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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

The spy who loved me

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I was recently embedded was on a military base in Eastern Afghanistan. The base is 5 km from the Pakistan border. When I met the welcoming public affairs officer, he joked about my motorcycle club and rock band activities. Obviously my profile had been thoroughly checked.

I was told that I was not allowed to photograph the base and to carry my cameras around in a bag at all times. I did my best to abide by the rules. When I asked why this was procedure on this particular base, I was told the 'landlord' wanted it this way. I assumed that they were referring to an Afghan, maybe a warlord that was camera shy.....

So I went about my business, shooting the story I came to shoot [off the base].
Three days later a big burly bearded white dude, wearing a base ball cap and pistol strapped to his thigh came up to me and asked me who I was? I told him I was an embedded journalist. He asked where was my escort? I told him that my minder was busy at this time and I was just on my way to the 'chow hall' to have a feed of burgers and fries.

He reminded me that this was a 'special base' and not only was I not allowed to take photos, but I was not allowed to carry our cameras around the base. And on top of that he requested that the camera gear had to be locked up with our escort/guide/master/minder at all times.

Luckily not all people on the base followed orders to the tee and I was relatively free to move around [without cameras]. Later I made some calls to people and found out that this base is quite a hub of activity for the area. I asked the soldiers who the landlord was, no one would say who, but cartoon character 'secret squirrel' was mentioned.

The icing on this secret cake was when I came home from patrol the following day and discovered my laptop was missing from the dorm I shared with 20 smelly [but very funny] US soldiers. Serious bummer. Praise to lord for hard-drive back-ups and insurance policies that covers war zones.

The first suspect was the Afghan cleaners who cleared the room after the soldiers left for patrol. Second was the soldiers themselves, but I find it hard to believe soldiers would steal a laptop and leave the charger behind... Then it dawned on me. Maybe the squirrels took it!

Im hoping that the spy-blimp-zeppelin that towers 3000m over the base caught the suspicious activity on one of it many cameras........
posted by Travis, 8:15 pm

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