con­nect­ing pieces of the Dreamliner’s fuse­lage. He said that force led to defor­ma­tion in the com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al, which he said could increase the effects of fatigue and lead to pre­ma­ture fail­ure of the com­pos­ite.

    John Cox, a for­mer air­line pilot who runs a safe­ty con­sult­ing firm, said that while com­pos­ites were more tol­er­ant of excess force than met­als, it was hard­er to see that com­pos­ites had been stressed to the point that they would fail. “They just snap,” he said.

    “The cat­a­stroph­ic in-flight breakup, yes, that’s a the­o­ret­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ty,” Mr. Cox said. “That’s why you’d want to have the test­ing done to pre­clude that.”

    Boeing’s tests are an appro­pri­ate step, Mr. Cox said, because “if the degra­da­tion goes far enough, that could poten­tial­ly lead to a cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure.”
    ...

    And note how Boe­ing basi­cal­ly con­ced­ed these con­cerns in their attempts to brush them off, insist­ing that this isn’t an “imme­di­ate safe­ty of flight issue” and “not become an issue for the in-ser­vice fleet for many years to come, if ever.” It’s not exact­ly reas­sur­ing:

    ...
    Boe­ing con­ced­ed those man­u­fac­tur­ing changes were made, but a spokesman for the com­pa­ny, Paul Lewis, said there was “no impact on dura­bil­i­ty or safe longevi­ty of the air­frame.”

    Mr. Lewis said Boe­ing had done exten­sive test­ing on the Dream­lin­er and “deter­mined that this is not an imme­di­ate safe­ty of flight issue.”.

    “Our engi­neers are com­plet­ing com­plex analy­sis to deter­mine if there may be a long-term fatigue con­cern for the fleet in any area of the air­plane,” Mr. Lewis said. “This would not become an issue for the in-ser­vice fleet for many years to come, if ever, and we are not rush­ing the team so that we can ensure that analy­sis is com­pre­hen­sive.”

    In a sub­se­quent state­ment, Boe­ing said it was “ful­ly con­fi­dent in the 787 Dream­lin­er,” adding that “these claims about the struc­tur­al integri­ty of the 787 are inac­cu­rate and do not rep­re­sent the com­pre­hen­sive work Boe­ing has done to ensure the qual­i­ty and long-term safe­ty of the air­craft.”
    ...

    And when we see Saleh­pour not only cite retal­i­a­tion from Boe­ing — in the form of trans­fer­ring him to work on a dif­fer­ent air­craft — but point out that he found new prob­lems with the 777 fuse­lage pro­duc­tion, keep in mind how John Bar­nett report­ed a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence. In Bar­net­t’s case, he was trans­ferred to over­see­ing a defec­tive parts bin, where he dis­cov­ered that defec­tive parts were being tak­en from the bin to be used on planes! Which is anoth­er reminder that Saleh­pour’s whistle­blow­ing isn’t spe­cif­ic to Dream­lin­ers. This is a Boe­ing-wide prob­lem. Also keep in mind that when we are talk­ing about retal­i­a­tion by Boe­ing, it’s hard to ignore the real­i­ty that John Bar­net­t’s ‘sui­cide’ sure looks a lot like a cor­po­rate hit. Just as it’s hard to ignore the reports cit­ing anony­mous Boe­ing employ­ees express­ing their belief that Bar­nett was killed by the com­pa­ny and that employ­ees were being spied on by man­age­ment. Or the anony­mous for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive who shared, “I don’t think one can be cyn­i­cal enough when it comes to these guys...It’s a top-secret mil­i­tary con­trac­tor, remem­ber; there are spies every­where.” Giv­en that con­text, it would be shock­ing of Saleh­pour was­n’t fac­ing retal­i­a­tion:

    ...
    Mr. Saleh­pour said he was repeat­ed­ly retal­i­at­ed against for rais­ing con­cerns about short­cuts he believed that Boe­ing was tak­ing in join­ing togeth­er the pieces of the Dreamliner’s fuse­lage.

    Debra S. Katz, a lawyer for Mr. Saleh­pour, said that her client raised his con­cerns with super­vi­sors and tried to dis­cuss them in safe­ty meet­ings, but that com­pa­ny offi­cials did not lis­ten. Instead, she said that Mr. Saleh­pour was silenced and trans­ferred to work on anoth­er wide-body air­craft, the 777. Mr. Saleh­pour said that after his trans­fer, he found addi­tion­al prob­lems with how Boe­ing was assem­bling the fuse­lage of the 777.

    ...

    In its state­ment, Boe­ing said that it encour­aged its work­ers “to speak up when issues arise” and that retal­i­a­tion was “strict­ly pro­hib­it­ed.”
    ...

    Final­ly, when we hear state­ments from the FAA about how it’s not going to be back to ‘busi­ness as usu­al’, keep in mind that ‘busi­ness as usu­al’ for cap­tured reg­u­la­tors typ­i­cal­ly involves lots of tough talk fol­lowed up by kid glove treat­ment and no pros­e­cu­tion of the lead­er­ship no mat­ter how egre­gious the behav­ior. So, we’ll see...:

    ...
    The F.A.A. inter­viewed Mr. Saleh­pour on Fri­day, Ms. Katz said. In response to ques­tions about the Dream­lin­er, Mike Whitak­er, the agency’s admin­is­tra­tor, reit­er­at­ed that the reg­u­la­tor was tak­ing a hard line against the Boe­ing after the Alas­ka Air­lines episode.

    “This won’t be back to busi­ness as usu­al for Boe­ing,” Mr. Whitak­er said in a state­ment. “They must com­mit to real and pro­found improve­ments. Mak­ing foun­da­tion­al change will require a sus­tained effort from Boeing’s lead­er­ship, and we are going to hold them account­able every step of the way.”
    ...

    And in case this seems like Sam Saleh­pour is just warn­ing about cat­a­stroph­ic prob­lems that might only emerge years from now, note the warn­ing he made in the fol­low­ing NBC inter­view: When asked if he would put his own fam­i­ly on a 787 right now, Saleh­pour answer was an omi­nous, “Right now, I would not”:

    NBC News

    Whistle­blow­er says Boe­ing should stop pro­duc­tion of 787 Dream­lin­er due to safe­ty issue

    Sam Saleh­pour is sched­uled to tes­ti­fy before Con­gress on Wednes­day. Boe­ing says the plane is struc­tural­ly sound.

    April 16, 2024, 6:27 PM CDT
    By Tom Costel­lo and Lewis Kamb

    A Boe­ing engi­neer-turned-whistle­blow­er who con­tends that the aero­space giant’s 787 Dream­lin­er is unsafe to fly due to assem­bly flaws dou­bled down on his claims Tues­day, say­ing that the plane could fall apart and “drop to the ground” mid­flight unless the alleged safe­ty prob­lems are addressed.

    Boe­ing dis­put­ed the claims on Tues­day, say­ing the plane is safe and the com­pa­ny is “ful­ly con­fi­dent in the 787 Dream­lin­er.”

    Boe­ing qual­i­ty engi­neer Sam Saleh­pour spoke to “NBC Night­ly News” in his first on-cam­era inter­view since rais­ing his alle­ga­tions pub­licly last week. He said the com­pa­ny has yet to prop­er­ly address tiny non­con­form­ing gaps found in mul­ti­ple planes after two sec­tions of their fuse­lages were joined togeth­er dur­ing assem­bly. Saleh­pour said such “safe­ty issues” could lead to cat­a­stroph­ic out­comes.

    When asked if he would put his own fam­i­ly on a 787 right now, Saleh­pour didn’t hes­i­tate. “Right now, I would not,” he said.

    ...

    Jeff Guzzetti, a for­mer Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion safe­ty inves­ti­ga­tor, told NBC News, “Even if these cracks would form, which there’s no evi­dence of, the air­plane is so resis­tant, and so struc­tural­ly robust, accord­ing to Boe­ing, that they’re not going to break apart.”

    Despite such assur­ances, Saleh­pour remained stead­fast in his claims to NBC News on Tues­day, say­ing that pro­duc­tion of the 787 should be halt­ed while the alleged prob­lems are addressed in the fleet now in ser­vice. He not­ed that the gaps could make the 787 sus­cep­ti­ble to “pre­ma­ture fatigue fail­ure,” par­tic­u­lar­ly as the planes get old­er.

    ...

    Salehpour’s attor­ney, Lisa Banks, sep­a­rate­ly told NBC News on Tues­day that she has heard from at least half a dozen “addi­tion­al would-be whistle­blow­ers at Boe­ing who have report­ed the same kinds of issues that Sam has raised with Boe­ing.”

    “I’m 100% con­fi­dent in Sam’s alle­ga­tions because they’re based on Boeing’s own data and Sam’s decades of expe­ri­ence as a qual­i­ty engi­neer,” Banks said.

    ————

    “Whistle­blow­er says Boe­ing should stop pro­duc­tion of 787 Dream­lin­er due to safe­ty issue” by By Tom Costel­lo and Lewis Kamb; NBC News; 04/16/2024

    “When asked if he would put his own fam­i­ly on a 787 right now, Saleh­pour didn’t hes­i­tate. “Right now, I would not,” he said.”

    Fly at your own risk. Or at your fam­i­ly’s risk. That was Sam Saleh­pour warn­ing to the world.

    And note the incred­i­ble assur­ance we got from a for­mer FAA safe­ty inves­ti­ga­tor, who seemed to insist that even if cracks were to devel­op in this com­pos­ite mate­r­i­al, the plane is so struc­tural­ly sound it still would­n’t break apart. Or at least that’s what Boe­ing told him. Yep:

    ...
    Jeff Guzzetti, a for­mer Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion safe­ty inves­ti­ga­tor, told NBC News, “Even if these cracks would form, which there’s no evi­dence of, the air­plane is so resis­tant, and so struc­tural­ly robust, accord­ing to Boe­ing, that they’re not going to break apart.”

    Despite such assur­ances, Saleh­pour remained stead­fast in his claims to NBC News on Tues­day, say­ing that pro­duc­tion of the 787 should be halt­ed while the alleged prob­lems are addressed in the fleet now in ser­vice. He not­ed that the gaps could make the 787 sus­cep­ti­ble to “pre­ma­ture fatigue fail­ure,” par­tic­u­lar­ly as the planes get old­er.
    ...

    Cracks in the fuse­lage? It’s fine, accord­ing to Boe­ing. At least that’s what this for­mer FAA inves­ti­ga­tor relayed to us. Words to keep in mind as we’re forced to digest Boe­ing’s assur­ances that every­thing will be ok. All these wor­ries were just a bad dream. That’s Boe­ing’s sto­ry. Or at least that’s the sto­ry until planes start cat­a­stroph­i­cal­ly break­ing up mid-flight, at which point the exec­u­tives respon­si­ble for this state of affairs will pre­sum­ably be long-retired, liv­ing the gold­en-para­chute dream.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 20, 2024, 4:55 pm
  9. It hap­pened again. Sec­ond time in less than two months: Boe­ing whistle­blow­er Josh Dean died sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly.

    It was­n’t a ‘sui­cide’ like John Bar­nett. Instead, it was a dead­ly bac­te­r­i­al MRSA infec­tion that killed Deah, a 45 year old who had been in good health and known for a healthy lifestyle. Dean was admit­ted to the hos­pi­tal and died two weeks lat­er after being intu­bat­ed and devel­op­ing pneu­mo­nia.

    While it’s not clear how he acquired this bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that MRSA infec­tions are known for rapid­ly killing the oth­er­wise young and healthy. It hap­pens. But at the same time, it’s not like we’re talk­ing about a genet­ic dis­or­der here that can’t be trans­mit­ted. This is a bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion. So while we don’t have any evi­dence that Dean was inten­tion­al­ly infect­ed with a strain of bac­te­ria known for rapid­ly killing the young and healthy, it’s kind of hard to rule it out at this point.

    And as we’re going to see, while the nature of Josh Dean’s whistle­blow­er was more or less in line with the shock­ing claims of fla­grant qual­i­ty vio­la­tions involved with the pro­duc­tion of com­mer­cial air­lin­ers that Bar­nett and oth­ers have high­light, Dean’s claims poten­tial­ly go fur­ther in terms of the kind of eco­nom­ic dam­age they could have inflict­ed on the com­pa­ny. That’s because Dean was­n’t direct­ly whistle­blow­ing about qual­i­ty and safe­ty issues at Boe­ing. Instead, he was blow­ing the whis­tle on Spir­it AeroSys­tems, a major Boe­ing sup­pli­er of fuse­lages. Spir­it was in fact part of Boe­ing until it was spun off in 2005 to a pri­vate-equi­ty firm.

    And as Dean’s warn­ings make clear, Spir­it was afflict­ed with the same kind of prof­its-over-all phi­los­o­phy that infect­ed Boe­ing over the past sev­er­al decades. When Dean raised issues — mechan­ics were improp­er­ly drilling holes in the aft pres­sure bulk­head of the MAX — they were ignored and Dean soon found him­self fired for ques­tion­able rea­sons. And yet the same issue Dean raised inter­nal­ly did even­tu­al­ly blow up into a in a pro­duc­tion delay, prov­ing Dean was cor­rect, at which point he filed a whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion com­plaint with the Depart­ment of Labor. Like Bar­nett, Dean’s whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit was still ongo­ing at the time of his death. In fact, he even retained the same South Car­oli­na law firm that was rep­re­sent­ing Bar­nett.

    But the improp­er­ly drilled holes Dean iden­ti­fied aren’t the only exam­ple of a qual­i­ty issue at Spir­it’s facil­i­ties. it also turns out that the mid-flight door blowout inci­dent back in Jan­u­ary can be par­tial­ly traced back to a Spir­it repair crew leav­ing off the four bolts after a repair job. Not that Boe­ing can blame it all on Spir­it. Boe­ing employ­ees signed off on the repair job. But the fact that Spir­it was direct­ly involved with that high-pro­file and extreme­ly embar­rass­ing inci­dent under­scores the extreme sen­si­tiv­i­ties that would have inevitably sur­round­ed Dean’s ongo­ing law­suit.

    But a desire to silence Dean about issues with the fuse­lages going into Boe­ing’s com­mer­cial planes is just one of the poten­tial rea­sons some­one may have want­ed to see Dean sud­den­ly dead. On March 1, a week and a half before Bar­net­t’s ‘sui­cide’, it was announced that Boe­ing was in the process of reac­quir­ing Spir­it AeroSys­tems. And as we’re going to see, while gain­ing greater con­trol over Spir­it’s qual­i­ty issues is cit­ed as part of the motive for the merg­er, there’s a poten­tial­ly much big­ger moti­va­tion: Spir­it AeroSys­tems has a rapid­ly grow­ing pres­ence in the defense con­tract­ing space, with rev­enues in that sec­tor expect­ed to reach $1 bil­lion by 2025. And Spir­it’s poten­tial role as a sub­con­trac­tor in all sorts of defense projects is seen as a means of get­ting Boe­ing involved with an array of major defense con­tracts that it has thus far lost out on.

    Beyond that, Spir­it’s expe­ri­ences with com­pos­ite mate­ri­als like the kind that are used to build the Dream­lin­er’s fuse­lage is seen as a key skill for the future of defense aero­nau­tics. Of course, as we’ve also learned from Boe­ing whistle­blow­er Sam Saleh­pour, not only were there issues with fus­ing the seg­ments of the com­pos­ite fuse­lage in the Dream­lin­er, but those flaws could poten­tial­ly result in the cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure of the planes. All of a sud­den one day the mate­r­i­al just snaps. Let’s hope Saleh­pour has a robust life insur­ance pol­i­cy.

    Oh, and it turns out Spir­it’s CEO, Patrich Shana­han, is not only a for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive but he’s also the for­mer act­ing Defense Sec­re­tary under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Shana­han is seen as a poten­tial suc­ces­sor to out­go­ing Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn should the merg­er go through.

    So that’s the dis­turb­ing con­text of this sec­ond very dis­turb­ing Boe­ing whistle­blow­er sud­den unex­pect­ed death: Boe­ing appears to be plan­ning on piv­ot­ing towards more defense con­tracts and Spir­it AeroSys­tems is seen as crit­i­cal for that piv­ot. It’s the kind of con­text that made Josh Dean an espe­cial­ly expen­sive fly in this prof­its-over-every­thing oint­ment:

    The Seat­tle Times

    Whistle­blow­er Josh Dean of Boe­ing sup­pli­er Spir­it AeroSys­tems has died

    May 1, 2024 at 2:58 pm
    Updat­ed May 1, 2024 at 3:54 pm

    By Dominic Gates
    and Lau­ren Rosen­blatt
    Seat­tle Times staff reporters

    Joshua Dean, a for­mer qual­i­ty audi­tor at Boe­ing sup­pli­er Spir­it AeroSys­tems and one of the first whistle­blow­ers to allege Spir­it lead­er­ship had ignored man­u­fac­tur­ing defects on the 737 MAX, died Tues­day morn­ing after a strug­gle with a sud­den, fast-spread­ing infec­tion.

    Known as Josh, Dean lived in Wichi­ta, Kan., where Spir­it is based. He was 45, had been in good health and was not­ed for hav­ing a healthy lifestyle.

    He died after two weeks in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, his aunt Car­ol Par­sons said.

    ...

    Dean had giv­en a depo­si­tion in a Spir­it share­hold­er law­suit and also filed a com­plaint with the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion alleg­ing “seri­ous and gross mis­con­duct by senior qual­i­ty man­age­ment of the 737 pro­duc­tion line” at Spir­it.

    Spir­it fired Dean in April 2023, and he had filed a com­plaint with the Depart­ment of Labor alleg­ing his ter­mi­na­tion was in retal­i­a­tion for rais­ing con­cerns relat­ed to avi­a­tion safe­ty.

    Par­sons said Dean became ill and went to the hos­pi­tal because he was hav­ing trou­ble breath­ing just over two weeks ago. He was intu­bat­ed and devel­oped pneu­mo­nia and then a seri­ous bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion, MRSA.

    His con­di­tion dete­ri­o­rat­ed rapid­ly, and he was air­lift­ed from Wichi­ta to a hos­pi­tal in Okla­homa City, Par­sons said. There he was put on an ECMO machine, which cir­cu­lates and oxy­genates a patient’s blood out­side the body, tak­ing over heart and lung func­tion when a patient’s organs don’t work on their own.

    His moth­er post­ed a mes­sage Fri­day on Face­book relat­ing all those details and say­ing that Dean was “fight­ing for his life.”

    He was heav­i­ly sedat­ed and put on dial­y­sis. A CT scan indi­cat­ed he had suf­fered a stroke, his mom’s post said.

    By the end, doc­tors were con­sid­er­ing ampu­tat­ing both hands and both feet. “It was bru­tal what he went through,” Par­sons said. “Heart­break­ing.”

    Dean was rep­re­sent­ed by a law firm in South Car­oli­na that also rep­re­sent­ed Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John “Mitch” Bar­nett.

    ...

    Bri­an Knowles, one of Dean’s lawyers, said he didn’t want to spec­u­late about the close tim­ing and cir­cum­stances of the two deaths.

    “Whistle­blow­ers are need­ed. They bring to light wrong­do­ing and cor­rup­tion in the inter­ests of soci­ety. It takes a lot of courage to stand up,” Knowles said. “It’s a dif­fi­cult set of cir­cum­stances. Our thoughts now are with John’s fam­i­ly and Josh’s fam­i­ly.”
    John
    Dean, a mechan­i­cal engi­neer, began work­ing at Spir­it in 2019. He was laid off the next year fol­low­ing pan­dem­ic-relat­ed job cuts and returned to Spir­it in May 2021 as a qual­i­ty audi­tor.

    In Octo­ber 2022, Dean said he found a seri­ous man­u­fac­tur­ing defect: mechan­ics improp­er­ly drilling holes in the aft pres­sure bulk­head of the MAX. When he flagged this issue with man­age­ment, he said noth­ing was done.

    Focused on those defects, he said he missed dur­ing that same audit a sep­a­rate man­u­fac­tur­ing flaw in the fit­tings that attach the ver­ti­cal tail fin to the fuse­lage. When that was dis­cov­ered in April and caused a deliv­ery pause at Boeing’s Ren­ton plant, Dean was fired.

    Then in August, Spir­it announced the dis­cov­ery of improp­er­ly drilled holes in the MAX’s aft pres­sure bulk­head, a flaw that was present in MAXs built as ear­ly as 2019. This caused anoth­er deliv­ery halt in Ren­ton.

    With that dis­cov­ery, Dean filed a safe­ty com­plaint with the FAA. He said Spir­it had used him as a scape­goat and had lied to the FAA about the aft pres­sure bulk­head defects.

    “After I was fired, Spir­it AeroSys­tems [ini­tial­ly] did noth­ing to inform the FAA, and the pub­lic” about their knowl­edge of the aft pres­sure bulk­head defects, he wrote in his com­plaint.

    In Novem­ber, the FAA sent Dean a let­ter stat­ing that it had com­plet­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion of the safe­ty issues he had flagged. The let­ter cloaks the out­come though it seems to con­firm that his alle­ga­tions had sub­stance.

    “The inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined that your alle­ga­tions were appro­pri­ate­ly addressed under an FAA-approved safe­ty pro­gram,” the FAA wrote. “How­ev­er, due to the pri­va­cy pro­vi­sions of those pro­grams, spe­cif­ic details can­not be released.”

    That same month, Dean filed his avi­a­tion whistle­blow­er com­plaint with the Depart­ment of Labor, alleg­ing wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion and “gross mis­con­duct of senior lev­el Spir­it AeroSys­tems Qual­i­ty Man­agers.”

    That case was still pend­ing.

    After he left Spir­it, Dean took a job for a short time at Boe­ing Wichi­ta, then left to work for anoth­er com­pa­ny.

    The share­hold­er law­suit alleg­ing that Spir­it man­age­ment with­held infor­ma­tion on the qual­i­ty flaws and harmed stock­hold­ers was filed in Decem­ber. Sup­port­ing the suit, Dean pro­vid­ed a depo­si­tion detail­ing his alle­ga­tions.

    After a pan­el blew off a Boe­ing 737 MAX plane in Jan­u­ary, bring­ing new atten­tion to the qual­i­ty laps­es at Spir­it, one of Dean’s for­mer Spir­it col­leagues con­firmed some of Dean’s alle­ga­tions.

    ———–

    “Whistle­blow­er Josh Dean of Boe­ing sup­pli­er Spir­it AeroSys­tems has died” By Dominic Gates and Lau­ren Rosen­blatt; The Seat­tle Times; 05/01/2024

    “Dean was rep­re­sent­ed by a law firm in South Car­oli­na that also rep­re­sent­ed Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John “Mitch” Bar­nett.”

    A sec­ond Boe­ing whistle­blow­er dead, less than three months after John Bar­net­t’s ‘sui­cide’. And it turns out Josh Dean was rep­re­sent­ed by the same law firm. It’s a poten­tial­ly impor­tant detail in this sto­ry. Because one of the big implic­it ques­tions sur­round­ing Bar­net­t’s untime­ly death is what kind of threat was Bar­net­t’s nev­er-com­plete depo­si­tion to Boe­ing’s bot­tom line? As we’ve seen, Bar­nett was far from the only whistle­blow­er and anony­mous Boe­ing employ­ees — and even a for­mer senior exec­u­tive — appear to be will­ing to enter­tain with reporters the idea that Boe­ing is spy­ing on its employ­ees and bump­ing off whistle­blow­ers. So if Bar­net­t’s ongo­ing law­suit posed a big enough threat to Boe­ing that it was deter­mined that it was big­ger risk to keep him alive, what kind of risk might Dean’s law­suit pose when waged by the same law firm?

    And that brings us to the real­i­ty that Spir­it Aero­space’s excuse for fir­ing Dean in April of 2023 was that, after he raised a man­u­fac­tur­ing defect in Octo­ber of 2022, he had appar­ent­ly missed a dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ing defect that ulti­mate­ly forced a pro­duc­tion delay. Then, in August of 2023, Spir­it announced the dis­cov­ery of the same issue Dean raised but was ignored. That’s when Dean filed his safe­ty com­plaint with the FAA, alleg­ing the com­pa­ny lied to the FAA about this ‘new­ly dis­cov­ered’ defect:

    ...
    Dean, a mechan­i­cal engi­neer, began work­ing at Spir­it in 2019. He was laid off the next year fol­low­ing pan­dem­ic-relat­ed job cuts and returned to Spir­it in May 2021 as a qual­i­ty audi­tor.

    In Octo­ber 2022, Dean said he found a seri­ous man­u­fac­tur­ing defect: mechan­ics improp­er­ly drilling holes in the aft pres­sure bulk­head of the MAX. When he flagged this issue with man­age­ment, he said noth­ing was done.

    Focused on those defects, he said he missed dur­ing that same audit a sep­a­rate man­u­fac­tur­ing flaw in the fit­tings that attach the ver­ti­cal tail fin to the fuse­lage. When that was dis­cov­ered in April and caused a deliv­ery pause at Boeing’s Ren­ton plant, Dean was fired.

    Then in August, Spir­it announced the dis­cov­ery of improp­er­ly drilled holes in the MAX’s aft pres­sure bulk­head, a flaw that was present in MAXs built as ear­ly as 2019. This caused anoth­er deliv­ery halt in Ren­ton.

    With that dis­cov­ery, Dean filed a safe­ty com­plaint with the FAA. He said Spir­it had used him as a scape­goat and had lied to the FAA about the aft pres­sure bulk­head defects.

    “After I was fired, Spir­it AeroSys­tems [ini­tial­ly] did noth­ing to inform the FAA, and the pub­lic” about their knowl­edge of the aft pres­sure bulk­head defects, he wrote in his com­plaint.
    ...

    Then, in Novem­ber of last year, the FAA basi­cal­ly acknowl­edge that Dean’s alle­ga­tions were accu­rate. That same month, Dean files his whistle­blow­er com­plaint with the Depart­ment of Labor with a case that is ongo­ing. Or was ongo­ing, as the case may be:

    ...
    In Novem­ber, the FAA sent Dean a let­ter stat­ing that it had com­plet­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion of the safe­ty issues he had flagged. The let­ter cloaks the out­come though it seems to con­firm that his alle­ga­tions had sub­stance.

    “The inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined that your alle­ga­tions were appro­pri­ate­ly addressed under an FAA-approved safe­ty pro­gram,” the FAA wrote. “How­ev­er, due to the pri­va­cy pro­vi­sions of those pro­grams, spe­cif­ic details can­not be released.”

    That same month, Dean filed his avi­a­tion whistle­blow­er com­plaint with the Depart­ment of Labor, alleg­ing wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion and “gross mis­con­duct of senior lev­el Spir­it AeroSys­tems Qual­i­ty Man­agers.”

    That case was still pend­ing.
    ...

    And then there’s the fact that one of Dean’s Spir­it col­leagues con­firmed his alle­ga­tions fol­low­ing the door blowout inci­dent back in Jan­u­ary. So we have an ongo­ing law­suit that was get­ting but­tressed by addi­tion­al wit­ness­es. In oth­er words, his case was only get­ting stronger:

    ...
    After he left Spir­it, Dean took a job for a short time at Boe­ing Wichi­ta, then left to work for anoth­er com­pa­ny.

    The share­hold­er law­suit alleg­ing that Spir­it man­age­ment with­held infor­ma­tion on the qual­i­ty flaws and harmed stock­hold­ers was filed in Decem­ber. Sup­port­ing the suit, Dean pro­vid­ed a depo­si­tion detail­ing his alle­ga­tions.

    After a pan­el blew off a Boe­ing 737 MAX plane in Jan­u­ary, bring­ing new atten­tion to the qual­i­ty laps­es at Spir­it, one of Dean’s for­mer Spir­it col­leagues con­firmed some of Dean’s alle­ga­tions.
    ...

    And that strength­en­ing case brings us to Dean’s remark­able sud­den death. Some­how, this healthy 45 year old con­tracts MRSA and goes from healthy to dead in a cou­ple of weeks:

    ...
    Known as Josh, Dean lived in Wichi­ta, Kan., where Spir­it is based. He was 45, had been in good health and was not­ed for hav­ing a healthy lifestyle.

    He died after two weeks in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, his aunt Car­ol Par­sons said.

    ...

    Par­sons said Dean became ill and went to the hos­pi­tal because he was hav­ing trou­ble breath­ing just over two weeks ago. He was intu­bat­ed and devel­oped pneu­mo­nia and then a seri­ous bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion, MRSA.

    His con­di­tion dete­ri­o­rat­ed rapid­ly, and he was air­lift­ed from Wichi­ta to a hos­pi­tal in Okla­homa City, Par­sons said. There he was put on an ECMO machine, which cir­cu­lates and oxy­genates a patient’s blood out­side the body, tak­ing over heart and lung func­tion when a patient’s organs don’t work on their own.

    His moth­er post­ed a mes­sage Fri­day on Face­book relat­ing all those details and say­ing that Dean was “fight­ing for his life.”

    He was heav­i­ly sedat­ed and put on dial­y­sis. A CT scan indi­cat­ed he had suf­fered a stroke, his mom’s post said.

    By the end, doc­tors were con­sid­er­ing ampu­tat­ing both hands and both feet. “It was bru­tal what he went through,” Par­sons said. “Heart­break­ing.”
    ...

    Now, it is true that MRSA infec­tions can sud­den­ly kill young and healthy indi­vid­u­als. It’s known to hap­pen. But it’s also the case that we’re talk­ing about a form of death that could be tar­get­ed. We’re talk­ing about a bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion, after all. Some­one could have lit­er­al­ly just rubbed up against him while pass­ing in the street or per­haps con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed a meal. We don’t have any details on where the infec­tion start­ed. But we know it made it into his lungs and rapid­ly killed him.

    So while we’re forced to ask the ques­tion of what kind of threat did Josh Dean’s whistle­blow­ing pose to Boe­ing, here’s an arti­cle from back in March that pro­vides some very impor­tant details. For starters, Boe­ing is cur­rent­ly in the process of acquir­ing Spir­it AeroSys­tems. In fact, the com­pa­ny is so com­mit­ted to the acqui­si­tion that Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn felt the need to empha­size back in late March that Boe­ing was going to remain com­mit­ted even after Cal­houn steps down as CEO lat­er this year.

    As the arti­cle also men­tions, this is actu­al­ly a reac­qui­si­tion of Spir­it. Boe­ing spun off the com­pa­ny back in 2005 to a pri­vate-equi­ty firm. Keep in mind that 2005 was sev­en years into the era of ‘mod­ern Boe­ing’ fol­low­ing the 1997 merg­er with McDon­nell Dou­glas. A merg­er wide­ly seen as the turn­ing point for the com­pa­ny and its embrace of prof­its-over-qual­i­ty. So when we’re talk­ing about this poten­tial acqui­si­tion — a $425 mil­lion deal that both com­pa­nies agreed to a cou­ple of weeks ago — it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that Spir­it’s cor­po­rate phi­los­o­phy is going to be root­ed in this ‘mod­ern Boe­ing’ men­tal­i­ty. A cor­po­rate phi­los­o­phy that pre­sum­ably con­tributed to the fact that Spir­it has report­ed­ly failed 7 of 13 audits from the FAA.

    And that brings us to one of the oth­er very inter­est­ing details to keep in mind with this merg­er: it turns out it the four miss­ing bolts that led to the mid-flight door blowout inci­dent back in Jan­u­ary were a result of a Spir­it repair crew. Not that Boe­ing can pin all of the blame of Spir­it. It was Boe­ing’s employ­ees who approved the repair job. But the fact that Spir­it was at least par­tial­ly respon­si­ble for that high-pro­file inci­dent under­scores how poten­tial­ly dam­ag­ing Dean’s ongo­ing law­suit was to Boe­ing:

    Quartz

    Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn says a deal to acquire Spir­it AeroSys­tems is still on even though he’s leav­ing

    Spir­it AeroSys­tems sup­plies the fuse­lage behind the 737 Max 9 planes

    By Melvin Back­man
    Updat­ed March 25, 2024

    Dave Cal­houn may not be the CEO of belea­guered plane man­u­fac­tur­er Boe­ing for much longer, but he may have one more task up his sleeve before his retire­ment at the end of the year — on top of sta­bi­liz­ing the ever-grow­ing 737 Max mess.

    In an inter­view with CNBC on Mon­day, Cal­houn gave an update about report­ed merg­er nego­ti­a­tions between Boe­ing and Spir­it AeroSys­tems, the fuse­lage sup­pli­er behind the trou­bled 737 Max 9 plane that had a door plug blowout dur­ing a Jan­u­ary flight by Alas­ka Air­lines. The network’s Phil LeBeau asked whether the deal was still like­ly to get done. “Yes, I hope it’s soon,” Cal­houn said.

    A fam­i­ly reunion

    Spir­it used to be a part of Boe­ing. The for­mer par­ent com­pa­ny sold off its fuse­lage oper­a­tions in 2005 to Cana­di­an pri­vate equi­ty firm Onex Corp. Spir­it went pub­lic the next year. Accord­ing to the lat­est Spir­it annu­al report, Boe­ing still accounts for 70% of its busi­ness, though about a quar­ter of its rev­enues also come from Boe­ing rival Air­bus.

    In a pre­lim­i­nary report from the Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board dur­ing its inves­ti­ga­tion in the Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent, the reg­u­la­tor found that four cru­cial bolts that were sup­posed to hold the door plug in place went miss­ing some­time when a Spir­it crew went in to fix some dam­aged riv­ets and when Boe­ing work­ers signed off on restor­ing the plane’s inte­ri­or fol­low­ing the repair.

    ...

    ———-

    “Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn says a deal to acquire Spir­it AeroSys­tems is still on even though he’s leav­ing” By Melvin Back­man; Quartz; 03/25/2024

    Spir­it used to be a part of Boe­ing. The for­mer par­ent com­pa­ny sold off its fuse­lage oper­a­tions in 2005 to Cana­di­an pri­vate equi­ty firm Onex Corp. Spir­it went pub­lic the next year. Accord­ing to the lat­est Spir­it annu­al report, Boe­ing still accounts for 70% of its busi­ness, though about a quar­ter of its rev­enues also come from Boe­ing rival Air­bus.”

    Boe­ing’s acqui­si­tion of Spir­it AeroSys­tems is still on. Or reac­qui­si­tion since Spir­it AeroSys­tems was spun off by Boe­ing back in 2005 to a pri­vate-equi­ty firm. The deal is going to hap­pen whether or not Cal­houn is CEO. That was mes­sage from Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn back in March. A state­ment seem­ing­ly made to address the real­i­ty that Cal­houn is step­ping down from his CEO posi­tion some time lat­er this year in response to all the tur­moil.

    But then we get to this remark­able detail: it turns out the miss­ing bolts behind Jan­u­ary’s door-blow­ing inci­dent went miss­ing after a Spir­it crew went in to fix some dam­aged riv­ets. But it was­n’t just a Spir­it error. Boe­ing’s work­ers signed off on the repair. Which rais­es the obvi­ous ques­tion: what kind of com­pli­ca­tions to the planned acqui­si­tion of Spir­it AeroSys­tems would Josh Dean’s ongo­ing whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion suit cre­ate for Boe­ing giv­en that Spir­it AeroSys­tems was appar­ent­ly par­tial­ly respon­si­ble for the door blow-out inci­dent? It seems like a major poten­tial com­pli­ca­tion, if only from a pub­lic rela­tions stand­point if noth­ing else:

    ...
    In a pre­lim­i­nary report from the Nation­al Trans­porta­tion Safe­ty Board dur­ing its inves­ti­ga­tion in the Alas­ka Air­lines inci­dent, the reg­u­la­tor found that four cru­cial bolts that were sup­posed to hold the door plug in place went miss­ing some­time when a Spir­it crew went in to fix some dam­aged riv­ets and when Boe­ing work­ers signed off on restor­ing the plane’s inte­ri­or fol­low­ing the repair.
    ...

    But while get­ting a han­dle on the qual­i­ty issues at Spir­it’s Wichi­ta, Kansas, plant might be one of the big incen­tives for mak­ing this acqui­si­tion hap­pen, we sad­ly can’t assume a desire to mit­i­gate safe­ty issues is the pri­ma­ry motive here. There’s a poten­tial­ly much big­ger, and more lucra­tive, rea­son: Spir­it AeroSys­tems has a rapid­ly grow­ing share of the defense con­trac­tor space, with sales expect­ed to exceed $1 bil­lion by 2025. Beyond that, Spir­it’s expe­ri­ences with com­pos­ite mate­ri­als like the kind used in the Dream­lin­er (and which might be vul­ner­a­ble to sud­den cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure as Boe­ing whistle­blow­er Sam Saleh­pour has been warn­ing) could be ide­al for the future of high-tech defense aero­nau­tics. It’s impor­tant con­text to keep in mind with Josh Dean’s extreme­ly untime­ly death: it was incred­i­bly time­ly for all of the peo­ple who want­ed to see the Spir­it AeroSys­tems acqui­si­tion hap­pen so they could snag all those defense con­tracts:

    Defense News

    Ana­lysts: Boe­ing pur­chase of Spir­it could strength­en defense busi­ness

    By Stephen Losey
    Mon­day, Mar 4, 2024

    Boeing’s poten­tial acqui­si­tion of air­frame man­u­fac­tur­er Spir­it AeroSys­tems could help sta­bi­lize its defense busi­ness and give it a stronger hand in bid­ding on future mil­i­tary air­craft pro­grams, ana­lysts said Mon­day.

    Boe­ing and Spir­it con­firmed Fri­day they were in talks about a pos­si­ble acqui­si­tion, fol­low­ing a Wall Street Jour­nal report. The move, were it to hap­pen, would reunite the two com­pa­nies after near­ly 20 years apart — and would come after a series of trou­bles with Boeing’s 737 MAX com­mer­cial air­craft, of which Spir­it is a sup­pli­er.

    ...

    Spir­it AeroSys­tems is now a man­u­fac­tur­er and sup­pli­er for struc­tur­al com­po­nents that go into mil­i­tary air­craft such as the Boe­ing-made E‑7 Wed­getail and P‑8 Posei­don, the B‑21 Raider stealth bomber built by Northrop Grum­man, Bell’s V‑280 Val­or, as well as struts and nacelles for the B‑52H Strato­fortress. Its role in the defense indus­try is grow­ing, with defense rev­enues reach­ing near­ly $650 mil­lion in 2022 and a goal of hit­ting $1 bil­lion by 2025.

    Boe­ing on March 1 con­firmed the poten­tial acqui­si­tion and said the rein­te­gra­tion “would fur­ther strength­en avi­a­tion safe­ty, improve qual­i­ty and serve the inter­ests of our cus­tomers, employ­ees, and share­hold­ers.”

    The trou­bles with the line of MAX air­craft — most recent­ly, the Jan­u­ary blowout of a door on an Alas­ka Air­lines flight — have gen­er­at­ed new con­cern over Boe­ing and Spirit’s qual­i­ty con­trol.

    But Callan believes there’s like­ly more moti­vat­ing this pos­si­ble acqui­si­tion, such as Boeing’s desire to keep a clos­er eye on its sup­ply chain and man­age rates of air­craft pro­duc­tion, as well as address qual­i­ty issues that have cas­cad­ing effects.

    ...

    Bryan Clark, a senior fel­low at the Hud­son Insti­tute, said Boe­ing could use its desire to increase qual­i­ty over­sight and exer­cise more con­trol over its sup­ply chain to sup­port its case that fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors should approve a poten­tial deal.

    “That’s been some­what prob­lem­at­ic, espe­cial­ly now in light of these qual­i­ty con­trol issues, which arguably go back to Spir­it in a lot of ways,” Clark said — though he also not­ed that “we’ve seen plen­ty of exam­ples where Boeing’s qual­i­ty con­trols” have fall­en short.

    Clark said a Boe­ing-Spir­it acqui­si­tion would be an over­all — albeit mut­ed — ben­e­fit for the defense indus­try, by mak­ing it eas­i­er to improve their pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties and meth­ods.

    Spir­it has “start­ed to use some new pro­duc­tion tech­niques like addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing; they have a lot of expe­ri­ence with com­pos­ites from the 787 Dream­lin­er,” Clark said. “Spirit’s got a lot of poten­tial to be able to turn into this pret­ty high-tech sup­pli­er to a vari­ety of pro­grams. It’s just hard to do that as a stand­alone com­pa­ny, because you’re not deal­ing with a high-vol­ume or high mar­gin busi­ness.”

    Acquir­ing Spir­it would also “help sta­bi­lize Boe­ing in the defense space,” by allow­ing the com­pa­ny to con­tribute to more defense pro­grams with­out being a prime con­trac­tor.

    “As the DOD starts to shrink down the num­ber of main­line manned air­craft pro­grams … that means few­er and few­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for Boe­ing, Lock­heed and Northrop to become the prime,” Clark said. “This way Boe­ing could be … through Spir­it, a con­trib­u­tor to pro­grams that they oth­er­wise could have been locked out of.”

    In the near term, Callan said, acquir­ing Spir­it would give Boe­ing a piece of pro­grams that com­pa­ny works on, such as the B‑21 Raider stealth bomber — which Boe­ing lost to Northrop Grum­man in 2015 — and the Bell V‑280 Val­or, the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Air­craft.

    Even if Boe­ing moves for­ward on its poten­tial acqui­si­tion of Spir­it, Callan said, it like­ly won’t boost Boe­ing on pro­grams already in the works or near­ing con­tract awards, such as the Air Force’s Next Gen­er­a­tion Air Dom­i­nance future fight­er plat­form.

    But when the mil­i­tary moves for­ward on sub­se­quent air­craft pro­grams — such as a future Air Force mobil­i­ty air­craft to suc­ceed the C‑17 Globe­mas­ter or C‑130 Her­cules, or the replace­ment for the Army’s CH-47 Chi­nook — hav­ing Spir­it in-house could bol­ster Boeing’s posi­tion, he added.

    ...

    Spir­it has some­what branched out, Clark said, such as by becom­ing a sup­pli­er to Northrop Grum­man for the B‑21 and work­ing with Air­bus. But most of its busi­ness is still with Boe­ing, he said, and in many ways, “they stayed in Boeing’s shad­ow.”

    Callan said the acqui­si­tion may be a boon to Spirit’s pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive, Pat Shana­han, who also for­mer­ly served as act­ing sec­re­tary of defense and was an exec­u­tive at Boe­ing before that. While Boeing’s chief oper­at­ing offi­cer, Stephanie Pope, is seen by many as a poten­tial suc­ces­sor to cur­rent Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn, Callan said Shanahan’s expe­ri­ence could make him anoth­er con­tender.

    ...

    But the big ques­tion, Callan said, is whether these hoped-for improve­ments in sup­ply man­age­ment and qual­i­ty con­trol will mate­ri­al­ize, if an acqui­si­tion hap­pens. It all will depend on how Boe­ing choos­es to man­age Spirit’s cul­ture, stan­dards and work­force, he said.

    “If it’s real­ly the begin­ning of a reju­ve­na­tion of their safe­ty focus on engi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing — that clear­ly some­where along the way they lost, so if this helps that would be good,” Callan said. “But I wouldn’t say, ‘Boe­ing buys Spir­it, all the prob­lems go away.’ It’s too soon to tell.”

    ———–

    “Ana­lysts: Boe­ing pur­chase of Spir­it could strength­en defense busi­ness” By Stephen Losey; Defense News; 03/04/2024

    “Spir­it AeroSys­tems is now a man­u­fac­tur­er and sup­pli­er for struc­tur­al com­po­nents that go into mil­i­tary air­craft such as the Boe­ing-made E‑7 Wed­getail and P‑8 Posei­don, the B‑21 Raider stealth bomber built by Northrop Grum­man, Bell’s V‑280 Val­or, as well as struts and nacelles for the B‑52H Strato­fortress. Its role in the defense indus­try is grow­ing, with defense rev­enues reach­ing near­ly $650 mil­lion in 2022 and a goal of hit­ting $1 bil­lion by 2025.

    A poten­tial boom­ing defense con­tract­ing busi­ness that is grow­ing so fast it could bring in $1 bil­lion by 2025. It was­n’t just gain­ing greater con­trol of this crit­i­cal sup­pli­er of for Boe­ing’s com­mer­cial planes. Boe­ing has all sorts of rea­sons to desire a reac­qui­si­tion of Spir­it AeroSys­tems. The kinds of high stakes rea­sons that might have investors keen­ly inter­est­ed in silenc­ing some­one who can throw a wrench in the merg­er process soon­er rather than lat­er:

    ...
    Acquir­ing Spir­it would also “help sta­bi­lize Boe­ing in the defense space,” by allow­ing the com­pa­ny to con­tribute to more defense pro­grams with­out being a prime con­trac­tor.

    “As the DOD starts to shrink down the num­ber of main­line manned air­craft pro­grams … that means few­er and few­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for Boe­ing, Lock­heed and Northrop to become the prime,” Clark said. “This way Boe­ing could be … through Spir­it, a con­trib­u­tor to pro­grams that they oth­er­wise could have been locked out of.”

    ...

    But when the mil­i­tary moves for­ward on sub­se­quent air­craft pro­grams — such as a future Air Force mobil­i­ty air­craft to suc­ceed the C‑17 Globe­mas­ter or C‑130 Her­cules, or the replace­ment for the Army’s CH-47 Chi­nook — hav­ing Spir­it in-house could bol­ster Boeing’s posi­tion, he added.

    ...

    Spir­it has some­what branched out, Clark said, such as by becom­ing a sup­pli­er to Northrop Grum­man for the B‑21 and work­ing with Air­bus. But most of its busi­ness is still with Boe­ing, he said, and in many ways, “they stayed in Boeing’s shad­ow.”
    ...

    Also under­scor­ing the defense con­tract­ing boost that could come with this acqui­si­tion is the fact that Spir­it’s CEO, Pat Shana­han, is not just a for­mer Boe­ing exec­u­tive but he’s also seen as a poten­tial suc­ces­sor to cur­rent CEO Dave Cal­houn. And he also hap­pens to have been the act­ing Sec­re­tary of Defense dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. If Shana­han ends up Boe­ing’s next CEO, we prob­a­bly should­n’t be sur­prise if there’s a big piv­ot to more defense con­tracts:

    ...
    Callan said the acqui­si­tion may be a boon to Spirit’s pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive, Pat Shana­han, who also for­mer­ly served as act­ing sec­re­tary of defense and was an exec­u­tive at Boe­ing before that. While Boeing’s chief oper­at­ing offi­cer, Stephanie Pope, is seen by many as a poten­tial suc­ces­sor to cur­rent Boe­ing CEO Dave Cal­houn, Callan said Shanahan’s expe­ri­ence could make him anoth­er con­tender.

    ...

    But the big ques­tion, Callan said, is whether these hoped-for improve­ments in sup­ply man­age­ment and qual­i­ty con­trol will mate­ri­al­ize, if an acqui­si­tion hap­pens. It all will depend on how Boe­ing choos­es to man­age Spirit’s cul­ture, stan­dards and work­force, he said.

    “If it’s real­ly the begin­ning of a reju­ve­na­tion of their safe­ty focus on engi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing — that clear­ly some­where along the way they lost, so if this helps that would be good,” Callan said. “But I wouldn’t say, ‘Boe­ing buys Spir­it, all the prob­lems go away.’ It’s too soon to tell.”
    ...

    And if we can expect more defense con­tracts for Boe­ing as a result of this acqui­si­tion, this also, of course, rais­es ques­tions about whether or not we can expect these man­u­fac­tur­ing issues to start man­i­fest­ing in fight­er jets and oth­er air­craft that are rou­tine­ly put under much more stress­ful con­di­tions than a com­mer­cial air­lin­er. So note one of the areas where Spir­it is seen as hav­ing expe­ri­ence that could come in handy in the high-tech mil­i­tary aero­nau­tics sec­tor: com­pos­ite mate­ri­als. Recall the alarm­ing warn­ings we’ve received from Boe­ing whistle­blow­er Sam Saleh­pour about the use of com­pos­ite mate­ri­als in the Dream­lin­er. Not only were there issues with fus­ing the seg­ments of the com­pos­ite fuse­lage but those flaws could poten­tial­ly result in the cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure of the sud­den com­pos­ite mate­ri­als. So, yes, Spir­it AeroSys­tems has expe­ri­ence with these com­pos­ites. Trou­bling expe­ri­ence that could result in cat­a­stroph­ic struc­tur­al fail­ures in years to come:

    ...
    Clark said a Boe­ing-Spir­it acqui­si­tion would be an over­all — albeit mut­ed — ben­e­fit for the defense indus­try, by mak­ing it eas­i­er to improve their pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties and meth­ods.

    Spir­it has “start­ed to use some new pro­duc­tion tech­niques like addi­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing; they have a lot of expe­ri­ence with com­pos­ites from the 787 Dream­lin­er,” Clark said. “Spirit’s got a lot of poten­tial to be able to turn into this pret­ty high-tech sup­pli­er to a vari­ety of pro­grams. It’s just hard to do that as a stand­alone com­pa­ny, because you’re not deal­ing with a high-vol­ume or high mar­gin busi­ness.”
    ...

    Final­ly, when we hear Boe­ing tout how this acqui­si­tion might allow the com­pa­ny to exert more con­trol over the rates of air­craft pro­duc­tion, keep in mind that the mega-scan­dal John Bar­nett has been high­light­ing all these years was how Boe­ing was gloss­ing over qual­i­ty issues pre­cise­ly to main­tain the rates of pro­duc­tion. So when we hear Boe­ing hint at greater con­trol over the rates of pro­duc­tion, we have to won­der how exact­ly they are plan­ning on that. Sure, if they address and fix the man­u­fac­tur­ing issues at the Spir­it AeroSys­tems plant that result­ed in past delays, great. But it’s hard to be assured that fix­ing the issue is going to be Boe­ing’s pre­ferred method for main­tain­ing high pro­duc­tion rates:

    ...
    Boe­ing on March 1 con­firmed the poten­tial acqui­si­tion and said the rein­te­gra­tion “would fur­ther strength­en avi­a­tion safe­ty, improve qual­i­ty and serve the inter­ests of our cus­tomers, employ­ees, and share­hold­ers.”

    The trou­bles with the line of MAX air­craft — most recent­ly, the Jan­u­ary blowout of a door on an Alas­ka Air­lines flight — have gen­er­at­ed new con­cern over Boe­ing and Spirit’s qual­i­ty con­trol.

    But Callan believes there’s like­ly more moti­vat­ing this pos­si­ble acqui­si­tion, such as Boeing’s desire to keep a clos­er eye on its sup­ply chain and man­age rates of air­craft pro­duc­tion, as well as address qual­i­ty issues that have cas­cad­ing effects.

    ...

    Bryan Clark, a senior fel­low at the Hud­son Insti­tute, said Boe­ing could use its desire to increase qual­i­ty over­sight and exer­cise more con­trol over its sup­ply chain to sup­port its case that fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors should approve a poten­tial deal.

    “That’s been some­what prob­lem­at­ic, espe­cial­ly now in light of these qual­i­ty con­trol issues, which arguably go back to Spir­it in a lot of ways,” Clark said — though he also not­ed that “we’ve seen plen­ty of exam­ples where Boeing’s qual­i­ty con­trols” have fall­en short.
    ...

    It’s also worth keep­ing in mind that the fall of Boe­ing’s inter­nal cor­po­rate cul­ture is, by all accounts, traced direct­ly back to the com­pa­ny’s merg­er with major defense con­trac­tor McDon­nell Dou­glas, with the prof­it-focused defense con­trac­tor phi­los­o­phy effec­tive­ly sup­plant­i­ng the engi­neer­ing-cen­tric com­pa­ny cul­ture and man­age­ment. And here we are learn­ing about what appears to be Boe­ing’s plans for a much big­ger pres­ence in the defense con­tract­ing busi­ness. It’s not a great sign. Although not near­ly as bad a sign as these sud­den unex­pect­ed whistle­blow­er deaths.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 3, 2024, 4:37 pm
  10. The final report has arrived. It’s more or less what we should have expect­ed. All of the major ques­tions that have loomed over the events sur­round­ing John Bar­net­t’s death con­tin­ue to loom. The only dif­fer­ence now is the case is offi­cial­ly closed. Along with a few new ques­tions added to the mix.

    The Charleston police depart­ment released the report on Fri­day. The report was pre­sent­ed as if it paint­ed a con­clu­sive pic­ture all point­ing towards sui­cide. And yet, as we’re going to see, the same giant gaps in the time­line that emerged from the very begin­ning of this inves­ti­ga­tions remain in this final report. Gaps like the fact that the last video evi­dence of Bar­nett appears to be from the Fri­day evening before his death despite the fact that he appar­ent shot him­self in his truck at around 9:24 am the next morn­ing.

    Now, as we’ve also seen, there is a poten­tial expla­na­tion for the lack of video footage on the morn­ing of Bar­net­t’s death: the tor­ren­tial rains at the time, with six inch­es already on the ground when his body was dis­cov­ered. We can also be con­fi­dent Bar­nett was shot at around 9:24 am that Sat­ur­day morn­ing since a hotel employ­ee who hap­pened to be out­side report­ed hear­ing a “pop” com­ing from the direc­tion of Bar­net­t’s truck at that time.

    And yet, there’s no men­tion at all of rain or any­thing else dis­rupt­ing the hotel’s sur­veil­lance footage. Instead, accord­ing to the police report, we’re sim­ply told that video footage shows Bar­nett leav­ing the hotel at 8:37 pm that Fri­day evening, return­ing at 8:45 pm, and that cam­era showed no one inter­act­ed with the vehi­cle overnight. That’s it. That 12+ hour gap between when his truck returned at 8:45 pm and the 9:24 am “pop” is left sim­ply unac­knowl­edged. Still.

    We did get a lot more infor­ma­tion on the sui­cide note found next to Bar­nett. In fact, images of the note were pub­lished in some reports. And it cer­tain­ly does appear to be a note writ­ten by some­one in a state of men­tal dis­tress, with state­ments of anger towards Boe­ing. There’s also a lone “Trump 2024” state­ment on there. This is a good time to recall how a fam­i­ly mem­ber told reporters that the sui­cide note “did­n’t sound like John”. So was Bar­nett an ardent Trump sup­port­er? It’s cer­tain­ly very pos­si­ble. But giv­en the fam­i­ly mem­ber’s claims that the note did­n’t sound like Bar­nett, it would be inter­est­ing to learn a lit­tle more about what exact­ly was it that did­n’t sound like him. Keep in mind that if he was some­how get­ting black­mailed into killing him­self, he could­n’t make it obvi­ous he was being black­mailed, but he could have poten­tial­ly left clues.

    We also learned a lit­tle bit more about some of the foren­sic evi­dence inves­ti­ga­tors were able to obtain. Fin­ger­prints found on the note­book where the sui­cide note was found match Bar­net­t’s prints, although three prints were incon­clu­sive.

    No prints were recov­ered from the pis­tol, how­ev­er. Now, on the one hand, that’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly sur­pris­ing since guns are noto­ri­ous for not leav­ing fin­ger­prints. But keep in mind one of the oth­er anom­alies in this case: not only was the pis­tol still in his hand but the fin­ger was still on the trig­ger. That sounds like a tight­ly gripped pis­tol. Also recall how foren­sic con­sul­tant Steve Chan­cel­lor observed the gun remains in the hand of a sui­cide vic­tim maybe only 25% of the time. Find­ing the gun still in the hand seems like a opti­mal con­di­tions for recov­er­ing fin­ger­prints. But who knows, maybe Bar­net­t’s hands were wet from all the intense rain, mak­ing fin­ger­prints even less like­ly.

    And fin­ger­prints or not, it’s the lack of video sur­veil­lance on the morn­ing of Bar­net­t’s death that con­tin­ues to stick out as the giant evi­den­tiary gap in the case. A gap that does­n’t even appear to be acknowl­edged in the final report. So at this point we still don’t know what tran­spired on the morn­ing of Bar­net­t’s death. What we do know now is that we’re nev­er going to get an expla­na­tion for why the sur­veil­lance cam­eras that were able to track Bar­net­t’s move­ments in and out of the hotel and watch his truck overnight were sud­den­ly not avail­able that morn­ing.

    Ok, first, here’s a CNN report on the release of the final police report. There isn’t much infor­ma­tion in the arti­cle, which is kind of the point. That’s how the clos­ing of this case is being treat­ed by the main­stream media: with lit­tle infor­ma­tion and lit­tle inter­est appar­ent­ly:

    CNN

    Boe­ing whistle­blow­er died by sui­cide, police inves­ti­ga­tion reveals

    By Sara Smart, CNN
    Pub­lished 9:36 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2024

    CNN — Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett died by sui­cide, accord­ing to a police report released on Fri­day, bring­ing to end an inves­ti­ga­tion of the shock­ing death of a long­time employ­ee who raised con­cerns about the air­plane manufacturer’s safe­ty and pro­duc­tion stan­dards – and who sued the com­pa­ny, claim­ing Boe­ing ille­gal­ly retal­i­at­ed against him.

    Bar­nett, 62, was found dead in a vehi­cle on March 9 from a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound in Charleston, South Car­oli­na. Offi­cers had been dis­patched to con­duct a wel­fare check on Bar­nett at a Hol­i­day Inn when he failed to show up to a depo­si­tion in his case against Boe­ing, accord­ing to his lawyers and a police inci­dent report.

    When they arrived, respond­ing offi­cers found Bar­nett dead in the driver’s seat of a truck in the park­ing lot. He was hold­ing a hand­gun. The ini­tial police report also said there was a note in the truck.

    But Barnett’s lawyers said in a state­ment fol­low­ing his death that his depo­si­tion was near­ing an end and he appeared to be in good spir­its.

    “We didn’t see any indi­ca­tion he would take his own life. No one can believe it,” his lawyers, Robert Turke­witz and Bri­an Knowles, said in a state­ment on March 12. “The Charleston police need to inves­ti­gate this ful­ly and accu­rate­ly and tell the pub­lic what they find out.”

    The Charleston Police Depart­ment on Fri­day con­clud­ed their inves­ti­ga­tion into Barnett’s death, say­ing the Charleston Coun­ty Coroner’s Office deter­mined that Bar­nett had killed him­self.

    The inves­ti­ga­tion found that Bar­nett was shot in the head at close range and the weapon was found in his right hand. There was also a note­book found in the front seat of the car that showed signs that “he was going through a peri­od of seri­ous per­son­al dis­tress,” accord­ing to a media release about the police inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Police shared with CNN an image of a note left in the car, which had mul­ti­ple dis­parag­ing mes­sages direct­ed at Boe­ing.

    ...

    Accu­sa­tions of safe­ty laps­es

    Bar­nett, a for­mer qual­i­ty man­ag­er who had worked at Boe­ing for decades, told the New York Times in 2019 that he had dis­cov­ered unsafe wiring clus­ters in Boeing’s man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es that, if sev­ered by near­by met­al sliv­ers, could have led to the cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure of an air­craft.

    “As a qual­i­ty man­ag­er at Boe­ing, you’re the last line of defense before a defect makes it out to the fly­ing pub­lic,” Bar­nett told the Times. “And I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on say­ing it’s safe and air­wor­thy.”

    ...

    ————

    “Boe­ing whistle­blow­er died by sui­cide, police inves­ti­ga­tion reveals” By Sara Smart; CNN; 05/17/2024

    “The inves­ti­ga­tion found that Bar­nett was shot in the head at close range and the weapon was found in his right hand. There was also a note­book found in the front seat of the car that showed signs that “he was going through a peri­od of seri­ous per­son­al dis­tress,” accord­ing to a media release about the police inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    And that’s the CNN sum­ma­ry. Just a quick ‘it was a sui­cide’ report and not much else oth­er than some details like the fact the fact that the gun was still found in his right hand and there was what appeared to be a sui­cide note. Again, don’t for­get how foren­sic con­sul­tant Steve Chan­cel­lor observed the gun remains in the hand of a sui­cide vic­tim maybe only 25% of the time. Find­ing the gun still in the hand with the fin­ger still on the trig­ger is pre­sum­ably a lot less than 25%. And as we’ll see in the fol­low­ing local new report, while Bar­net­t’s fin­ger­prints were found on the sui­cide note, no fin­ger­prints were recov­ered from the gun. Now, the fact that no fin­ger­print were recov­ered from the gun isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly that sur­pris­ing. Guns are report­ed­ly noto­ri­ous for not leav­ing fin­ger­prints. And let’s not for­get the tor­ren­tial rains that morn­ing. It’s pos­si­ble Bar­net­t’s hands were wet. Still, with the gun found in the hand and the fin­ger on the trig­ger, and pre­sum­ably no dis­tur­bances after a sin­gle shot was fired, it seems like the con­di­tions for leav­ing prints on that that gun were more opti­mal than in many cas­es. We’re also told three of the fin­ger­prints recov­ered from the note­book where the sui­cide note was found were incon­clu­sive.

    But while the fin­ger­print evi­dence, or lack of evi­dence, remain inter­est­ing details in this case, those aren’t the glar­ing holes in the sto­ry we’re get­ting. The glar­ing holes are instead the video evi­dence. And lack of video evi­dence. Because as we’ve seen, it’s not like Bar­net­t’s vehi­cle was parked in an area where hotel cam­eras did­n’t have cov­er­age. And yet, there’s only reports of video evi­dence of the vehi­cle from the evening before he was found dead. There con­tin­ues to be no ref­er­ences to any footage from that morn­ing, or even an expla­na­tion for why no footage exists. Now, we can rea­son­ably infer the expla­na­tion for that lack of footage on the morn­ing he was found dead as being due to the tor­ren­tial rains in the area at that time. But it’s still pret­ty remark­able that this com­plete lack of any video footage from that morn­ing appears to be entire­ly lack­ing from the final report on Bar­net­t’s death or any of the media cov­er­age of this report. It’s a giant inves­tiga­tive hole in this case that can­not be men­tioned:

    WCSC

    Charleston Police release inves­ti­ga­tion report of Boe­ing whistle­blow­er death

    By Steven Ardary and Blair Sabol
    Pub­lished: May. 17, 2024 at 11:35 AM CDT|Updated

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) — The Charleston Police Depart­ment on Fri­day released their find­ings in the death of a Boe­ing whistle­blow­er.

    John Bar­nett, 62, was found dead inside his truck on March 9 with a gun­shot wound to his head out­side of the Hol­i­day Inn locat­ed at 301 Savan­nah High­way. He was pro­nounced dead at the scene. Bar­nett, who worked for Boe­ing for 32 years, filed a whistle­blow­er com­plaint alleg­ing safe­ty con­cerns. The Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Labor was work­ing through the dis­cov­ery phase of its inves­ti­ga­tion and is set to begin hear­ings on that com­plaint this June.

    Police said they found no evi­dence of forced entry or a strug­gle inside the vehi­cle. The orange 2015 Dodge Ram truck’s key fob was found in Barnett’s pock­et.

    The Charleston Coun­ty Coroner’s Office deter­mined Barnett’s death to be a sui­cide.

    ...

    Offi­cers locat­ed Bar­nett with a sil­ver Smith and Wes­son hand­gun in his right hand. Bal­lis­tics con­firmed the bul­let recov­ered at the scene and the cas­ing had been fired from the gun found in Barnett’s hand. Bar­nett legal­ly pur­chased the gun. A police report states Barnett’s fin­ger was still on the trig­ger when offi­cers attempt­ed to remove the gun from his hand. A police report states no fin­ger­prints were recov­ered from the gun.

    A note­book con­tain­ing a note writ­ten by Bar­nett was found in the pas­sen­ger seat. Police said the note sug­gest­ed Bar­nett was “going through a peri­od of seri­ous per­son­al dis­tress.” Barnett’s fin­ger­prints were found on the note and note­book. Police said three prints were incon­clu­sive because they lacked detail for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    The errat­ic writ­ings on the page express Barnett’s frus­tra­tion toward Boe­ing and whistle­blow­er pro­tec­tion.

    “I pray Boe­ing pays,” the note reads. “Whistle­blow­ing pro­tec­tion is f—– up too!”

    The writ­ings leave mes­sages for Barnett’s loved ones as well.

    “Fam­i­ly and friends I love you,” it reads. “I found my pur­pose! I’m at peace!”

    Police said Barnett’s med­ical records showed a his­to­ry of men­tal health chal­lenges that seemed to inten­si­fy with his ongo­ing legal bat­tles. The police report states Bar­nett had shown symp­toms of “post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der, anx­i­ety, sad­ness, fear of impend­ing death of oth­ers and intru­sive thoughts.”

    While review­ing secu­ri­ty footage from the hotel, police said Bar­nett entered his hotel room alone around 7:36 p.m. on March 8 and stayed about an hour before cam­eras showed him leav­ing the hotel alone. Barnett’s truck can be seen back­ing into a park­ing space at 8:45 p.m. where it remains until the next morn­ing when police arrive for a well­ness check.

    A police report states inves­ti­ga­tors searched Barnett’s room at the hotel and found his belong­ings still in his room includ­ing cloth­ing, his lap­top, sev­er­al USB dri­ves and his wal­let.

    Barnett’s cell­phone had no unusu­al trav­el pat­terns or com­mu­ni­ca­tions before his death, police said. He trav­eled between the hotel and the depo­si­tion site. Key card data showed no “unusu­al entries,” police said.

    Bar­nett retired from Boe­ing back in 2017. He worked at Boeing’s North Charleston loca­tion from 2010 until his retire­ment. Barnett’s wife, Diane John­son, who died in Novem­ber of 2022, worked for Boe­ing for 28 years.

    He report­ed­ly alert­ed man­agers about the com­pa­ny using sub-stan­dard parts and oxy­gen sys­tems with seri­ous prob­lems on sev­er­al occa­sions. Those man­agers alleged­ly took no action to fix the issues and Boe­ing denied Barnett’s claims, the BBC report­ed.

    Bar­nett was a long­time Boe­ing employ­ee and worked as a qual­i­ty-con­trol man­ag­er before he retired in 2017. In the years after that, he shared his con­cerns with jour­nal­ists.

    “John was deeply con­cerned about the safe­ty of the air­craft and fly­ing pub­lic, and had iden­ti­fied some seri­ous defects that he felt were not ade­quate­ly addressed,” Barnett’s broth­er, Rod­ney, said in a fam­i­ly state­ment to The Asso­ci­at­ed Press. “He said that Boe­ing had a cul­ture of con­ceal­ment and was putting prof­its over safe­ty.”

    Rod­ney Bar­nett said work­ing at Boe­ing cre­at­ed stress for John.

    “He was suf­fer­ing from PTSD and anx­i­ety attacks as a result of being sub­ject­ed to the hos­tile work envi­ron­ment at Boe­ing, which we believe led to his death,” the broth­er said.

    ...

    Bar­nett filed a com­plaint on Jan. 16, 2017, with the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion alleg­ing Boe­ing retal­i­at­ed against him in vio­la­tion of the Employ­ee Pro­tec­tion Pro­vi­sions Act.

    Bar­nett claims Boe­ing sub­ject­ed him to a hos­tile work envi­ron­ment for engag­ing in whistle­blow­er-pro­tect­ed activ­i­ty, which caused severe stress that led Bar­nett to take med­ical leave and ear­ly retire­ment.

    Boe­ing tried to dis­miss Barnett’s claims, argu­ing he did not present facts suf­fi­cient to prove his claims. But the judge denied Boeing’s par­tial motion to dis­miss on March 31, 2022.

    On Nov. 14, 2023, Bar­nett filed a motion to com­pel dis­cov­ery, a move to ask the court to enforce a request for infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant to a case.

    Court doc­u­ments state Boeing’s efforts to iden­ti­fy records of oth­er com­plaints made by oth­er employ­ees at the South Car­oli­na loca­tion of adverse actions tak­en in response to reports of safe­ty or qual­i­ty vio­la­tions are woe­ful­ly lack­ing. The judge adds that Boe­ing has had the requests for over a year.

    The judge ruled on Dec. 21, 2023, that Boe­ing must pro­duce the doc­u­ments sought by Bar­nett.

    The dis­cov­ery phase was set to be com­plet­ed by March 30 with a for­mal hear­ing set to take place dur­ing the week of June 24, doc­u­ments from the Depart­ment of Labor state.

    Attor­neys Bri­an Knowles and Rob Turke­witz released doc­u­ments in the case, which in great detail paint a pic­ture of the “gas light­ing cam­paign” and repeat­ed retal­i­a­tion they allege their client faced while work­ing at Boe­ing before retir­ing ear­ly, which they believe was due to the “hos­tile work envi­ron­ment” he faced.

    That includ­ed being blocked from oth­er jobs after fil­ing com­plaints. At one point, the suit claims Bar­nett was list­ed as #1 on an email titled “Qual­i­ty Man­agers to get rid of.”

    They released the fol­low­ing state­ment:

    The lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett have been asked by numer­ous reporters for a copy of the com­plaint in John Barnett’s AIR-21 whistle­blow­er retal­i­a­tion case. In the inter­est of trans­paren­cy, we are releas­ing a redact­ed copy of the Amend­ed Com­plaint (filed May 4, 2021) and the Court’s May 31, 2022 deci­sion deny­ing Boeing’s Par­tial Motion to Dis­miss.

    They claim Bar­nett was “removed from inves­ti­ga­tions of defects in retal­i­a­tion for his insis­tence that the prob­lems be ful­ly inves­ti­gat­ed and reme­died” and was penal­ized in per­for­mance reviews for using email to fol­low up on issues instead of “face to face.”

    These com­plaints in the suit include:

    * Boe­ing main­tained an “ille­gal” pro­gram not approved by the FAA “that allowed mechan­ics to inspect and approve their own work” known as “Mul­ti-func­tion Process Per­former” to meet dead­lines; Barnett’s per­for­mance rat­ing lat­er went from a 40 to 16.
    * Man­agers “push­ing Bar­nett to work out­side of the prop­er pro­ce­dures”
    * Parts were “stolen” from one air­plane and installed in anoth­er with­out any doc­u­men­ta­tion; all cor­rec­tive action was “can­celed” with­out an inves­ti­ga­tion
    * In August 2014, the com­pa­ny failed to clean up tita­ni­um sliv­ers from fas­ten­ers used to hold down floor­boards that lit­tered wire bun­dles and elec­tri­cal com­po­nents despite poten­tial elec­tri­cal short­ing. Bar­nett was lat­er removed from the project after com­plain­ing.
    * In Sep­tem­ber 2014, Bar­nett learned he was issued a cor­rec­tive action plan for doc­u­ment­ing process vio­la­tions in writ­ing one month lat­er against com­pa­ny rules to imme­di­ate­ly noti­fy employ­ees claim­ing it was a “sur­prise attack.”
    * In July 2016, Bar­nett was ordered to “let it go” after object­ing to close out more than 400 non­con­form­ing Shop Order Instance parts with­out inves­ti­ga­tion while dis­cov­er­ing 200 that had been “pen­cil whipped” or fab­ri­cat­ed.
    * In August 2016, Bar­nett was crit­i­cized and removed from an inves­ti­ga­tion into emer­gency pas­sen­ger oxy­gen tanks where it’s esti­mat­ed approx­i­mate­ly 25% in 787s are not func­tion­al, after he pushed for lead­er­ship to inves­ti­gate.
    * In Sep­tem­ber 2016, Bar­nett was removed as a team leader after dis­cov­er­ing that all pre­vi­ous­ly deliv­ered air­planes and missing/incomplete/incorrect ser­i­al num­ber data after urg­ing cor­rec­tions and noti­fi­ca­tions to cus­tomers were need­ed
    * That same month, Barnett’s man­ag­er report­ed­ly “took a defec­tive part” from the scrap bin and had it installed on anoth­er air­plane with­out any doc­u­men­ta­tion or rework against FAA require­ments and the company’s pro­ce­dures. Bar­nett claimed he was blocked from a 737 Propul­sion Qual­i­ty Man­ag­er posi­tion after fil­ing an HR com­plaint, which Boe­ing found was “unsub­stan­ti­at­ed”

    Bar­nett filed a first com­plaint with OSHA in Jan­u­ary 2017. Near­ly four years lat­er in Novem­ber 2020, OSHA found there was “no rea­son­able cause to believe” Boe­ing had vio­lat­ed AIR-21.

    Bar­nett filed an objec­tion to OSHA’s find­ings and request­ed a hear­ing before the Office of Admin­is­tra­tive Law Judges.

    Bar­nett worked for the com­pa­ny for 32 years, near­ly half as a Qual­i­ty Man­ag­er. He had expect­ed to work at least anoth­er decade, but alleges that “stress and emo­tion­al duress that he was sub­ject­ed to as a result of Boeing’s retal­ia­to­ry con­duct” prompt­ed a doc­tor-ordered med­ical leave of absence and lat­er an ear­ly retire­ment in 2017, accord­ing to the suit.

    In May 2022, a judge denied Boeing’s par­tial request to dis­miss all but one com­plaint due for “fail­ure to state a claim” and “untime­li­ness” of Barnett’s com­plaints.

    ...

    ———-

    “Charleston Police release inves­ti­ga­tion report of Boe­ing whistle­blow­er death” By Steven Ardary and Blair Sabol; WCSC; 05/17/2024

    “Offi­cers locat­ed Bar­nett with a sil­ver Smith and Wes­son hand­gun in his right hand. Bal­lis­tics con­firmed the bul­let recov­ered at the scene and the cas­ing had been fired from the gun found in Barnett’s hand. Bar­nett legal­ly pur­chased the gun. A police report states Barnett’s fin­ger was still on the trig­ger when offi­cers attempt­ed to remove the gun from his hand. A police report states no fin­ger­prints were recov­ered from the gun.

    No fin­ger­prints on the gun. It’s not impos­si­ble or even improb­a­ble for fin­ger­prints to be unre­cov­er­able from firearms. Still, the fact that the gun was found in his hand with the fin­ger on the trig­ger makes the lack of fin­ger­prints a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult to explain.

    And then we get to the sui­cide note found next to Bar­nett in the truck. In report, we got to see an image of the note, which does indeed look like it was writ­ten in a state of men­tal dis­tress. But it’s also rather inter­est­ing to note includes a “Trump 2024” dec­la­ra­tion ran­dom­ly placed there. Now, it’s cer­tain­ly very pos­si­ble that Bar­nett was a Trump sup­port­er. Keep in mind that he ini­ti­at­ed his whistle­blow­ing com­plaint in Jan­u­ary of 2017, the month Trump first took office. Per­haps he had high hopes for a the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Who knows. But giv­en the pos­si­ble that Bar­nett was some­how forced to write this note, it begs the ques­tion: was Bar­nett a known Trump sup­port­er? Because if not, was he leav­ing some sort of clue for the rest of us about the nature of this note? Recall how a fam­i­ly mem­ber told reporters that the sui­cide note “did­n’t sound like John”. Was the “Trump 2024” dec­la­ra­tion part of what did­n’t sound char­ac­ter­is­tic? What else did­n’t sound like him? These are the kinds of ques­tions that a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion would have explored. Instead, we’re left with these lin­ger­ing ques­tions:

    ...
    A note­book con­tain­ing a note writ­ten by Bar­nett was found in the pas­sen­ger seat. Police said the note sug­gest­ed Bar­nett was “going through a peri­od of seri­ous per­son­al dis­tress.” Barnett’s fin­ger­prints were found on the note and note­book. Police said three prints were incon­clu­sive because they lacked detail for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    The errat­ic writ­ings on the page express Barnett’s frus­tra­tion toward Boe­ing and whistle­blow­er pro­tec­tion.

    “I pray Boe­ing pays,” the note reads. “Whistle­blow­ing pro­tec­tion is f—– up too!”

    The writ­ings leave mes­sages for Barnett’s loved ones as well.

    “Fam­i­ly and friends I love you,” it reads. “I found my pur­pose! I’m at peace!”
    ...

    And let’s not for­get about what made Bar­net­t’s ongo­ing whistle­blow­er law­suit poten­tial­ly so dam­ag­ing to Boe­ing: they were in the mid­dle of a dis­cov­ery phase of the law­suit that could have forced Boe­ing to make inter­nal doc­u­ments avail­able:

    ...
    A police report states inves­ti­ga­tors searched Barnett’s room at the hotel and found his belong­ings still in his room includ­ing cloth­ing, his lap­top, sev­er­al USB dri­ves and his wal­let.

    ...

    Boe­ing tried to dis­miss Barnett’s claims, argu­ing he did not present facts suf­fi­cient to prove his claims. But the judge denied Boeing’s par­tial motion to dis­miss on March 31, 2022.

    On Nov. 14, 2023, Bar­nett filed a motion to com­pel dis­cov­ery, a move to ask the court to enforce a request for infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant to a case.

    Court doc­u­ments state Boeing’s efforts to iden­ti­fy records of oth­er com­plaints made by oth­er employ­ees at the South Car­oli­na loca­tion of adverse actions tak­en in response to reports of safe­ty or qual­i­ty vio­la­tions are woe­ful­ly lack­ing. The judge adds that Boe­ing has had the requests for over a year.

    The judge ruled on Dec. 21, 2023, that Boe­ing must pro­duce the doc­u­ments sought by Bar­nett.

    The dis­cov­ery phase was set to be com­plet­ed by March 30 with a for­mal hear­ing set to take place dur­ing the week of June 24, doc­u­ments from the Depart­ment of Labor state.
    ...

    And then we get to the glar­ing hole in this inves­ti­ga­tion: accord­ing to police, Bar­nett was seen on cam­era leav­ing the hotel alone at around 8:30 pm, before his truck was seen back­ing into a park­ing space at 8:45 PM where it remained until the morn­ing when his body was dis­cov­ered. Keep in mind that we are told a hotel employ­ee saw Bar­nett eat­ing Taco Bell and scrolling on his phone (and not look­ing notably depressed or dis­tressed) at some point Fri­day evening. So giv­en that he appar­ent­ly left the hotel for about 10 min­utes before return­ing, it seems rea­son­able to sus­pect he was going out to pick up some food. So was Bar­nett seen by that employ­ee after 8:45 pm? Maybe, although as we’re also going to see in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, he report­ed­ly returned to the hotel at 7:25 pm and entered his hotel room at 7:36 pm, so maybe he was seen eat­ing dur­ing that 11 minute peri­od. Either way, it appears the hotel has the abil­i­ty to visu­al­ly record when Bar­nett entered and left his hotel room, along with any­one else who may have entered and left. And we can be con­fi­dent he did return to his room after return­ing that evening giv­en that we were also told hotel employ­ees found a cup of melt­ed ice with con­den­sa­tion still on it dur­ing their wel­fare check of his room. Con­den­sa­tion would­n’t be left on a cup of ice that was left out all night. Bar­nett clear­ly returned to his room and then returned to his truck the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Or at least the key card data pre­sum­ably would record that. So where’s the video footage of him exit­ing his hotel room and return­ing to the truck? It’s a mas­sive hole in the sto­ry just sit­ting there left com­plete­ly unad­dressed and yet no one seems curi­ous about it:

    ...
    Police said they found no evi­dence of forced entry or a strug­gle inside the vehi­cle. The orange 2015 Dodge Ram truck’s key fob was found in Barnett’s pock­et.

    ...

    While review­ing secu­ri­ty footage from the hotel, police said Bar­nett entered his hotel room alone around 7:36 p.m. on March 8 and stayed about an hour before cam­eras showed him leav­ing the hotel alone. Barnett’s truck can be seen back­ing into a park­ing space at 8:45 p.m. where it remains until the next morn­ing when police arrive for a well­ness check.

    ...

    Barnett’s cell­phone had no unusu­al trav­el pat­terns or com­mu­ni­ca­tions before his death, police said. He trav­eled between the hotel and the depo­si­tion site. Key card data showed no “unusu­al entries,” police said.
    ...

    Alright, now let’s take a look at anoth­er local new report with a few more details of inter­est. Accord­ing to the report, secu­ri­ty footage shows Bar­nett enter­ing the hotel alone at 7:25 pm on the Fri­day before his death, going to his room at 7:36 pm. Was that 11 min­utes the peri­od when he was seen eat­ing Taco Bell and scrolling on his phone? Maybe. But it estab­lish­es that secu­ri­ty cam­eras were able to cap­ture when he left and returned to his hotel room. And yet we are also told that he was last caught on cam­era exit­ing the build­ing at 8:37pm, with his truck return­ing at 8:45 PM. So he took a short trip some­where. And yet we don’t hear about him return­ing to his hotel room again that evening, nor do we hear any­thing about him leav­ing his room again in the morn­ing. Instead, we are sim­ply told that there was no video evi­dence of any­one inter­act­ing with the vehi­cle through­out the night, as if that’s some­how a mean­ing­ful expla­na­tion of the events:

    WCBD

    Doc­u­ments pro­vide insight into the death of Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett

    by: Tim Renaud
    Post­ed: May 17, 2024 / 04:01 PM EDT
    Updat­ed: May 17, 2024 / 03:19 PM EDT

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Doc­u­ments pro­vid­ed by the Charleston Police Depart­ment (CPD) and Charleston Coun­ty Coroner’s Office on Fri­day after­noon pro­vid­ed insight into the death of John Bar­nett, a known Boe­ing whistle­blow­er.

    Bar­nett, 62, died on March 9, 2024, from “what appeared to be a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound,” the Charleston Coun­ty Coroner’s Office said in their ini­tial vic­tim iden­ti­fi­ca­tion announce­ment.

    Despite rumors that cir­cu­lat­ed online, Charleston Police main­tained that Barnett’s death was like­ly that of sui­cide and both agen­cies pro­vid­ed find­ings from their inves­ti­ga­tion which appear to back up the claim.

    A TIMELINE

    Secu­ri­ty footage from the round Hol­i­day Inn on Savan­nah High­way that was reviewed by law enforce­ment shows Barnett’s move­ment on the night of March 8, before his death. He entered the hotel alone at 7:26 p.m., went to his room at 7:36 p.m., and was last seen exit­ing the build­ing by him­self at 8:37 p.m.

    Mr. Barnett’s vehi­cle was cap­tured on video revers­ing into a park­ing space at 8:45 p.m., where it remained sta­tion­ary until it was dis­cov­ered by offi­cers the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Through­out the night, there was no video evi­dence of any­one inter­act­ing with the vehi­cle, enter­ing it, or the vehi­cle leav­ing its park­ing spot,” Charleston Police said in their report.

    The Charleston Coun­ty Coroner’s Office said Bar­nett was ini­tial­ly found by hotel staff while per­form­ing a wel­fare check, who then noti­fied 9–1‑1 at 10:13 a.m. the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

    Offi­cers were then dis­patched for a wel­fare check at the hotel short­ly before 10:20 a.m., where they dis­cov­ered a male inside a vehi­cle suf­fer­ing from a gun­shot wound to the head.

    He was pro­nounced dead at the scene.

    ...

    THE DEADLY SHOOTING

    Police said Bar­nett suf­fered a fatal gun­shot wound to his head at close range while inside his locked vehi­cle. There was no evi­dence of forced entry nor signs of a phys­i­cal strug­gle inside the vehi­cle, accord­ing to police.

    The vehicle’s key fob was found in Barnett’s pants pock­et.

    Police said that a sil­ver Smith and Wes­son hand­gun was found in Barnett’s right hand and that bal­lis­tic analy­sis ver­i­fied the recov­ered bul­let came from that same gun. “The tra­jec­to­ry of the bul­let aligns with the gun­shot wound observed. Mr. Bar­nett legal­ly pur­chased the gun in 2000,” Charleston PD said.

    Accord­ing to the coroner’s find­ings, an entrance wound was locat­ed to the right tem­ple with an exit wound to the pari­etooc­cip­i­tal region.

    A search of the vehi­cle revealed a sin­gle-fired shell cas­ing.

    A NOTE FOUND INSIDE THE VEHICLE

    Both the police depart­ment and coroner’s office said a note was found inside Barnett’s vehi­cle. Specif­i­cal­ly, the note­book with writ­ing that the coro­ner said resem­bled a sui­cide note – was on the pas­sen­ger seat.

    The Charleston Police Depart­ment pro­vid­ed a copy of the note that includ­ed mes­sages to fam­i­ly and dis­dain for Boe­ing. Inves­ti­ga­tors said the note sug­gest­ed Bar­nett was going through a seri­ous per­son­al dis­tress.

    Com­pre­hen­sive fin­ger­print analy­sis con­firmed Mr. Barnett’s fin­ger­prints on the note­book. Three prints were incon­clu­sive due to insuf­fi­cient detail for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. All fin­ger­prints on the page con­tain­ing the note were iden­ti­fied as Mr. Barnett’s,” police said.

    BARNETT’S MENTAL HEALTH

    Find­ings pro­vid­ed by the Charleston Coun­ty Coroner’s Office state that med­ical records and inter­views with fam­i­ly mem­bers, attor­neys, and oth­ers con­nect­ed to him, stat­ed he was under chron­ic stress relat­ed to the law­suit and suf­fered from anx­i­ety and post-trau­mat­ic stress. He was also griev­ing the death of his wife.

    Police said Bar­nett appeared to have long­stand­ing men­tal health chal­lenges which inten­si­fied amid ongo­ing legal pro­ceed­ings relat­ed to the whistle­blow­er case.

    WHISTLE BLOWER

    Bar­nett, a 32-year vet­er­an of Boe­ing, claimed in 2019 that Boeing’s over­worked North Charleston employ­ees fre­quent­ly fit­ted sub­stan­dard parts on planes and report­ed faulty oxy­gen sys­tems that could result in as many as one in four oxy­gen masks not oper­at­ing prop­er­ly.

    Boe­ing denied Barnett’s claims; how­ev­er, a fol­low-up inves­ti­ga­tion by the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA) pro­vid­ed some cred­i­bil­i­ty for his alle­ga­tions. A report found that more than 50 “non-con­form­ing” parts were unable to be traced and were lost in the company’s sys­tem.

    ...

    ————

    “Doc­u­ments pro­vide insight into the death of Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­nett” by Tim Renaud; WCBD; 05/17/2024

    ” Secu­ri­ty footage from the round Hol­i­day Inn on Savan­nah High­way that was reviewed by law enforce­ment shows Barnett’s move­ment on the night of March 8, before his death. He entered the hotel alone at 7:26 p.m., went to his room at 7:36 p.m., and was last seen exit­ing the build­ing by him­self at 8:37 p.m.

    Bar­nett enters the hotel at 7:25 pm, but does­n’t go to his room until 7:36 pm. Was that 11 minute gap the peri­od of time when an employ­ee saw Bar­nett eat­ing Taco Bell? Maybe. But the one point we can take away from that detail is the fact that secu­ri­ty cam­eras were able to cap­ture Bar­nett enter­ing and exit­ing the build­ing. And the last footage of him cap­ture at all that we are told about is video of his truck revers­ing into a park­ing space at 8:45 pm:

    ...
    Mr. Barnett’s vehi­cle was cap­tured on video revers­ing into a park­ing space at 8:45 p.m., where it remained sta­tion­ary until it was dis­cov­ered by offi­cers the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Through­out the night, there was no video evi­dence of any­one inter­act­ing with the vehi­cle, enter­ing it, or the vehi­cle leav­ing its park­ing spot,” Charleston Police said in their report.
    ...

    Then we get a detail about the fin­ger­prints found on the note­book where the sui­cide note was found. Three of the prints were deemed “incon­clu­sive” while the rest of the prints were Bar­net­t’s. Don’t for­get the com­ments we got from a fam­i­ly mem­ber about how the note “did­n’t sound like John”. So while it’s pret­ty clear that Bar­nett wrote the note, assum­ing it’s in his hand­writ­ing, we should­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly assume the note was­n’t writ­ten under duress. Which, again, rais­es all sorts of ques­tions about who Bar­nett may have been inter­act­ing with when he wrote that note. It would be easy to rule out such inter­ac­tions if we had video footage con­firm­ing no one oth­er than Bar­nett entered his hotel room that morn­ing. A ques­tion all the more rel­e­vant since we can be con­fi­dent he left for the ice machine at least once that morn­ing. But with no men­tion at all of the secu­ri­ty footage that morn­ing, we’re left to won­der:

    ...
    Both the police depart­ment and coroner’s office said a note was found inside Barnett’s vehi­cle. Specif­i­cal­ly, the note­book with writ­ing that the coro­ner said resem­bled a sui­cide note – was on the pas­sen­ger seat.

    The Charleston Police Depart­ment pro­vid­ed a copy of the note that includ­ed mes­sages to fam­i­ly and dis­dain for Boe­ing. Inves­ti­ga­tors said the note sug­gest­ed Bar­nett was going through a seri­ous per­son­al dis­tress.

    Com­pre­hen­sive fin­ger­print analy­sis con­firmed Mr. Barnett’s fin­ger­prints on the note­book. Three prints were incon­clu­sive due to insuf­fi­cient detail for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. All fin­ger­prints on the page con­tain­ing the note were iden­ti­fied as Mr. Barnett’s,” police said.
    ...

    Final­ly, we we read about how Bar­net­t’s whistle­blow­ing led to the FAA dis­cov­er­ing more than 50 “non-con­form­ing” parts were unable to be traced and were lost in the com­pa­ny’s sys­tem, don’t for­get about how the retal­i­a­tion Bar­nett expe­ri­enced includ­ed being trans­ferred to a seem­ing­ly point­less posi­tion of over­see­ing a cage where defec­tive parts were kept. And yet Bar­nett wit­nessed safe­ty laps­es even in that role, where he had to fight to pre­vent mechan­ics from break­ing into the cage and tak­ing parts out to be used in the man­u­fac­ture of new planes. Man­agers stole parts from the cage so fre­quent­ly that he had the locks changed but high­er-ups direct­ed him to cre­ate 200 extra sets of keys so the theft could con­tin­ue. Where those miss­ing “non-con­form­ing” parts stored in one of those cages at some point? And is there any evi­dence of that use of non-con­form­ing parts hid­ing away in Boe­ing’s records that the FAA missed? It’s the kind of sto­ry that serves as a reminder of how dev­as­tat­ing the dis­cov­ery process could be to Boe­ing if it’s allowed to con­tin­ue:

    ...
    Bar­nett, a 32-year vet­er­an of Boe­ing, claimed in 2019 that Boeing’s over­worked North Charleston employ­ees fre­quent­ly fit­ted sub­stan­dard parts on planes and report­ed faulty oxy­gen sys­tems that could result in as many as one in four oxy­gen masks not oper­at­ing prop­er­ly.

    Boe­ing denied Barnett’s claims; how­ev­er, a fol­low-up inves­ti­ga­tion by the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA) pro­vid­ed some cred­i­bil­i­ty for his alle­ga­tions. A report found that more than 50 “non-con­form­ing” parts were unable to be traced and were lost in the company’s sys­tem.
    ...

    Will there ever been any mean­ing­ful inves­ti­ga­tions into Bar­net­t’s numer­ous whistle­blow­ing claims? Or will the coverups con­tin­ue and deep­en? Bar­nett isn’t the only Boe­ing whistle­blow­er out there. But nei­ther is he the only Boe­ing whistle­blow­er to expe­ri­ence an untime­ly death in recent months. It remains to be seen whether or not Boe­ing is going to man­age to with­stand the ongo­ing bar­rage of alle­ga­tions. But at least when it comes to the dev­as­tat­ing alle­ga­tions made by John Bar­nett, it’s hard to argue that Boe­ing has­n’t effec­tive­ly won. Thanks, in large part, to an offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion that appeared intent on arriv­ing at a pre­or­dained con­clu­sion and a media that is more than hap­py to uncrit­i­cal­ly accept it with­out ask­ing even the most basic ques­tions of the case. It’s a proud Amer­i­can tra­di­tion at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 19, 2024, 4:01 pm
  11. The sto­ry of John Bar­net­t’s incred­i­bly untime­ly death isn’t over yet. Fol­low­ing the release of the final police report last week, the Dai­ly Mail has a new exclu­sive report with some new details. In par­tic­u­lar, details that would pur­port to explain the glar­ing 12+ hour gap in the offi­cial time­line that seemed to remain in the final report. Recall how that report put the last sight­ing of Bar­nett at 8:47 pm on the night before his death, when his truck was seen on cam­era pulling into the back lot of the hotel. It was­n’t explained at all why hotel secu­ri­ty footage showed Bar­nett leav­ing for his truck but nev­er return­ing.

    Well, here’s our expla­na­tion: we are told Bar­nett sat in his truck the entire night with the engine run­ning. By the time police found him the next morn­ing, the truck was out of gas. And when he was found, he was wear­ing the same clothes he was seen wear­ing on the hotel cam­eras while last exit­ing the hotel. So John Bar­nett appar­ent­ly had no need to use a restroom for the rough­ly 12 hours before his death. He spent the entire even in that truck. Was Bar­nett known for hav­ing a blad­der of steel? That’s now a rel­e­vant ques­tion in this case.

    We are also told that secu­ri­ty cam­eras did­n’t detect any­one approach­ing the truck at all before a hotel employ­ee approached the truck dur­ing the wel­fare check. There was one anom­aly observed with the truck caught on cam­era, how­ev­er: the break­lights on the truck start­ed flash­ing at 7:20 am. The police report­ed­ly think that might be the time Bar­nett shot him­self, although the time of death remains unde­ter­mined. Keep in mind that we’ve already been told by a hotel employ­ee that he heard a “pop” in the direc­tion of Bar­net­t’s truck at 9:24 am. Also keep in mind that if cam­eras could pick up the flash­ing of break lights, they might also have picked up a muz­zle flash. Were there any pos­si­ble muz­zle flash­es detect­ed at around 7:20 am? Or 9:24 am?

    Next, we are told that the body was still warm and rig­or mor­tis had yet to start, giv­ing us a rel­a­tive upper lim­it on when the death may have hap­pened. Keep in mind that rig­or mor­tis can begin to set in after about three hours after death. So if Bar­net­t’s life did end at 7:20 am as police spec­u­late, that would put about three hours between this time of death and when he was dis­cov­ered at around 10:20 am. Of course, if he died at 9:24 am, when the “pop” was heard, there would be no expec­ta­tion of rig­or mor­tis.

    Also keep in mind that we have oth­er foren­sic clues about the tim­ing of Bar­net­t’s where­abouts in this case. In par­tic­u­lar, there was the obser­va­tion from a hotel staff mem­ber after the wel­fare check in his room that there was a cup or melt­ed ice that still had con­den­sa­tion on it. A cup of ice that, accord­ing to this time­line, could­n’t have been placed there after around 8:30 pm, putting a min­i­mum of a 14 hour peri­od between when that ice cup was fresh and when it was dis­cov­ered. Is it rea­son­able for a cup of melt­ed ice to still have con­den­sa­tion on it after sit­ting at room tem­per­a­ture for 14 hours? Was this a very well insu­lat­ing cup or some­thing? Because oth­er­wise that sug­gests some­one was in that room after Bar­nett left or Bar­nett returned lat­er at some point.

    Regard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that some­one entered Bar­net­t’s room dur­ing the peri­od when we are told he was sit­ting in the truck, we’re also told Bar­net­t’s hotel key card and phone did­n’t show any unusu­al activ­i­ty. This rais­es anoth­er quirk in this case: did John Bar­nett have a cell­phone? Because when it comes to recon­struct­ing the loca­tion of some­one, it’s hard to imag­ine a more use­ful data set than the cell­phone loca­tion data. And yet, oth­er than being told that Bar­net­t’s phone showed no unusu­al activ­i­ty, we haven’t real­ly heard any men­tion of a cell­phone. And it’s not actu­al­ly clear that the “phone” was are told had no unusu­al activ­i­ty was a cell­phone or hotel phone. But we do know that his attor­neys said they called his hotel room phone at 9 am that morn­ing, offer­ing to pick up up for the final round of depo­si­tions. It was only after they still could­n’t reach him at 10 am that they called the hotel desk about a wel­fare check.

    So we have to ask: did Bar­nett have a cell­phone at all? Because if not, that could be anoth­er clue regard­ing both his state of mind and the threats he may have felt he was expe­ri­enc­ing. Cell­phones are poten­tial per­son­al­ized spy­ing devices, after all. If Bar­nett real­ly was con­cerned about his safe­ty, or basic pri­va­cy, being at risk from cor­po­rate male­fac­tors, maybe he deter­mined hav­ing a cell­phone was­n’t worth the risk? We are forced to spec­u­late, but it’s anoth­er wrin­kle in this strange sto­ry.

    It’s also worth recall­ing anoth­er inter­est­ing detail that might be some­what explained by the new time­line: we also heard that when a hotel employ­ee con­duct­ed a wel­fare check at Bar­net­t’s room, they remarked how “His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there.” Giv­en that Bar­nett was expect­ed to check out of the hotel and return home Fri­day, and only had his trip extend­ed anoth­er day at the last minute, it’s rea­son­able to assume he packed up Fri­day morn­ing, only to return that packed lug­gage to his hotel room that Fri­day evening. In oth­er words, all his stuff was still packed because it was nev­er unpacked that Fri­day evening. He was only at the hotel for maybe an hour that evening based on our avail­able time­line. Bar­nett last spoke to his attor­neys at 6pm that Fri­day, then picked up some Taco Bell and returned to the hotel where an employ­ee saw him scrolling on his phone, eat­ing a que­sadil­la, and seem­ing fine. Bar­nett then entered his hotel room alone at 7:36pm and stayed for about an hour before leav­ing for that final short trip around 8:36pm and return­ing at 8:47 pm.

    Tak­en togeth­er, the new time­line that has Bar­nett sit­ting in his truck overnight would at least explain why there’s no appar­ent footage of Bar­nett return­ing to his hotel room that evening and leav­ing the next morn­ing. And yet, there’s still mas­sive unan­swered ques­tions. Like the fact that he told a fam­i­ly friend weeks ear­li­er that if he dies, it’s not sui­cide. Or just the utter­ly bizarre tim­ing of it all. Why kill him­self then? Right as his years-long bat­tle against Boe­ing is com­ing to fruition. For some­one who hat­ed Boe­ing as pas­sion­ate­ly as he did, it’s puz­zling to under­stand why he would risk derail­ing his own law­suit like this so sud­den­ly and with­out warn­ing.

    It looks like this might be the final update we get on the inves­tiga­tive details of this sto­ry. Not that there isn’t room for more updates. Plen­ty of ques­tions remain loom­ing over this case. Let’s not for­get the tor­ren­tial rains that morn­ing that report­ed­ly left six inch­es of rain on the ground by the time his body was dis­cov­ered. What kind of vis­i­bil­i­ty was there around Bar­net­t’s truck dur­ing those intense rains? And did the intense rain over­lap with the assumed time of death? Maybe we’ll see that video released at some point and get clar­i­ty on what exact­ly inves­ti­ga­tors saw.

    But with this Dai­ly Mail update, we might be get­ting the final offi­cial details for this inves­ti­ga­tion. Maybe some­thing more will come up, but this is look­ing like a ‘case closed’ con­clu­sion. The kind of con­clu­sion that leaves an abun­dance of major ques­tions in this case dis­turbing­ly unan­swered:

    The Dai­ly Mail

    EXCLUSIVE Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­net­t’s final moments are revealed in sur­veil­lance footage that shows he sat in car with engine run­ning for 11 HOURS before shoot­ing him­self dead

    * John Bar­nett was found dead just before he was due to tes­ti­fy against Boe­ing
    * DailyMail.com obtained footage of Bar­net­t’s last moments before sui­cide death
    * The 62-year-old for­mer Boe­ing employ­ee wrote ‘F*** Boe­ing’ in his sui­cide note

    By Emma James In Charleston, South Car­oli­na, For Dailymail.Com

    Pub­lished: 16:12 EDT, 20 May 2024 | Updat­ed: 16:12 EDT, 20 May 2024

    Chill­ing sur­veil­lance footage shows the last hours of a Boe­ing whistle­blow­er before he com­mit­ted sui­cide, DailyMail.com can reveal.

    John Bar­nett, 62, was found dead in his truck out­side a Hol­i­day Inn in Charleston, South Car­oli­na, in March, just before he was due to resume tes­ti­mo­ny against the air­craft giant.

    Charleston Coro­ner’s Office con­firmed on Fri­day that his death was a result of a self-inflict­ed gun­shot wound, with Bar­nett writ­ing ‘f*** Boe­ing’ in his sui­cide note.

    Bar­nett had dri­ven to Charleston from his home in Louisiana. He had already start­ed his depo­si­tion in which he alleged Boe­ing used sub­stan­dard parts and was due to restart at 10 am on the day he died.

    Footage obtained by DailyMail.com shows Bar­net­t’s final hours before his death, walk­ing into the hotel at 7.26pm wear­ing a red and white sleeve­less check­ered shirt.

    He keeps his head down and walks towards the ele­va­tor, before van­ish­ing from sight and only appears again to leave.

    The video, from Charleston Police Depart­ment, shows the whistle­blow­er leav­ing the hotel at 8.37pm, around an hour after arriv­ing back to the prop­er­ty.

    Bar­nett has a black jack­et on and appears to be hold­ing a doc­u­ment in his hands, which looks eeri­ly sim­i­lar to his sui­cide note.

    His truck is then cap­tured revers­ing into a park­ing spot at 8.46pm, close to the back of the hotel which has less foot traf­fic.

    No one approach­es the orange Dodge Ram until a staff mem­ber at the hotel dis­cov­ered Bar­net­t’s body at 9am the next day.

    His lawyers con­tact­ed the hotel to request a wel­fare check, which led to staff mem­bers search­ing his room and the park­ing lot.

    The footage shows that his brake lights were cap­tured blink­ing on and off at 7.20am on March 9, with inves­ti­ga­tors find­ing that the cab of the vehi­cle was warm and out of fuel.

    Bar­nett was found in the vehi­cle wear­ing the same out­fit he was cap­tured leav­ing the hotel in, with the vehi­cle locked and the key fob in his pock­et, though offi­cial reports have not giv­en an exact time of death.

    When police arrived they said rig­or mor­tis had not set in – it nor­mal­ly starts around two hours after death and lasts for approx­i­mate­ly 24 hours – and the body was still warm, mean­ing it was pos­si­ble he died when the brake lights flick­ered, which would show he had been inside the vehi­cle for 11 hours before final­ly end­ing his life.

    ‘The cab of the vehi­cle was warm, and the truck was out of fuel,’ deputy coro­ner Ella But­ler wrote in the coro­ner’s report.

    ‘A review of med­ical records and intrviews with Mr. Bar­nett’ fam­i­ly, attor­neys, and health­care pro­fes­sion­als, revealed Mr. Bar­nett was under chron­ic stress in the con­text of the law­suit,’ But­ler added.

    He was also still griev­ing over the death of his wife, she said.

    ‘Dur­ing his time in Charleston, his attor­neys report­ed Mr. Bar­nett dis­cussed increas­ing the dose of his anti-anx­i­ety med­ica­tion.’

    Bar­net­t’s death sparked huge uproar when his body was found the same day he was due to tes­ti­fy against Boe­ing after alleg­ing under-pres­sure work­ers were delib­er­ate­ly fit­ting sub-stan­dard parts to air­craft on the assem­bly line.

    His phone and hotel key card showed no sus­pi­cious activ­i­ty, and bal­lis­tic analy­sis of the Smith & Wes­son found in Bar­net­t’s hand at the scene show it was reg­is­tered under his name and legal­ly pur­chased in 2000.

    The note­book con­tain­ing his sui­cide note found in the front pas­sen­ger seat of the truck had his and only his fin­ger­prints on them.

    Records obtained by offi­cials con­firmed Bar­nett had had a his­to­ry of men­tal health strug­gles, which only wors­ened through­out his law­suit with Boe­ing.

    For the first time, the con­tents of Bar­net­t’s sui­cide let­ter were also revealed, with Bar­nett writ­ing: ‘I CAN’T DO THIS ANY LONGER!!! ENOUGH!! F*** BOEING!!!’

    ‘Bury me face down so Boe­ing and their lying‑a** lead­ers can kiss my a**.’

    Bar­net­t’s moth­er told an inves­ti­ga­tor with CPD that Bar­nett would often make these remarks.

    The whistle­blow­er ends his let­ter by address­ing his loved ones: ‘TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS, I FOUND MY PURPOSE! I’M AT PEACE! I LOVE YOU MORE’ with a doo­dled heart at the end.

    Bar­nett had worked for Boe­ing for 32 years before retir­ing in 2017, with 17 of those years spent as a qual­i­ty man­ag­er.

    He was involved in a law­suit with Boe­ing up until the day he died, and had been in Charleston under­go­ing legal inter­views as part of the process.

    ...

    Bar­nett is just one of many whistle­blow­ers who have come for­ward in recent months, rais­ing a string of alle­ga­tions about Boe­ing’s qual­i­ty con­trol.

    San­ti­a­go Pare­des, who worked for Spir­it AeroSys­tems – where the trou­bled 737 Max is built – at its fac­to­ry in Kansas, is the lat­est to speak out, say­ing he was asked to hide defects on 737 fuse­lages.

    ————-

    “EXCLUSIVE Boe­ing whistle­blow­er John Bar­net­t’s final moments are revealed in sur­veil­lance footage that shows he sat in car with engine run­ning for 11 HOURS before shoot­ing him­self dead” By Emma James; Dailymail.Com; 05/20/2024

    When police arrived they said rig­or mor­tis had not set in – it nor­mal­ly starts around two hours after death and lasts for approx­i­mate­ly 24 hours – and the body was still warm, mean­ing it was pos­si­ble he died when the brake lights flick­ered, which would show he had been inside the vehi­cle for 11 hours before final­ly end­ing his life.”

    It’s quite an expla­na­tion for the giant gap in in the time­line: the rea­son for the com­plete lack of any secu­ri­ty video cov­er­age of Bar­net­t’s where­abouts at the hotel fol­low­ing the return of his truck to the hotel’s back park­ing lot at 8:46 pm the pri­or evening is that he nev­er left the truck. That’s what we’re told, which also clear­ly implies this truck was vis­i­ble on the hotel secu­ri­ty cam­eras the entire evening. So Bar­nett leaves at 8:37pm to a loca­tion that we still don’t know and returns less than 10 min­utes lat­er, and then nev­er leaves his truck. That’s the sto­ry we are get­ting. The kind of sto­ry that assumes Bar­nett had a pret­ty strong blad­der. And prob­a­bly a pret­ty full one when he died.

    And then there’s the fact that the cab of the vehi­cle was still warm but out of fuel when his body was dis­cov­ered and the break lights flash­ing on and off at 7:20 am. Did the flash­ing of the break lights coin­cide with Bar­nett shoot­ing him­self? If so, what about the reports from the hotel employ­ee about hear­ing a “pop” around 9:24 am from Bar­net­t’s truck? That detail remains entire­ly unex­plained:

    ...
    The footage shows that his brake lights were cap­tured blink­ing on and off at 7.20am on March 9, with inves­ti­ga­tors find­ing that the cab of the vehi­cle was warm and out of fuel.

    Bar­nett was found in the vehi­cle wear­ing the same out­fit he was cap­tured leav­ing the hotel in, with the vehi­cle locked and the key fob in his pock­et, though offi­cial reports have not giv­en an exact time of death.

    ...

    ‘The cab of the vehi­cle was warm, and the truck was out of fuel,’ deputy coro­ner Ella But­ler wrote in the coro­ner’s report.
    ...

    Also note that when we are told the hotel dis­cov­ered Bar­net­t’s body at 9am the next day, that’s not accu­rate. Accord­ing to reports, Bar­net­t’s attor­ney’s called him at 9 am to offer to pick him up for the final day of depo­si­tions, but nev­er got an answer. It was­n’t until short­ly after 10 am when they con­tact­ed the hotel desk to request of a wel­fare check. It was at that at point that the hotel staff checked his room, telling his lawyers that “‘His stuff’s packed up, but he’s not there”, fol­lowed by check­ing his car where they found him. Also keep in mind that it was the Dai­ly Mail that ini­tial­ly mis­re­port­ed that the coro­ner con­firmed that Bar­nett died on Fri­day March 8. So if some­one is on video approach­ing the vehi­cle at 9am that would be a sig­nif­i­cant anom­aly in the whole sto­ry, but odds are this is just the Dai­ly Mail screw­ing up the facts:

    ...
    The video, from Charleston Police Depart­ment, shows the whistle­blow­er leav­ing the hotel at 8.37pm, around an hour after arriv­ing back to the prop­er­ty.

    Bar­nett has a black jack­et on and appears to be hold­ing a doc­u­ment in his hands, which looks eeri­ly sim­i­lar to his sui­cide note.

    His truck is then cap­tured revers­ing into a park­ing spot at 8.46pm, close to the back of the hotel which has less foot traf­fic.

    No one approach­es the orange Dodge Ram until a staff mem­ber at the hotel dis­cov­ered Bar­net­t’s body at 9am the next day.

    His lawyers con­tact­ed the hotel to request a wel­fare check, which led to staff mem­bers search­ing his room and the park­ing lot.
    ...

    Also, when we see the arti­cle state that Bar­net­t’s fin­ger­prints, and only his fin­ger­prints, were found on the note­book with the sui­cide note, keep in mind we were actu­al­ly told that there were three fin­ger­prints on the note­book that were incon­clu­sive­ly iden­ti­fied due to a lack of details. It’s anoth­er minor cor­rec­tion need­ed for this arti­cle:

    ...
    The note­book con­tain­ing his sui­cide note found in the front pas­sen­ger seat of the truck had his and only his fin­ger­prints on them.
    ...

    And when we see men­tions of how Bar­net­t’s phone and hotel key card showed no sus­pi­cious activ­i­ty, it’s worth ask­ing whether or not Bar­nett had a cell­phone. Keep in mind that we are told that when his lawyers called him at 9am, they called his room at the Hol­i­day Inn. Did Bar­nett not have a cell­phone he could be reached at? If not, it does point towards a poten­tial­ly para­noid mind­set. Cell­phones are like per­son­al track­ing devices, after all. Could we be look­ing at a pos­si­ble expla­na­tion for why Bar­nett decid­ed to spend his final night in the truck? Was he fear­ful about stay­ing in that hotel room one more night?

    ...
    His phone and hotel key card showed no sus­pi­cious activ­i­ty, and bal­lis­tic analy­sis of the Smith & Wes­son found in Bar­net­t’s hand at the scene show it was reg­is­tered under his name and legal­ly pur­chased in 2000.
    ...

    Final­ly, when we see men­tions of how Bar­net­t’s moth­er con­firmed that some of the remarks found on the sui­cide note were things Bar­nett often said, keep in mind some­thing else we are told Bar­nett said to a fam­i­ly friend in the weeks lead­ing up to his death: that if he shows up dead, it’s not a sui­cide. Some­how that part tends to get left out of almost all the reports on this case:

    ...
    Records obtained by offi­cials con­firmed Bar­nett had had a his­to­ry of men­tal health strug­gles, which only wors­ened through­out his law­suit with Boe­ing.

    For the first time, the con­tents of Bar­net­t’s sui­cide let­ter were also revealed, with Bar­nett writ­ing: ‘I CAN’T DO THIS ANY LONGER!!! ENOUGH!! F*** BOEING!!!’

    ‘Bury me face down so Boe­ing and their lying‑a** lead­ers can kiss my a**.’

    Bar­net­t’s moth­er told an inves­ti­ga­tor with CPD that Bar­nett would often make these remarks.

    The whistle­blow­er ends his let­ter by address­ing his loved ones: ‘TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS, I FOUND MY PURPOSE! I’M AT PEACE! I LOVE YOU MORE’ with a doo­dled heart at the end.
    ...

    What could have sud­den­ly caused such a dra­mat­ic act right when Bar­nett was on the cusp of a major legal vic­to­ry? It’s not like the stress­es Bar­nett was under were new stress­es. He had been suc­cess­ful­ly with­stand­ing them for years. Why kill him­self now, just weeks after warn­ing a friend that if he dies it’s not a sui­cide? And why sud­den­ly spend an entire evening sit­ting in his truck? Some­thing prompt­ed that errat­ic behav­ior and at this point we are get­ting zero pos­si­ble clues as to what that could be. Case closed, appar­ent­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 21, 2024, 2:06 pm

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