What we want more than anything out of our investigative reporting is impact – we want it to make a difference. Two stories that defined our week here at The Nation reflect this in very different ways, and both speak to the complex debate that is emerging right now about America’s role in the Middle East.
The first story is the ongoing impact of Aram Roston’s expose in The Nation from November, 2009 How the U.S. Funds The Taliban. On Tuesday a congressional report, appropriately titled Warlord, Inc., confirmed what Roston revealed in The Nation: Taxpayer money to fuel U.S. supply lines is going to Afghan warlords – in some cases the Taliban. The Army has opened a criminal investigation into bribery related to U.S. supply routes in Afghanistan, and Congressman John Tierney, Chairman of the Congressional Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, called the situation "a protection racket that would make Tony Soprano proud.” Although the story didn’t get the attention of the McChrystal crisis, Roston’s reporting has sparked a high-level investigation into one of the most troubling parts of the conflict in Afghanistan: excessive corruption. Read Aram’s full update here.
The second story is one that we hope will help to win the freedom of a Nation contributor and his colleagues currently imprisoned in Iran. Last July, Shane Bauer and two other Americans were taken by Iranian forces on the Iran-Iraq border. Iran says he was trespassing, but a new investigation from The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute has found witnesses who say the hikers were arrested in Iraq, not Iran, by a rogue officer notorious for kidnapping. The story moved fast on Thursday: you can see The Nation’s Richard Kim on CNN here; Good Morning America, Democracy Now, Voice of America, the AP and The New York Times have all moved the story forward. The story is here; for the most personal view you should watch this clip from CNN, which features interviews with the mothers of the detained hikers.