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Defections (II) – confusion…

July 25, 2012

This interesting report from NPR, which I partially quote below, bears out two points I was making about recent developments and is worth reading in full to get a sense for the way in which stories can get greatly distorted both by accident and design.  The most recent point was about defections and was directly related to this story, here.  The more broad issue was about the likely increasing difficulties we may encounter in trying to gather accurate information – here.

July 25, 2012

by Sean Carberry

(Sean Carberry is a producer on NPR’s foreign desk. From Kabul, he sent us this glimpse into the challenge of reporting on events in places such as Afghanistan.)

A story broke Tuesday that an Afghan police commander had defected to the Taliban along with a number of officers under his command. Early statements from the governor’s office in Farah province said that “Mirwais,” the commander of a police checkpoint, had poisoned seven of his men who refused to go along with the defection, and then he and 13 others disappeared with weapons and police vehicles.

Over the course of the day, additional, and sometimes contradictory details emerged. Numbers started to differ — the Afghan Ministry of Interior said that nine officers defected. Reports had different numbers of how many had been poisoned…

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