History Commons Groups

January 18, 2009

New Feature: ‘Sit Rep’

Filed under: 'situation report',community — Max @ 2:28 pm
Tags: ,

On all those military/criminal justice shows like NCIS (a favorite in the Max household, and I’m fully aware of the ironies involved in being fond of such a show), people are always demanding “sit reps,” or “situation reports.” It sounds like a good idea for us, too, though in a less military, “drop and give me twenty” sense. So here goes.

I thought that every month or so, I’d write a “sit rep” post inviting all the major contributors, including the grant recipients, to check in and let everyone know what they’ve got in the works for the next few weeks. I don’t envision anything binding, and no one will get stern e-mails holding anything over your heads because of something you post. It’s more of a way for us to keep each other posted on what we’re currently working on, and if the occasion warrants, work in tandem on a particular item or subject. Again, no one’s keeping score, and no one’s going to blurt out, “Hey, she’s doing more than he is!” We all contribute at our own pace, within our own parameters, inclinations, and time restrictions.

It’s also a good way for our community of readers and users to have a general idea of what they can look forward to in upcoming entries, and a way that the community can let us know what they’d like to see included.

I’ll lead off in the first comment. Follow up, if you would.


  1. Here’s what’s coming down the pike on my end. I’ve just posted a handful of entries about the “Stellar Wind” NSA program, following up on Kevin’s blog entry and e-mails he’s sent me. I’ve completed the Reagan/Clinton era nuclear treaty entries from the Scoblic book, and have a tremendous number of Iraq-related entries on deck (including some more material from the last few chapters of Scoblic). And, in “honor” of the Obama inauguration, I’ve written a dozen or so entries on the 1993 Clinton “vandal scandal,” trusting that the Obama people don’t make the same asses of themselves as the Bush officials did after that transition. So, what have you got percolating?

    Edit: Forgot adding new material to the Afghanistan project.

    Comment by Max — January 18, 2009 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  2. Yvonne sent me an e-mail with the following:

    “I will be working on the crisis to include the disbursement of the second half of the TARP monies, the Economy Recovery package, Circuit City and other business closings, as well as playing catch-up with all the other financial fiascoes that occurred late last year.”

    Didn’t think about people sending me e-mails instead of making their own blog entries, but I guess that works, too.

    Comment by Max — January 18, 2009 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  3. Already input and going through the system are groups of entries about A. Q. Khan, the 9/11 Commission, and Londonsitan, as well as the blocking of a CIA cable warning the FBI one of the 9/11 hijackers had a US visa.

    There will be more of the same (basically I have a monthly routine) together with entries about PROMIS/Main Core/Stellar Wind hopefully, and at some point I should get round to pointing out more links between bin Laden and the CIA in the Soviet-Afghan War, as well as finishing rendition before 9/11.

    Also maybe a new video or two at the YouTube channel (anybody can suggest anything they want, but uncopyrighted material is preferred) and some economic crisis entries.

    Comment by kevinfenton — January 19, 2009 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  4. Kevin, you’ve been doing a good job with the economic material. Hopefully you and Yvonne can coordinate efforts. I just put up a bunch of entries on Stellar Wind, so hopefully those tie in with your work with Promis and Main Core.

    Anyone else? Bueller?

    Comment by Max — January 19, 2009 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  5. ONE! [grunt]
    TWO! [grunt]
    THREE! [gru…] Oh, oops… we don’t actually have to drop and give you twenty? Old martial arts training kicking in, sorry.

    I have two projects on the go — one on the voter fraud issue, or perhaps I should say non-scandal, or perhaps I should say scandal in the sense that ACORN in particular was scandalously treated despite no proven voter fraud on their part, as were a number of US Attorneys for not prosecuting voter fraud cases in a sufficiently, em, Republican manner. I am focusing particularly on the media’s role in pushing the story that voter fraud favouring Democrats is a major problem, or indeed a problem at all. I will do some backgrounders on previous flare-ups of the issue and on US attorney firings but concentrate mostly on how it was handled by the media during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election.

    Project the second is the movement towards universal health care in the USA, and as this is a developing story I’ll be putting the majority of my mini-grant funded efforts into it. I’ll do some backgrounders on previous American attempts (including that of the Clinton administration) as well as the rise of single-payer health insurance in other developed countries. Then I’ll examine the different proposals currently on the table (including what Obama promised during his campaign), the public discourse on the issue, and, as it happens, the development by the current (as of tomorrow) administration and Congress of health care policy and legislation. I will be casting about hard for evidence on the impact that lack of health insurance or inadequate health insurance has on health itself, being a stressor for non-wealthy Americans. I come to this story with the outsider’s perspective; I am Canadian and I read with horror the stories of Americans suffering untreated diseases, being ruined financially, or even losing their lives (yes, I will cover Nataline Sarkisyan), due to the lack of something that I’ve taken utterly for granted all my life.

    Comment by Karen Wehrstein — January 19, 2009 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks for posting, Karen. My wife and I are in that position: she’s uninsured and I’m underinsured, so we both suffer from ailments that could easily be managed with a little care and expenditure that we don’t have available to us. But neither one of us are in Nataline Sarkisyan’s boat, thankfully….

    Comment by Max — January 19, 2009 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  7. Matt dropped me an email today. He writes,

    The Complete 9/11 Timeline entries I am currently working on are focused mostly on the events of the day of 9/11. I am continuing to write entries that combine new information from Lynn Spencer’s book Touching History with existing sources, such as 9/11 Commission and FAA timelines, along with other books and news articles. I have also written entries summarizing the key conclusions of the recent NIST final report on the collapse of WTC 7 that should be online soon.

    He doesn’t mention his yeoman work in content- and copy-editing other entries. He really keeps the entries moving through the system.

    Comment by Max — January 20, 2009 @ 1:32 am | Reply

  8. Hey guys. I am now preparing some material for the Continuity of Government project. Most of my first entries will focus on the origins of the COG program during he Cold War.

    The plans began to take shape during the Eisenhower years, so I figure that’s a good place to start. I’ll be looking at some of the government’s earliest preparations for nuclear war: the first evacuation plans, the construction of the first nuclear bunkers, the first large-scale nuclear war games, etc.

    Comment by pdevlinbuckley — January 20, 2009 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  9. Thanks for checking in, PDB. I posted a heck of a lot of stuff in the US International Relations project that might correlate with some of your upcoming material–link to any of that as needed.

    I imagine your material would go in the Civil Liberties project, at least at first, but that doesn’t seem to quite fit. Suggestions for a permanent home for the COG material, anyone?

    Comment by Max — January 20, 2009 @ 11:02 am | Reply

  10. COG should initially go in Civil Liberties. There are already 2 categories there that deal with it – COG and PROMIS/Main Core. When there are lots of entries about it (say over 100), it would be good to spin it off into a separate timeline and delete from the Loss of Civil Liberties after 9/11 Timeline anything that is not really relevant to the post-9/11 period (i.e. all the entries before the attacks, leaving them only in the separate timeline).

    Devlin, have you already checked out what we have about COG in the civil liberties timeline?

    Comment by kevinfenton — January 21, 2009 @ 2:38 am | Reply

  11. Since we can have multiple timelines within a single project, that’s probably the way to go — split off COG into a separate timeline under Civil Liberties. Thoughts?

    By the way, I renamed the Civil Liberties project to get rid of the “after 9/11” bit. There are entries in that project going back to the Truman era. Didn’t seem pertinent any longer to have it restricted to after 9/11 in the title, especially since that isn’t how the project has developed.

    Comment by Max — January 21, 2009 @ 8:46 am | Reply

  12. You guys probably know best, so I’ll trust your judgment. I personally think COG should have its own category. I’ve seen what’s up there and I’ll be adding a lot of stuff that does not fall under the civil liberties heading. I assume we can always change things up in future, as Kevin suggests.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    Comment by pdevlinbuckley — January 21, 2009 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  13. I will be scaffolding my research around the two congressional hearings(Waxman’s) and various others(all together, seven) investigations into Pat Tillman’s death. Thus my first entries will concern these, with later entries fleshing out the case and dealing with the war in Afghanistan as its timeline converges with Corporal Tillman’s participation. The latter will most certainly consist of cross-referencing with material already aggregated at HC and in-progress under the Afghanistan project.

    I believe “we must never forget” issues , cases, and certainly not the concerns of veterans and their families, that any past administration leading us to war, just or unjust, might leave behind and unresolved in its wake. From an addendum to my original proposal:

    “The belief that Pat Tillman is one of the most striking faces of post 9/11 America is widely held. In fact, many political analysts, professionals and amateurs alike, find that the Tillman narrative, as fact and as fiction, intersects with, encapsulates, and goes so far as to “personify” the Bush Administration’s War on Terror, a pivotal event in the unfolding history of the US and its relationship to the globe which they contend gave rise to a Pandora’s Box of evils, including our current economic crisis.
    Many hope that the choice of a new president is tantamount to a rejection of “the Bush doctrine,” and that a stronger congress bodes hope for a more truthful and complete disclosure of the circumstances behind 9/11, as well as Pat Tillman’ death, both of which they see as in need of fresh and independent investigation and the release of pertinent records. Ironically, Tillman gave up fame and fortune to join the war in Afghanistan, motivated by a call to fight against those he believed responsible for 9/11. To opponents of the Bush Administration’s promulgation of the War on Terror, Tillman’s tragedy mirrors a large-scale manipulation of the American public, a deception the top echelon of government and the Pentagon orchestrated, with Mainstream Media providing the too-willing mouthpiece for its campaign of disinformation.

    Within a week of his enlistment, Tillman’s story had gone nationwide and he was viewed as a “recruiting tool.” After his death, the actions and statements of the Bush Administration and the Pentagon appeared to continue to focus on, and, according to these critics, manipulate the PR potential of Tillman’s life and death, rather than support findings of fact…”

    On the other hand, representatives of the military and administration, and even some independent investigators, argue that Pat Tillman’s death and the ensuing confusion surrounding its facts were the result of “the fog of war,” faulty protocols, lack of adherence to existing protocols, and a “perfect storm” of accidents. As in the case of the 9/11 Commission, compartmentalization, and a consequent lack of information sharing, is cited as a major factor in that “perfect storm.” Those who openly criticize the family’s (and their supporters’)call for more satisfactory answers in the case also contend that their persistence is predicated on an anti-war and anti-administration stance, rather than an actual need for further review of an already exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances of Tillman’s death, the military’s initial mistaken account, and the seeming rush to award him a silver star posthumously based on that narrative.

    Stan Goff, a well-respected reporter and war veteran, and, moreover, a Tillman family supporter, offers a persuasive analysis of the circumstances that might have led to “friendly fire,” and which would counter suspicions of a conspiracy, while Mrs. Tillman currently rejects the idea of an intentional crime she and Tillman’s brother and father had not dismissed earlier. Still, family and supporters–and many members of the public– do want a fuller account from Rumsfeld and military top brass (such as Generals Mayer, Brown, Abizaid) documentation of the preliminary investigation in the field, and a release of records held back through a claim of executive privilege.

    To date, I have accomplished a preliminary overview of many of the resource materials(published news and magazine articles, congressional hearings transcripts, interviews with the Tillman family, Mrs. Tillman’s book, web site analyses, the military’s rebuttal to ongoing investigation etc.) and will now hone in on the investigations, their findings, lack of findings, various controversies concerning; the public, political, media, and family response to the investigations; the continuing call for more investigation and the release of medical records; and particularly, for more accountability in the past administration’s involvement and testimony in the case.
    It is important that the voice of those who adamantly insist that the facts of the case have been obscured and that government and military brass have stonewalled, be represented in an accounting of the case record. For instance, a group of pro-athletes have organized to demand the release of the original autopsy report. Of equal importance is inclusion of the opposing viewpoint on record, and note of any evolution in the thinking of the Tillman family as they have been the prime movers behind these numerous investigations.

    Rachael Flynt

    Comment by Rachael Flynt — January 21, 2009 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  14. Rachael, excellent. I’m looking forward to reading your work.

    Comment by Max — January 21, 2009 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  15. Once I figure out the entry generation and posting esoterica, I will start right in on the sinking Monroe Doctrine. Namely:

    Recent internal and external events concerning Venezuela since (but not exclusively) 1998 and the election of Hugo Chavez. Much focus will be on U.S. policy towards and interventions in Venezuela, featuring coup attempts, overt and covert support for the opposition and destabilization efforts aimed at undermining and ultimately changing the government of Venezuela. I’ll look briefly at the democratic rise of Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution; the US-backed attempted coup of 2002; anti-government student movements; U.S. backing of opposition leaders, media and parties; paramilitary infiltration from Colombia; events surrounding the last (failed) referendum; and U.S. attempts to discredit the Chavez government via allegations of drug and/or FARC ties, and especially via the Colombian special forces operation on FARC in Ecuador with its seized “magic laptops”. Colombia and their paramilitary formations will likely feature in events.

    I’ve also been building up material on what some view as the re-structuring of the global political-economic-financial order. (Or re-ordering of the structures). I’ll be writing within the context of the buildup to (and including) the current economic crisis. This is a huge and complex area, so I’m going to have to give an overview of the most recent deregulatory policies and collusive private-government entities & events favorable to global corporate, market & financial consolidation and privatization. The main issues involved are revolving doors between the private sector and the state; the capture of state and public offices by private capital; the privatization of public companies and markets and the creeping consolidation of economic power into fewer and fewer behemoths; and the restructuring of the global financial architecture to better serve privatization and consolidation. Ralph Brauer’s “The Strange Death of Liberal America”, is an excellent starting point, going back through the history of the Glass-Steagall Act which was repealed by the Clinton Administration and Congress.

    I’ll also be working on a timeline concerning post-911 US & NATO’s militarized approach and parapolitical involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I have been struck by western efforts to (over) arm and train, inevitably, ALL sides of the conflict in this region, including, inadvertently or not, the Taliban. Inevitably, I think this ties into the deeper political economics of the drug trade, the GWOT, and the re-ordering of Eurasia. The region is up-armed and ready to blow, host perhaps to the heaviest concentration of extremist operatives in the world. I’ll try to start a (pre)historical record on this aspect since it looks like it is all systems go for World War V in that region.

    Comment by Rye — January 27, 2009 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  16. Excellent, Rye.

    You and Yvonne are working some of the same areas with the economic info; you and Rachael are working some of the same areas with Afghanistan. I’ll leave it to you guys to coordinate efforts.

    Comment by Max — January 27, 2009 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  17. I should add that if we are talking about the pipeline for the next few weeks, I doubt I’ll be breezing into all 3 projects right away. So I’ll start with Venezuela.

    Will be happy to coordinate down the road with Yvonne and Rachael.

    Comment by Rye — January 28, 2009 @ 10:47 am | Reply

  18. Works for me.

    Comment by Max — January 28, 2009 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

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