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Sri Lanka’s desktop command center

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Reporters on the Job: Sri Lanka’s defense secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was described to me as the country’s most powerful figure. The reason is that his elder brother – the president – trusts him to direct the war, and huge resources are at his disposal. He’s not the only family member in the inner circle. Two other brothers are in the cabinet.

I managed to get an interview with Mr. Rajapaksa (read the Monitor's report here) near the end of my trip. After clearing security, I waited until I was shown into his office, where he sat behind an imposing desk. On his desk were four phones, plus an iPhone, and two laptops. One laptop was positioned where I could see moving images of what I thought was Google Earth or similar.

In fact, I discovered later, it was a live feed from drones flying over the war zone in the north. It felt like the command center of a war. But the phones didn’t ring too often and our interview overran by 15 minutes, with little pressure from him to end it.


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