A Visit to Conspiristan: Obama, Osama, Krakauer, Kroft — and Mortenson

Sydney, Australia May 9 – I know it’s not customary to dateline blogs, but I’m in Oz and I’m going to write about perspective, so it seems fitting.  Here in an antipodal suburb of the global village, I’ve just watched Steve Kroft interview President Obama on my laptop, and let’s give 60 Minutes their due:  they pulled off a journalistic coup, and Obama made plenty of news with his remarks.

(As an aside, it looks really good from Down Under to have a U.S. president say, “We don’t spike the football” instead of gloating “Mission Accomplished” after breaking the wrong country on purpose.  What do the good football coaches say?  “Act like you’ve been in the end zone before.”)

I said I’d write about perspective, so here goes.  Once, when I was on Larry King Live discussing the murder of a six-year-old named JonBenet Ramsey, Larry was about to take a commercial break and said, “Tomorrow!  On the show!  Yasir Arafat!”  When the cameras were off, I muttered something about feeling a little sheepish being on the show when there were so many bigger stories going on in the world.  Larry brushed me off, and in a few seconds we were talking about the Grand Jury’s refusal to indict the child beauty queen’s parents for murder.   The show went on.

I’m not saying that 60 Minutes, and the rest of the news industry, shouldn’t cover all sorts of stories, including improprieties of do-gooder organizations.  We should and we do.  But when I first commented on the 60 Minutes piece on Greg Mortenson and the Montana-based Central Asia Institute (CAI), I said that the piece lacked “basic elements of fairness, balance, perspective, insight and context.”  In light of recent events, the statement stands, and then some.

The interview with Obama makes a pretty good counterpoint, as far as relevance, importance, and perspective go.  Besides getting a glimmer of a backstage pass to the situation room during a defining moment in history, we also learn that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is fraught, difficult, and challenging.  Obama takes pains to remind the American people that Pakistan has been, since 9/11, the “chief ally in the fight against Al Qaeda” and that “good relations with Pakistan are still vital to U.S. interests.”  That’s going to remain true, even if some elements of the Pakistan military or intelligence services knew where Osama was hiding for five years.  Maybe the nice things the president said about our good friends in Islamabad were 50 percent bullshit or more. But the truth is that even people who couldn’t find Pakistan on a map after you spotted them the right continent should now understand that Pakistan is maddeningly, incessantly important.

And oh, isn’t that where Greg Mortenson has been working for the past 16 years or so, building literal schools and metaphorical bridges?  In a country so distrustful of the United States that the president decided not to release photos of a very dead Osama bin Laden because there are plenty of people who wouldn’t believe the photos were authentic, anyway?

(Then again, there are still plenty of people in this country who don’t believe that Obama’s long-form birth certificate is real, either.  Maybe we could put them all together with the climate change deniers on a Pacific Island nation about to be inundated with rising sea levels, and call the place:  “Conspiristan.”)

Back to Bozeman and the CAI, rather than Abbottabad and the CIA.  Since my first post, I’ve heard both privately and publicly (please do read the comments on my earlier posts; the include some very intelligent discourse) from people who have admired Greg in action, but suspect he has sometimes bent a 501(c)3 reporting rule or two to get things done.  I’ve heard from one of the pilots who flew Greg around in one of his “private jets,” saying that Greg often goes where commercial flights don’t, and certainly not on the grueling speaking schedule he keeps.  We now know from a CAI update that some of the allegations about financial impropriety were likely because 60 Minutes and Krakauer cherry-picked some records, and the allegation that Greg used CAI as “an ATM machine” might have been a great quote but might not have a damned thing to do with Mortenson being personally enriched by having the PIN number.

As the details of Greg’s questionable bookkeeping and exaggeration or lying become clearer (he still has some ‘splaining to do), I ask again about the contextual importance of the allegations and “revelations” about Mortenson.  Some of these clarifications will still make some people uncomfortable, while others will shrug them off.   For instance, Jon Krakauer makes a big deal that Mortenson had never been to the Himalayas before his ill-fated K2 climb, and I know for a fact that he had been in Nepal climbing at least one 20,000-foot peak, because I’ve talked to somebody who was there with him.  The truth may yet be – and I’m guessing it will – that Mortenson never climbed any of the big peaks that the book claims he did.  And I sure want to know why he fabricated that fact if he didn’t.

I’m not denying there are still some big, fat questions out there:  did Mortenson donate six figures to CAI, and are they on his tax returns and CAI’s donor lists?  Is there a multi-million dollar endowment ready for the right moment to build schools and pay teachers from Fayzabad to Mingora?  Can Mortenson agree to assemble a Board of Directors that supplies real oversight?  (In most non-profits, the executive director serves at the pleasure of the board, not the other way around.)

But in the big picture (and that’s what I’m talking about from across the international dateline), I still don’t get why Mortenson’s antics warranted the kind of howitzers that 60 Minutes and Krakauer launched.

Here’s why:  Osama’s dead.  My guess is that we need Mortenson and people like them more than ever.  Clay feet and all.

 

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14 Responses to A Visit to Conspiristan: Obama, Osama, Krakauer, Kroft — and Mortenson

  1. Guy Montag says:

    “… when I first commented on the 60 Minutes piece on Greg Mortenson and the Montana-based Central Asia Institute (CAI), I said that the piece lacked “basic elements of fairness, balance, perspective, insight and context.” In light of recent events, the statement stands, and then some.”

    I just posted a revised version of my “Jon Krakauer’s Credibility Problem” at http://www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.com (now a whopping 130 pages; try the 3-page Executive Summary, then did deeper if you wish). At the end of my piece, I used a quote from Dan’s previous post (I just read it a couple of days ago):

    The Daily Beast’s Nick Summers wrote, “Used to elephant hunting, Krakauer brings the same gun to the smaller task, obliterating Mortenson in the process.” However, I agree with journalist Dan Glick who wrote, “I believe in the importance of journalism to … hold people and institutions accountable. That said, it’s hard to believe why 60 Minutes decided that Greg Mortenson … qualified on any of those fronts – much less why Jon Krakauer joined in this recent barrage.” It’s worth pointing out that, in their puff-piece hagiographic profile of Gen. McChrystal on September 27, 2009, “60 Minutes” didn’t press McChrystal about his role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan.
    . . .

    Jon Krakauer has accused Greg Mortenson of deceit. However, Krakauer himself displayed deceit by embellishing his story of how he “discovered” McCrystal’s central role in the cover-up of Tillman’s friendly-fire death. Was Krakauer embarrassed to admit that he had failed to uncover this new material by himself? And missed it the first time around? Like Greg Mortenson, it appears that Jon Krakauer embellished his story to boost his esteem and protect his ego.

    Regardless of his motivations, Jon Krakauer stole credit for his “discovery of evidence of deceit.” To his credit, Krakauer didn’t spare Gen. McChrystal and other Army officers from his “withering gaze.” However, to his shame, Krakauer did shield President Obama and the Democratic Congress from accountability for their whitewash of Gen. McChrystal’s central role in the cover-up. Krakauer certainly didn’t “win glory” with his telling of the Tillman story.

    Greg Mortenson may be guilty of deceit, but Jon Krakauer displayed hypocrisy by “throwing stones” at Mortenson when his own hands are not clean and without sin. Just as Krakauer pointed out with regard to Gen. McChrystal, he has “credibility problems” of his own with his revised book “Where Men Win Glory”. And, as he said of McChrystal, “He should come clean, and tell what really happened.”

  2. Kate O'Hehir says:

    Daniel:

    It occurred to me regarding Krakauer’s decision to post “TCD” online, rather than through his publishers Random House or Knoff/Doubleday. The most obvious reason is not length (75 pages plus addendums make a paperback). The reality is “Three Cups of Deceipt” would never have made it through the legal departments of reputable publishers. He clearly sought no legal council prior to publication, and he may well rue that decision.

    I’m am being dissed by readers on Outside online for bringing up the fact that Outside did the same “attack journalism” on the father of outdoor literature Peter Matthiessen over his book, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,” where he passionately defends Leonard Peltier’s and the injustice of his life sentence for allegedly killing 2 FBI agents at Wounded Knee, S.D. in the 1970s.. Outside writer Scott Anderson took the stand Peltier was a lazy Indian who deserved what he got, and then proceded to attack Matthiessen, bascially accusing him of being “anti-American” for supporting Native causes. Matthiessen fought back. GM should do the same as soon as his health allows.

    PM assisted me on an article I was writing about his Sherpa guide Tukten Sherpa. I sent him a photo (which he did not have) and began both corresponding and speaking with him on the phone. When the article was complete, we discussed which publication would be the best fit. I (now regretfully) suggested “Outside.” His response was “HELL NO! Not Outside. Never Outside.”

    I wrote an open letter to the editorial board reminding them they have a reputation for this type of attack reporting (the Donald Trump school of urnalism) and it smells.

    No writer or publication is given a reputation. It is earned, for better or for worse, and all I see published in Outside is worse.

  3. Tory Hunter says:

    Awesome article, Mr. Glick. If Mr. Mortenson needed a wakeup call, so be it. NO ONE is claiming he’s a perfect manager. He wouldn’t be the first one. He did not transition his organization fast enough to the next level? SO – fix it. Unfortunately, I do believe that Mr. Krakauer has A LOT of PRACTICE with these types of skirmishes (check his track record). So, now he realizes that he can “MANUFACTURE” them! Brilliant. the question is – how to stop this technique of RUINING REPUTATIONS through “cyber-allegations” w/o giving him (JK) too much free publicity. I agree – it’s the use of the Internet here that is particularly heinous. I hope Mr. Mortenson knows a GREAT lawyer…

  4. Julia Bergman says:

    Greg Mortenson’s response to allegations by Jon Krakauer are below. Also go to: http://www.ikat.org for more documentation about these false and misleading accusations.

    1. If CAI’s primary mission is to build schools and educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, isn’t public education really about CAI’s fundraising efforts?
    CAI has two purposes– as described in the original 1996 certificate of incorporation and in its application for recognition of exemption as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization filed with the Internal Revenue Service– to establish
    and support education in remote mountain communities of Central Asia and to educate the public about the importance of these educational activities.
    From the beginning, Greg Mortenson’s presentations (educational outreach) have inspired people to support CAI’s mission with time, money and awareness. His presentations and his books help fulfill the stated corporate and charitable purposes of CAI. While it is true that during 2009-2010 a significant amount of CAI’s resources were dedicated to domestic and international educational outreach, the result of that effort makes possible CAI’s ambitious plans overseas for 2011 and beyond.

    “CAI plans to establish more than 60 schools in Afghanistan this year,” Mortenson said. “However, in Pakistan, CAI plans to establish about a dozen schools; the emphasis there is not so much on new schools, but to improve the education quality, scholarships, teacher training – human capacity building.

    In Afghanistan, we still need new buildings. In many ways our work in Afghanistan at this point resembles where we were 10 to 15 years ago in Pakistan.”

    2. Please provide total expenditures broken down in percentages spent on overhead vs. program. Is CAI really spending 59% of earnings on fundraising?
    CAI is dedicated to using every dollar as efficiently as possible. In 1996, 100% of donor dollars went to programs, while 0% went to overhead. In 2009, 88% went to programs and 12% to overhead. The average annual percentage CAI has spent on programs throughout its history is 78%. In those figures, the programs category includes money set aside in CAI’s Talim (Pashto for “education”) Fund, a nest egg dedicated and restricted solely for overseas projects. The amount raised and set aside in that fund constitutes about 38% of the total of about $60 million that CAI has raised in the past 15 years and brings total program funding to a level that reflects CAI’s mission and donors’ desires.

    With the explosion of support over the past three years, the Talim Fund has grown from $2 million to $20 million, while the number of schools built or significantly supported by CAI increased from 78 to over 170, with plans for more than 70 additional schools in 2011.

    3. Every nonprofit must file an annual tax return. According to reports, your nonprofit only filed once in 14 years – is that true?
    No. IRS 990 forms filed for every year since CAI’s inception are available on our website,
    http://www.ikat.org/about-cai/financials/

    4. What is your response to allegations that many of the schools you claim to have built do not exist, were built by others, or stand empty?
    Every single day, CAI’s work helps to improve the lives of tens of thousands of people, especially girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Throughout the school year (which varies, depending mostly on climate), thousands of students are in classes at CAI schools. Teachers are teaching. And women are meeting at vocational centers, where instructors are providing literacy, health, and myriad other lessons.

    At least once a year, a U.S.-based CAI staff or Board member travels to the region to collect documentation, dedicate new schools and check on CAI projects. However, routine checks of the schools are, like the long-term relationships necessary to sustain this type of work, the responsibility of individual in-country project managers in conjunction with local education committees. That includes insuring that education is indeed taking place in these
    schools. “In order to function successfully, our first priority is to put the local people in charge,” Mortenson said. “Sometimes that is risky, more risky than some people may be comfortable with. But by empowering the local people and putting them in charge, the results are far more sustainable and lead to a much greater sense of ownership or
    pride in the project.”

    Recent media reports have alleged that several CAI schools in Baltistan, in northern Pakistan, were either not being used at all or were not receiving funds. Since those reports did not always cite particulars, it is hard to respond with precision except to say that there could be several reasons for that, including:
    • Many schools in the remote, mountainous areas close for two months or longer in the winter.
    • A disgruntled former manager for programs in Baltistan was not completely honest with Mortenson and

    CAI’s Board in recent years about the status of schools for which he was responsible.
    “Since 1993, CAI has had 15 primary regional managers running the show or in charge of projects and in only one case, in Baltistan, did that system go awry,” Mortenson said. That case involved a manager who may have,engaged in “a confidence trick.” “Confidence tricks have been around for a long time, since colonial times, including where I grew up in Africa,
    where an individual will bend over backwards to help you, refuse to take money for services, befriend you and then after a period of years, begin to test you by committing small infractions to see what your response is,” he said.

    “They also make you very dependent on their services as a vital part of the operation.
    “One of our great dreams in Baltistan was to set up a hostel in Skardu for students from the outlying regions to continue their education and pursue their dreams. Although the Board approved the original hostel plans, not long after it got started the manager told us he needed more money. Over time this manager said, ‘We have such a great need, we need to make hostel bigger, the price has increased, we need more funding.’ This went on until a
    point where CAI discovered he had manipulated the books.

    “I trusted him and loved him like a brother. Unfortunately, for the first time in our history CAI wound up on the short end of stick,” he said. “My mistake was that this was the only project CAI has ever done that didn’t have an education committee exercising local control.”

    • In one village, the CAI school was closed after more than a decade when locals formed a social welfare organization to help people on numerous fronts. The organization, founded and run by a former CAI student, opened a new school, rendering the original CAI school obsolete.

    About the same time as the former Baltistan manager resigned in 2010, some teachers began complaining that they hadn’t been paid. As a result, other CAI workers spent countless hours reconnecting with the communities where that manager had established schools over the past decade. Reinstating those relationships, and trust, takes time.

    As for allegations that CAI “claims” schools it did not build, the organization has numerous relationships with communities where schools were built by other entities that were not providing adequate support. Leaders in those communities approached CAI for help to pay teachers and buy school supplies. In some places, CAI also added additional classrooms to existing schools. In such cases, CAI becomes the key supporter of the school, providing money and advice for long-term sustainability. Finally, CAI staff members in the U.S., Pakistan, and Afghanistan have embarked on a comprehensive survey of all schools and programs to insure our information is current and accurate. CAI is also working closely with
    officials in the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments to verify the status of all CAI projects.

    5. Does CAI pay teachers at CAI schools or are they paid by others and if so, by whom?
    In Pakistan, CAI’s regional managers are wired funds for teachers’ salaries, which are then given to the education committees in each village for distribution. In some cases that happens monthly; in more remote areas, the money is distributed by CAI quarterly or semiannually. In addition, some communities charge a small tuition to families that can pay – the equivalent of a couple of U.S. dollars per month or less – and that money is then used to pay additional teachers as the schools grow.

    In Afghanistan, CAI helps with construction of the schools, but upon completion, the schools belong to the Afghan government, which is supposed to provide the teachers and pay them.
    v
    But in some cases, CAI supplements government funding with additional money for additional teachers. And in the more remote areas, when the government does not make good on its obligation to pay teacher salaries, CAI steps in to pay them and ensure they continue to come to work every day.

    6. Please address the allegations that many Board members have resigned.
    Over the years, some Board members have resigned due to philosophical and/or managerial differences with other Board members and/or with Greg Mortenson. Since its inception, CAI has had 14 board members, with an average 5.2-year term of service.

    7. Also, three Board members, including Greg Mortenson, are too few. Is the organization giving any consideration to beefing up the Board?
    Yes, the current CAI Board is in the process of expanding the number of Board members and is reviewing qualifications of potential candidates.

    8. How do you defend the fact that of the 11 schools claimed to have been built in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, there were really only three?
    CAI has built four schools in Kunar Province and has another five schools under construction, according to its Afghan operations manager, Wakil Karimi. Work on those five has been suspended several times because the ongoing fighting creates a “risky situation.”

    “In Kunar, the situation is dangerous and we had to suspend building in some places, pending negotiations with the Taliban,” he said. “Al Qaeda and Taliban, they control roads and just kidnap people for the money. We communicate with Taliban and when they say, ‘you can start your work,’ then we start again.”

    Plus, establishing schools in this region is long-term work; three of the four that are now complete took several years from inception to completion. Often a school is established first by providing a teacher, with classes in a tent or rented building.

    Meanwhile, CAI staff work with the local education committee to address all community concerns, including those of extremists, and identify land. In some cases, schools were well into this process when negotiations fell apart due to “no land,” or “Taliban not agree,” Karimi said.

    The provincial and district education managers have assured CAI they are more than satisfied with CAI’s work in Kunar, as are the communities CAI serves. “Go inside of the village, talk to the local people. Their children are coming to the school. They are the ones who know,” Karimi said.

    9. How much of Greg Mortenson’s books were fabricated or embellished?
    The contents of Greg Mortenson’s books Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools are based on events that actually happened. Media allegations that Greg did not visit Korphe in 1993 are false; he first visited Korphe in September 1993 after failing to reach the summit of K2 and later built a school there.

    And Greg was, in fact, detained and held against his will in 1996, with his passport and money confiscated, although his captors did treat him well, as he accurately described in his book. Greg’s initial rebuttal to some of the allegations can be viewed at http://www.ikat.org.

    10. Has Greg used funds for private jets unnecessarily?
    There are three reasons Greg has used charter planes.
    Number one, Greg’s schedule often presents difficult logistical scenarios that are nearly impossible to accomplish with commercial airlines. Generally, he has to fly late at night to accommodate his hectic schedule, which in the past four years put him in an average 126 cities per year, plus international travel and overseas project visits. Number two is his health, which has been in decline for the past 18 months. And number three is security.
    Greg has received threats against his life, and commercial travel sometimes presents over-exposure to threatening elements.

    Greg began paying his own travel expenses in January 2011.

    11. The Board statement that “counsel concluded there is no ‘excess benefit’ – that is, CAI
    appropriately receives a greater benefit from Greg’s activities than Greg does himself,” is vague. Please elaborate.
    Any time Greg gives a presentation about how he came to dedicate his life to building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and people are inspired, those people donate to CAI, not Greg personally, in furthering CAI’s mission. In addition, his presentations and his books, although his alone, do help CAI accomplish its stated charitable purposes by educating the public and drawing awareness to the significant needs of that region and the significant
    cultural differences between the U.S. and that region.

    While Greg has benefitted from this collaboration, CAI has benefited even more.
    Greg and the Board initiated a self-imposed analysis and evaluation, with outside advice, of their collaboration in January 2011. The results of the inquiry were presented to the Board on April 13. Based on that assessment and the Board’s longtime confirmation of the effectiveness of its collaboration with Greg, the Board confirmed its intention to continue to refine and address the particulars of their relationship on an ongoing basis.

    12. What about the possibility of turning over accountability of running the schools to a local
    organization; if there is no organization, then perhaps an organization under the umbrella of CAI?
    In Afghanistan, CAI already operates under the auspices of three organizations: CAI; the Marco Polo Foundation, a registered nonprofit that primarily covers central and northern Afghanistan and has schools in Badakhshan (including the Wakhan Corridor and Pamir), Takhar, and Baghlan provinces; and Star of Knowledge, a registered nonprofit that covers Urozgan, Khost, Paktia, Nangarhar, Logar, Wardak, Kunar, Panshjir, Kapisa,
    Parvan, and, this year, Bamiyan provinces.

    Our Pakistan operations all remain under the auspices of CAI, although they are divided into regions: Baltistan, Gilgit-Hunza, Azad Kashmir, and Punjab. The staff that run the regional operations are all from those areas.

  5. Guy Montag says:

    Here’s the 800-word condensed version (the unabridged version is about 30 pages with 100 pages of Appendices) of “Jon Krakauer’s Credibility Problem” (posted updated version a couple of days ago):

    Last month, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired their expose of Greg Mortenson (best-selling author of “Three Cups of Tea” & “Stones Into Schools”) accusing him of fabricating his inspirational story and mismanaging the funds of his charitable organization. Jon Krakauer (best-selling author of “Into Thin Air & “Into the Wild”) said that Mortenson tells a “beautiful story, and it’s a lie.”

    Shortly afterwards, Krakauer published his e-book, “Three Cups of Deceit.” I haven’t closely followed the scandal, so I won’t comment on Mortensen’s deceit. However, I do have first-hand knowledge of Krakauer’s own deceit in his updated edition of “Where Men Win Glory – The Odyssey of Pat Tillman.”

    Pat Tillman was the NFL football player who enlisted with the Army Rangers and was killed in 2004 by friendly-fire in Afghanistan. Although Gen. Stanley McChrystal learned the next day about Tillman’s friendly-fire death, he didn’t notify his family, his legal officer withheld that information from the medical examiner, and McChrystal supervised the writing of a “misleading” Silver Star medal recommendation (with altered witness statements).

    In the first edition, McChrystal was barely a footnote. But just a month later, Krakauer published a “Daily Beast” piece, “Gen. McChrystal’s Credibility Problem,” and later further described McChrystal’s “central role in the scandal” in his updated paperback edition. However, in his Preface, it appears Krakauer prevaricated where he wrote, “Following publication of the first edition in September 2009, I discovered additional evidence of deceit by high-ranking Army officers.”

    “I discovered”? In reality, just two days after the release of the first edition, my Aunt Candy literally placed two binders of my research (about 200 pages) into Krakauer’s hands at his Boulder book signing. My analysis of interviews and revisions indicates my material was the source of nearly all of Krakauer’s “additional evidence.”

    I don’t care (much) about Krakauer stealing my credit. But, his greater act of deceit was one of omission. After reading his book, you’d believe the Democratic Congress was “stonewalled” by President Bush. But, even after being handed my “untold story,” Krakauer still failed to describe in his updated edition how President Obama and the Democratic Congress continued the Bush administration’s whitewash of McChrystal’s central role in the cover-up of Tillman’s friendly-fire death.

    In the 2010 Foreword to her paperback edition (at blurb.com) of “Boots on the Ground by Dusk,” Mary Tillman wrote, “Over the last five years, the Pentagon and Congress have had numerous opportunities to hold accountable those responsible for the cover-up of Pat’s death. Each time they’ve failed. … “The Tillman Story” [documentary] illustrates the corruption, deception, and indifference that is systemic in our government. … The cover-up of Pat’s death was orchestrated at the very highest levels of the Pentagon, and elsewhere in our government … the government didn’t just lie to us; it lied to a nation.”

    And, this story is not over yet; President Obama has continued to shield General McChrystal from accountability. Just last month, Obama appointed McChrystal to head the “Joining Forces” program despite the protest of Mary Tillman. The White House said, “The circumstances … have been thoroughly investigated, and General McChrystal was found to have acted honorably…” and Michelle Obama said, “we’re proud to have him on board.”

    Perhaps Krakauer choose to omit the “untold story” from his updated edition because it didn’t fit into his simple black-and-white fable? Or out of Democratic bias? Perhaps, his ego would be bruised to admit he (once again) had gotten the story wrong the first time around? Regardless, Krakauer embellished (at best) his “discovery” of Gen. McChrystal’s central role and omitted the “untold story.” Like Greg Mortenson, it appears Krakauer wanted to boost his esteem and tell a better story.

    Perhaps Mortenson is guilty of the charges leveled against him by Krakuaer in “Three Cups of Deceit.” But, Jon Krakauer has his own “credibility problem” and displayed hypocrisy by “throwing stones” at Mortenson when his own hands are not clean of deceit.

    It’s worth mentioning that CBS’s “60 Minutes,” in their September 2009 hagiographic profile of Gen. McChrystal, didn’t bother to press him about his role in the Tillman affair. I agree with journalist Daniel Glick who wrote in his blog, “I believe in the importance of journalism to … hold people and institutions accountable. … it’s hard to believe why “60 Minutes” decided that Greg Mortenson … qualified on any of those fronts – much less why Jon Krakauer joined in this recent barrage.”

    . . .

    “Guy Montag” has been a firefighter the past twenty years. Previously, he was a yuppie with Andersen Consulting (Accenture) after earning an Engineering MSE. For eight years he was an Airborne Ranger with Co. “F” (LRSU) 425th Infantry. His 135-page document, “Jon Krakauer’s Credibility Problem,” and his other Tillman research files are posted at http://www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.com.

  6. Kate O'Hehir says:

    Over the next few days I think we will be hearing if not from Mansur Khan Mahsud (or spelled Mehsud) about his dubious law suit. The Daily Beast quotes Mahsud admitting that he got a phone call from Krakauer (about the eve of his online publication “TCD”) telling him he had been defamed and should sue.

    I reported last week I suspected this was true, because as an American journalist, living abroad for many years, non-U.S. citizens do not know anything about the specifics of our libel laws. I knew someone had to have explained it, and JK was the most likely person. Now we know this is true.

    What is also true is that it looks like Mahsud acidently copied and pasted an email he either sent or received (or both) from Krakauker as the first word in the first two paragraph is:
    “Jon Naimat Gull is my Uncle and a respectable…”
    “Jon as you know South Wazirstan is a tribal Agency …”

    I suspect Krakauer edited the text for him to rebut McKenzie Funk’s information (from an informant from Peshwar who claims to have known Mahsud since childhood” that he is a con man, and was found guilty of the kidnap of a little girl).

    My question for Krakauer at this point is, “Are you going to fund Mansur Khan Mahud’s defamation suit against GM?” I think not, I think he knows there isn’t a prayer in hell of a non-U.S. citizen even filing the suit (he would have to hire an attorney licensed in Montana).

    Careful what you wish for Krak, when the God’s wish to punish us, they answers our prayers. You want a defamation suit? You may well have one, and the collusion with Mahsud could be seen by a jury as “malice” against Greg Mortenson.

  7. Kate O'Hehir says:

    Oops, the McKenzie Funk informant claims Mahsud’s, uncle Naimat Gull was found guilty of kidnapping, not Mahsud. Sorry for the error!

  8. Janet T. Lang says:

    Karin Ronnow, a long time journalist, who has been in Afghanistan and Pakistan nine times on the trail of Greg Mortenson, is now writing periodic communiqués for the Central Asia Institute, which contains updates on the topic of Mortenson.

  9. Janet T. Lang says:

    Here is the right website – sorry for multiple posts:
    https://www.ikat.org/cai-communique/

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