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Reporters on the job

SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf spoke with Osama bin Laden's hand-picked biographer, a Pakistani journalist, as part of today's story (this page). "Hamid Mir told me about the strangest interview with bin Laden he had conducted," says Scott. "He had finished two sets of interviews with bin Laden in person, but had some more questions. Mr. Mir sent some questions by messenger into Afghanistan. Six months later, the answer arrived, in the person of a highly respected mullah from Islamabad. The mullah reaches into his pants waistband, and pulls out one sheet of paper. Then pulls another from his turban, another from his socks, his pockets, and so on. Fifty pages later, Mr. Mir had his answer. It occurred to me that Osama Bin Laden didn't need a satellite phone or the internet to convey his messages. Call it mullah mail."

BUNDLING UP IN AFGHANISTAN: The Monitor's Scott Peterson says that his household in northern Afghanistan is preparing for winter. Scott shares a house looking over the Shomali Plain with four other journalists. They've already installed a "hot water system" - a small stove that enables them to heat up enough hot water to bathe in a bucket. The plastic sheets on the windows (no glass) will get another layer. "We're still looking for a stove for heat," says Scott. His wife sent him a "care package" via an incoming journalist that included some heavier shirts.

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The pace of preparations is pushed by calls from fellow journalists exiting the area. "Five days ago, a friend left by car and was stuck in a blizzard in the mountains. They came across another group of bone-chilled journalists walking out. The word is that the passes are closed for the winter," says Scott. He's eyeing the repair work being done on a war-damaged runway a few miles away. "Two weeks ago, they said it would be ready to use in a few days. When it's done, I assume they'll fly in Russian planes loaded with supplies, and I can hitch a ride out, if needed."

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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