Reporters on the Job

• TELL THE BOSS FIRST: Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained by an Aug. 9 Monitor story that Afghan spies have spotted Al Qaeda setting up two new bases in Pakistan (page 1). But the Monitor's Scott Baldauf was chagrined to learn that his story also resulted in an Afghan military intelligence chief losing his job.

A British television reporter went to Konar Province to follow up on Scott's story. But the reporter discovered that the regional intelligence chief, Brig. Rahmatullah Rawand, had been fired and sent to a different province.

"The interpreter who accompanied the British reporter told me today that the brigadier's sin wasn't that the information was wrong. He was punished for telling the Monitor about the Al Qaeda bases before telling his own boss," says Scott. The Brigadier's underlings in Konar did verify the report to the British reporter.

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• HIGHWAY BRIBERY: Today's story from the Indonesian province of Aceh, is in part about the difficulty that civilian institutions are having in controlling the Indonesian military (page 7). Reporter Dan Murphy got a taste of that first hand while riding in a car with three Aceh legislators.

"We were discussing this very problem, and the car was stopped at a military roadblock. The military sets these up periodically and unpredictably to look for rebels. The soldiers questioned the driver briefly about our comings and goings, and then the driver handed a soldier a small bribe, no more than a couple of dollars.

"Elsewhere in Indonesia, the police might pull you over on the pretense of a traffic violation and ask for money. But only in Aceh would a public official feel the need to pay a bribe to get past a military checkpoint," says Dan.

– David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot

SRI LANKA SIP:US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is the highest ranking US official to visit Jaffna, Sri Lanka, since the 1950s. In addition to sampling the local coconut milk, he's there backing the government's efforts to end a two-decade-long civil war with the Tamil Tiger separatists.

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