5 Questions with Thomas Jackson

This is the first in a series of interviews with the men and women who blog about the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thomas Jackson is the lead blogger at the Coast Guard Report. Started last year as a site that was about a single equal rights case, Coast Guard Report has rapidly grown to cover a wide spectrum of Coast Guard issues that you aren’t likely to hear or read about in the main stream media.

Here then, 5 questions with Thomas Jackson.

1. Why did you first start blogging about the Coast Guard?

A. That’s a great question, and a good story in and of itself. Last June a very close friend and fellow retired Naval Officer who is currently a civil servant working for the Coast Guard experienced discrimination and reprisal in the work place. His situation was unique in that he was refused assistance in filing a complaint because he was management. The series of events that followed and continue to this day are like nothing seen anywhere out side of the Coast Guard.

I toyed with the idea of starting a blog as a means of finding out if there were other management level employees in the Coast Guard who had experienced similar problems. What I didn’t expect and had no way of knowing was how deep this issue ran within the Coast Guard. The blog originally focused on his case and the pursuit of “Equal Civil Rights” for management. The blog took off rather quickly with readers around the world and particularly in Coast Guard concentration areas.

Within the first month of operating the blog our first “confidential informants (CI)” contacted us from inside the Coast Guard at various levels of command. At the same time we were being contacted by others experiencing like issues. Before I knew it, my small blog had become a three to four hour a day venture. By December 2007 we had about one lead or tip a day coming in, and we simply couldn’t keep up with research and fact verification. I had already sought out the help of contributors Amanda Trace and George Jones, but found it necessary to add volunteer researchers to our team, which includes several CI’s.

We had been toying with the idea of buying a domain name that would better define where the blog had evolved. Shortly after Peter Stinson made the recommendation as well that I consider purchasing a domain name, we began the search for the right name. The original goal was to keep it short and we very much wanted cgreport.org, however that name was already owned. We began the process to acquire the domain from its owner and will complete that transaction in March with transfer of ownership to Thomas Jackson Center. Since we were able to immediately purchase coastguardreport.org and wanted that as a back up, we launched the new site. Once cgreport.org is transferred we’ll move our other blogs under that domain.

Long answer to a short question, but a long a road to where we are today.

2: What is your vision for the Coast Guard Report?

A. The vision is to simply cover the news inside the Coast Guard that is not being covered by the mainstream media. In fact, much of what we have covered so far has been referred to as the Coast Guards “ugly underbelly” by such writers a Peter Stinson. We’re very proud and pleased with the outcome of our very hard and aggressive reporting of Terri A. Dickerson’s (Dir of Civil Rights) office so far. It lead to the first major update of the Coast Guard Civil Rights website in several years. We have more pieces in the research and fact verification phases on Terri Dickerson and her key staff. As many of our readers know, we’re also paying a great deal of attention to who is accountable inside the Coast Guard. We’re tracking myriad cases of enlisted men and women, and junior officers being held to a much higher standard than their leaders in Washington, D.C. While a Chief Petty Officer is busted to First Class Petty Officer for misuse of a government travel card under 4K, Flag Officers have gone unscathed for misuse of hundreds of millions in tax payer dollars. We believe that the men and women on the deck plates deserve leaders in Washington and elsewhere who are held to the same level of accountability that they are at minimum.

3. What kind of reaction have you received from Coast Guard community, either officially or unofficially?

A. I have had no public reaction from the Coast Guard to our blog, but we do track over 100 hits on average from Coast Guard Headquarters to the blog daily during the week. It drops off on Saturday and Sunday, but is still there, so I assume the Command Center is possibly reading. Privately, our CI’s inside Headquarters report that it gets hot when we publish a controversial story, and especially more so when it’s obvious that someone inside Headquarters is speaking to us.

4. Your Blogger profile says that you are a “retired senior federal employee and retired Naval Officer”. Was any of that time with the Coast Guard?

A. Retired U.S. Navy, but if I had to do it all over again, I might have gone U.S. Coast Guard.

5. Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Coast Guard News?

A. The Coast Guard Report is here to stay. We intend to go where the mainstream media does not, and bring our readers the stories they’ll only find in blogs until the story gets so big the mainstream media needs to claim the story as their own. While some readers may not like all of our investigative pieces, they are necessary to bringing about the transparency that breeds self correcting behavior that Admiral Thad Allen speaks of while helping us better understand why we need to honor our past, while not living in it.

The Coast Guard Report is available at http://CoastGuardReport.org.

If you blog about the Coast Guard, or know someone who does, send us the blog address and we’ll try to arrange an interview with them. Our address is CoastGuardNews@gmail.com.

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