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Transcript: Military Lending and Debt

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Meet the Reporters

Amanda Zamora
Justin Elliott
Sebastian Rotella
Cora Currier

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It’s incredibly difficult to get solid, reliable information about the drone wars. It’s even harder than it was about a year ago… President Obama said in the State of the Union that there would be more transparency about the targeted killing program, but we’ve yet to see it.

-New York Times national security reporter Mark Mazzetti on the challenges of covering drone strikes. 

Mazzetti joined ProPublica’s Cora Currier and reporter Adam Baron, who weighed in from Yemen, for a live discussion on what it’s like to report on one of the U.S.’s most secret wars. See the full conversation here

What's it like to report from the frontlines of the drone war?

The officially secret drone war, carried out in some of the world’s most dangerous regions, is extremely challenging to report on. Several thousand people have been killed in hundreds of U.S. drone strikes, but the government has made little hard data about the wars public. 

This Thursday at 1 pm ET, join ProPublica reporter Cora Currier and a panel of journalists from the New York Times, AP, and McClatchy to discuss the view from the ground in Yemen or Pakistan, and what it’s like to operate in an arena of such secrecy.

Ask your questions here, or tweet them to us with the hashtag #DroneChat.Read More


The Airlift.

On the NYT, a sketch of the C.I.A.-assisted aerial pipeline moving arms and other military goods to antigovernment fighters in Syria, via Jordan and Turkey.

More than 160 cargo flights have been made to Jordan and Turkey by Saudi, Qatari and Jordanian planes; most of the flights have occurred since late last year. The most recent flight was last night. In a few minutes we’ll post more data on one of the many legs.  


Photo of Ilyushin-76MF bearing logo of Jordanian International Air Cargo  taken by a plane spotter in Zagreb, Croatia on Dec. 23, 2012. Bottom, overview of the flights, Sergio Pecanha, NYT.


In Focus: Afghanistan, February 2013: Anti-Taliban Militias

Recently, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai ordered U.S. forces to leave Wardak province, partly in response to U.S.-funded militias in the region accused of “torturing, harassing, and murdering” ordinary civilians. The U.S. has been training and funding tribal militias in Afghanistan for years, hoping to emulate the success of a similar strategy in Iraq. Journalist Vikram Singh has been been tracking these militias across Afghanistan over the last few months and says that “the accusations of torture and murder come as little surprise. … In my visits to different zones where militias are active, I’ve seen their leaders operate as quasi-warlords. Instances of abuse are common and well documented. In provinces like Kunduz, there are districts with no government unit strong enough to challenge the militia’s authority.” In this essay, Singh focused on two different militia groups. One is in Logar Province, set up by a construction company owner angry at the killing of his mother by the Taliban in 2012. The second group operates in the northeastern province of Kunduz, where it chased the Taliban away almost three years ago but did not disband afterward. The militia’s leader, an ex-mujahideen called Nabi Gecchi, has now started taxing the local population to finance its operations.

See more. [Images: Vikram Singh]