Michael's Dispatches

David Rohde Still Missing

11 March 2009

Few people realize that New York Times journalist David Rohde was kidnapped in Afghanistan back in November.  There were a few scattered stories early on, but big reporting apparently has been squashed.  In December, during a trip with Secretary Gates, I asked a New York Times reporter if she knew the status of the situation.  The story had been kept so quiet that she didn’t actually know the kidnapping had occurred.  The information came to me from several sources some weeks after the kidnapping in Afghanistan.  I sat on the information, but there are a growing number of snippets on the web, and it can safely be said that the word is out.  One extremely well placed Pentagon source told me in December that Rohde is believed to have been moved to Pakistan.


# MDO 2009-03-11 17:18
Long-time follower of your work, sir. Thank you for the fair and thorough work you do. As the wife of an active duty service member, I'm grateful to have a source of information that will report the truth for good or for ill.

Why did you feel the need to sit on this information for so long?
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# Anonymous Hoosier 2009-03-11 17:43
I think a lot of readers would be interested to know: 1) why the story is being kept quiet (I am guessing because it is believed more likely he will be released / less likely he will be murdered if it stays low-profile); and 2) why you are un-embargoing the story now.

I lack the knowledge to judge what approach is better, but I'm definitely curious to hear your thinking...

Incidentally, the wikipedia history for Mr. Rohde shows an interesting battle:
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# Charles Riggs 2009-03-11 18:51
Quote -"That quote is really inappropriate and should not have been reported because now the bad guys know they are being watched which could complicate things for the rescue efforts of the troops and special operators to bring him home.

My advice, if I were you as a reporter, I would not report on that until after he has been brought home alive and safe back to his parents, especially his mother."

This is silly. These people know that they exist in a state of war, that they're being watched every hour of every day and that there are people in every village who will sell them out to the Allied forces. They don't need a quote in the paper to know that they're under surveillance.
Mr. Yon is doing exactly the right thing by reporting this. The American public needs to know that this is going on, that these people are willing to go to any lengths without regard for our ethics. It needs to be kept in the public's mind so that pressure will be brought to bear to get this man returned.
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# LanceM 2009-03-11 18:52
Unfortunately, and because of the dishonesty and corruption WITHIN our (prior...I hope) governments to say "Just because something is not being widely reported on does not mean that there is a government cover-up" is simply naive.

How many times do we have to hear that the ONLY thing that helped free a kidnap victim was PUBLICITY brought by family or friends? Otherwise, the victim is simply forgotten.

While I don't always agree with Michael I trust his judgement in bringing some light to this matter
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# DagneyT 2009-03-11 19:41
Michael, you seem confused or maybe feeling guilty (?) that you were not a victim of this sort of thing.

1) You have a lot of us, your fans and readers, praying for your safety.

2) You have training, SF, if memory serves me, that would lead you to see/notice things that others without your training would not have seen.
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# Dan Daly 2009-03-11 19:53
Who is squashing the reporting? The NYT or DoD? Why would the US gov't want to keep this quiet? Why would the NYT want to keep it quiet?

It hasn't been reported on because no one (except Michael and the rest of the warfighters) gives a hoot about Iraq or Afghanistan now that we've got change we can believe in.
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# Brian Ray 2009-03-11 20:43
Now with the USA current direction we can have no talk of bad things people do overseas. They might get a bad opinion of the United States if we complain. Lets just call it "no harm, no foul". Who doesn't kidnap a few people here and there.

Reason it is not a story is because now the U.S. is lead by cowards. What would be the point?
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# BravoBilly 2009-03-11 23:16
The reason Kidnapping is covered is the same that things in SE Asia was covered up. Government agency embassment. Then if it will be politically advantageous to someone that the information be revealed, it will be smeared all over the place. It is sad to see that. At first when we are having actions that Secret and it to best interest of those in the action that it not be revealed that it kept Secret. When it gets blown then, like individuals getting found shipping drugs using government transportation lines and those reporting it becoming, "kidnapped, killed, or missing in action." My goodness that would never happen would it?
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# argonaut 2009-03-12 00:35
The reason to not flaunt this in my humble opinion is to deny the enemy a victory. The Japenese in WWII sent balloon bombs to the US hoping to a gain a victory by causing fear and alarm (read terror). The US denied the Japenese victory by silencing the media. The media is stealing a victory from those who do not want honest journalism and want to control as much of the media as possible. Also, the "ransom" the kidnappers hoped to have achieved by doing this is media coverage. Deny kidnappers their ransom and you deny them the reason for kidnapping. Thus, you protect future journalist's from the same fate.
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# FedUP 2009-03-12 02:16
The 'new' administration has replaced the war on terror with the 'war on agression' or whatever.
Obama has hope - as in we should HOPE we won't be attacked again as we were on September 11th.
I did not vote for him so will the idiots that did please raise your hands?
Bush did everything with a certain transparancy. Obama acts like a socialist (he is one). Remember, "people voted for change".
I will not make the decision to bring a child into this world until Obama is out of office in 4 years or sooner.
If he buys that election too, I just may lose it.
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# Blue Star Mom 2009-03-12 03:04
Dan Daily makes NO sense at all, unless his comment is tongue in cheek. Would rather believe that than think him less than intelligent.

Remember that death brings change as well, as does arsenic, age, EDUCATION, thinking before speaking, ad nauseum.
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# Darcy Mccannel 2009-03-12 08:00
Recently a CBC female reporter was kidnapped in Afghanistan. The CBC it self requested of other news organizations not to discuss the incident as it was felt that negotiations would have been affected. Some thing must have worked as the young reporter, Mellisa Fung was rescued after,I believe, some 25 days held in a dry well.
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# Darcy Mccannel 2009-03-12 08:02
Recently a CBC female reporter was kidnapped in Afghanistan. The CBC it self requested of other news organizations not to discuss the incident as it was felt that negotiations would have been affected. Some thing must have worked as the young reporter, Mellisa Fung was rescued after,I believe, some 25 days held in a dry well. Perhaps the situation involving the New York Times reporter is similar.
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# Blue Comet 2009-03-12 12:30
Since it was a NY Time reporter to go missing, do we really consider this a kidnapping? The NY Times has been one of the biggest cheerleaders of the Taliban and failure of US policy in Astan. The NY Times is guilty of treason in my book. The purposely released top secret information numberous times that put US/Coalition service members at risk. Let's not forget the fact they let Osama Bin Laden know we were tracking him via his Sat phone.
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# Jed_Dog 2009-03-12 14:08
Man you got balls of steel. Going out there in Taliland with no sidearm. I know you have somebody with you that does but you are not tied to him. I would really like to know why you are not allowed to carry a gun? This is a different kind of war. The Talibunnies don't follow the rules. If you are with some troops and one goes down and you are the only one there to protect him, I know you will do the right thing. I know you got a earful over it in Iraq, but screw their rules. When it comes to life or death, those rules are null and void.
Keep up the good work and be safe as you can. We are lucky to have you out there.
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# Fritz_Katz 2009-03-12 20:13
It interesting that the 'conspiracy' to hide Rohde's disappearance even extends to Wikipedia. Rohde's page has been edited many times -- and keeps getting reverted.


"Who the hell is removing the bit about him being kidnapped? It's confirmed by several sources and even if it's not on the news, doesn't make it a false statement, someone should really look into this. (talk) 02:32, 12 March 2009 (UTC)"

Rohde has been captured and held before. Serbian authorities held and interrogated him for 10 days and accused him of being a spy for the Bosnian Muslims. An international campaign involving reporters and non-governmenta l experts throughout the world led to his release. So why keep his disappearance hidden this time?

Here's a report on his original disappearance:


Clicking on the link to the original report from the Italian news agency, AKI, comes up blank.
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# Peg C. 2009-03-13 16:07
From my admittedly biased perspective (and no apologies), I can see exactly 1 reason to cover this up and/or not cover it: kidnappings of reporters were to be waved in front of Americans as the fault of the eeeeeevil McChimpy Bushitler while he was president, and any kidnappings after election day have to be kept under wraps so that nothing but pearls and hosannas fall on the Messiah. Yeah, that's working real well. Good reporting!
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# Occam 2009-03-15 02:08
'seems to me the simplest explanation is that a ransom and/or some other deal is being negotiated. Why run the price up and possibly endanger agents of influence by publicizing the situation?

Is Mr Rohde's family playing along? If so, I would consider that pretty good support for my theory.
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# Allan Dollison 2009-06-13 00:44
Michael, thanks for talking about this. I met David Rohde myself in Afghanistan in November of 2006. He was reporting on police training. I have kept in e-mail contact with him since then. I was aware that he was writing a book on Afghanistan, and was residing in New Delhi, to complete it. I have sent several E-Mails to David, and he usually has always responded. He hasn't so I got really worried. I hope he is found. This is very disturbing.
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# no name 2009-06-17 00:16
from someone who happens to know, the Times and his family are keeping it quiet, hoping that by doing so they have a better chance of working out a release.
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