Damage Control

"The CIA paid for the camps, and trained the people who trained the troops in the camps, but they did not set them up," Weiner told the Voice, insisting that this was a distinction worth maintaining. (Fisk did not answer at the number provided by the Independent's foreign desk.)

Weiner had been even more cautious in his vague Friday Times story, saying only, "A decade ago the United States saw Mr. bin Laden as an ally in a noble cause. He was involved with the American-backed Afghan rebels who fought off Soviet invaders in the 1980s." Nowhere did Friday's Times make any connection between the U.S. government and the camps it now labels "terror universities."

By Sunday, however, the Times let the notion of U.S. responsibility for the camps slip into its coverage, albeit through the mouth of a source, rather than a reporter. Sunday's Times quoted Fazal ur-Rehman Khalil, a representative of one of the camps that had been bombed, who argued that "his camp and others go back to the war fought in the 1980s against Soviet troops in Afghanistan and the Afghan Government they backed. 'Americans themselves built the camps for the purpose of war, and now we use the buildings as education and welfare centers,' Mr. Khalil said." The Times story quoted no one to cast doubt on this minihistory.

Meanwhile, a massive Sunday Washington Post story pulled in the opposite direction. Yes, the Post said on Sunday, "the CIA knew of bin Laden during the [Afghan] war but had no relationship with him." In the Post account of how the camps now associated with bin Laden came into being, there is no mention of the U.S. or the CIA.

By Monday, Weiner's Times work reflected a near-complete conversion to Fisk's position. The sixth paragraph of Weiner's front-page story said: "The C.I.A.'s military and financial support for the Afghan rebels indirectly helped build the camps that the United States attacked. And some of the same warriors who fought the Soviets with the C.I.A.'s help are now fighting under Mr. bin Laden's banner."

If anything, Weiner now appears more certain about the U.S. role in building the so-called terror camps than he does about bin Laden's. His final paragraph reads: "It is unclear whether Mr. bin Laden... personally helped build the Khost camps during the war against the Soviets, or has substantially upgraded them since returning to the mountains of Afghanistan."


Leaving Your Mother

The editor of Mother Jones has announced his resignation, following several disputes with the board of directors over the magazine's content. In mid August, Jeffrey Klein told the board that he would not be renewing his contract when it comes up for renewal in February 1999. His surprise declaration comes just days after a favorable New York Times item gave Klein credit for revamping the magazine and winning back at least some readers the magazine lost in the mid '90s. (Disclosure: the current issue of MoJo contains a question-and-answer session I conducted with Stephen Brill.)

"It's been a terrific run," Klein told the Voice. "I am proud of the work that everyone did, and I wish my successor well."

Behind this friendly facade, however, MoJo sources told the Voice that the magazine's board frequently criticized Klein's choices, especially during the last year. Klein, a MoJo founding editor who rejoined the magazine in '92, enjoyed using his position to challenge or tweak conventional left positions. One recent piece, for example, suggested that the left should favor limits on immigration in order to boost wages. Several sources say the board -- and especially longtime MoJo underwriter Adam Hochschild -- preferred staying within traditional confines of left-wing advocacy.

Last year, for example, when Mother Jones ran a cover package on American spirituality, several board members expressed "really intense and prolonged" objections, according to a person who attended the board meeting. Board member and former labor leader Victor Gotbaum, for example, is said to have pounded the table and said: "My mother buried several of her children and said 'Fuck You' to God."

Gotbaum did not return messages seeking comment left at his Manhattan residence.

No Klein successor has yet been named. A MoJo source says, "We're not even at the rumor stage yet."

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