• Tribal tales: For today's piece about how Pakistan hopes to find Osama bin Laden in the frontier tribal areas (page 1), Scott Baldauf visited several former Pakistani officers who had worked in the region. "They were very generous with their time. But there were a few oddly British colonial moments. I would be sipping tea with a general or admiral in his home, listening to tales about the 'brutality of savages' when there would be polite interjections of 'more tea or another biscuit?' "
One retired Air Force officer told Scott about the time in the 1950s he was ordered to bomb a local village harboring a fugitive. "The commander gave the village advance notice," recounts Scott. "As they flew over, the villagers were all gathered on a hillside clapping as if watching a cricket match. The commander ordered the squadron to bomb only a tree near the village. Later, the tribal leaders demanded 5,000 rupees for 'destroying' their village. As part of the negotiations, money was paid, face was saved, and the fugitive was arrested.
"This is the kind of complex negotiations that go on today in the frontier regions. But he told me, 'This is bin Laden, not an ordinary thief.' "
• Cleric and a critic: Staff writer Scott Peterson assumed that the cleric who attended the controversial new film "The Lizard" in Tehran (page 7) was relatively open-minded. Mullah Mustafa Elahi confronted the director in a good-natured way. But when Scott later spoke with the cleric, surrounded by his family members all of whom had attended a private screening of the film - he was gruff. The cleric admitted that he has been a nafoozi - someone employed by the regime to spy on other clerics. When Scott asked for the cleric's name, he first gave a false one, and then finally gave another, and declared: "Don't try to find me. Never contact me again."
David Clark Scott