August 02, 2010

Wikileaks - The Last Word

Ghaith Abdul Ahad breathes a breath of minty fresh air into the fetid Wikileaks debate. It was kind of obviously really; everyone was arguing about Pakistan's links to the Taliban, the Pakistanis denied it, the Pakistani media complained, the British PM slapped Pakistan around publicly in India, the Americans said it was OK, the Pakistanis were behaving much better now. The only people who didn't get a say in it all were the Taliban. Until Ghaith went and asked them.

"Pakistan's ongoing support of the Afghan Taliban is anything but news to insurgents who have spoken to NEWSWEEK. Requesting anonymity for security reasons, many of them readily admit their utter dependence on the country's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not only for sanctuary and safe passage but also, some say, for much of their financial support. The logistics officer, speaking at his mud-brick compound near the border, offers an unverifiable estimate that Pakistan provides roughly 80 percent of the insurgents' funding, based on his conversations with other senior Taliban. He says the insurgents could barely cover their expenses in Kandahar province alone if not for the ISI. Not that he views them as friends. "They feed us with one hand and arrest and kill us with the other," he says."

To me, this is even better than delicious irony (a phrase I've been bandying about on twitter quite a lot recently). This is practically sublime. Wikileaks is the media world readjusting itself to the decline of investigative news media. But the only way to add context and any semblance of authentication to the raw, undigested field reports turns out to be good, old fashioned, contact-working, field reporting.

Read the whole thing. It's a rare bit of what reporting is supposed to be about.

PS: Has Ghaith left the Guardian?

[Abu Muqawama here. I think Ghaith merely took the picture for this report. The article was written, it appears by some guy named Ron Moreau. Readers may not be aware that Ghaith got his start as a photojournalist and still has a talented eye.]

Londonstani: Ah, right you are. Good on Ron Moreau. Good on Ghaith for the photo too. The minty breath praise goes to Ron. Not come across his stuff before, but I'm a big fan of this artilcle.