Lost in Translation: The Line Between Journalism and Espionage

NY Times article: “Contracts Tied To Efforts to Kill Militants”

Let me get this straight. So the “benign gov’t info-gathering program” was a website known as Afpak, proposed by a former CIA guy and a former TV exec., set up to operate as what looks like a local news service focusing on cultural conflict issues in the context of wartime. And the intermediary – the accused Mr. Furlong – between the military and Afpak told Afpak that the military wasn’t interested while also telling the military that Afpak was worthwhile? And when the rug got solidly pulled out from under Afpak, Furlong reallocated some of the leftover funding into one military program while shoving the rest – $15 mill. – into thin air?

Out of all this, aside from the outrageousness of his actions, if verified, it strikes me how apparently this Afpak endeavor was never clearly defined as either news-gathering versus covert intelligence gathering. If the boundary between the two is not recognized by the editors, not to mention our own military, contractors and the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan – two countries where the USA has unstable relations, to say the least – then it’s no wonder why journalism is regarded with suspicion and contempt by leaders on both sides (despite what they may say in public about the importance of a free press) and why the work journalists produce – and risk their lives for – are regarded as little more than spying.

It’s no wonder why what we do is lost in translation in countries where there is no free press. It’s no wonder why our own gov’t leaders make such pitiful efforts to defend our work and our lives when it comes to that.

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