Bad News Is Good News

Former reporters for the Taliban news service describe how they were ordered to inflate figures of civilian casualties from the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Casualty estimates today still range from a low of 1,000 to a high of around 3,000. Some of the former Taliban reporters are still at work, now for the new government. Mohammed Ismail Qanay "keeps a photo of himself from his days as a reluctant co-conspirator in the Taliban's propaganda factory, when he was required to wear the tunic and pantaloons, a turban and a flowing beard. Qanay is now cleanshaven, bare-headed and wears a gray pinstripe suit. He still covers the war and its aftermath. His dispatches are edited, he said, but they are no longer distorted or entirely rewritten. 'The government is our boss, and the government still decides what the news is,' Qanay said. 'Our only orders are to try to tell the truth.'" (Of course, that's probably what he would have said when the Taliban was giving the orders.)